Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

FEC Marketing Made Easy

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I had an epiphany this week about how to make sure I bring you great content on marketing and how it can help your business. At the beginning of each month, I want to share information about what’s happening in social media, give you marketing ideas you can use, and answer questions about marketing in your FEC. Let’s look at what happened in January and plan for the future.

Facebook Changes Newsfeed

The first big news of the year was Facebook changing its newsfeed to bring people closer together. It’s a big change and it’s going to affect business pages a lot IF you haven’t been connecting with your followers from the get-go. The gist of the change is if you are not providing engaging content, your post won’t show up higher in the newsfeed. Facebook’s algorithm is looking for content that is producing meaningful interactions.

What is a meaningful interaction? Simply put, it’s more than just someone liking your post. It’s about getting into a conversation with your followers.

The alarms went up a little when Michael Stelzner from Social Media Examiner held a Facebook live session almost making you feel that the Facebook world was ending. But it’s not. Facebook was created to connect us and over the past few years that hasn’t been the case. Posts have been about click bait, bad memes, cat pictures, and, quite frankly, bad news stories. Now is a great opportunity for you to engage your community and tell your story.

First of all, it’s a great time to do a social media audit. Go back to your accounts and remove old posts and pictures that may not represent your brand anymore. Cleaning up the past is okay.

Secondly, go back and look at your analytics. What have you posted in the past that got people to engage more? Do your fans enjoy videos?Live streams? Yummy food pictures you serve? Find out what your followers want and give them that! Also look at the days and times you are posting and see when there are more of your followers on Facebook. Post during those peak times so there is a higher probability of your showing in their newsfeed.

Make a plan. There are times it’s fun just to post on a whim but planning what you put out there is best. You may find that all your posts are promotional and not engaging your audience. Break up the promotional posts with posts of your birthday parties or live video of the back of the house. Fans want to know that you are real and will engage with you more when they can relate. Here is a quick list of ideas you can implement into your plan.

  • Run a contest and have them like, share, and comment on the post
  • Showcase your customers
  • Do a live video showcasing a manager/party host/cook/mechanic and what they do in the center
  • Share pictures of your amazing food
  • Share content about other community organizations
  • Ask a question
  • Share a funny picture that relates to your center
  • Use our Reach Calendar that is filled with national holidays and all the fun national days to help you engage your audience.

The list can go on and on. Here are a few examples from some of our clients to help you get your juices flowing.

Instagram Now Has Scheduling

The second big thing in social media in January for me was that Instagram opened their API to allow scheduling! I have been using Schedugram to schedule Instagram posts. Yes, it was a leap of faith that they wouldn’t shut them down, but now it’s open. Instagram has been my favorite medium since its launch and it has slowly become the favorite of more people. Instagram has over 800 million monthly users and 500 million daily users. Those numbers are a HUGE jump from the 200 million daily users just a few months ago.

The biggest feedback I have heard from clients over the past couple of years regarding Instagram was that it was too hard to maintain because they would have to stop and load their picture. Well, now there is no excuse. Platforms jumped on this quick! HootSuite and Sprout Social are ready to go. All you have to do is connect your business account.

I will be testing out Sprout Social since we use that platform for all our other social media and analytics, but I like Schedugram. Since they have been doing this for years, they have listened to beta testers and have asked us for our feedback to create a robust system.

You can upload a lot of posts at one time without having to submit each post. It also gives you the option if you want it square or to fit the frame, edit your picture, or be the first to comment. My favorite feature is that you can add it to a queue, save it as a draft, or schedule the time and date immediately. I still like to post organically on Instagram, especially when we are at trade shows and conferences, but I like to fill up a queue of photos, so we post once a day. Having that queue makes it easy to make sure you are getting out there every day.

Don’t be scared to use Instagram. It’s fun and a great way to reach more people under the age of 30.

Marketing and Promotion Ideas

This past IAAPA I was able to speak at the Power Promotions session and it was fun to share ideas with everyone about what kind of promotions centers can plan for during the year. While you need to be looking at least 90 days out on big events or promotions, you can pull off some smaller promotions if you have someone dedicated to marketing in your center. Here are a few ideas you can implement into your marketing calendar over the next couple of months.

