This week, we share part of another of our Casino Marketing Boot Camp conversations – the digital marketing dilemma: the battle for attention.

Attention has fast become the marketing currency of our time. A brand that has our attention can expect to have a share of our wallets. So, conversely, if you can get your target’s attention, you can reasonably expect to command some portion of their spending.

As marketers, our goals for social media have moved beyond likes and follows (although they do serve a purpose which I’ll discuss at another time). Now, we have to create intent out of that attention. And, although we probably thought we had the perfect formula for reaching our digital marketing goals, 2020 has shaken up the ingredients and quantities. Now, we have to learn and follow a new, evolving recipe for success.

But, where do you start when there are new networks, changed networks, and network abandonment?

“It is such a wild time online right now. We are being bombarded with messaging constantly — everywhere from every angle,” said Justin Shank (principal of his eponymous agency Shank Marketing) during our latest Casino Marketing Boot Camp.

He compared the digital landscape to a casino floor with different options for different guests (and sometimes at various times of their visits). “You need to consider what each platform brings to the customer separately. A customer might go to Facebook today in search of a particular type of content but tomorrow have a completely different need,” explained Shank. It is a little similar to why a customer might play a low volatility title today but a more exciting high volatility game on their next visit.

The bottom line is that identical content may not be universally accepted on all platforms. You must consider how and when your content shows up and how it appeals to your target audience when curating it.

I can see this in myself. I visit my Facebook feed perhaps to catch up on what my friends and family are up to. Still, I use LinkedIn to keep up with trends, Twitter for breaking news, Instagram for inspiration, Pinterest to save things I will never get around to, and TikTok for just plain fun.


The Ultimate Challenge

Marketers are fighting a constant battle to create rich content that people WANT to consume. How do we break through all the noise to stand out? How do we continuously develop the type of content that is engaging and interesting?

Continuing the casino floor analogy, Shank says your content is like your casino floor. You are constantly adding new elements that appeal to different people. That, in and of itself, translates to a battle for attention.

We have to look at every single little thing that is on our property. Small changes. Big additions. Updates to our existing offerings. All of these things are content, but how do we highlight them to create the content people will consume and act upon?


How to Discover Great Content

Shank advises we consider two things during the creation phase.

  1. WHERE you are going to post and
  2. Where or WHO is your best source for information.

He reminds us that majority of conversations and services are happening on the gaming floor. “Your slot techs are talking to the people playing the games. If you’re responsible for creating digital content, consider a pass on the floor and asking them what they are working on,” suggests Shank.

Ask your slot team what games they expect and set up a time to try out the game for a video post. Asking your slot director why they pick a game gives guests the kind of inside scoop they want and feel they deserve.

One of our attendees loved the idea of these video posts as they are often challenged with receiving licensed graphic files along with the time from opening a job for a printed piece to getting it into the hands of guests. Even then, the materials produced could always use more color, like what the bonus rounds look like and even where to find it.

“Your environmental services (EVS) team is on the gaming floor talking to customers all the time,” Shank reminds us. “Is there a way that we can arm them with more marketing information, or can they help us uncover content? Involve them in the conversation about how we curate content.”

EVS can often know the pulse of the casino floor before anyone. Their unique insights might prove to be the perfect formula for breakthrough content.

Shank reminds us to “remember that we’re supposed to be having fun. Be creative because in the fight for attention, if we’re just doing the same thing over and over again, and we’re not really having fun with how we’re developing the content, players will see that.”

Avoid Sameness

I have been part of discussions related to creating advertising campaigns that are unique and ownable. While I do not like to have social channels lumped into the advertising channel categories, the need to be unique and branded is as essential as it is in mass media.

If you post a slot machine picture and your competitor does as well, how will you stand apart in the crowd? How do you create branded content that helps to illustrate a fundamental difference between you and your competitors?

Shank recommends we begin by engaging on a human level. “The way that we engage with people, whether it’s online or on the gaming floor, is the key. It should always be helping our customers understand exactly what WE are doing,” he advises.


Which Channel is Right?

All social channels are good marketing tools. They allow us to deliver content to specific personas. But are all social media channels right for our brands?

That depends.

One of the best tools marketers can use is customer personas because part of the process includes understanding what channels are best for reaching them and the type of cues they look for in our communications.

Social channels are in constant evolution. Facebook started as a student-only platform. It evolved to include non-students, and years later, we saw the younger demographic migrating (perhaps running) away as their older relatives invaded their space.

