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The UK online bingo market is said to be nearing saturation point and the slow down in the number of new bingo sites that are opening would appear to support this theory.
The questions are, therefore:
1) How do you attract existing online bingo players to different bingo sites they are not yet members of?
2) How do you attract new customers that may never have entertained online bingo as a possible pass time?
Of all the online bingo sites out there it is Irish site Boyle Bingo that came up with the most innovative way we have yet seen to try and address both these questions with one solution.
Their answer to these conundrums falls in line with the advertising theme they have been running with this year, based around a 'Biggest Balls in Bingo' tag line and an image of a naked man with his modesty covered only by a Boyle Bingo banner. What the site decided to do was to sponsor a new 'male glamour dance troupe', or male strippers to you and me, called The Dream Idols.
The Dream Idols have been quite high profile recently thanks to being included in the promotional activity for new film Magic Mike that focusses on the life of fictional male dancers and that will have done Boyle Bingo no harm at all by association. The boys are currently on tour around the UK and are appearing in various nightclub venues.
As a general rule these venues are ideal for this kind of event, but of course, Boyle Bingo are also trying to promote their product and the boys are doing their best, but they seem to be fighting a losing battle when it comes to the club clientele themselves.
I went along to Oceana in Leeds recently with a bingo industry colleague, Nickie Shute, her non-bingo playing friend Helen and Boyle Bingo competition winners Annette Scott and Pam Daly.
Annette and Pam are staunch supporters of Boyle Bingo and rarely play bingo online anywhere else thanks to the games that are on offer and the friendly environment they have found there, even though they are there for different things. Annette loves the big money games and the friends made are a bonus, whereas Pam loves the non-networked room Baboon Bargains and the chat and banter with her fellow roomies. She has a lot of luck in there too and doesn't have to deposit very often to keep enjoying her favourite games.
The age group in the venue to see the Dream Idols was predominantly under 25, with just a few over this age. I spoke to a cross section of people on the night and couldn't find any that were aware of who were sponsoring the event - they had seen the pictures of the Dream Idols and were looking for a fun night out.
During the show the Dream Idols gave out bingo cards to the audience to play 'strip bingo' - that was them stripping off an item of clothing with every number called, not the audience (that wouldn't have been any fun at all). It was stressed that everyone should keep hold of the tickets after the game had finished as there was a special code that could be used at Boyle Bingo to get a free bonus worth up to £1,000 that could be used to play bingo to win real cash prizes.
The Dream Idols called the numbers and took their clothes off, until bingo was called by a lovely young girl who got to go on stage for a personal show. The boys told me later that they are surprised at every show how few girls actually watch them on the stage during the bingo part of the show and are focussed on their cards so as not to miss a number on the game.
Unfortunately, this doesn't translate into people being interested enough to keep hold of their cards to try their luck at Boyle Bingo later judging by the after show debris. There were probably about 100 people at the show and it looked like maybe half of them didn't keep hold of their cards. Some that did told me they only did so as it featured a picture of the Dream Idols themselves and they wouldn't be logging on to bingo.
The show could have benefitted from better advertising was the view of many of the audience. Many only knew about it as they passed the venue and saw a poster, others knew about it through friends and one or two who already knew of Boyle Bingo.
The site may have benefitted more from some radio advertising of the event or some flyers being distributed, both of which would have got the Boyle Bingo name a wider airing. The nightclub show alone and relying on young girls who had plenty to drink to remember to take a used bingo card home with them was probably not the best marketing tool in the world. Other shows may have had a different outcome of course - the Leeds show was just a snapshot of the tour as a whole.
The Dream Idols themselves were keen to speak to us to say what a great sponsor and how supportive Boyle Bingo is, but only time will tell if this direct approach of bringing the theme of your bingo site to life has worked over more traditional marketing methods.
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