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Why is it so important for your ad agency to understand the gaming business? Chad Germann, Founder and CEO, Red Circle gets to the root of this answer in today’s Raving On Air with Raving CEO, Deana Scott.
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Deana Scott: Hi Ravers, Deana Scott here. Welcome to Raving On Air sponsored by TG&H. Remember to check out Tribal Gaming and Hospitality Magazine for all of your operational insights. I am very fortunate to have some time with a longtime colleague and friend from Minnesota. I’d like to welcome Chad Germann with Red Circle. Chad is the founder and CEO of this Native-owned multimedia agency. And in 2009, he created casino data technologies, which spawn RECON a database software system that has more than 20 casinos currently managing the software where they can analyze and report on marketing programs. Chad is definitely an industry innovator and very, very, very, very, very, very passionate about what he does. So I’m really excited to chat with him this morning. Good morning, Chad.
Chad Germann: Good morning. And thank you for having me on Deana. I appreciate it.
Deana Scott: Chad, give us the nutshell about RED CIRCLE. It’s such a cool story, and I know even today, how many years later, you’re still as passionate as you were when you started…
Chad Germann: Yeah, so, we’re 21 years old as an agency this spring. So, I think I sent my first invoice out in March of, of 2001. So really proud of how long we’ve been in the game. I started working for my Tribe’s casino back in like 1997. Whew. That was a long time ago. I was in the advertising, as the advertising manager and the advertising director. And we had three different ad agencies during the time that I was, running advertising at Grand Casino Hinkley in Minnesota for my Tribe. And felt like their ad agencies were talented. They knew what they were doing, but they didn’t really understand the gaming business. And didn’t understand that that advertising and marketing for a casino is not just making an expensive TV ad and buying lots of media and flooding the market with that TV ad that cost so much money, but there’s all sorts of different moving parts and pieces.
And so I created Red Circle, for the purpose of helping my Tribe sort of have a better ad agency experience and an agency that really understood, how casinos make money. And so that’s sort of where it started. And over the 21 years we’ve been doing business, you know, as you mentioned, we create the software company that helps us do even better, smarter, more efficient work for our clients, but we have people on our team, the two, you know, leading executives on my team are former casino, marketing directors, marketing VPs. We have eight people on our staff that used to work inside casinos. And so when we sit down with our clients, we speak their language, we understand what their challenges are. And I think to your point, we’ve been inside this industry trying to solve these challenges for 21 years, for all sorts of different casinos, with all kinds of different challenges. And so we’re well versed in what these problems are and we go to fight for our clients wherever we can. And unfortunately, the challenges are, we still have a lot of the same challenges but that’s the deal, we’re not unique in this industry.
Deana Scott: You’re right. It is frustrating sometimes that we’ve been doing this quite a while and we still talk about the same issues that are popping up, but let’s talk about advertising. That world has changed so much. And, you know, we used to focus on mail and, to be honest, I don’t think we totally personalized mail at the level that we could, but now in today’s digital age, we have that opportunity with our media and we have so many multimedia channels, and I think we’re barely touching the surface of that. And I know that you work really hard to create multi-channel campaigns that really speak to customers. Can you talk about how the market has changed?
Chad Germann: Yeah. What you’re talking about is exactly what we try to coach our clients to do. And, and the way we think about building out the different types of messaging that we’re gonna be putting into, whether it’s it’s mail, or if it’s, you know, social media broadcast, where wherever these ads can live, there’s no reason why we can’t sort of break it apart and look at broadcast digital in the same way that we look at mail. We understand in the space of mail advertising, if you have a player that, plays slots eats at the steakhouse, doesn’t go to the buffet, doesn’t play tables. We can build a mailer for that particular customer that has a photo of the steakhouse and slot machines, talks about the slot programming for that month. And we send that to them.
