Years ago, casino marketing was pretty easy. Give away a car or two. Have an occasional concert. Send out great offers in the mail. Have an exclusive VIP event, and my month was sure to be in the black. My media plan included every newspaper and magazine in the market as well as a rich variety of television and radio, and a fabulous (if I do say so myself) distribution of billboards. At Harrah’s New Orleans, I even got to work on something really cool called a “website”. The first couple of casino companies I worked for didn’t even have websites!
Then we started adding online (banner) advertising into the mix.
Eventually, we realized that there was money to be made selling unused hotel inventory, and we started down the path of search engine marketing and search engine optimization.
Fast forward to 2004 and some geek sitting in his dorm room comes up with a cool way for Harvard students to share information. Facebook was born. This wasn’t new. It was just a new avenue to join Blogger, Friendster, LinkedIn, MySpace, Delicious. digg, and Flickr, quickly followed by YouTube and Twitter…oh and something called Second Life. Two years later, Facebook became available to everyone…in the world.
The fiber of communications has changed. Once, it took millions to reach a few. Now a few reach millions. We’ve gone from traditional publishing to broadcast publishing to personal publishing to interactive publishing to network publishing. What used to take months and elicited a few comments here and there, now takes seconds and can generate hundreds of thousands of comments.
Casino marketing, however, has not evolved quite so quickly, probably because casino customers are more represented in the boomer segment than any other market segment. For these folks, the places they look for news and information hadn’t changed quite as quickly…
I said “Everyone is “dying to be on Facebook,” but with so much on our plates, I wondered if that was the place we needed to put our focus on.” I no longer wonder. It is. When we initially asked customers if they were on social networks, 80% said hardly or never. Today, 77.6% say they regularly visit their Facebook accounts to see what’s happening, and social networking sites have become a prime place to look for information. That change happened in less than two years.
Print is fading faster than anyone wants it to. Casino customers are looking for their information in much more dynamic areas.
Now firmly planted as a piece in our marketing puzzle, social media presents new challenges for us. No longer are customers willing to sit back and watch and respond to our ads. Now they want to interact with them. We have to create content that they can comment on or share with their networks. We have to create ads that are shareable via YouTube,
…ads that continue to tell the story on Facebook,
…ads that have a life of more than 30 seconds.
We have to create exclusive content that can only be found on these networks so that customers feel they have a unique access to information. And that new thing I got to work on long ago, the website has changed as well. It can no longer be a brochure. It has to be a living, breathing font of information that visitors can interact with and share.
How has social media changed your approach to marketing?