Originally published in 2010, the upcoming Easter holiday and the opportunity to speak at a gaming conference this Summer, made me think it would be a good time to dust this post off and take a fresh look.
Kids love Easter. They love to search for hidden treasures and gather them all into one basket. It’s how they show success. It works for them. For marketers, it’s not always wise to have all your eggs in one basket. At least I don’t think so.
I think good marketers spread their efforts across a multitude of baskets. Better marketers recognize how all of these efforts are connected to each other. The best marketers see how all of these connected efforts add value to each other rather than detracting.
Advertising. Promotions and events. Direct marketing. Interactive. And now social.
We all have our “favorites”…those channels we know so well we can practically make them sing a siren’s song to customers. It’s how we use those other channels that make us good marketers. Going where you’re comfortable is easy. Going where you’re not is harder. We have to admit we don’t know what we’re doing. We have to ask for help.
Advertising. For casinos, it used to be you had to have the biggest ad in the local paper, preferably in color – full color, not the cheaper spot color. You did that every week and you knew people would know what was going on at your place. They’d clip out our coupons and dutifully bring them in. Wait. Does that mean I’m paying for the ad and discounting my business? Hmmm… It took a while for us to realize (no, accept) our customers weren’t just reading the paper. They were watching that expensive medium, TELEVISION. The horror. The expense. The audience!
Then there’s outdoor. Just how many words can we fit on one billboard for customers to read and retain while they drive 60+ miles an hour. I used to work for a really smart man. He could make any creative person crazy. He always wanted to see his billboard during a presentation. Not the ads. Not the cool things we’d designed for logo application and sale. Not the spot. Just give him his billboard…and don’t explain it to him. Give it to him and walk away. He knew it was the toughest medium to deliver your message. He knew that if you were successful there, the other things would fall into place. Like I said, “Smart man.”
Can we do without advertising? I say, “No.” If you were to turn off all your messaging, you could very possibly still keep existing…for a while. You can’t grow without new customers, and if you’re not advertising are you just going to depend on word of mouth? Do you feel your business or experience can live on word of mouth?
Promotions and events. Creating experiences that customers will want to attend are always a puzzle. Does this attract my top customers or my low-end customers? Will my investment pay off or am I just adding to the cost of making a sale? Understanding what drives people is the key to developing effective promotions and events. In the casino business, they are the life of the property. They provide the energy for the day. They are a delicate balance of appeal across all of your segments.
Can your business live without some sort of energy?
Direct Marketing. As casino marketers, we think we know EVERYTHING about direct marketing. Who could possibly do it better? I don’t know. I think we do this very well, so well that we often think this is our most powerful tool and often end up depending only on this…putting all of our marketing eggs in one basket. We do this until we realize how upside down we are in our reinvestment strategy. If I pay for every visit, and I keep raising the amount I give a person in spite of the fact that their spend isn’t increasing (in the desperate hope that it will), I eventually end up in what my co-worker calls “the spiraling vortex of death.” The spiraling is so fast and so bad that I can’t get out of it because now I’ve trained my customers to only come in with an offer. If I take the offers away, they’ll stop coming. If I start trimming back the offer, they’ll complain. I’m in a no-win situation because I put all my eggs in this basket and never balanced my marketing efforts.
I guess the other side of that coin is businesses that gather information through a “loyalty” program and then never seem to use it. I often wonder why I bother to use my club card at the grocery store. I never receive anything in the mail…never see anything tailored to me, yet they probably know more about me than anyone. I think Safeway has taken some steps to develop programs based on the knowledge they gather. I don’t live in their market so I can’t say that I know from personal experience.
Interactive. Our virtual storefront. There are so many schools of thought about this. Because we’re in an industry that measures everything, we often believe that our websites need to focus on transactions. Get to the check-out as easily and as soon as possible and you’ll be successful. True? I think that’s a valid argument if you’re a retailer. I love being able to find a product easily and being able to buy it easily. If I didn’t want it to be easy, I probably wouldn’t use the website.
Some think that your website should be your online brochure. Tell your visitor about everything you have. The more you give them, the better. True?
Then there’s another school that says you need to entertain. Maybe it’s not so much a “school” as it was one man. Back to my past life…we were directed to build a site that would engage and entertain and to heck with transactions…”our guests are looking to be engaged.” The stunned looks in the room were priceless. Against all of our instincts, we built a heavy Flash-based site. It had beautiful pictures, a sound track and great video vignettes from some really interesting people. Those in the online industry pointed to our site as a good example of sites gone bad. Our customers….LOVED it. Again, Steve Wynn proved he knew his guest.
This just goes to show that there isn’t one way to do things. It depends on your target.
Social Media. Now social media has become a bigger and bigger part of our lives. Some businesses have taken this outlet and have run with it. They’re active and engaging with people every second of the day. Is this a must in every marketing plan? Only time will tell, but you can only tell if you give it a try and give it time. You have to start somewhere. Start today. Start listening. What you hear should tell you where to go and what to do.
Maybe my next post will feature those I think are using these tools well. Do you have any favorites?