Instagram may have started as a part-time project for a wanna-be coder, but today, it is firmly ensconced in the number two position among social media platforms. The photo-driven platform begs the question, “If you had a great meal but didn’t Instagram it, do the calories count?”

Twitter is yet another story of platform evolution. When it was founded in 2006, it was designed to be an outlet for sharing daily status updates with friends and acquaintances. Today, it is a news engine and one of the prime channels for the newest customer entering casino doors, the sports better. The character limit can be seen as a challenge but used wisely, it can aid in focusing the message.

“People tend to use Twitter as an online billboard,” observes Shank, “Although used that way all too often, Twitter can be so much more.”

He continues, “When Twitter was fairly new, link sharing became really valuable because of the positive impact on SEO efforts. Today, I see Twitter’s value in the conversations that are happening.”

It is no surprise to find average Joe is exchanging comments with their favorite athlete or news source. Have you ever had a brand reply to you on Twitter? Remember that feeling? If you are still using Twitter as a billboard and not engaging with your audience, you are missing a huge opportunity.

It is also not surprising to see competitor brands interacting with each other. Brands such as Wendy’s and Burger King have created personalities that go beyond any ad. In the very early days of Twitter, we often had great conversations with other casino marketers via their Twitter profiles.

Shank adds, “There is also a possibly untapped value from a personalities perspective. Consider your player development department, hosts, general manager or CEO, and marketing director. Are they great onsite personalities? They may be outstanding Twitter personalities. Consider what that would take and what the benefit of empowering your staff might be.”

YouTube continues its domination in video. While you may have learned how to paint your house, create an organic garden or how to bake sourdough during the pandemic, the most relevant evolution has been the growth of the slot playing live stream.

LinkedIn is a channel that B2C marketers rarely consider but think about potential employees. If they consider applying for a position, they may want to know who current and past employees are. They may also want more information about the company than what was included in the job post.

“The employee aspect is huge,” agreed Shank. He also reminded us, “your casino hosts can connect to customers through LinkedIn. You also have other stakeholders who are interested in seeing more about you: community leaders and business owners as well as gamblers.”

Then there’s TikTok which we’re all trying to figure out how to use most effectively.


Making the Case

Ultimately, we have to make a case for refocused or added social media resources. That will always come down to the answer to one question. Are we creating profitable visits?

As a property marketer, Shank knew his fight for social media resources had to have a business goal that went beyond likes and follows. He took a list of the top 10 players and found a small number of them on Twitter. However, only one of those identified players was genuinely active. Tempting though it might have been, he knew he had to identify a larger grouping of customers to set a foundation for the effort. So, he turned his attention to Facebook. There, he found a large a significant number of customers that were already sharing.

“We started to come up with programs and plans for a way that we would capture the attention and engage with the players,” recalls Shank.

The lesson is similar to many marketing lessons. As marketers, we can create hundreds of plans. Some are successful, but some are not. You never know until you try. If a flop can be improved, you keep trying to do so. However, if the failure keeps failing, stop and move on to something that can work. Marketing magic happens in improvements you will never find if you never ask “what if” or give up too quickly.

As responsible marketers, we must always ask if our efforts encourage visits from our fans and followers. “Making sure that people are aware of our brand is really important,” says Shank. “However, the bottom line will always be whether or not we’re driving visits to the property. The content we create has to encourage visits from our players.”

“It’s not always a deliberate effort. It could be in the messages or the comments. When was the last time you came to see us? We’d love to see you again. These types of comments open the door to conversation and can be just the encouragement needed to visit.”


We Must Stay in the Conversation

At no time did it become more apparent that a post and leave strategy is a waste of time than as we saw during our businesses’ closure and eventual reopening in 2020. Guests had all the questions you could imagine.

  • Are you going to allow smoking?
  • Is the buffet open,
  • Will I be able to play my lucky machine?

Shank Marketing fielded thousands of questions coming in across all of their clients’ platforms. They all stemmed from confusion in directives and a game of telephone the likes we may never see again in our lifetimes.

Shank says, “If we hadn’t been as active on our clients’ accounts, there would have been a lack of important information. Instead, we used the opportunity to provide answers, created engagement, and built up some loyalty online.”

It is easy not to see a fire drill rather than an opportunity when the questions pore in, but you should ask yourself, “How are we responding to our customer that chose to communicate with us via social channels rather than comment cards?”


We will share the rest of the conversation Justin had with our Boot Camp attendees in an upcoming post. We’ll talk about creating communities, developing your strategy, and identifying resources.

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