A Bozuko beta customer profile: The Lowell Spinners

By: Jack Winston

Bozuko continues to roll out its marketing promotions tools to a select group of marketing thought leaders in the greater Boston area.  We will be firing up an exciting set of games at venues in the Lowell area (home of the Industrial revolution, birthplace of Jack Kerouac) over the next few weeks.

We are particularly excited to be going live with Bozuko at the Lowell Spinners on August 2.  The Spinners are a Class-A Affiliate of the Boston Red Sox.  At time of writing, they stand 3.5 games out of first place in their division of the New York-Penn league.

On average, the privately owned Spinners draw 3400 fans to LeLacheur Park for their nearly 40 home games during the regular season.  With 1500 season ticket holders, they aim to “sell every ticket” at the standard $7 face value.  They do not, as other clubs do, give tickets away in favor of focusing on selling concessions.  Ticket sales are their primary source of revenues, with concessions and sponsorships (field signage and ad space in game programs) as secondary sources.

We recently caught up with Spinners staff Jon Boswell, Director of Media Relations and Jon Healey, Vice President for Group Ticketing to discuss marketing and promotions strategy for the Spinners Ball Club.

Tell me about your general marketing promotions strategy.

We work with a very limited marketing budget that mostly goes towards radio, print, and direct mailings.  We run a lot of sponsored promotions, where a brand or local business will sponsor a special event in exchange for publicity.  Sponsored promotions may include giveaways (e.g. Dustin Pedroia bobblehead), theme nights (e.g. Starwars or Nascar) or celebrity athlete autograph sessions.  We also run dinner and premium seating specials with our on-site BBQ restaurant, The Gator Pit.

What about online?

The Spinners website is managed by the MLB Advanced Media group.  (Jack’s Note: It is a pretty slick site, with team roster, schedule, and live play by play coverage of games).  The Spinners organization gets a cut of revenues generated from ads served up on the Spinners site and we have several advertising spots that we typically package with in-park signage.

Have you experimented with Group Discounting?

We have not done GroupOn, but did experiment with some local group discounting services (sample here) – frankly with limited success, most likely due to a limited reach of the service.  We have had some success with deeply discounted packages promoted through 50:50 deals with local radio stations.

We talk a lot about trying GroupOn, but we have real concerns about the economics.  Our strategy is to build and retain a fan base that perceives value from a fairly priced ticket.

You have a very active Facebook page.  How do you get value out of Facebook?

We currently have about 6000 likes and 2500 or so twitter followers.  We try to do 2-3 posts per day.  We see impressions driven from posts to the news feeds of fans that Like us to be a very economical source of advertising.  While it is difficult to measure, we think the Facebook newsfeed is increasingly influential when compared to other online marketing techniques like email.  Email is a great tool to reach our fan base – particularly early on in the season when there is pent up demand to watch baseball and a full slate of games ahead of us for people to buy advance tickets.  As the season moves on into July and August, we get less of a return on each email and need to rely on other channels to stay connected with our fan base.  With more people spending more time on Facebook, we can use our newsfeed to push mini-messages out to fans to stay connected, run promotions, and encourage attendance.   We have run a few informal contests to drive Facebook likes and would like to do more in the future.

In general, we see Facebook as a powerful way to grow and maintain our fan base.

What have you done with location based services or mobile technologies?

We do offer a 15% discount for checking in on Facebook.  We do have Foursquare and GoWalla places but have not done much with them.  Facebook check-ins are something we would like to encourage.  The impressions you create when a fan checks in at the Spinners and broadcasts their location to all of their friends are again, a great source of low cost advertising.

We see a large percentage of our fans with smart phones.  This year, we launched a Spinners App and also deployed Munchly that allows fans to order food and drink on their phones and get it delivered to their seats.

What are you hoping to get from Bozuko?

Bozuko is a great way to connect with our fans while they are in the park and a way to get them to engage with us on Facebook so we can stay connected after they leave.  We are looking forward to giving away some great prizes to fans who give it a try.

If you are in the Lowell area, stop by LeLacheur Park for a game or 2 during the next home stand, Aug 2 – 6, first pitch at 7:05pm.  Full Schedule here.  The Spinners will be running lots of games with Bozuko, with chances to win lots of great prizes.  Great baseball and exciting games on your mobile phone.  That is what summer is all about.

Stay current on Bozuko by subscribing to our blog, following us on Twitter, and liking us on Facebook.  Download the Bozuko iPhone App today.

