I have been taught, and you probably have as well, that marketing discipline rule #101 says that a product, in order to be successful, must solve a problem. For instance, it must make our life easier (the automobile vs. the horse); more convenient (the grocery store under my apartment building in NYC, especially during those nasty NYC winters); or it must male our life better(electric lights vs. gas lamps).
In the bowling business, we can count the automatic scorer as solving the problem of absent pin boys – or in some cases- pin boys that were slightly hung-over; the automatic bumper that helped kids to enjoy the game more as well as cosmic lights that added an element of excitement and color to the bowling experience.
But what about bowling leagues or open play. The purists among us would say, “You don’t have to add anything to bowling leagues, no Visiballs, NASCAR jackets, or vacations, just the joy of bowling and scoring.” And they may be right.
Non traditionalists would say that bowling needs to offer premiums like this and to offer shorter season or every other week leagues or even once a month leagues. And they may be right too.
The fact is your product, whether it be Pizza Pins N Pop, Cosmic Bowling, Price Specials or premiums for frequency, must appeal to the six emotions we all feel in some way or the other. Happiness, Sadness, Surprise, Fear, Disgust and Anger.
Both of the aforementioned products make people happy that they saved money on a “deal” as well as feeling “cool” that they are into a whole music and light show (just like the concerts they love), respectively.
Note: Have you ever combined both and seen the result? its amazing to see, especially when targeted to two specific audiences at two different times (families with kids under 12 and 15 to 34 yr olds).
Birthday parties in bowling centers are so successful because they make Moms life easier, are more convenient than having a party at home and solve the problem of where to host little Susie’s party. From the child’s stand point, it makes the child happy and offers elements of good surprises. It is no doubt the industry’s most successful product followed only by company parties which hit the same hot buttons.
No doubt these two products have been increasing in “consumer value” and participation in centers across the country while league bowling in its traditional form has been declining.
So if you want to continue growing, check your league and open play product’s temperature. Does it make people happy to do it? Are they surprised that they can get a value after the league is over? Or are they angry about what they perceive as the high price and do they fear looking silly because they don’t know how to bowl in front of their friends?
What emotions are your products stirring up? What problems do they solve? If they are only solving the “save money” problem, maybe you need to teach that one trick pony another few tricks to appeal to a broader audience.
Here’s one exercise you can focus on. What can you do to make your audience feel “cooler”? Seems that’s a universal want these days. Ask your teenage workers, your twenty some sons and daughters, they’ll tell you what’s cool and what’s not… straight up.
The answers are right in front of you.