Archive for April, 2012
Do you remember the 80′s monster/horror-in-space film “Alien”? It’s a seminal work of sci-fi/horror from creative genius Ridley Scott, one of my all-time favorite film-makers. Check it out if you haven’t yet. Amazing movie. What’s particularly brilliant about the film — the story-telling technique that hooks the audience and doesn’t let go until the credits roll — is the teasingly delayed reveal of the monster (the alien). We know it’s a scary alien movie, but we only get parts of the aliens story, quick images of things in brief flashes, which never SHOW us the alien — until almost the very end. The technique at work in this movie — the delayed monster reveal — demonstrates Scott’s horror film-making genius, as these teasing flashes do a really great job of keeping us guessing throughout the film. Which is to say, Scott withholds the thing we want most to see up on the screen, and in doing so FORCES US TO IMAGINE WHAT HE REFUSES TO SHOW US: the scary alien we are all afraid of.
It doesn’t seem wrong enough to be THAT important, so you allow it to continue. And besides, it’s what you’ve always done, and because of that, because it’s always been that way, it’s easy to just ignore what’s wrong about it. Everyone is comfortable with what we’ve been doing. Change is… kinda scary. Change feels like a risk, and risk implies danger. Better to just stay the course. Safer to stay the course, right?
Bad advertising is something you need to shake off and put behind you, period. It’s undermining your casino’s ability to truly maximize revenues. Think I’m kidding? What if I told you 75% of your direct mail offers weren’t making it to the mailboxes of your players? The mail just wasn’t getting there. You’d flip out, right ? You’d call a meeting with all the directors and VP’s and you’d spend all night and the next day working on a solution. Your organization’s legal team would go without sleep until it was resolved. The whole management team would be calling hourly asking for updates.
Digital marketing is the most efficient, most measurable and most interactive media tool available to casinos — so why are so many of us ignoring it?
Change is hard. And scary. But if the change looks like a good change, and the upside can be measured, and the change tested and built-up incrementally, then a change that looks good can be a change that is good. I remember when I first started working at my tribe’s casinos as the advertising manager at Grand Casino Hinckley in Minnesota. It was the year after we started sending out direct mail offers. Prior to that we hadn’t done any mail. This was 15 years ago, but I remember those first meetings as a young advertising manager like they were yesterday. What I remember most is the fight our sister property’s ad manager and I had with management to steal back our budgets from the direct marketing team. You see, for the previous 10 months, our advertising had gone dark. No ads, because management and the newly created direct marketing team had stolen away all the advertising dollars to fund this new direct mail concept. And they didn’t want to give us back our advertising budget because the direct mail experiment had been so very successful. Very, very successful. That’s an example of good change. Very good change. There are others and we can all point to them when the industry changed dramatically for the good. All businesses have them game-changing paradigm shift.
The Most Interesting Man in the World – Dos Equis
The Man Your Man Could Smell Like – Old Spice
Burger King Whopper Sacrifice – BK
Chrysler 200 (Superbowl Ad) – Chrysler
Advertising is simple. Your message only has to do two things: 1.) Capture the ATTENTION of your target audience — get them to look at your message and recognize it for what it is — and, 2.) In that moment of recognition of your product, the audience must see/know how your product is DIFFERENT than the others in market, and also WHY YOUR PRODUCT IS RIGHT FOR THEM.
If you make messaging that does these two things, you have what most would call “advertising,” and, frankly, if you can make casino ads that don’t blend into all the other casino ads in your market (ATTENTION) and demonstrate your casino’s unique selling message (DIFFERENCE), then I think you’re doing better than most! Most casino ads, and in fact most ads for any and all products, don’t get those two things done very well. Ineffective advertising is just noise. There’s a lot of this kind of advertising in the world right now. Look out your window right now, you’ll likely see lots of it. Check out this fact: The average American encounters 3,000 advertising messages each day. That’s a lot of advertising, right? And most of it’s noise. Nearly all of it, in fact.
A good idea can make a difference. The lack of a good idea means nothing. As in, nothing changes. As in, I hope the competition doesn’t buy a new idea and move ahead of us. Because without a good idea, we’re standing still. No, that’s not true. In today’s world, standing still is actually moving backwards.
Just because your ads include pictures of casino “things” — chips, cards, cash and young blonde women jumping up and down at a slot machine — doesn’t mean you are “branding” your casino. In fact, a brand is defined as: “what people think of you in comparison to your competitors” — and if your ads look no different than the casino down the road, then you are NOT branding anything. You are making casino ads with your little logo in the bottom right corner. But that’s not branding. Branding, by definition, requires the creation of difference.
There’s a difference between design and branding, and it’s as important as the difference between your girlfriend and your mother. Yeah, that important. Really.
Design is defined as this: “To plan and fashion artistically or skillfully.” What something looks like. Important, yes, but the most important thing? Think of this like a woman in a night club. It’s important that she look a certain way (she needs to be attractive to you if you’re going to ask her to dance), but if you want do more than dance, it’s REQUIRED that she be interesting in a way that’s deeper, that has to do with who she is as a person, how funny or smart she is, etc. All of this is NECESSARY if you want to engage her.
What I’m saying is this. If the design is good, I’ll look at her. But there needs to be more to her, something interesting to me specifically — something that connects me to her in a meaningful way — before I will do more than look at her. Your casino advertising and marketing messaging is the exact same thing.