To learn more about the Spinners, visit their website, like them on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter.  More importantly, come catch a game this week (map).

What role should email play for the brick and mortar business?

By: Jack Winston

Email (along with a business website) forms the cornerstone of most real world, brick and mortar business’ digital marketing strategies. Unfortunately, businesses often use email marketing in a way that is counterproductive. General email volumes are up. People’s attention spans and free time are down. Most consumers have learned to screen out email based on scanning uninteresting subject lines and sender addresses. Email clients (Outlook, Yahoo, Gmail, etc…) offer the ability to mark senders as spam, and email senders that don’t provide a means for recipients to opt-out risk the chance of being “Blacklisted” by service providers – making it very difficult to continue an email marketing program.

Knowing the pitfalls of poor email marketing habits, the savvy marketer strives to build an email list of opt-in customers that have agreed to receive emails from the business. Furthermore, effective email campaigns offer genuinely interesting information, valuable promotional offers, and are not so frequent so as to be relegated to a consumer’s ignore list. Done successfully, you can create an email brand that extends your real world brand onto your customers’ computers and mobile phones. You want your email brand and your interesting subject lines to stop the consumer in their delete-delete-delete-delete pattern with a “hmm, that is worth me taking 2 seconds to look at.” And then, when opened, you want your email message to make a favorable impression – ideally: “I need to get over there right away!”, but at least: “That’s cool. I like those guys.” Definitely not: “This is lame and a waste of my time.” Enough impressions along the lines of the latter results in a tarnished email brand that will only earn your next campaign another push of the delete key.

The most important element of an email marketing program is that it is NOT your only digital marketing channel. There is enormous value in extending a real world business’s interaction with its customers to the online world. Email is just one way – and only works when you have invested in establishing credibility with your recipients.

Facebook and Twitter marketing programs are of increasing importance for brands and businesses alike. In prior posts, we have discussed the value of getting customers to Like you on Facebook or follow you on Twitter. Posting to customers’ walls is a cost-effective way of putting short micro messages in front of your customers. Just as with email, you need to keep your posts interesting and valuable – but it is generally acceptable to post more frequently to facebook and twitter than it is to blast emails. With the average American spending more than 1 hour per day on Facebook, this is a very valuable marketing channel to invest in.

Location based tools are also valuable ways to notify consumers in your area that you are offering something of value. Facebook deals, Foursquare Specials and GroupOn Now enable customers to locate interesting discounts or promotions in the area. Bozuko offers consumers the ability to find and play Bozuko games in your area via location based services (at time of writing, we are still in Beta and only working with a select group of businesses in the greater Boston area). These tools help businesses entice customers to stop by and take advantage of their promotions.

The evolution of online technologies and consumers’ modes of interacting with businesses online demand that brick and mortar businesses adapt their digital marketing strategies. Successful businesses will move beyond email – not abandon – to connect with consumers using a new range of tools. Bozuko offers both the opportunity to directly connect with potential customers in the area as well as drive participation in Facebook marketing programs by encouraging customers to check-in or Like the business offering the promotion.

Please stay tuned as Bozuko roles out to a larger number of Boston area businesses throughout the summer and eventually to brands and businesses throughout the known universe. And beyond.

To stay connected with Bozuko, please join our email list.

Also follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and most importantly, download the Bozuko application for iPhone and play games daily for chances to win big prizes.

Bozuko Beta Customer Profile: Somerville Carwash trials marketing promotions with Bozuko

By: Jack Winston

Bozuko’s first beta customer launched their first promotion today on July 11, 2011.  Did you catch the significance of the date?  7 – 11 – 11. You don’t have to be a seasoned Craps player to know that these are EXTREMELY LUCKY numbers.   Could we possibly have planned this?  Well, actually we did.

We wish the best of luck to all our Bozuko users.  After all, it is luck that determines whether you will win at a true game of chance such as the virtual slot machines or scratch tickets that Bozuko players are using today.

But,  luck has nothing to do with running a marketing promotions program.  Good promotions are the result of careful planning, execution, experimentation, and re-planning.  To dig more into what makes for a great marketing promotions program and how Bozuko can help, what better way than to talk to the forward-thinking marketers and business owners that we are partnering with?

