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One of my clients sent me this:

“Henry Lewczyk had an interesting statistic at the conference when he was talking about marketing: 75% of all centers invest the bulk of their marketing budget for 'in-center promotional material'." This translates to we are only willing to spend a few dollars copying fliers to hand out to people who come in anyway.

One other comment about the conference: Everyone was talking about how to take your open play bowlers and make them into league bowlers. The reality is most of them do not want to be in leagues and there is nothing wrong with that.

As an industry we ought to spend more time talking about those people who come in a 2X a year and spend a $100 or so.

We need to focus on getting them back 4-5X a year instead of two. That would be a lot more likely than trying to make them into league bowlers.”

Henry is generous. More like 95% of the centers invest in “inside marketing” (i.e., fliers, posters, more fliers, and more posters). Now centers are emailing; do you think it’s a replacement for direct mail?

Getting people to come into the center more frequently is less about communicating the product you have than it is about developing a new product.
• 5 to 6 week fun bowl sessions for busy young professionals at a premium price that involve a charity they can relate to (AIDS, Breast Cancer, Kids Charities, etc.)
• 3 to 4 corporate parties scheduled annually as a team-building event
• "4-Pack of Fun": bowl 4 times and get the 5th time free - especially good for packaged programs like Pizza Pins N Pop. No, you’re not giving it away, you’re getting people to come back two or three more times than normal.

Maybe it’s time to take your marketing to the streets because THIS is the new normal.

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Comment by Christopher Swanson on November 17, 2010 at 11:40am
Hi Fred - yes, please republish as desired. Thanks for the excellent parent post!
Comment by fred kaplowitz on November 17, 2010 at 11:32am
what a great commentary on taking it to the streets. do you mind if i republish this in my blog
Comment by Christopher Swanson on November 16, 2010 at 8:49pm
Hi Daleena - great ideas and execution! Fred talks about "taking it to the streets" and presenting your programs and offers to prospects who are not visiting your center. I noticed your examples were about existing customers and it motivated me to write about how your reward program and training process could be applied to new visitors.

I have experience with using coupons to promote outside of a center and am glad to share it: centers that place 5,000 "first game free" coupons at 24 local merchants (120,000 coupons in total) typically see around 1,200 visitors (1%) from the campaign. Could those 1,200 coupon users could be required to sign-up and activate their new reward cards in-center while they wait to redeem their free game?

Emerson Lanes (Parkersburg WV) does that. An immediate benefit for the coupon redeemer is that most will need to rent shoes and that cost can get tracked on the card right away. Another benefit to the coupon user is that many will want to buy a paid game after the free game and spend a few dollars on F&B which will earn them even more rewards points...all within the first 2 hours of getting their reward card.

Running a campaign like this twice a year could feed 2400 new bowler visits a year into your reward and training programs.

On average 16% (192 out of 1200) of coupon users check the "interested in league bowling" check box on the back of the coupons. This group could be a hot list of prospects that your husband could approach with his teaching offer.

I would be happy to share the many steps we take to run profitable Merchant Coupon programs for our client centers should you want to compare our process to any coupon programs you use or know of.

Thanks again for posting here - I love success stories.
Comment by Daleena Nichols on November 16, 2010 at 8:30am
This is what I have been trying to fiqure out. I know there is no way for this center to take our open play bowlers and turn them into league bowlers. (A few will but most will not.) My husband has started working one on one with a few younger bowlers that come in from time to time. An example, is he noticed a 14 year old boy and his dad had been in twice last month. He approached them and said, "If you want to learn how to bowl, I will work with you. I want you to pre-load 20 games on your rewards card and come in at least 3 times a week. If you do this, I will teach you how to bowl." To my husbands surprise, the boy and his father agreed. This boy comes in everyday. He has purchashed a balll and shoes. When he was down to his last game, he loaded another 20 games onto his card. He is also starting to bring friends in with him. Since we have started our Rewards Card Program, I have seen people coming in more. They like the idea of CASH BACK REWARDS. They also love it when we do drawings. I go out and get other businesses to donate prizes, like 30 day memberships to a gym, a free med. pizza. This week end I invited a Chiropractic office in to do FREE 10 min. Chair massages. The customers loved it! I had people coming up to me and asking when the next drawing was going to be. They did not want to leave if the drawing was going to be soon. I gave FREE games of bowling away as prizes. In order to get the FREE games they had to have our Rewards Card and they had to activate it. We gave out lots of cards. People will be back because they are going to want to use their FREE games! So, what's our new product? The customer is our new product. We reward them. Do fun things. Give them things for doing what we want. You want free games, sign up for a rewards card. You want to win that prize, stick around a little longer for your chance to win. (Three people I talked to stuck around for the drawing. Two out of the three went to the snack bar and spent around $20.00 each.) We make them feel special by sending our top 100 customers an e-mail flyer telling them how happy we are that they are our customer. Bring this flyer in and we will load an extra $5.00 on your rewards card. These are some of the things we are doing and we are seeing results.

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