And we know that’s a more effective mailer. We’ve been doing that for years. There’s no reason why we can’t do that in the advertising space also, because when you’re doing your digital marketing tactics, you can make that ad very specific and you can target certain types of audiences. And in the same way you think about the mail, we take our audience for broadcast for digital and we break it into different sort of target groups. We create different media plans for those different target groups, right? Different media, um, whether it’s sections of the newspaper, different YouTube channels, whatever it may be, you can target those things, create slightly different messaging. Doesn’t have to be totally different messaging. The brand idea can be the same, but you can use different video footage. You can use different taglines. You can use different types of customers that are showcased in the video content. You can create different messages for different audiences, and those can live in different media spaces, same in broadcast, same in digital as you would in the mailbox. And I think that’s an opportunity that doesn’t seem like it’s sort of newfangled and fancy or anything like that, but it’s strange how many times we bump into clients that aren’t thinking that way. And it’s not that big of a jump. I mean it makes sense for you to do that. We try very hard to coach our clients to do that.
Deana Scott: And as a consumer, you definitely feel the difference when you are, kind of presented with a boxed or packaged ad that doesn’t really fit the medium, but with the GM hat on right now, Chad, we had a hard enough time as a marketer getting an advertising budget passed for when there were some network channels and mail. And so how do you present this to the C-suite to show them that there’s value? And I would assume with digital now there’s a lot more ROI possibility, in this medium.
Chad Germann: Yeah. I mean, I would answer that in two ways. The first thing I would say is when you’re planning your next collection of production work, right, we’re gonna shoot some photography, we’re gonna shoot some video stuff. We’re gonna make a TV ad. When you’re thinking about doing that, you have to take a couple of steps back and figure how many different ways can I use this? If I’m bringing this camera crew into the building and I’m gonna be hiring actors and we’re gonna be setting up lights and shooting things, don’t just shoot for the 30-second TV ad that you wanna run, you know, during the nightly news, make sure that you’re thinking broad and that you’re going to collect up all the stuff that you might need for the different audiences that you might be talking to.
And then again, that goes back to when you’re hiring the talent, make sure you have representatives from all the different audience groups that you want to be talking to, make sure you’re covering all of them. So that’s one thing I would say, do that. But on the measurement side, when you have to justify all of this to the C-suite, that’s really where, you know, through the luxury that my group has with our software, where we are pulling data out of the players’ club, like every day, right? And so we can run a campaign in a given zip code, right? And then we can turn and watch the players club and see what happens in that zip code. We can pull the data from that zip code. The, and we can tell if we have more signups, we have more visits. We have more play if we’re making more money. And again, obviously my tool, the tool that we have RECON is not the only way to do this. You know, there are many, many ways you can get into that data and use that, but the proof is in the data, right? You can do better work, get better results. And then you have to go dig through the data to find the proof, to show the C-suite. And that is more work. But again, that’s the sort of work you have to do if you want to do really great work. I mean, you got to roll your sleeves up and dig through the data and find the proof for this stuff which does seem extra from what it used to to be. But I remember a day when, when I first started working at grand casino, I had a budget, my advertising budget was zeroed out. It was like a blank screen because they had just started doing direct mail and sending out offers. And they pulled all of my money out of the budget to give it in offers to players. And so, there are changes that happen in this industry, right? And we’re going through them … all the time things are changing. I mean, my clients are dialing up their digital spend and dialing down, you know, print, all that kind of stuff. It is happening in front of us. And good C-suite people recognize that there are opportunities popping up because technology changes and learning changes. And maybe you get somebody on your team that’s really sharp. And they have really amazing ideas and can make a difference and good C-suite people will see those opportunities. But again, you have to work to prove it.
Deana Scott: You have to do the work. Darn it. We can’t get away from that. Well, Chad, we spent some time just talking about advertising. Uh, you have so much to share and great insight. We really appreciate you joining us. Um, thank you. And as always, um, thank you.
Chad Germann: Yeah. Thank you, Deana. Really appreciate it.
Deana Scott: And thank you for joining us for Raving On Air, visit BetRavingKnows.com to learn about all of your operational insights. And again, from all of us at Raving, be safe and happy.