We had the chance to catch up with the owner of Bozuko’s first beta site, the Somerville Carwash at 680 Somerville Ave in Somerville, MA.  Dom Previte has run Somerville Carwash since moving into the family business in 1990 directly after college.  The Somerville Carwash is a Cambridge-Somerville institution, situated in a very visible location on a high traffic volume street.    We picked Dom’s brain on marketing promotions strategy for the carwash business:

J: Tell me about the basics of the carwash business?

D: A sunny day plus an extended forecast of sunny days equals the ability to wash cars.  Most people won’t wash their car in the rain or if rain is in the forecast.  So when it is a sunny day we try to maximize the day.  Controlling expenses without impacting service is truly an art and not a science.  Since we offer many cleaning and detailing services on demand (no appointment required), we need to maintain a higher level of staffing to be prepared for a surge in customers.

J: It seems like it would be pretty competitive even for a well established business like yours. How do you develop repeat business?

D:  It is very competitive.  We provide a consistently clean car at a reasonable price in a short period of time.  We are always looking to create loyalty programs and promotions to encourage repeat business.  For instance, selling gift cards or a discounted 5 pack.  One of the most successful programs we have is the Smart Pass program that offers unlimited washes (1 per day) for 30 days, month to month, or one year for a fixed price.

J. What do you do for marketing?

D. At this point, we only do web related marketing or on-site promotions.  We got out of doing coupons and direct mail a few years back – we were not seeing the return on the expense.

J. What have been the main components of your web marketing strategy?

D. We have a very active website.  I use an outside service to maintain it, but am very involved with management.  I watch web traffic closely as a measurement of interest.  We do a significant volume of business through ecommerce on the site.   A few times per year – usually Mother’s day, Father’s day, and Christmas –  we offer specially discounted pre-paid packages.  These make great, quick gifts and are very popular online.  Increasing our email list has been important.  We have a list of several hundred customers that we use to push special promotions like these.  We actually offer discounts in return for providing your email.   We are starting to focus more attention on leveraging our Facebook page for promoting deals and generally keeping our name on our customers’ minds.

J: What are your plans around mobile marketing?

D: We are actively trying to acquire customers’ mobile phone numbers with plans to offer texting based promotions in the near future.  Given the weather dependence and natural ups and downs of the business, there are times when we want to drive a short term uptick in volume.  We would like to use text messaging to offer discounted washes if you show up in the next few hours.

J. Tell me about your experience with group discounting services.

D. I am really skeptical about the profitability of these programs.  We did a deal with Groupon this past April and launched a deal with Living Social a few weeks back.  After getting some experience with them, I can say for certain that they are not designed to promote loyalty.  It is unclear how much actual new business is being created and I am concerned that the majority of the packages were sold to my existing customers who may have paid regular price.  It is very difficult to track, but my gut is that these programs are not offering me the huge bump in baseline business they claim to.   One lesson we learned was that the administrative hassle of these programs could actually hurt customer satisfaction.   We had people who had bought a 5 wash pass through Groupon show up for their second wash without the ticket we had given them when they first redeemed their package.  This resulted in several upset customers and a manager jumping through hoops to get a new ticket in seconds.

I am not sure if we will do group discounting deals in the future, but if we do we will definitely simplify the program and make sure we are also running loyalty based programs to ensure retention of the new customers we gain from the initial discount.

J.  What do you hope to get out of Bozuko?

D.  I think it has the potential to be a fun game to play while waiting in line or while in the car wash.   Everyone likes being given a chance to win, so it has the potential to enhance the customer experience.  I am probably most interested in seeing if it actually encourages more people to Like us on Facebook.   I’d like to build a larger Facebook following that we can leverage to promote the deals we have going as well as keep us on our customers’ minds.  I’d like them to see a post from our newsfeed and get reminded that it is time for them to come in to get their car washed.

Also, I am interested to see where this whole check-in thing goes.  I certainly like the idea of people announcing to their friends that they are at my car wash.  It will be interesting to see how it gets adopted by the mainstream.

I am excited to see how it goes.

So are we.  The Somerville Carwash is giving away a lot of great prizes through their Bozuko promotion starting today (Monday – July 11).   Sorry, but it is only for iPhone users for the next few weeks.  If you are in the Cambridge-Somerville area, stop by 680 Somerville Ave. for a high quality wash, friendly service, and a chance to win big!

Stay current on Bozuko by subscribing to our blog, following us on Twitter, and liking us on Facebook.  Download the Bozuko iPhone App today to play for some cool prizes in our demo game.

