Yep. It is that time of year when we look back at the past 365 days and decide things will be different in the next. This look back typically ends in the all-too-familiar resolution. It seems we are not the first era of people to do so. Babylonians reportedly made promises to the gods to earn good favor in the coming year.
Whether you are a New Year’s Eve resolution-maker or you wait for the first few days of festivities to die down, we cannot help ourselves and make intentions that we hope will shape the coming year. Yet, New Year’s resolutions have become such an expected occurrence that we do not flinch when we fail to stick to them and decide to revisit them during Lent (perhaps that is a New Orleans thing.)
As millions go about making resolutions, there seem to be some recurring themes: health and fitness, financial freedom, and personal development. Chances are more than a couple of your resolutions have started with the following words.
But I think these starters can be just as valuable in your marketing resolutions.
Marketing Resolution 1: Lose
The new year is a time to start thinking about losing weight. I am not confusing my personal resolution with my marketing resolution, but it has made me consider the extra weight that might be holding me back from growing my business. Is it that I am still trying to do everything myself rather than recruiting resources to help me? Is it cumbersome or inefficient processes that could be changed?
What about you? Are you holding on to branding that does not make sense for where you are today and the clients you have? Are you still using the same comfortable marketing channels and have not thought about testing new things? Is there more “fat” in budget items that should be trimmed, or should you be shifting your “consumption” into new channels?
Let go of what could be holding your business back from growing. Lose that extra weight.
Marketing Resolution 2: Improve
The tools you have available to your internal marketing team. Your internal marketing team could be the best and most valuable brand ambassadors and influencers. We dedicated an entire episode of our Winning Influencer Marketing series to internal influencers because we felt the topic merited a focused discussion.
We know how guests look for specific team members to help them when they visit, but now they continue to communicate with them through their social channels, often influencing where they spend their money.
Why not lean into these relationships and provide team members with the assets and tools to help their stars rise along with your brand’s star.
User-generated content continues to be more valued than brand-generated content, but when the user-generated content is branded appropriately, it can be the best of both worlds.
Marketing Resolution 3: Try
One of the best things you can do for your marketing is to rid yourself of the phrase, “we’ve always done it that/this way.” Make a swear jar and have your team put a $1 in every time the phrase slips out. You will either treat your team to a nice dinner at the end of the year or proudly, but barely, afford a Starbucks drink.
The swear jar is one of my favorite things to do with my team, and I think it will become yours.
Some beliefs and structures have become obsolete. Yet we continue to base our marketing programs on them even though we have no idea why. The next time you implement something because it has always been done that way, throw $1 in the swear jar. After a few deposits, I will guarantee you that you will change much of your marketing. You will dig back into history to understand the why, or someone will come up with a better, fresher idea.
If one area of business has proven itself to be independent of sacred cows, it is marketing. Some of you might remember when we used only paid advertising or the yellow pages. It is genuinely laughable now, yet it was not that long ago.
When I originally wrote this post about marketing resolutions, I said that marketing had changed more in the previous two years than in the last 10, but the previous 18 months have been a lesson in keeping up.
If you have been managing your brand’s marketing for some time, you have an idea of which marketing channels bring you the most success. Emerging media such as geofencing and OTT can help you reach your audience with different strategies. While you will want to continue successful tactics, it is also a good habit to try new things when it makes sense.
Make it a resolution to try at least one new marketing tactic this year and track the results to see if it works for your business.
Keep an eye out for changes and trends outside of the industry and see if you can use them in yours.
Years ago, I listened to a marketing hero of mine tell a story of a promotion he developed as the chief marketing officer of Kodak. It was a massive and expensive misstep. His lesson to us: “no one is going to die.” Most businesses can sustain a little creative thinking. Test something out. Think it through but take the risk. To try something bold and different, I am giving you a (figurative) Get Out of Jail Free Card.
Could you email me your ideas? I would love to hear them.
Marketing Resolution 4: Learn
Part of the process we go through in onboarding our Casino Marketing Boot Camp attendees is learning what they are trying to accomplish and what their leadership is looking for. We learn so they can learn more.
