Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Mini-Golf Outing (Literally)

Greens Fees Require a Lot of Green
Golf is expensive. And so are golf outings – especially when they serve as fundraisers. I’ve never heard of a golf outing fundraiser costing less than $75 per person. That’s a lot of green.

But mini-golf is not expensive. And it appeals to a much wider audience than golf. So we’re holding a mini-golf outing for a church fundraiser. The mini-golf course is charging us $4 per person for 18 holes as long as we get 50 players. If we charge at least $10 a person and get the required 50 golfers, we’ll raise $300.

We’re going to have people attending the outing bring prizes for things like lowest score and making a hole-in-one on specific holes, so we won’t have to buy any prizes. And we’ll have some people bring some tubs of ice cream so we can complete the outing with a nice treat at the end.

Add This to Your To-Do List

Mini-golf appeals to the young and old, and to men and women. It takes much less time to play than a traditional round of golf, and no previous experience is required to enjoy the game. Are you looking for unique fundraising ideas? More expensive doesn’t always mean you’ll raise more money or have more fun. Try a bowling outing or a bean-bag tossing tournament. If you make it fun and make it appeal to as wide of an audience as possible, you’ll raise money, have fun, and give people something to tell their friends about, too.

A special thanks to my dad, Tony, and my wife, Monica, for this great idea.

Monday, June 22, 2009

This Picture is Worth $100

A Wizard Invasion
Until September, the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago is home to Harry Potter: The Exhibition. It features thousands of props, costumes, and sets from the first six Harry Potter movies. Die-hard fans will appreciate the gift shop at the end of the exhibit that offers many Harry Potter collectibles that I’ve never seen before.

Some of the notable items available at the gift shop are:
  • A custom-made wizard chessboard for $400.
  • Replica Quiddich brooms starting at $300.
  • A replica Marauder’s Map for $50.
As you can see, there are some high-priced items available in the gift shop, but it lacks creative, personalized items.

All that was Missing was Me (and You)
The gift shop is missing a great opportunity to make a lot more money and to offer exhibition visitors the opportunity to go home with a truly unique souvenir.

The gift shop should offer families the chance to dress up as characters from the Harry Potter movies and pose for a photograph. But not just any photograph – a wizard photograph.

In the wizard world, the subjects of photographs aren’t stationary – they move around within the photos. Harry Potter: The Exhibition should charge families $100 for a moving photograph. The “photo” would be a short video taken with a digital camera. The family would be dressed as wizards and waving to the camera, which would be recording video. Then, the family would purchase the memory card from the camera and a digital photo frame on which to display their photo.

Families willing to spend $100 on a souvenir would walk away with a great one – they would get a fun video of themselves on a memory card and a digital photo frame that they could then use to show off other photos as well. It would be a great memory that they wouldn’t soon forget, and it would be useful for a long time.

Add This To Your To-Do List

At a certain point, the souvenir industry is all about creativity and personalization. A moving photo of your family dressed in wizard-wear is truly unique and something you can’t just get anywhere. What opportunities are you missing out on because you’re not willing to make things personal?

Instead of sending your customers a traditional greeting card for Christmas, why not send them an email with a link to a video of yourself wishing them a Merry Christmas on You Tube? Add a little personality to your gifts and they’ll be much more memorable.

There’s never a lack of ideas.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Frozen, Friendly Skies

A Not-Too-Distant Memory
Remember when airlines used to offer their coach passengers a free meal on a flight that lasted longer than a couple of hours?

Well, I have a simple idea that will bring back free meals on airplanes, and it won’t cost passengers or the airlines a single penny. Don’t believe me? Keep reading.

There Is Such a Thing as a Free Lunch
Airlines should invite pre-packaged frozen food brands such as Healthy Choice to serve their passengers free meals. Healthy Choice could use the opportunity in three ways:
  1. Free samples. Healthy Choice could provide airline passengers with products that are currently being sold at grocery stores across the country. The goal for Healthy Choice would be to introduce customers to one of its current products with the hope that customers would later purchase the product. It’d be like free sample day at the grocery store, but everybody would get a full meal, and they’d be flying on a plane while eating it.

