I have been working on the pro bono marketing audit work I promised 7 proprietors and, not unexpectedly, it has taken me longer than I expected; most things usually do, but what I have been finding out is kind of interesting.
I won’t name the centers, but here are some facts, at least based on those I completed.
Nothing will surprise you, I am sure, but taken in aggregate and then extrapolated for the industry, we are doing a mediocre job marketing ourselves.
1. We have bought into the website, the email and the Facebook post as our only means of communicating. It has become a substitute for direct mail and since we think it is free, we keep using it…ad nauseum Unfortunately we have no plan, no campaign goals. We just throw up a flier or type up a special, post it and expect people to come in to the center.
2. We all have specials pages where we have coupons for all of our open play programs. Do you know how many you get? My guess is very few, but yet you still do it. Why?
3. Have you recently analyzed your market from a demographic and competitive standpoint Most haven’t and it surprises me that centers offer the same product to everyone. There is no target marketing. it’s from – what – you – think – of – to- the – flier – to – the – website – to Facebook.
4. Centers are still using the one bullet pricing tactic. Now I know that during slower times (weekdays after 9pm) you run price specials. I get it. I really do. But can you make some of those nights fun. After all the folks who patronize your center during that time are probably 15 to 30 years old. “Besides a cheap price, do you have any fun for me?”
5. You have way too many prices and specials; you charge by the person for some specials, by the hour per lane for others, and by the game for the remainder. One center had 22 specials. How do you think their NEW customer service person sounded on the phone when a customer called and asked, “Hi what’s your special tonight?” “Uh, hold on”…is probably the closest he or she could come before tracking down the manager or owner.
6. Your data base is more a mailing list than a data base. you are probably missing age and gender information and if you miss that, then when you do send out your emails, you are sending a cosmic bowling email to a 57 yr old man…and eventually he will opt out of wanting to get your emails simply because it isn’t relevant to him.
7. Here is the most amazing discovery, which I kind of already knew from informal surveys I have taken at the many seminars where I have presented my programs. You have a piece of business called league bowling. each of these participants are worth between $400 and $600 to you, including food and beverage. If you have 1,000 of these people, you generate revenue of about $400,000 to $600,000 and yet, NO ONE SPENDS MORE THAN A FEW THOUSAND BUCKS ON THEM I guarantee we are the only industry that spends no money to generate our biggest piece of revenue. How is that possible? Would APPLE or P&G or BUDWEISER or any other industry not advertise their product. Hell, even golf courses, water parks, theme parks and other similar venues advertise and they don’t have a $500 product to sell!!! Maybe that is one (of many) reason why league bowling has been declining. Nobody knows what we have to sell. Nobody.
8. You can read all the statistics you want about Internet usage, yet consumers still spend the most time watching TV than any other medium and that’s a fact, Jack. Now I’m not telling you to go lay down a bunch of money on TV, but I am saying you need to invest far more in your product than just fliers, PA announcements and emails to get people to join a league. You need to put together an integrated plan for each promotion with a strong offer, guarantees, deadlines, communication schedules, inside and outside sales, signage, direct mail, website, emails, Facebook posts and you tube videos instead of just a one or two shot email.
9. Your birthday parties are boring. You offer either 2 games of bowling or an hour of bowling and pizza and soft drinks, paper plates and yippee. Has anybody offered a piñata for the kids to break? Or a scavenger hunt? Or a Baker system format where the kids get matching vests to let them know which team they are on?
10. And finally, stop trying to be all things to all people. It never works. Stake out a position and stick to it. If you run short season leagues; tell people you are the “home of the short season bowling program.” if you have the best cosmic show in town, tell people, “Happy Lanes, the best cosmic light n sound show in Happy Acres”. Let people know what you stand for, because right now, nobody knows you or what you sell or why they should buy from you.
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