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Yesterday, I gave a seminar to some 40 or 50 bowling proprietors in Seattle, WA on "Marketing In and After a Recession." While there are many similarities in the strategies that should be utilized in both of these scenarios, two specific strategies are noteworthy.

The first strategy is to go after your existing customers. Sure, its more fun to go get new customers, but in times of economic strife, customers will gravitate towards and buy from people they trust. And if your customers trust you to provide a consistently good entertainment experience, then they are more likely to frequent your bowling center then to go experiment at some other center in town.

The second strategy is to
make a concerted effort to find those existing customers that fall into the "high potential for purchase" segment. What does this really mean? It means that these high potential customers are people with more discretionary income, people who have been far less affected by the recession than the rest of us and people who will not be as concerned about spending their discretionary income on "a good time" or a "good cause."

Now if your data base lets you sort these kinds of people (zip codes will help to define those areas where these high net worth people live), then you have an opportunity to attract them with a great offer. If your data base does not allow you to do this, then work with those companies and executives that have had company parties in your center. if that fails, go to the charity and ask them to help you to communicate with their bigger donors.

Then, send these folks an engraved invitation offering them the opportunity to bowl for a noteworthy, high profile charity. Choose one that has some local community appeal, a noted local spokesman and one that is willing to work with you. These folks may not come bowling very frequently, but they will come if it is for a good cause and it is where "they can see and be seen."

Then when the event happens, be remarkable. Get your people dressed in tuxedos, serve upscale food, and let them know that while bowling spans all age groups, demographics and social strata, this night is especially for them!

OK, so bag the tuxedos if you don't like it.

Just remember to create a memorable experience where you can demonstrate trust, concern, community involvement and a high degree of professionalism.

And you can do that by doing the unexpected. Here are 9 ways to do that:

1. Valet-park their cars.
2. Have special bowling shirts made with the charity's name on it.
3. Offer lane service and serve your food on silver trays.
Use great glass ware. You can rent this stuff. Really
4. Hire a bathroom attendant.
5. Train a personal escort to take them down to the lanes
to assist them in getting their shoes and house balls
and enter their names in the scorers.
6. Provide them with free socks for their rental shoes.
7. Hire some entertainment; a DJ, Karaoke, Magician, etc.
8. Get a quality handheld microphone.
9. Be the MC or find someone who knows HOW to be an MC.

I still like the tuxedos.

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