Every marketing "guru" will tell you that the purpose of your marketing is
either to: solve a customers problem, alleviate their pain, enhance their
pleasure or create excitement in their life.
But you're marketing bowling and/or family entertainment centers and, lets
face it, your product is pretty much of a commodity. A bowling lane and
bowling ball have very specific dimensions, specifications, etc. This
cannot be changed. What can be changed is the environment that your product
is delivered and the perception of consistent quality service.
So you are left to "differentiating your center" thru the use
of product offerings, programs and pricing. Of course, all of
your competitors, in a heartbeat, can change their programs to match yours
or even undercut you and you will find yourself right back in the same old
"me too" marketing pie.
But here are a couple of things you can do to differentiate yourself that
other centers can't readily do, especially if you fight for and ask for an
1. Sponsor, and become identified with,a local charity that has
great exposure in your community. Many communities have one or two big
charities that get a lot of press and can get you face time with the people
running it. This gives you an instant opportunity to conduct a fund raiser
in your center as well as meet people in important places (companies,
government, retailers, etc) who might be open for future company parties,
and or "a league of their own;" all tied to the charity you are helping
to sponsor. Reach out and touch someone and it will come back to you.
2. Sponsor the local traffic or local weather reports in your community on
one radio station and ask for an exclusive in that time slot. No
other center will be able to take that radio time as long as you hold onto
it. You can ask for and will get an exclusive if the station wants your
business and you are ready to commit to a longer term agreement than
3. Brand your center with an exclusive tag line (I.e. "the home of the
short season programs", "the original birthday party place", "the
professional company party place"). When you take this position, anyone
else who says this will be viewed as a copy cat and people will then see
them as, at best,, a number 2 choice...because you have established the
position up front.
4. Become really active in your local Chamber of Commerce and try to get a
seat on the Board so you can help direct fund raising activities, social
activities, etc. to your center as well as "proving" to your customers and
prospects that you are in it to improve the business environment of your
5. Attend all School Board meetings and find out if there is any
opportunity for you to do fundraisers, establish open play programs or
build leagues based upon the Board’s needs for funding (and they all need
Now I can't guarantee that all of these will work to set you apart and
create a POD (point of difference) between you and your competitors. But I
can guarantee that if you do nothing, you will end up fighting to
differentiate yourself on "price" only.
And that's a real business killer.
Good luck and good hunting.