What are you doing to drive market share and awareness at your property? Being able to communicate with a customer in real time effectively, efficiently and measurably has always been the elusive holy grail of marketing. But how do we initiate a dialogue with customers? How do we get customers to buy in? How do we measure our effectiveness? Those are the questions that every marketing professional has asked themselves at some point, and the answer has changed a lot over the years.
Over the past 20 years, many casinos implemented the John Romero-style direct-mail piece—a wordy piece of marketing material that repeated the customer’s name over and over within verbiage intended to engage the customer in a one-sided written dialogue. This type of direct mail took a month or longer to successfully measure, after matching the coupons, bar codes and other remnants of the paper trail that the revenue audit required. Many casinos considered a return of 12 to 18 percent a home run.
Direct mail isn’t the only ubiquitous but cumbersome marketing scheme that has been popular in casinos over the past decades. How many of us have sweated the results of our big car giveaway? We’ve anxiously awaited results from the proverbial “black box” to see why the promotion succeeded. And we’ve tried to piece together why it crashed, knowing that our general manager would be asking us the answers to questions he already knew the answer to by way of his courtesy copy (cc) of the same results marketing received from accounting.
Most of us have also put together the long newspaper or magazine ad with a full page of copy, imitating the artistry of David Ogilvy and his Confessions of an Advertising Man. Long-winded and flowery copy that attempts to draw in readers through an ad that emphasizes all of our casino’s attributes, real or imagined. We did this because we believed it was what we should be doing, like Ogilvy did for Mercedes Benz.
If you watch the television series Mad Men, you can see that same type of 1960s marketing approach—and marketing executives who believe that potential customers will read a long ad and be engaged. And maybe they would back then. But will they today, in 2012?
These marketing approaches allowed us, as marketing directors, to demonstrate our knowledge of our craft and to pay homage to the pioneers and leaders of traditional marketing— and to create a book of work that any marketing professional would envy. But did we drive heads into our casino? Did we increase total revenue, net income and win per player? Did we use the most effective “tools” in the tool box? Not by a long shot.
Today, following the KISS (keep it simple, stupid) principle, with a simple call to action, is the best way to go with American’s short attention span. Today, flashy advertisements can hurt more than they help—the same is true for flashy direct mail. You have to worry about varied demographics, and no matter what, someone is going to find your design offensive. Not so if you KISS—it is much more difficult to get offended over 160 characters.
When was the last time that you did not open or a view a text message on your phone or wireless device? Probably never. In fact, many people will check or answer a text message while in the middle of a conversation. While that once may have been a social faux pas, today it is accepted, albeit impolite.
We all know that with countless other media options, and the short attention spans of consumers, we do not have the opportunity to be flowery any more. We need quick engagement. But as many of us moved from direct mail to e-mail over the past three to five years, technology has still moved faster than our marketing methods. Already, e-mail has only a 40 percent read rate, with a high number of e-mails going to junk folders or being deleted without being read. It’s time to move on. Marketing professionals now have a tool that allows them to effectively, efficiently and measurably communicate with their customers in a real-time basis: text messaging.
SMS, or text message marketing, allows your casino to verify when a message was delivered to a phone. It also allows you to verify when the message was read. It allows you to initiate a two-way communication with a customer by having a call to action within your text communication.
There is no inexpensive way to do a trial run on a direct mail piece or an e-mail marketing piece. It will take a longer time to develop, and then it will take a month or longer to measure how effective the promotion was.
But what if you could put together a test campaign of 100 or 1,000 or 10,000 messages to try to drive traffic? It is easily achievable with text messaging. It can be developed for pennies per message, and you can receive instant results when a message is delivered and read. Click- through rates are easily measured, and you know immediately whether your message is the right one. If so, you can follow up with a huge campaign to drive the masses to your casino property. What other marketing medium gives you that ability?
Mobile marketing is no longer a question of if you should be doing it, it is a question of when you are going to launch. Every major casino in Las Vegas has an SMS or text message marketing plan. Where’s yours?