How An Interest In Art Lead To A Battle With the Mississippi

One of the best things about being a manager is the opportunity to grow new talent. My department recently promoted three young men to new, higher positions. One of them was promoted into a more senior role but within the same realm of work. Two of them were asked to move several miles to new roles as marketing directors at our Natchez and Vicksburg properties.

Incredibly, those two were faced with the same initial task – to tackle the rising Mississippi River. We didn’t intend for their initial challenge to include sandbagging, but thus have been the whims of Mother Nature lately!

Today, I’d like to introduce you to Aaron Harn. Aaron is formerly the database marketing manager for the Isle Casino Hotel in Waterloo, Iowa and is now the director of marketing at Rainbow Hotel Casino, located in Vicksburg, MS.

JC: Tell me a little about your background and what got you here.
AH: I was born and raised in Iowa. I had been working for Hobby Lobby stores for a number of years and decided it was time to shift gears. I started in the casino industry as an auditor, but I was always looking for ways to incorporate my interests in art, education and creativity into my career. Not long into my audit days, marketing had an opening for an analyst, so I took the leap. It didn’t take long to realize how much I enjoyed it. So I tossed my name into the hat for any advancement opportunities. I knew that advancement could possibly mean a move. One day I got a call from one of the corporate VPs about an opening in Vicksburg, followed it through and luckily I ended up in Mississippi – not where I thought I would be but it is a great step and a perfect property to begin my executive career with Isle of Capri Casinos.

JC: What made you realize this was the right opportunity for you?
AH: Almost immediately, I saw how much potential this casino has. There are so many opportunities in this market and at this property. I was going to be able to take all I had been learning as part of the Waterloo marketing team to create a whole new marketing approach that I knew could make a positive impact.

JC: In the few months you’ve been in your new role, what has been the biggest surprise or challenge – other than the flood closure – and how did you handle it?
AH: My biggest challenge has been change. This property operated in a tried and true method for a really long time, and there was pretty much no deviation in the marketing plan. Getting the team and the property, as a whole, on board with new ideas and ways of doing things has been very challenging.

JC: So, you basically stepped in to a role with a support team already in place – with lots of existing ideas and habits in place. How did you communicate your vision to them to gain acceptance?
AH: Communication is key for a successful project. There are many ways to do this, but at the end of the day, you need to ensure you’ve communicated the reasoning behind the changes you’re making. Think of it as painting a picture for a complete stranger. You have to get your vision out of your head and into everyone else’s. THAT is a large challenge, but a great opportunity as well!

JC: What do you see as the biggest marketing challenge on the horizon?
AH: Changing the habits of our customers. Our guests are very well trained to expect incentives for every visit. It will be a challenge to break that habit, but we’re creating a great experience we hope people will be drawn to with or without added incentives

You can follow Aaron @aaronharn if you want to track his new work!

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How An Interest In Art Lead To A Battle With the Mississippi

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