Kelley Brooke on the importance of running internal group and fan deals through Facebook:
We ran a couple of Groupon deals and realized that the only party that was benefiting financially from these deals was Groupon. At the end of the day, we were earning 25 percent of the full retail price from the promotions. This is good for marketing purposes, but we had very little repeat business from the people buying the deals, so the marketing position gained was virtually useless. We then decided to focus on our existing client base and reward them for being loyal. We decided to create our own deals through Facebook apps, such as fan deals, deal shares, exclusives, sweepstakes and contests. The apps, through a company named Vocus, are promotional in nature but have great value for the facility because you attract new Facebook fans or email addresses. For example, you could do a deal share where people have to like your Facebook page and share the deal with friends. The deal (e.g. buy one bucket get one free) will only activate after a predetermined number of new Facebook fans or shares are accumulated. The trick is to be creative and find something to give away that will not cost you money. You can also run sweepstakes where the entrant has to give his or her email address to enter; this is a great way to build your database. We always like to partner with an outside vendor, such as an equipment manufacturer, that is looking to promote a new product. That way they give the gift and we get the email addresses. By starting with these sweepstakes and fan deals, we establish a relationship that we then build by giving my cell phone and personal contact info to our thousands of customers. I encourage them to call, text, or email me personally with any thoughts or suggestions that they may have. I learn a lot about their needs and desires by listening. They appreciate that I am accessible and care about their needs. It is hard to build these relationships quickly and on a large scale without social media. These apps sometimes become viral if they are fun and interesting. We always pick up new Facebook fans and email addresses, which equal power. Generating new fans helps us promote our brand and message further, helping our customers get great deals at the same time.
Kelley Brooke on the business impact of running internal group and fan deals through Facebook:
The upside of this program is that we control the money, we don’t share it with third-party companies and we rarely lose money as a result. We get to save every cent we make. We also set rules in which certain deals can only be used during off hours. This helps us because it allows us to not only gain new customers, but helps the facility with business during slow times. One of the positives for us has been that each day this spring we have seen up to 30 new customers. We know that they are new customers because they don’t know the lay of the land or how to use the PIN system we use to run the golf ball dispenser. This has been very exciting and promising for us to witness; I can’t say that they are practicing more, but our new customer base is very important to us. The young customers that we are attracting are also spending money on our non-conventional revenue streams, which includes the beer garden and café, mini golf and batting cages, in addition to booking events such as bachelor and birthday parties. We have found that the Facebook generation needs and wants to be highly stimulated and we are providing it with those additional services. All of this has led to positive word-of-mouth for us, and that’s been a huge positive as we’ve seen happy customers wanting to share their great experiences with their friends.