Adopt the WISER approach for a new way to communicate your brand message in and out of your facility.
I had the opportunity to attend and present at Bowl Expo 2021 in Louisville, Kentucky. The Bowl Expo education team continues to wow me with their commitment to improving operations for bowling and bowling-based family entertainment operators.
One such speaker I was thrilled to see was customer experience expert, Dan Gingiss, whom I first saw at the Inbound Marketing conference in 2019. Dan's session on customer experience and digital marketing was so impactful that I knew operators could apply his approach to build stronger ties to their audiences, and that's just as relevant today as ever.
With budgets getting tighter, we need every no-cost idea to set ourselves apart. That's why we're bringing back Dan's WISER approach to help you reimagine the way you connect with your audience.
You might wonder what digital marketing has to do with onsite guest experience, but at Bowl Expo, Dan argued that every interaction that you have onsite and online with your audience will help set the tone for how they perceive you. So many times, businesses have an online persona that's not in sync with their onsite experience - and that can lead to big trouble. The best approach is to share a vision that reaches all the way from marketing to operations, and weigh each decision, conversation, and interaction, against your vision. This will create a strong brand. Here's how:
The WISER Approach:
1. Be witty.
Every time you engage with your guests, make them feel like they’re a part of your special group – or even part of your family. One way to accomplish this is through wit or humor.
We’re in the fun business, so our language should be fun, too! Every time you use clever wording in a marketing message, you’re giving guests a reason to smile.
But no matter what type of interaction you’re engaging in, they could be much more memorable if you’re letting your personality shine through. I call it the fun factor. Necessary interactions – like transitions in a birthday party, safety briefings, birthday booking calls, and just about every other – give you an opportunity to have fun with guests and make their experience exciting.
2. Be intentionally immersive.
Immersive experiences allow your guests to get swept away into a different world – your world. Think of Disney. Disney has built a brand so immersive that people want to become lifelong patrons. My sister-in-law had a Disney- themed wedding, takes Disney cruises, and visits the Magic Kingdom at least three times per year. Don't get me started on the merch.
Your brand, just like your personality, should pull your guests in. But this doesn’t happen by chance – rather, by intention. “Larger than Life” theming, immersive attractions, well thought out marketing plans and, of course, the language your team uses in interactions all add layers that create a cohesive (or not) world for your guests to visit.
Let’s say you have a pirate-themed mini-golf or laser tag attraction. How immersive are the names of your offerings? Take a moment to look at your business with a critical eye to determine how immersive each stage of your average guest’s visit is, and work towards strengthening it. For example, theme-related names of party rooms, packages, specialty food and beverage, and even nicknames for party hosts and guests of honor add a layer of fun factor that adds to a guest's experience.
3. Make it easily shareable.
Social media is continuously evolving the way guests interact with your business, and they can be your biggest marketers. What you do, say and how your business shows up in the community is fodder for social media users to talk about your brand.
Wit and a terrific guest experience will take you part of the way there, but don’t forget to make it easy for your guests to share content about your business. I can’t tell you how many conferences I’ve gone to where I’ve had to ask about the social media handles and hashtags to use. Your social media channels should be easy to find and highly visible in your in-store marketing and digital signage so that it’s simple for guests to find and engage with you online.
Then, consider where you can push for more interaction – give guests a reason to talk about you positively. Maybe it’s a brag wall, a mascot sighting, or a fun promotional event.
The example Dan gave in his presentation was a gin distributor that hosted a tasting. Guests selected their gin brand, a mixer and a unique garnish for their drink. All of these are potentially unique enough to warrant some word of mouth, but the company hit a home run by then handing out cards for guests to name their very own one-of-a-kind cocktail. The addition of this simple step made a good experience a great one – and made guests scramble to post about it on social media.
4. Shoot for extraordinary.
If you’ve done the first three tips here, you’re well on your way to delivering something extraordinary. It’s found in all the little details of your facility’s attractions, offerings, and service.
Can you deliver just a little bit more?
Maybe it’s in sending personal notes responding to every complaint or return, or in helping a long-distance grandmother call on video chat to wish a birthday girl a terrific seventh birthday, or going out of your way to help a hopeful fiancé propose to a surprised bride to be.
Whatever you do, look for ways to deliver on the magic that our industry can create.
5. Be responsive.
You’re going out of your way to wow your guests and leveraging those terrific experiences to do the marketing heavy lifting. Be sure that you don’t miss out on social media’s full potential.
It’s always a good idea to respond to every single piece of feedback that you receive on social media (and everywhere else) to ensure that guests feel heard. I’ve received this question a lot about reviews, and I think the more responsive you can be the better.
Thank guests sincerely (and uniquely) when you get positive feedback. Southwest goes a great job at this on Twitter. Sometimes they'll respond with simple thanks. Other times, they'll respond and give a customer Rapid Rewards Points, Other times they'll reply that the commenter is making them blush. Bottom line, the company's fun personality shines through consistently.
If feedback is negative, do your best to express empathy, and try to get more information offline so that you can resolve the situation, while also showing others that your business cares enough to dig into issues.
If you take some time with your team to consider where they apply the WISER approach with guests onsite and online, you'll be sure to reap the many benefits of repeat visits, more positive reviews, and more new visitors. After all, remember Dan's advice, "A remarkable customer experience is your best marketing."
Dan Gingiss is a social media and customer experience expert who has worked with such companies as McDonald’s Corporation, Humana, and Discover Card. Learn more about his work at dangingiss.com.