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I love Tara Ezzell’s post from from last week. In her post, she pointed out how you can get buried in all the science of marketing sometimes, and forget to look at your projects – and your property – the way regular people do.

Since a lot of what I ask my clients to care about involves the “image” and the “face” of the marketing, I’ll put a challenge to you similar to the one that Tara suggested:

Tour your property like a first-time guest. Look at all the points of contact. What’s the first piece of on-premise marketing that the customer sees? Is it a post that contains an old logo that your property stopped using 3 years ago? Is it a slogan from a campaign you no longer run? This matters.

What about the video screens that carry news of promotions and events? Do these posters carry the same branding that your design group/agency brings forth in your TV and print work? Or are they put together by different designers who just love to try new fonts and colors every time?

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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.

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Last time I talked about how breaking the rule that says “watch what your competitor does and make sure you do that too” is the critical first step in creating a brand that gets people out of their houses and into your place. Now I will share with you a little secret. 

There is one rule that I believe in NEVER breaking. In fact it’s more than rule – it’s almost like a system of beliefs about what makes ads good.

Of course there are some basics: 1) good brand registration, 2) quality look and feel – after all, you can’t really expect people to look at a commercial that was shot at your local TV station for 500 dollars then somehow think that same ad makes a good stand-in for your multimillion dollar property; and 3) uniqueness of concept and 4) memorability of concept.

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Have you ever had this happen? You call a customer service line at some big company with a problem. And a miracle happens: you get some wonderful person on the line who says to you something like “I’m not supposed to do this but…” and with that phrase you realize that something unique and memorable just happened. You are someone for whom a rule has been broken. You have been singled out as someone who is special. I would suggest that it works the same with what many would consider to be the “rules of advertising.”

Ad agency creative people love to extol the virtues of rule breaking. They’ll tell you about how breaking the rules is the only way to make an impact on customers. I can’t say that I disagree totally. If the rules you are breaking are things like “always show people with big toothy smiles, playing cards or dice,” then yes, these are rules ripe for breaking. If you don’t believe it, try this experiment: get a clipboard, and spend an afternoon at your local mall interviewing people who might be your gaming target, and ask them the following questions: tell me the name of a casino whose advertising you remember. Now tell me what do you remember about it? Don’t be surprised to learn that most people think casino ads are a blur of sameness and they can’t remember a single distinctive ad from a property, not even one that spends 100s of thousands each year to run advertising.

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