Developing and breathing life into a brand requires passion. Keeping that brand alive requires love. Much like two people promise to love each other for a lifetime, you hope customers and guests will do the same with your brand.
Throughout the year I have the opportunity to exchange thoughts with some fellow casino industry folks. We talk about the trends in casino gaming and how marketing must adapt to compete, but you know my favorite conversation is about brand strategy.
Today, I want to share some of what my colleagues have to say about keeping your brand engagement level up.
Much of what we see in the future of casino marketing revolves around capturing the seemingly elusive millennial and incorporating the technology to engage with customers on a real-time basis. Technology is changing. Our target demo and the composition of our database is evolving, but the principles of good brand marketing seem to stay true.
Understand Who And What You Are
Mario Measano is Senior Vice President of Marketing at the Hard Rock Casino in Atlantic City. He advises marketers to “Know your brand and know your brand promise.” The key – he stresses – “is knowing what it is not. Focus on incorporating your brand promise in every aspect of your business and guest experience. More importantly, have the courage to say no to anything that does not meet that brand promise regardless of financial impact.”
Jim Gentleman is a strategist extraordinaire and has been advisor to a number of casino brands. He once told me brands need to “stand for something, stake a position and relish not being for everybody. Too many casinos today take the safe ‘we have something for everybody approach.’ That’s not what people want. They want experiences that are distinct and unexpected. With the proliferation of casinos throughout the U.S. over the past 15 years, gaming is a commodity. Build, develop and promote something, unlike anything you can find next door. Casino resort brands that have done this – Borgata, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, and Bellagio for example – develop consumer preference and true brand loyalty that leads to long-term business success.”
Talk To Your Customers
I know the rush of creating something new that you think is the best thing ever to come to marketing, but through the years, my biggest lessons have been taught by our casino guests. You need to touch the guest experience to understand what they see in your brand and what might keep them playing longer or visiting more often. Talk to your guests and find out how they think about your brand. Then decide how to message your brand to appeal to those thoughts. Make it simple, memorable and sustainable.
Stay In Your Lane
Stacy Spahle has built a career on creating brands and experiences. Her advice?
“Resist the pressure to constantly reinvent the brand. Revisit the basics — review your brand positioning and make sure it is realistic, unique and defendable and test that it resonates with your target customers. Then make sure every aspect of your communication, advertising, and especially customer experience reinforce it. With turnover in management, competition and constant pressure to be fresh and creative, we as marketers are often diverted from the discipline it takes to continually reinforce the
brand. The strongest brands have managed to stay the course and ensure their messaging and actions always reinforce their core principles.”
From Back of House to the Front Door, Be Consistent
Suzanne Trout, CMO of Foxwoods Resort once gave me a great perspective explaining that integration with all departments and all team members is the secret sauce to real brand engagement. “It’s not a marketing program but a property lifestyle that makes it real.”
My friend Kim Ginn is a newly minted general manager at the beautiful L’Auberge Casino & Hotel Baton Rouge. She agrees and advises that in order to make your brand presence as engaging as possible you must do 2 items well and consistently:
(1) Your brand must be consistent in every aspect and every channel. Some think of their brand as only advertising, but I believe the brand permeates everything we do from how our property looks, feel, smells (affects all the senses) to the team members attitudes and uniforms, to the giveaways we have and the special events we throw as well as our advertising.
(2) As far as advertising, I feel it is important to have a cohesive look and message, look and feel in all channels as well as touch and use ALL channels. One cannot ignore traditional media and just use web and social or vice versa. They must all work together, and they must all have messages that are appropriate for that medium.
Go All In
Marketing needs to be channel agnostic. You need to be where your customers are having their conversations, where they are getting information and where they are finding inspiration. In order to do that, you have to think multi-channel. So before you start developing your message make sure you adhere to the principals of a fully integrated multi-channel marketing approach. The pathway to purchase has changed dramatically from just 5 years ago…heck from just 12 months ago. And 5 years from now…will have changed even more. Plan for tomorrow TODAY!