Business Resources - Sales & Marketing - September 2017

1709_BIZ_MARKETING

Scarcity is one key to Incredible Pizza Company’s Cyber Monday deal, which doesn’t extend past the one-day window. (Credit: Incredible Pizza Company)

Deal of the Day

FEC mimics Groupon with great success on Cyber Monday

by Mike Bederka

Not content with paying the fees or lacking control on daily deal websites, Kim Valadez thought she could create a similar Groupon-like promotion in-house for her family entertainment center (FEC). The marketing director didn’t know what to expect at first, but much to her delight, the facility smashed its modest expectations in the first year alone, and the deal’s popularity has skyrocketed ever since. 

Conroe’s Incredible Pizza Company in the Houston suburb of Conroe, Texas, runs a simple yearly deal available only on Cyber Monday—the Monday after Thanksgiving known for shopping online. For a 24-hour period, guests can purchase a $100 card for $50. The FEC generated $18,000 in sales five years ago (after only hoping to touch $10,000), and in 2016, it hit a whopping $88,000.

“It has grown so fast that I’m overjoyed—and almost overwhelmed—by the response,” Valadez says.

The Fine Print

The $100 card covers almost everything in the FEC, including F&B, games, rides, attractions, birthdays, and group events. The only restriction? It can’t go toward the deposit for groups or parties, simply because Conroe’s system can’t read the card for that purpose. 

Valadez says many guests use the card for only the buffet and then spend additional money on games and attractions during each visit to stretch it out. She also sees significant redemption after the holidays, as the card becomes a popular gift for kids.

Online-Only Offer

Like the name of the shopping “holiday” implies, the card just can be bought online. No in-store transactions will be allowed, with one caveat. “I do have a few seniors who come in and say they don’t understand how to use the computer,” Valadez says. “We will pull them into an office and help them buy it online.” Also, knowing it will experience a short-term spike in web traffic, the facility will temporarily add more bandwidth to the site to help handle the crush.

Keep a Tight Marketing Budget

All told, Valadez spends less than $1,000 to market the deal: roughly $900 on digital billboards on Cyber Monday and about $100 in Facebook boosts. The vast majority of interest comes from positive word of mouth, so it’s not surprising that she starts getting calls in July inquiring if the FEC will do the Thanksgiving-time promo again.

Focus on Customer Service

After guests place their orders, all cards should be sent out within 48 hours, Valadez says. The lofty goal surely makes customers happy, but it does create a couple busy days of envelope stuffing and runs to the mailbox. Valadez and her team start the fulfillment process at 9 a.m. sharp on Cyber Monday, with a big chunk of the time dedicated to individually logging each 16-digit card number into their system. They take this extra (and admittedly tedious) step so the card can be easily replaced in case it gets lost or stolen, which does happen occasionally. As another customer perk to the promotion, the card itself sports a unique look compared with the FEC’s standard game card. Plus, the holiday design changes every year to further stand out and drive interest in the deal among their guests.

Stress the Urgency

With the exception of a similar summer deal—spend $50 and get $25 in just games and attractions play or $125 for a $75 extra in games and attractions, the FEC doesn’t offer any other Groupon-like promotions during the year, Valadez says: “This exclusivity makes it so popular.” 

The deal strictly runs for a 24-hour period, she adds: “Stick to the urgency.”

Throughout the day of the deal, Valadez will steadily post on Facebook to remind guests they only have a few hours left or they’re down to the final 30 minutes to take advantage.

“If they miss it, they miss it,” she says, noting she sometimes feels bad when the clock strikes midnight. “I’ll occasionally leave it open until 12:10 a.m. to give them a little cushion.”


Contact Contributing Editor Mike Bederka at michaelbederka@gmail.com.