Monday, July 31, 2006

Stupid Marketing

I'm in Las Vegas right now, at the WSOP. Harrah's is making money hands-over-fist on this thing. It's hugely popular, both on TV in in real life. They have security at the doors to the large ballroom hosting the main event to keep out the riff-raff. YOu have to be a player or the press to get in (I weaseled a press badge so I can get in) but the crowds of fans still throng the doors to get try to get a glimpse of their favorite degenerate gambler through the open doors. Amazing.

What I think is even more amazing is the bursts of total incompetence that Harrah's marketing people sometimes display. It just amazes me how people this stupid can still stumble on a money machine.

The have hundreds of little folded up maps at tables going into the Life Expo Event (or whatever they call it, a Poker Trade Show). They just look like advertising brochures of some kind, there's no indication of what they actually are -- maps. On one side a map of the booth floorplan of the Show, on the other side a street map of the Las Vegas Strip.

My girlfriend is here and she's working at the WSOP. She's doing some press coverage for some websites and she's also going around to various booths meeting people and gathering information useful to her sites. She never even noticed that map -- it just looked like a random advertising brochure. When I showed it to her she commented that it would have come in handy a couple of days before when she was trying to figure out where the various booths are.

But that's not the part about the brochure that struck me. It's a street map of the strip with the location of the various Harrah's properties marked. No is no indication of the location of other strip casinos.

That's wrong on so many levels that I'm just stunned that Harrah's marketing people could actually be this stupid.

On one level it makes it harder to use than otherwise. A lot of visitors to Las Vegas know where the Bellogio is but don't know where the intersection of Las Vegas Blvd. and Flamingo (Bellogio is on the corner). For those people it would be very simple to find Cesaer's Palace if they knew it was across the street from Bellogio.

Also, anybody who want's a map of the strip will want to visit many casinos, not just Harrah's owned casinos. And they can't use the map to do that. They can use the tear out map in What's On magazine, which can be found free at the Rio and other casinos.

So they've managed to create a give away map which is more difficult to use than it needs to be, but just won't be used by anybody anyway because it's just not nearly as useful as the readily available alternatives.

They just don't think in terms of providing value to customers. It's not about product to these people. It's just about promotion and cross-selling.

But, I guess it works. It's the kind of approach to marketing that got George Bush elected twice.


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