As marketing leaders, you need to ask the more critical questions to learn and create the most effective marketing programs. It is too easy for leaders to become so entangled in execution details that we risk making non-strategic decisions. I like to call this The Starburst Effect: rather than understanding the challenge, we focus on a small detail that may never get us to our goal.
Another learning tip is to track, measure, cut, or repeat. Marketers are now the beneficiaries of a plethora of data. It makes sense that we need to track what we do to understand which efforts drive the behaviors we need to meet our business goals. Make a resolution to learn how to use data to make your marketing more innovative or efficient.
Select key performance indicators that are directly related to the business goals. If you are not measuring the things related to business goals, you will soon find yourself with nothing to measure. Gone are the days when we could coast on vanity metrics. You need to measure revenue, along with the cost for that revenue or conversion.
If you are buying media, stop buying the media you consume and start using data to buy media your targets are consuming. Identify where you can find quick hits and build a highly targeted and efficient media plan that you can track via your database. With this segmentation approach, you can match the highest growth, highest responsive audiences against media usage profiles.
Marketing Resolution 5: Appreciate
Appreciate your workplace culture. 2020 was horrible, and although 2021 is shaping up to be a remarkable year for the casino industry’s profit and loss statements, it has been nonetheless challenging. We were short-staffed, battling angry guests and (sometimes even team members) to maintain a sense of wellness. It is no surprise that the juggling left some company cultures shattered on the floor.
As previously mentioned here, when team members are not a part of our brands, our work as marketers only gets more challenging. Studies have shown that brand messages can reach 561% further when shared by team members than via the brand channels, but a Gallup study showed that only 27% of team members believed in their employers’ brands. Imagine if just 1% more of your team believed in and shared your brand messages. What if you could get that to 30% or more?
Your goal in developing your internal brand is to transform team members into willing and enthusiastic brand ambassadors to contribute to your brand’s success.
Take some time to audit the team member journey. Then, as you would with any external-facing brand launch, create an internal brand with the same high-caliber applications, explaining to everyone the why of your brand’s existence.
Friction in a workplace is inevitable, but a strong culture guides you through those valleys when everyone truly understands what success looks like.
Marketing Resolution 6: Listen
Listen to guests. Listen and ask why repeatedly until you root out the issue.
The most successful businesses know their guests and invest in research. Take a look at your guest’s journey. What are their pain points? What are the elements that make an ordinary experience extraordinary? Focus groups and online surveys can give you a wealth of insights to help you build your marketing programs. Understanding your guest is essential to long-term growth and should be at the center of anything you do.
Marketing Resolution 7: Quit
Maybe this one deserves a dedicated blog post. Quit jumping on trends without thinking. Quit creating communications that only resonate with you rather than the target audience. Quit ignoring trends because you believe they do not apply. Quit exclusively looking to your industry for best practices; the “next practice” could lie elsewhere.
Today, however, I will focus on only one thing because a long resolution list is soon nothing but a scrap of paper you will find months later.
I want you to quit focusing on features and connect to guests emotionally.
I am no psychologist, but it seems like the most significant obstacle marketers and business owners face in creating response-producing communications is our egos. A slight shift in this attitude is almost sure to increase response rates.
The secret, which you — and just about everyone else in business — have heard of but may not have acted on, is to focus your marketing message on “benefits” rather than “features” of your product or service.
In other words, guests are more strongly persuaded by knowing how a product will benefit them rather than what it is made of. That does not mean you should leave out the defining features of your product or service, but, in most cases, the main thrust of your communications should be the benefits your guest will enjoy.
People have dozens of fundamental needs and emotional triggers and are motivated by everything from fear and greed to love and vanity. If you can reach them emotionally or otherwise convince them that you can satisfy their needs or solve their problem better than the competition, then the probability of gaining their business and winning them over as loyal guests will increase tremendously. Research allows you a way to discover precisely what your prospects’ “hot buttons” are and then tailor your copy and graphics to those needs.
Don’t Forget the Most Important Part of Your Marketing.
You. Pick an area you want to improve to make yourself a valuable part of your team. Make a reinvestment in yourself.
Truthfully, there is never a need to wait until the ball (or the guitar, or the potato, or the Moon Pie) drops to resolve to do something better than you did before. We can all do better, starting whenever you decide to give it a whirl. Cheers!