MRI Casino Marketing Blog
Is It Live Or Is It Memories

Is It Live Or Is It Memories

There’s nothing like live spectacle to put a bounce in your step and quicken your pulse. It’s one of the reasons why I’ve always taken to concerts like a moth to flame, where there’s just something about live music that speaks directly to your soul without filters, barriers, or judgment. It’s thrilling, satiating, and authentic, and I’ll never have enough.

That’s actually a lesson I’ve also incorporated into my professional life, one that casinos undoubtedly benefit from as well. As efficient and effective as big data and algorithms can be for a casino marketing campaign, there must always be room for the exhilaration of the authentic experience. And as every casino operator knows, that sense of exhilaration is the entire industry’s bread and butter, the allure of chance and unknown rewards that keeps every gambler walking through the door.

No Substitute for the Real Thing

To put the power of authenticity in context, allow me to use a patently Kevinesque analogy for a moment. Think back to some of the most seminal albums of all time, and you’re likely to come up with a list that’s mostly studio gems but has a surprising number of live recordings as well. Frampton Comes Alive!, Cheap Trick rockin’ the Budokan, The Who absolutely destroying the eardrums of anyone within a few miles of Leeds in 1970 — they’re collectively some of the most popular music ever recorded, and all stem from live concerts. Heck, KISS practically owes their entire career to a live album, a notion that the KISS Army will readily admit. 

But as immersive and powerful as those albums are in their own right, they pale in comparison to an actual concert. Sure, when played over a decent set of speakers, you can feel the sonic waves from Pete Townshend’s guitar engulf you during Live at Leeds, but it’s still not the same as standing in a stadium watching Springsteen transform his well- worn Telecaster into the greatest storytelling device ever made. Or sitting a few hundred feet from Elton John as he closes his eyes, throws his head back, and lets that grand piano paint a picture for you.

That’s where the exhilaration comes in, the feeling that is so powerful and moving, it keeps concertgoers such as myself coming through the turnstiles, no matter how bad the parking, overpriced the tickets, or poorly made the merch might be. Simply put, there’s no substitute for the real thing, and that’s the bit of advice I offer to casinos in this most recent soliloquy of mine.

Be Ceaselessly Authentic

Put yourself in the shoes of a gambler for a moment. Direct mail marketing is tactile but static. You can’t hear the whirling bells and shouts of joy blaring from a billboard as you drive by. Even your website, with dazzling visuals and sound, is only a staged recreation of those thrilling, authentic moments gamblers gravitate towards. Casinos rely on customers to take their word for it, trusting that those flat images have captured the actual experience. 

Therefore, casinos should strive for ceaseless, unrelenting authenticity in their marketing to capture as much of the live experience as possible. Photography is a perfect example of that need for authenticity, where nearly anyone that gets within a country mile of your front door can sniff out stock photography in a fraction of a second. This is especially true for the growing millennial customer base that demands authentic pictures, not generic facsimiles. Social media platforms like Instagram prove this thought millions of times every day.

Instead, use custom photography that, once again, is authentic to who you are and the experience that gamblers can expect from your casino, remembering that custom photography isn’t synonymous with expensive photography. I’ve too often had clients reject the idea of a photo shoot due to the imagined price tag, only to be pleasantly surprised by the actual quoted price. Even if a custom photo shoot stretches the budget a bit, however, ensuring that your casino is represented in the most effective light possible and never uses the same visuals as the competitor down the street just might be worth its weight in casino gold.

A Pocketful of Best Practices

Aside from custom photography, MRI also has a few best practices to integrate into your casino’s marketing efforts that, with a bit of diligence and strategery, will help you leverage authenticity to your lasting benefit.

Generate a Visceral Response

We call it “igniting the gambler’s soul” at MRI. The most desired customer for a casino is the true gambler, and what they want is the game and everything that entails. Supercharge your brand to tailor your message for the nuanced segments of your target audience, drawing out a visceral response from each.

Get Your Customers Involved

Casinos have always been good about getting photos of jackpot winners holding the big check, but what’s the 2019 version of that? Brainstorm with MRI, ask your employees and players for their opinions and communicate with as many people as possible. Groupthink is good think.

A Great and Memorable Experience is Priority #1

Remember that live KISS album I mentioned? Well, trust me when I say no one would’ve listened to it based on their lackluster studio albums. KISS Alive! blew up the music world thanks to word of mouth over KISS’ thrilling live shows, something that the live album was able to successfully bottle. Infuse your marketing with that same recipe, allowing the customer to relive those exciting and memorable moments spent within your casino.

Constantly Reassess Your Creative

Is your creative exciting? Does it make people want to be at your casino as much for the vibe and feeling of escape as the thrill of the game or big win? Balance fantasy with honesty through your creative and establish a vibe that is friendly, exciting, and true to your brand. Constantly reassessing your creative ensures it continues to hit the right mark.

Rework Your Creative Brief

Make sure the creative team understands your vision and desired direction so they can interpret your message and translate it into tangible print and digital media. Rework your creative brief to keep everyone on track.

Use Gamified Offers

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again -- there’s no better way to put people in a gaming mood than offering a chance to win something by coming on in, spinning the wheel, and seeing if Lady Luck is home. The best gamified offers entice people into your casino and make them want to stick around.

Foster FOMO

Yes, I had to Google FOMO the first time I saw it, but I’ve now completely taken to its wisdom. Use the Fear of Missing Out throughout your social media by live-streaming the action, sounds, and excitement of your casino floor. Show the viewer what they’re missing and make it as authentic as possible. The more familiar the customer is with your casino, the more excited they’ll be when they actually visit and see the floor and employees in person. 

Be Unique and Suspenseful With Your Promotions

Don’t rely on the same ol’ song and dance that your audience has seen a million times before. Dare to be different from the competition and make your promotions uniquely your own. Ordinary events and promotions might appeal to the Reward Player, but the average gambler isn’t terribly loyal to one casino over the others.

Entice the customers with promotions that keep the prizes a mystery until they come in and play. Generate a buzz, foster the excitement, and add fuel to the metaphorical prize fire to make sure your casino stands out from the rest. MRI’s Director of Account Services, Rebecca Perger, has a few specific ideas and thoughts to help transform your promotions into enduring assets:

  • Mystery promotions can appeal to a mass market or use targeted criteria to qualify. Shape them to fit your specific needs, budget, marketing campaign, and goals.
  • Interactivity is critical for a memorable promotion. While electronic kiosks can supplement the live action with side games, make the interactive games the main dish, not the appetizer.
  • Large cash prizes make the most successful promotions. Cash is king, the great equalizer, and appeals to everyone. Of course, a new car, vacation package, or similarly life-altering prize is pretty powerful as well.
  • Be creative with your approach, using holidays, large sporting events, or other notable occasions as the center point to your promotions. Above all else, don't fear to be different.

Whatever you choose, remember that the goal is to always be authentic with your message and marketing efforts. Lean on the enthusiasm and excitement already coursing through your casino’s veins, and infuse your marketing with sights and sounds that try to capture that magic. Granted, that’s easier said than done for most, but that’s why MRI exists in the first place.

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