  2. New product launches. Healthy Choice could provide passengers with products that are about to be sold in stores but aren’t available yet. The goal for Healthy Choice would be to build excitement and demand around a new product with the hope that when the product hits the shelves, it would have a pre-installed customer base.

  3. Product research. Healthy Choice could offer free meals to airline passengers who are willing to answer a brief questionnaire about their meal after eating it. The brand could test its new products on a captive in-flight audience and use the results to create better products. Wouldn’t you eat a free meal if all you had to do was answer a couple of questions about it after you were finished? I would.
A Win-Win-Win Situation
By partnering with pre-packaged frozen food brands, airlines could offer their passengers free food at no cost to them. The passengers would be happier because they’d be getting free food. The airlines would benefit from happier, more loyal customers because they’re getting a free meal, and the frozen food brands would be able to increase brand awareness and sales by tapping into a captive audience.

It’s a win-win-win situation.

Add This To Your To-Do List
Are there product features or services that you used to offer your customers for free that you’re now charging for or no longer offering? Instead of raising your prices to re-offer those features or services, can you find someone to partner with that might like to give them to your customers for free? It can be simple – maybe the local pizza place would like to sponsor the nice notepad that you used to give clients on their nightstand at your bed and breakfast. Reach out to a couple of local businesses to see if they’d be interested in forming a partnership to increase customer satisfaction. You might be surprised at what you come up with.

There’s never a lack of ideas.

Monday, June 1, 2009

T-Mobile Shrinks Your Bills

An Independent’s Day
According to its website, is “an independent service providing unbiased and personalized recommendations to save you money.”

From what I can tell, BillShrink is like Consumer Reports, but focuses exclusively on cell phone plans, credit cards, and gas prices.

Recently, T-Mobile started running prime-time television ads that encourage viewers to visit for a “mobile makeover” (see the ad above). The underlying message of the ad is simple: T-Mobile provides the best value for your cell phone dollars, and an independent website proves it.

It’s Not Us, It’s Them
This type of advertising is not new. The auto industry is filled with ads touting cars as winning awards from Motor Trend and JD Power & Associates. Restaurants tout their Zagat ratings, and movies advertise critics’ reviews.

The reason we see this type of “don’t just take our word for it” advertising is because it has proven to be effective. And the reason that it’s effective is because it strips a brand of its traditional “marketing spin” and lets independent reviewers give their honest, unbiased opinions.

Studies show that consumers are becoming increasingly more hesitant to believe a brand’s marketing message. This form of advertising simply validates a brand’s message by involving an independent third party.

I Applaud the Effort
T-Mobile has stiff competition in the cell phone service market. It doesn’t have the biggest network (Verizon does). It doesn’t have the iPhone (AT&T does). So, T-Mobile has chosen to compete on value, and they have an independent source that rates its service as the best value. I’ve run many cell phone plan scenarios through, and the site ranks T-Mobile as the best plan every time.

The Jury is Still Out
We’ll have to wait a while to see if this new campaign is effective. In my opinion, it’s a great strategy that has proved to be effective in many other industries. And if it doesn’t work, T-Mobile still has Catherine Zeta-Jones as its spokesperson.

If their value isn’t a sight for sore eyes, at least their spokesperson is.

Add This To Your To-Do List
How do your products and services stack up against your competitors’ in independent reviews? If they’re the best, you’re probably already advertising that fact. If you’re not, you should be.

But what if independent panels or critics don’t review your products and services? Well, you could sponsor an independent study, but that gets tricky and you have to do it right. Instead, you could simply highlight what previous customers have said about your products and services. Real product testimonials are extremely powerful and a great first step into the “don’t just take our word for it” advertising game.

There’s never a lack of ideas.