  • Facebook Valentine’s Contest: Run a fun contest on Facebook asking people to share stories about how they met their partner. Give them a deadline and have your team pick their favorite story for a free date on you.
  • Spring Break Photo Booth: Spring break will be here soon! Set up a fun photo booth with props for your guests to take pictures with. Post a sign asking them to use a special hashtag when they post. Be sure you are engaging with them by searching for the hashtag.
  • Wednesday, March 28th is National Laser Tag Day: Run a laser tag special to drive midweek business.
  • April 25th is National Administrative Professionals Day: Start reaching out now to local businesses and plan a fun lunch session to honor their admins.

I hope this helps you with marketing in your FEC. I’m looking forward to next month and how we can help you grow your business. If you have questions about promotions or marketing in your center, be sure to shoot me an email:

A Heart as Big as Texas

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I love Texas!

Really what I mean by that is I love my hometown of Houston. I was born and raised here and tell people all the time I live in the greatest city in the world! If you have turned on a TV in the past week, you have seen the devastation that hit the Gulf Coast. Yes, not just Houston but the 52+ counties affected by Hurricane Harvey.

During the past week, we have seen people from all over our state and, quite frankly, our country, come together. They’ve helped with rescue, demo of homes, and clean up. They are working shelters, bringing in donations of food, water, clothing, and other much-needed supplies. It truly has been amazing. I wanted to spotlight some of the work that’s been done and then give you ideas on how to give back to your community, particularly with the holiday season coming up.

Bowling Center Opens Doors to Hurricane Refugees

Our dear friends at Max Bowl in Port Arthur, Texas opened their doors and became a shelter for those seeking refuge from flood waters. Not only did they open their doors, the café was feeding everyone, too. This story literally brought tears to my eyes. Opening their doors was an overwhelming example of how the bowling and FEC community gave back to their community.

Local Trampoline Park Donates Proceeds to JJ Watt Hurricane Relief Fund

Another amazing example is Urban Air in Spring, Texas, just a few miles from my house. For two days they donated all proceeds to JJ Watt’s Foundation for Hurricane Harvey Relief. It was a great way to get the kids out and let parents have time for clean up as the neighborhoods around the corner were severely flooded.

School Supply Drive to Support Gulf Coast Schools

Here at TrainerTainment, education is a huge priority for us. We are educators in every sense of the word, so we started a school supply drive. In Houston ISD, 52 schools were severely damaged and another 27 had damage that could be repaired within a few months. Port Aransas Texas schools have been so damaged, they do not plan on opening for the rest of the year and are diverting students to other districts. These students are our team members. They are our party hosts, cashiers, ride operators, and game room attendants. Our goal is to provide school supplies so we can get kiddos back in school and have some sense of normalcy.

Ideas to Give Back to Your Community

As I’m writing this, I’m thinking of all of our friends and clients in Florida who are getting ready for Hurricane Irma. People there will have the same needs. Here are some ideas of how you can help with either recovery effort.

  1. School Supply/Food/Toy Drive – These types of drives are easy to set up and don’t require a lot of work. Advertise you are collecting food, school supplies, or even toys for an organization. Have a special offer such as a free attraction or maybe even a BOGO for donating an item.
  2. Plan a fundraising night. It’s fun and easy. Encourage people to come in your center and then give a portion of the day’s sales back to the organization.
  3. Create a special package – You can run this for a night or an entire month. Create a special package that includes food, drinks, and fun and give a portion of each package sold to the organization of your choice.
  4. Match Grant – Allow local organizations to host a fundraiser and match it! Set the amount you are willing to match up to giving them the opportunity to double their fundraising efforts.
  5. #GivingTuesday – Show your support for a local organization. Have your team members bring in donations. Use social media to let your fans know you support the specific organization, that you are collecting for them, and encourage them to participate.
  6. Go Big! Host a bowling tournament or big event at your center.

I hope this will give you ideas on how you can help. If you would like more info on how to execute one of these ideas, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. Just shoot an email to

Developing a Winning SEO Strategy for Your Entertainment Center

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When I consult with owners and operators, the two things they care about are that they want to increase sales and they want to be found online. Search engine optimization (SEO) helps accomplish both of these goals. The idea is that if you’re being found, then web traffic is being converted into paying customers. These customer conversions happen by people calling, requesting driving directions, filling out a groups event lead form, or booking a party online.

SEO evolves every day. There is a Google army of people manually checking search engine results and making adjustments based on search terms used. We’re no longer optimizing for keywords and search terms, but user search intent.  Your goal is to meet the customer in the search engine results with the right solution to their problem or question.

