T-Minus 10 Months

FlipSide had yet to launch. That’s a scary position to be in for any business, but when you’re opening your one brick-and-mortar family entertainment center, the anxiety is multiplied. They had a logo, a name, the concept for a mascot, and some ideas about color/font guidelines...but no audience.

They had the whole experience down...the bowling, laser tag, video games, bumper cars, a laser obstacle course, and amazing food...but they hadn’t considered how to position themselves in the market. Thankfully, someone turned us onto FlipSide’s dilemma. That part was awesome (referrals always are). Well...an awesome challenge for us. Poor FlipSide had no audience, no list, no targets, and no prospects. It was our job to build relationships from the ground up with a non-existent audience and launch a brand at the same time. Tough? Yup. Insurmountable? Not even. We were able to do both – strategically using the psychographics of the intended audience to our advantage.

Investing Where We Live

It’s funny. One of our Resoundisms is “Invest in where you live.” It’s part of our own brand identity, but who knew it would be so applicable on this project? FlipSide intended to build its first and only entertainment center in Gilbert, Arizona. Not only is it minutes from our offices, but a number of our team members live in the surrounding area. We know the culture, the vibe, and the values of Gilbert families. Of course, being well-acquainted with someone really helps if you’re trying to build them an amazing experience.

Now, there were other family entertainment centers in the Phoenix-metro area. But most of the big ones had been around for 20+ years and were kind of...showing their age. Missing equipment, questionable cleanliness, and subpar food seemed to be the persistent issues in online reviews. The newer centers, on the other hand, didn’t really offer the variety of activities that would appeal to a broad age range. In that part of Gilbert, particularly, most were geared toward very young children. A little competitor research never hurt anybody...especially when we could use our intel to reach the type of people who would care most: the young moms in the Gilbert area.

The thing to know about Gilbert moms is that they are, by and large, super-connected to each other. They talk. They share. They follow the advice of their peers. They are powerful influencers.

They just needed to be convinced.

Finding the Message

Now, FlipSide has a lot to offer: a state-of-the-art bowling center that made professional bowlers drool, a full-service restaurant housed within its walls (and not your typical sub-par pizza and burger joint), and cocktails that are hand-crafted with care. We could have pushed all this messaging to build our audience, hoping to attract every bowling league in town, but we knew these features wouldn’t be meaningful to the Gilbert moms. To them, bowling is an just extension of kids’ birthday parties.

So, that couldn’t be the hook.

As we dove deeper into the soul of FlipSide, we realized that the cleanliness of the facility seemed to be at the forefront of every effort. The staff, very aware of the aging (often grimy) family entertainment centers around them, wanted to be different. FlipSide had made unspoken commitments to their customers – commitments like keeping equipment in tip-top shape and maintaining restroom cleanliness in real-time. We recognized these more operationally-focused components as the keys to attracting Gilbert moms. No one else was executing at FlipSide’s level, so this was a key differentiator. It was ironic. So many entertainment centers focused on their features and attractions to draw people in. We encouraged FlipSide to build their foundation on operations first while talking about features and attractions as a secondary focus.

Building Momentum

So, we had the messaging. We knew who our target audience was. It was time to start talking to them, and we did it pretty loudly.

We hit social channels with a pre- and post-launch campaign.

We built a pre- and post-launch version of FlipSide’s website and offered newsletter sign-ups.

We developed promotional messaging to help convert those we attracted into customers.

We created member cards to incentivize loyalty.

We executed a direct mail campaign, developed trade show collateral, wrote and pushed press releases, conducted a lot of SEO work, and got FlipSide linked out on a lot of other sites to gain exposure.

We even engaged the social community to crowd-source the name for FlipSide’s mascot: they picked Rufus.

FlipSide

FlipSide opened to an excited fan base, and it is still one of the most awesome spots for families to visit in Gilbert and the East Valley.

Sure, it was a big challenge for us to manage the timeline with so many moving pieces. Yes, it was tough to help develop a brand with virtually no existing culture or customer interest. In the end, our knowledge of the community and what would matter to them paid off.

We built relationships between FlipSide and Gilbert families, and that made it all worth it.