Sunday, March 6, 2005

Mini Ideas for Mini Golf

The official Apprentice recap provides detailed blow-by-blow of episode 7 while
provides an interesting personality analysis in The Apprentice Blog: Episode 7: Miniature Golf. I'd rather weigh in on where the teams could have done more to promote their golf courses.

The whole clown theme seemed like a poor choice immediately. Lots of kids are afraid of clowns, aren't they? I suppose some kids wouldn't warm up to the wild animal motif either, but the safari theme was certainly working well for Magna. Despite the theme choices, it's obvious that Net Worth lost this task based on marketing and promotion. Magna certainly had the right idea of cross promoting with the other vendors. Though I think they were a bit underhanded with their technique. They went to each of the other operators and negotiated "exclusive" cross promotions. In truth it was only exclusive in one direction. Magna had several "exclusive" deals which doesn't make them very exclusive, does it? At the same time they made the other vendors promise not to promote with anyone else (i.e. Net Worth).

Again, this task is based on revenue, not profit. I'd have packaged a LOT more with a round of putt-putt. Get a crate of animal crackers and give away a snack with each safari game. Get a real clown to make balloon animals for all the kids playing circus golf.

Give-a-ways are an obvious method for pumping up your revenue without actually increasing your profits so why think small? Find a car dealership. Find a person who is planning to buy a car that day. Tell them to buy a round of golf for $15,000 and give them a "free" car worth $15,000. Now march into the boardroom and announce you earned $15,000 selling golf games.

OK, that's going too far and animal crackers don't go far enough so workout some coupon deals. Go to each vendor and try to negotiate the right to distribute some kind of discount coupon for their establishment. It doesn't matter what it is. Two-for-one, 5% off, free small fries, whatever. Then staple them all together into a park value pack and give away $30 in discounts to each golf player. Include at least one really valuable coupon by laundering the money like my car example. For instance, give away a lunch coupon for free hot dog and coke. Ask the hot dog vendor to honor the coupons and then at the end of the day, pay them from your revenues. This is actually safer than buying a crate of cookies that you might not be able to use. The coupon method ensures that you pay out less than you earn.

Now you can stand in front of the hot dog vendor, selling golf tickets and coupon packs for the same price as a hot dog. Who wouldn't take that? You'd effectively be offering a free game of golf and other discounts to patrons who buy hot dogs through you.

OK, enough with the promotions, now make a course that's really worth seeing. Get some real animals at the safari course. In fact, you could get some kind of circus animals at the clown course too. Turn it into a petting zoo/mini-golf setup or at least make a real spectacle. Sell family packages where parents play for free with 2 or more kids. Have a mini-golf "pro" giving free lessons or funny lectures. Add a safari story time and tell tall tales of jungle golf adventures. For extra money, offer to supervise kids for 30 minutes and give the adults a Starbucks coupon.

Sell more add-ons. Take instant pictures of the kids while they play. Forget pictures, take movies and sell video tapes right on the spot. Sell them cheap or better yet, in package deals. The Safari Expedition package includes a supervised round of golf, 20 minute jungle story, a video souvenir, and a free coffee at that Starbucks over there. All for $20.

Alas, our contestants can't imagine the outside of the box. All we saw was rounds of mini-golf on sale for a couple bucks a pop. Yawn.

[Edit: I just noticed each team had $12,500 in "seed" money! And the winning team had just $500 in revenue? How sad.]

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