A winning SEO strategy requires FECs and amusement parks to think about two different sets of results:

  1. Local map results
  2. Traditional organic results

Here’s how you can make an impact with your brand in local search engine results.

How FECs and Amusement Parks Can Rank Higher in Search Engines

SEO Disclaimer: First of all, it’s going to take a lot of work and plenty of patience. The good news is that achieving SEO success can dramatically increase your company’s sales.

  • Develop Relevant and Valuable Content: If you can solve someone’s problem with the right answer at the right time, then you’re their hero! Content marketing is one of the best ways to help drive sales and improve your search engine rankings. Try starting your content marketing strategy by answering frequently asked questions.
  • A Well Optimized Website: We have now audited the majority of the US based FEC market, and most have never been optimized by a professional. Everything from proper content optimization to site structure need to be scrutinized by owners and operators. This is a wide open door for FECs and parks looking to take advantage of others’ negligence
  • Generating News About Your Business: Link building is a word that sends shivers up my spine. I do it, but I don’t trust others to do it. The reason is that it’s a practice that works but is frequently abused or misunderstood. However, generating quality and relevant links from other sites to your website will significantly help your web presence. One of the best ways to generate links from other sites to your website is through quality content.
  • Local Citations: Local citations, or mentions of your business on the Internet, have long been considered a ranking factor with search engines. The idea is that the more citations (Google My Business, Yelp,, etc) that display correct information about your business, the better the user experience is with your brand. For Google and other search engines, delivering an accurate user is experience is their number one priority. Local citations help verify basic information (name, address, phone number) about your business to search engines.
  • Online Reviews: It is believed that Google’s local algorithm pulls in a few hundred different signals to rank local businesses. One of these signals is online reviews, specifically through Google’s review system. You should be building a local SEO strategy that focuses on the number of reviews, the quality of reviews, and the freshness of reviews for your local center or park.

Implementing an SEO strategy for your entertainment center or park won’t be easy. It will take time and patience, but it can yield massive financial rewards for your business if done well. There is a massive opportunity for FECs and amusement parks to begin their SEO strategy, because the majority of their competition is completely ignoring it altogether.

Kevin Ekmark is the President/CEO of TrustWorkz, Inc, an Internet marketing agency located in Atlanta, Georgia. His passion is in local search engine optimization and paid lead generation strategies.

A Chance to Give Back

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Last week we shared a bunch of ideas for holiday marketing. One of the things on my mind this week is that we have a great opportunity to give back to our community.

For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to give back to my community. I raised funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society for 15 years. This year, my dad was diagnosed with stage four prostate cancer, so I have been raising money for chemo bags to give out to patients going through chemo. Recently, I started volunteering and helping with the fundraising and social media of a school here in Jakarta that is providing education to asylum seekers and refugees.

It was when I was the party and front of house manager at iT’Z that I realized we, as a huge organization, had the power to make a big change in others and in our community. So, we started “iT’Z For a Good Cause” and worked with various organizations in order to give back. One year we donated over $11,000 to Texas Children’s Hospital.

The Incredible Birthday Party Project

One of the organizations in our industry that has done an amazing job is The Incredible Birthday Party Project. The Incredible Birthday Party Project was started by Incredible Mo’s and gives birthday parties to families in need. We know that kids only have one fifth birthday and to be able to make that an amazing and memorable experience is huge.

The reality is that there are children who never get to celebrate their birthday with a party. Watch this amazing video about Jessica, who was able to have her first birthday party at the age of 18 because of The Incredible Birthday Party Project. It’s amazing how the company has spread the word and invited other centers to join in on the project.

The holidays are one of the biggest donation times of the year. Organizations plan huge holiday donation drives and the Tuesday after Thanksgiving is #GivingTuesday, the biggest giving day of the year.

Be apart of something!

People always want to be a part of something. Being able to give back to organizations is a great way to be part of a community. How awesome would it be for your center to partner with an organization in your community? You don’t have to start an entire campaign, but you can be involved. Here are some ideas of how you can partner and encourage others to give back.

