When a business wants to examine where the money is going at any given time, the business owner calls accountants to do an audit. Those auditors are there to find discrepancies in what’s being paid for and what’s being delivered. The same can be true for your advertising.
And I am not talking about a Media Audit. You can always audit whether or not the media services you are paying for are performing as promised — that’s pretty clean math, and we will talk more about Media Audits in another posting.
For now, in this article, we’d like to encourage you to be asking the folks who do your advertising some important questions. You see, even though most people consider the creation of advertising to be an art form, there really is a good deal of science to it. There are certain “must do’s” that we believe you should be insisting on. The point of giving out rules for something as creative as advertising is that it is an investment like any other. You spend money to air it or print it. But first you spend money to create it – whether it’s the dollars paid to an ad agency or the time your team spends to help create it; once finished, it is a straight-up cost.
And you deserve to know that what you’ve paid for is doing the job you want it to do.
Part of the problem lies in the fact that many marketing groups and ad agencies are structured differently — and this makes it hard to compare the output of these competitors.
Here’s one little secret most agencies don’t like to talk about: they make the lion’s share of profit from selling media. That might mean that they care more about the quantity of ads they sell you than the quality. We look at things differently. We have studies that show that a few good ads work the way a lever does heavy lifting: they provide your property with a ton of measurable brand awareness, and leave your competitors outspending you 3-1, just trying to catch up.
Is auditing your creative a “hard science?” Hardly. The answers will never be a, b, c or 1, 2, 3. But when you look at — and produce — as much casino advertising as Red Circle does, you come to see that there are truisms for all great ads which can be observed and measured by more than a few peoples’ opinions. Good ads deliver far more than their media weight because people like them. And over time, (if your property is a good place) that attraction to those ads translates into brand loyalty.
Conversely, media dollars spent to air ads which are generic, hokey, condescending, unrelated to gaming/fun, or poorly produced actually cost you far more than the production expense because they are a drag on your media. It’s like pouring water through a leaky pipe — it will never get where it’s supposed to go.
So here are 6 questions you should ask of your ad resource. The answers they provide will likely help you evaluate if you are getting the best, most effective product for your advertising dollar.
1.) Is there an idea? Is there a story? All good advertising has a concept underneath it — a concept rooted in something true about your property. Think of it the way one talks about a great film. One might relay details of the plot, but in the end it is a story of “how, in the future, robots become so smart that they mark the smartest humans for extinction” (Terminator) or “How a great crime family has at its core, an intact old-world-style nuclear family.” (The Godfather) An idea is something that helps a viewer connect on an emotional level with your advertising — and therefore with your property. Without an idea, your ad is a video brochure that sells the generic idea of gaming. It may be doing nothing to promote your property. Does your advertising have “its own story” or is it a series of random film clips?
2.) If it has an idea, is that idea borrowed interest? Maybe you answered “Yes! I have an idea — the idea is all the funny things people might be doing instead of going to my casino.” If you have a comedy idea for your advertising, ask yourself (or your agency) does this idea really remind people of what is great about casino gaming? Or does it spend 20 seconds making a joke about something unrelated to gaming? If it is humor, is the humor juvenile or mean-spirited? If your ads are using borrowed interest to communicate all that is great about gaming, you might be surprised someday to find that many viewers don’t even know you advertise.
3.) Do your ads make your property seem unique? If you are showing people winning, spinning slot reels and blackjack dealers, you may be selling your competitor’s property. If you haven’t identified something that people associate (or could be taught to associate) with your property and no one else’s, charge your ad agency with finding out what that special something might be. Then say it in your ads like you really mean it.
4.) Does the advertising have a distinct personality? Although this is similar to the above question, it gets at something else: maybe you have a western decor while your competitor has a more Vegas-feel. Maybe you are known for your superior customer service. These things make a lasting impression on people – and these impressions mean memorability. Skilled agency strategists can help you get at what is your property’s “specialness” (it may not be what you think it is!) This distinctiveness of personality is the first step toward a competitive advantage.
5.) Are you penny wise and pound foolish with your ads? Lots of ad managers get brownie points with their GM for making bargain basement ads. The only trouble is that often those ads make your property look like the bargain basement. You almost always get what you pay for with creative. And the creative is one thing that everyone sees — it’s like your face. If you have gotten a real bargain from the local TV station then you may have same shooter who shoots footage of your local city council meetings. Is that really how you want to show your property’s best face?
6.) Are you underestimating your customer? Often advertising lets customers know what sorts of people the marketer wants as a customer. The marketers of BMW and Mercedes customers seem to know the style of advertising their customers are attracted to – their ads speak in a voice that appeals to the target. And though your property’s guests may be locals (which is true of many Indian casinos) those same people travel beyond your county. They fly to Vegas. They travel to larger cities. You may think they can’t tell the difference between a professional looking ad product and the one your videographer shot on a slow Tuesday night, but the fact is that they can. They know that smart professional-looking ads are a sign of a well-run professional property. So you may want to ask yourself, are my bad ads talking down to my good customers?
Here’s the one thing I would like you to remember: Most casinos are feeling the economic pinch these days so they’re looking for waste wherever it may be. It’s a great time for those who recognize that doing things the same old way is not going to change the outcome. It’s a great time for those who can spot the lazy ads, lay claim to that 250K -1M of waste in their ad budget and put it to better use. 90% of the time, it costs no more to create a great ad than it does to create a “me-too” ad.
And you deserve to get the full value of what you’re paying for.
Auditing your creative is a great place to start.
This entry was posted on Thursday, December 17th, 2009 at 10:40 am and is filed under advertising, marketing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.