24 February 2009

Las Vegas Tip

I remember thinking several times while we travelled throughout Las Vegas that things have changed.

For years people have said that Old Vegas is gone. In some weird way, I didn't want to believe it.

In the nineties many of the properties invested in theme park rides, heck - MGM had a theme park! But there was still a feeling of Old Vegas in the air, many of the old hotels were still standing, the Sands, the Frontier and the Desert Inn still had lights flashing.

When the new century turned over many of the hotels turned into mega-resorts that defy description, they have to be seen to believed - they are just so massive and outrageous. These new hotel/casinos while impressive in their own right are completely different from the glitz and sparkle of the old casinos. They are too sophisticated. The old casinos had rudimentary lights (lots, and lots of em) that flashed and sparkled and drew you in - now they draw you in with replicas of famous landmarks from around the world.

Again, don't get me wrong, it's impressive, it's just not the same as it used to be.

On our most recent trip, not one person opened a door for us at any casino - just 10 years ago, there used to be someone in a suit waiting for you at every entrance, you flipped him a buck and a smile and he opened the door for you.

But when we went to a show and there was no máitre d' to take us to our seats, no one to spiff with a tip to move you up front, I knew things had changed. Every show I've ever been to in Vegas was seen from the front row with a few extra bucks attached to the ticket - a nod by the máitre d' along with the passing of the buckage seemed to always work, until now.

I entered the theatre, tickets in hand with a twenty neatly folded around each ticket and handed them to the person at the door - she looks at me and says, you won't need that, you're tickets are right up there (pointing to where the seat numbers were on the tickets) I was shocked. And, at that moment, it confirmed in my mind that Vegas had became less about extraordinary and more about just ordinary... they had taken the excitement away from so many parts to the essential Vegas experience, and the feeling of successfully applying grease to move you into the VIP area was the last straw.

On the plus side, you can save all tips you used to give out and stand in line for a buffet meal - they charge for those too now.

People used to go to Las Vegas for the experience and the new Vegas with it's endless shopping malls and masstardization is less about feeling important for a few nights, a very large part of the past Vegas experience in my opinion, and more about churn. Get people through the lines, like cattle, and move 'em in, move 'em out. Rawhide.

Next time I may just opt to go to the casino down the road - same old, same old.

17 February 2009

Marketing in Las Vegas

Leaving for Las Vegas in a couple of days... I enjoy the absurdness of this weird and tacky place and try to check my conscience at the boarding gate on departure.

There is no place on earth (that I've heard of) quite like Las Vegas, everything is done to extreme. It's extravagant, wasteful, reckless, care-free, casual, exploiting, unnecessary, immature, racy, ludicrous, seedy, flashy, dangerous, unnatural, fake, delusional, perverse, tempting, profane, chaotic, aberrant, ferocious and carnal.

And I love it.

The part I love best is they market these 'features', these differences, these experiences for what they are. It's Sin City after all, and you've got a lot to live up to with a name like that. Remember, you can't fake different.

There is no more profound experience than Las Vegas. And, it is exactly what's promised by the advertising. They create and set the expectation and deliver by the plane load.

I will take with me a voracious appetite for the things hinted at above and a giant note pad.

What can I say, I appreciate (and succumb to) great marketing.


10 February 2009

Everybody Wants to Be Different

"Set yourself on fire and they'll come from miles around to watch you burn."
Phineas T. Barnum

It's funny, someone will go to a conference, or read a great book which sparks a great idea on how to differentiate themselves then they try to promote this difference in the same old method they have always used and wonder why it didn't work.

To truly be different, you must really be different. And that's what separates the cream from the shit.

Either you are different or your not. You can't pretend - consumers can smell the shit a kilometer away.

In this ever changing economy, companies are looking for ways to be different, because it's the differences that people seek. It's what makes them feel good about their purchase - the fact they got something better, stronger, healthier, blingier, faster or weirder. Consumers love stories, not just behind the brand, but also how they got what they bought... a remarkable experience from a company that is different will do this.

If you're just trying to be different, you will never be different, until you truly are different.

That's the difference.

Thanks for the quote Geoff.

07 February 2009

Facebook Advertising

I wouldn't say I'm the leading authority on Facebook advertising - I'm not sure that anyone is yet. It's still pretty new and although there are a lot of people doing it, I'm not sure if anyone has really tapped the full potential of what Facebook can offer.

A while back, Facebook turned down a billion dollars from Google to sell their company... at the time, many people (including myself) thought they were nuts. After all, there's not much I wouldn't sell for a billion dollars, except for something that was gonna be worth more than a billion dollars in just a few years...

Search engines like Google, Yahoo! and MSN generate revenue through advertising and do a very good job of helping advertisers reach their target audience by bringing relevant content up on searches and tagging it with relevant ads. This is very effective, the way the yellow pages was about 10 years ago - if you were looking for a landscaper, you went to the landscaping section and you would find a landscaper... now, you type in landscaping into a search engine and you find your landscaper. The search results are tagged with relevant ads based on keywords purchased by advertisers. This reaches the intended target very effectively, you wouldn't type in landscapers into the search engine unless you needed one, right?

So, why is Facebook a better option for advertisers? On Facebook, you can target geographically, demographically, psychographically and by their interests. So, as a landscaper that specializes in J.R.R. Tolkein inspired designs for backyards, you can target this in your ads so that only people that have Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, LOTR, JRR Tolkein or Bilbo Baggins in their profile see your ad. That's pretty direct by any standard. You'd be hard pressed to find any other medium that could target this specifically... OK, there's probably a LOTR magazine, but you'd have to wait months to get your ad in and see results - on Facebook you see your results on the same day.

Another thing I should mention is that online advertising is the only true pay for performance advertising available to advertisers... you only pay for the ad when it get's used (clicked on). If you can't convert the leads or get the business after the click, that's another problem - the ad worked though. And, that's what it's all about folks, finding ways to get your advertising to work.

We are helping a few companies advertise on Facebook and put our own ads up there too - afterall, how can we recommend it if we don't even do it ourselves.