Many years ago I wrote a blog post about putting all your marketing eggs in one basket. Today, I was reminded that it’s still good advice. Media has changed but the approach is still valid. So, I’ve dusted off the old post and updated it for our new marketing challenges. I hope you enjoy my stroll down memory lane.

Having all your eggs in one basket is only good at an Easter egg hunt.

Kids love Easter. They love to search for hidden treasures and gather them all into one basket. It’s how they show success. It works for them. For marketers, it’s not always wise to have all your eggs in one basket. At least I don’t think so.

I think good marketers spread their efforts across a multitude of baskets. Better marketers recognize how these efforts are connected to each other. The best marketers see how these connected efforts add value to each other rather than detracting.

Advertising. Promotions and events. Direct marketing. Digital. And more recently, social.

We all have our “favorites” …those channels we know so well we can practically make them sing a siren’s song to customers. It’s how we use those other channels that make us the best marketers. Going where you’re comfortable is easy. Conversely, going where you’re not is much harder. When we do this, we must admit (even if it’s just to ourselves) that we don’t know what we’re doing. We must ask for help.

Traditional Advertising Basket

For casinos, it used to be you had to have the biggest ad in the local paper, preferably in color – full color, not the cheaper spot color. You did that every week and you knew people would know what was going on at your place. They’d clip out our coupons and dutifully bring them in. Wait. Does that mean I’m paying for the ad and discounting my business? Hmmm… It took a while for us to realize (no, accept) our customers weren’t just reading the paper. They were watching that expensive medium, TELEVISION. The horror. The expense. The audience!

Today, we see this viewership spread across multiple platforms and devices. We see our ads being skipped through as viewers play their favorite shows according to their schedules rather than the network’s.

Then there’s outdoor. Just how many words can we fit on one billboard for customers to read and retain while they drive 60+ miles an hour. I swear sometimes I just want to walk into some of these businesses and ask them to please let me fix their outdoor. I’d do it for free. I really would! I used to work for a smart man. He could make any creative person crazy. He always wanted to see his billboard during a presentation. Not the ads. Not the cool things we’d designed for logo application and sale. Not the spot. Just give him his billboard…and don’t explain it to him. Give it to him and walk away. He knew it was the toughest medium to deliver your message. He knew that if you were successful there, the other things would fall into place. Like I said, “Smart man.”

Can we do without traditional advertising? I say, “No.” If you were to turn off all your messaging, you could very possibly keep existing…for a while. You can’t grow without new customers, and if you’re not advertising are you just going to depend on word of mouth or (gasp!) coupons? Do you feel your business or experience can live on word of mouth? Can you get enough word of mouth to support your business goals?

Promotions and Events Basket

Creating experiences that customers will want to attend are always a puzzle. Does this attract my top customers or my low-end customers? Will my investment pay off or am I just adding to the cost of making a sale? Understanding what drives people is the key to developing effective promotions and events. In the casino business, they are the life of the property. They provide the energy for the day. They are a delicate balance of appeal across all your segments.

Can your business live without some sort of energy?

Direct Marketing. As casino marketers, we think we know EVERYTHING about direct marketing. Who could possible do it better? I don’t know. I think we do this very well, so well that we often think this is our most powerful tool and often end up depending only on this…putting all our marketing eggs in one basket. We do this until we realize how upside down we are in our reinvestment strategy. If I pay for every visit, and I keep raising the amount I give a person in spite of the fact that their spend isn’t increasing (in the desperate hope that it will), I eventually end up in what my co-worker used to call “the spiraling vortex of death.” The spiraling is so fast and so bad that I can’t get out of it because now I’ve trained my customers to only come in with an offer. I’m looking at you Bed Bath & Beyond. If I take the offers away, they’ll stop coming. If I start trimming back the offer, they’ll complain. I’m in a no-win situation because I put all my eggs in this basket and never balanced my marketing efforts.

I guess the other side of that coin is businesses that gather information through a “loyalty” program and then never seem to use it. I used to wonder why I bothered to use my club card at the grocery store. I never received anything in the mail…never saw anything tailored to me, yet they probably know more about me than anyone. Loyalty marketers have gotten smarter. Agile marketing tools have now allowed them to leverage the information they have to drive purchases. How else can you explain how Bath & Body Works know when my substantial inventory of Wallflowers is running low?

Digital Basket

Websites have become our virtual storefronts. There are so many schools of thought about this. Because we’re in a field that is starting to throw the term “big data” around we have started measuring everything. The best marketers have quickly realized that a successful website should focus on more than just the shopping cart. Now our websites must be intuitive and understand the user so that we can deliver what the user wants as quickly as possible, making the experience enjoyable. In a way, they’ve taken some of their eggs out of the shopping cart.

Social Media Basket

Social media has become an integral part of our lives. Some businesses have taken this outlet and have run with it. They’re active and engaging with people every second of the day. I used to argue this with my boss years ago. Today, I still have a debate every single day about the value of social media. Social media works…but only if you use it correctly. Like any successful advertising, your contributions to the online conversation have to be compelling and engaging…and it the right channels.

As marketers, we have many baskets to work with. It’s not an all or nothing game. Some baskets deserve more eggs, some less. None should have them all.