  • Plan a fundraising night – It’s fun and easy! Plan a night and encourage people to come in your center and give a portion of the day’s sales back to the organization.
  • Create a special package – You can run this for a night or run it for an entire month. Create a special package that includes food, drinks, and fun and give a portion of each package sold to the organization
  • Match Grant – The organization will do a lot of fundraising. Why not match it? Set the amount you will match and if they fundraise that on their own, you will match that amount.
  • #GivingTuesday – Show your support for a local organization. Have your team members bring in donations for the organization, let guests know you are collecting donations, and use social media to let your fans know you are supporting the organization and collecting donations. Encourage them to donate to them, too
  • Go Big! Host a bowling tournament or big event at your center.

There are so many things you can do to be part of your community. I hope this will inspire you to do something this holiday season or even throughout the year. If you do, we would love to hear about it and see your pictures, too!

Holiday Marketing Tips

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Over the next three months we have some big holidays on the horizon: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. This week I really wanted to share with you a few holiday marketing ideas that are fun, easy to implement, and don’t require a ton of work.

Halloween is ten days away and there is still time to plan. Since Halloween is on a Monday this year, I think it’s best to focus your efforts for after school activities. Not all parents are keen on staying out late trick-or-treating. (Some neighborhoods are even doing it the Saturday or Sunday before).

Here are our ideas and tips to bring Halloween fun to your center.

  • Let your team dress up! It’s so fun when you walk into places and the team is involved in the fun, too. Remind them they do need to be appropriate for work, though.
  • Make it a family night. It’s a great time for moms, dads, and kids to come in to have a safe Halloween with food, fun, and games. Set up a small space or party room with decorations and a few fun games like pin the spider on the web or bobbing for apples.
  • Host contests! Costume, pumpkin carving, cupcake/cookie/donut decorating, scary masks, best mummy, etc. Make it easy and fun for the kids.
  • Have someone on your staff ready ghost stories or a kids Halloween book. Have readings every thirty minutes and at the end, hand out a few treats.
  • Halloween is a great time to have a contest on social media. Ask people to share a picture of their little one dressed up in their costume and have people vote by liking their favorite picture.
  • Have fun small activities. Guests can color their own scary mask or a Halloween coloring sheet, do a Halloween word search, or you could even teach them how to make Halloween slime! There are tons of ideas and you can get free printouts and recipes on our Halloween Pinterest Board.
  • Don’t forget for treats and giveaways you have an awesome redemption center that probably has what you need already!

Let’s move on to Thanksgiving.

Of course, your center’s open hours will determine when and what you do.

  • Get in the spirit of giving back. Plan a canned food drive for your local food bank. It’s easy to give a free ride credit or even buy one, get one game for everyone who donates.
  • I love the idea of a thankful tree! Have a big tree in your center with cutout hands and have people write what they are thankful for and post up on the tree. It’s amazing to see what people in your community are thankful for.
  • Throughout the month of November, plan fun weekly activities. Kids can come in the center and make plate turkeys, pilgrim hats, and other fun holiday crafts.
  • Set up a fun photo booth! Have props and a fun background where people can take pictures to share on social media. Have them use a special hashtag you can track.
  • A great social media campaign is to do 12 days of gratitude. Show your fans how thankful you are for them. The 12 days leading up to Thanksgiving give away prizes and daily offers. Remember, they don’t have to be huge but your fans will love it and feel the appreciation.

Finally, the biggest of them all, Christmas!

Christmas was always one of my favorite holidays in the center. Well, it just happens to be my favorite holiday all around.

  • First and foremost, be sure you are decorating your center! You don’t have to spend a ton of money, it brings lots of cheer to your center, and it gets everyone in the holiday spirit.
  • Who wouldn’t love to have breakfast with Santa? Pre-sell tickets and open an hour or two earlier on a Saturday morning for families to have breakfast with Santa. Have various activities for the kids to do with him and a special station for picture taking.
  • Letters to Santa is a great idea that can involve your staff. Place a table with pen, paper, and a mailbox for kids to write their letters to Santa. Have the team members write back to them and include a special offer for being so good this year.
  • Have a pajama party where families come in in their pajamas for hot cocoa, fun Christmas activities, and the reading of the Polar Express. It’s a great way to draw in mid-week business and bring a little holiday cheer. Make special tickets for a round trip on the Polar Express, too!

All of these holiday marketing tips will help you get through the holiday season and add something new to your marketing plan. Remember, they don’t have to be over-complicated; the point is to connect with your guests, have fun, and help families make memories.

I would love to hear your feedback or what you plan on doing this year.