Learn more about the Somerville Carwash by visiting their website (www.seeyoushine.com) and liking them on Facebook (www.facebook.com/SomervilleCarWash).

5 reasons why you should be paying attention to Bozuko

By: Jack Winston

So, our cards are on the table.  If you haven’t already – check out www.bozuko.com and download the Bozuko App from the iPhone App Store (Android version is due to be out in next couple weeks). 

Bozuko is a platform for businesses to offer promotions, based on simple games of chance, to their customers on their mobile phones.  The Bozuko App is location aware and can be linked to users’ Facebook accounts so businesses can require check-ins or “Likes” in return for a chance to win.  The online dashboard that businesses use to set up and run promotions is intuitive to use while being a powerful campaign management tool.  The mobile app that customers interact with is fun to play with.  The games the customers play (which currently include virtual scratch tickets or slots with others to come) are addictively simple. 

So why should you be paying attention to Bozuko?   Let’s answer that with a brief retrospective of the key principles discussed in this blog to date.

1. Facebook holds huge untapped marketing potential for companies of all shape and sizes.
For more on this, read Social Media Marketing for the Real World and Facebook Marketing for the Real World Business.

2. To realize the full value social marketing, companies need to maximize social endorsements like Facebook “Likes” from their customers.
For more on this, read Why Facebook “Likes“ and other social endorsements are important to the location based business.

3. The best time to get customers to participate in social interaction is while they are physically at the business (or while they are directly engaging with the business in some way).
For more on this, read Checking out who is checking in on location based social networks and 5 tips to running a good location-based services promotion.

4. Discounts have limited value for driving social program participation and while useful for attaining certain goals (i.e. driving new business), do not work as well for retaining customers.
For more on this, read Do group discounting deals short change real world businesses?

5. Sweepstakes, contests, and games of chance are great tools for providing promotions and participation incentives, but have been limited by the complexity of setting up and running. 
For more on this, read The value of sweepstakes and instant win games for promoting your business and There is nothing more American than games of chance.

Bozuko is currently rolling out by invitation only (which is the new cool way of saying we are in Beta).  We will be introducing you to our Beta customers in coming blog entries.  We will roll out more broadly in the next few months, so please stay tuned by subscribing to our blog, following us on Twitter, and liking us on Facebook.  Download the Bozuko iPhone App today to play for some cool prizes in our demo game. 

Welcome to the summer of Bozuko.  Weather forecast is sunny with a chance to win big!

There is nothing more American than games of chance

By: Jack Winston

On this July 4, the greatest of American holidays, we can’t help but stop to think about a simple truth that has great implications for marketers – Americans love a chance to win. Winning at what? Doesn’t matter.

Scientific Games, a leading provider of technology and services for the lottery industry, states that 2009 instant ticket and online lottery sales in the US totaled $52.6B. Click here for some great statistics on worldwide lotteries. States and charitable institutions have leveraged America’s love for games of chance in raising huge sums with games like Keno, Bingo, scratch tickets, the track, slots, video poker, etc…. It should be noted that this is not just a US phenomenon – our formerly-tyrannical cousins share a similar love for games of chance (see stats on UK lottery) and lotteries are active in over 100 countries around the world.

Knowing of America’s love for a good game of chance, brand marketers have used sweepstakes as a promotional tool for decades. In a prior post, we have discussed the effectiveness of sweepstakes and similar contests in designing valuable incentives while controlling costs. With the growth of social media, location based technologies, and smart phones, major brands are designing some really exciting variants of traditional sweepstakes. Starwood Hotels designed a program where guests checking in on Foursquare qualify for a daily drawing for a free nights stay at any resort. In June, 7-Eleven stores announced a program where customers checking-in win a trip to visit the international space station.

Revere's ride and Bozuko Rollout

These types of promotions are a perfect combination of high-incentive-value prizes with the social-location-mobile technologies that make participation easy and create unique opportunities for companies to create lasting engagement with their customers. Wouldn’t it be really great if there was a platform that simplified all of the technology, the sweepstakes laws, and control of the promotion to the point that any business – no matter how small – could take advantage of these kinds of marketing tools? Hmmm……

Being from the Boston area, we here at Bozuko have a keen appreciation for American history. The signing of the Declaration of Independence set off a series of events that included Paul Revere’s famous ride warning, “The British are coming!” It is fitting that Bozuko is planning its roll-out along a similar path through the greater Boston area.

Bozuko is coming!  Bozuko is coming!  Happy Independence Day from Bozuko.