France’s Paul Bocuse, who was one of the world’s most famous celebrity chefs, died recently, leaving a host of delectable recipes along with such memorable quotes as: “Everybody knows who God is, but that doesn’t stop his priests from ringing the church bells every morning.” Chef Paul believed in promotion and marketing and was scolded by some fellow chefs for his insatiable self-promotion in the media. But, he knew that great food went only so far toward the success he dreamt of for his restaurant in Lyon. For it to be super successful, he had to tell the world about it. This he did, and the world beat a path to his door (sometimes folks had to make reservations six months in advance).
Coca-Cola is often used as the ideal example of successful advertising. There isn’t a human being in the developed world who doesn’t know about Coke and what it tastes like. So, why do they put signs all over the place and run ads everywhere? So that nobody forgets that Coke is “the real thing.”
Advertising, promotion and that sort of marketing are relatively new to the arcade business, and almost unheard of on the route level other than through league announcements and Facebook. In recent times, however, many of the larger FECs have added paid ad campaigns to their more typical “free tokens for good grades” face-to-face player promotions in school newspapers and other inexpensive local outlets. Of course, one of the best ways to reach players is the professionally produced company website, even if it costs a few more bucks than you’d like.
Dave & Buster’s and Chuck E. Cheese’s have run some really top-quality “ad agency” TV spots over recent years, which they can do given the size of their chains. But, even some smaller chains and single sites have been running on TV (and radio). Those that would like to, but lack the knowhow, can use in-house production facilities and advice of local stations themselves and maybe avoid going the more expensive ad agency route.
Just like your social media presence, paid ads tell people who you are and what you do. But if you only run something three times or just once a month, you’re not making the impact you’d like. A more repetitive campaign does the job better, especially if it comes with a memorable tag line or musical jingle. Appoint an employee to spearhead this, maybe the same person who takes care of your social media. Have him or her contact the TV and radio stations and newspapers in your area, and get names, prices and the “skinny” on how they can make you a good ad that tells your story and gets people to think about going to your place when the question “whaddaya wanna do tonight?” is asked.
As far as route operations go, the idea here is to single out one of your more successful locations (a big “Millennial” beer bar, for example) and ask if they’d care to go in with you on a share basis. If the income from your equipment accounts for, say, 30% of their overall gross, then that would be your share of the ad expenses. Make sure your machines show up in the spot and the name of your route is seen, heard or preferably both. Advertising and other forms of promotion work. Put them to work for you.