Paul's Blog The world has never moved as fast as it is today, and will never again move as slowly as it is today

 Op-Ed Commentary on Today's News Paul Jason, CEO, PublicGaming Research Institute (PGRI) 

Greetings from London: Reporting on the EL/WLA Marketing Seminar and the ICE Totally Gaming Show. 

Every year at this time all of the European, and much of the global community of lottery, gaming and gambling professionals, converge on London for two big events and the countless meetings that take place since everyone is here.  ICE Totally Gaming is like G2E Las Vegas, only much bigger.  It’s mostly about casino and electronic gaming and iGaming products and services but Lottery is now a major player too. 

ICE is also like G2E in that the trade show is giant but their conference track is not ready for prime-time.  The conference that has gained incredible traction because the content is so good and the participation so high-level is Lottery’s EL/WLA Marketing Seminar.  Last year, the Seminar theme was Big Data, Big Communities, Big Jackpots.  This year, it’s Think Small, with a focus on connecting with individuals, creating communities but on a more intimate scale, moving from the mass-marketing one-to-many relationship to a more personalized one-to-one approach, and applying more ingenuity to advertising and promotional concepts that connect the brand with smaller groups of people with shared interests.

Keynote Jon Duschinsky observed that people are hard-wired to do good.  Or, at least we are hard-wired to preserve a self-image that stands for something good.  Marketers can and should tap into that impulse to think of ourselves as good people.  Instead of wondering whether how much the players care about Lottery’s role of supporting good causes, realize that players’ motivational matrix is complex and that it absolutely includes the desire to do good, to preserve and project an image that they are proud of, and affiliate with causes that they feel good about.  In marketing circles, this dynamic is simplified into the Trianglular syllogism of “Heart-Mind-Wallet”.   The real motivational driver is emotional.  We respond with the heart.  BUT we also need to justify the decisions with our mind, the decisions need to comport with other aspects of our self-image, and the arbiter of that vetting is the Mind.  Heart is the quickest way towards ACTION.  But action needs to be justified with the head.

Corporate enterprises manage their slow decline through a process of “Risk Litigation”, compromising the driving sense of mission and purpose that they were built on and are still needed for sustainability.  Lost is the culture defined by a vision, an idea to stand for.  To clarify that ideal, we need a unifying theme that speaks to the heart.  Jon describes examples of “Stories that build the neural-pathways to empathy.”  The key, the anchor to any story, is to stand for something.  “Authenticity” is the over-used cliché - Jon recasts this notion with examples that have power and meaning.   Apple was one of the early-adopters of this conviction to “stand for something.”   He shared a video from 1997 in which Steve Jobs exhorted his team to think about who are, what we believe in, what we stand for.  This early-stage adoption telegraphed nothing of what was to come other than the underlying conviction that it had to be something grand, something that had ever done before.  Jon walked us through the process in which this unformed Jobsian vision quest produced some of the most famous and effective branding campaigns ever, including “Think Different” and “The only ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world … are the ones that do.” 

In a world largely devoid of purpose, how do we gain Trust?  Powerfully challenging question to answer:  What do you stand for that is differentiating?  Integrity, responsibility, value, and all the other blah blah blahs found in Lottery mission statements are not differentiating.  Things that everyone lays claim to are things that you can’t own.  What do you stand for?  What can you own?

Check out video of Steve Jobs’ meeting with handful of marketers in 1997:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=keCwRdbwNQY

Also while you’re at it, check out the new refreshed EL Website: european-lotteries.org

A couple of the presentations focused on what seems to me to be an important new theme for brand managers and marketing messages.  Clever does not work anymore.  Clear is what works. Clarity and transparency is the new currency of effective messaging.  Not humor or sexy or cleverness.  Clear is the new clever. 

“Thinking Small” isn’t just about personalized messaging and connecting with community.  It’s also about focus on the details.  For all the talk about “BIG” data, it is the business of extracting relevant information which often means more granular data-points and even tighter focus on details.  Also recognizing that “big data” is almost always riddled with errors, misinformation, or incomplete information which leads to misguided extrapolations, inferences, and conclusions.  Thinking small applies the discipline to power through the inadequacies of Big Data. 

Marketing is becoming more and more personalized, and the methods of applying digital and online social networking tools and strategies are enabling the connections that resonate with the individual on a more human and personal basis.  Brand messaging and marketing can be based not just on regional or local communities, but also communities not bound by geography but based on shared interests and affiliations.  One-to-many will continue to play a major role in Lottery consumer engagement strategy.  But we do need to integrate the incredible variety of one-to-one communication tools, mostly digital-based but really thinking with an open-mind about the explosion of new styles of consumer touch-points and POS’s, and new data-points and reimagined KPI’s to provide new and different roadmaps for how and where to connect with our audience.

ThinkSmallMighty Example: Coke completely ruled the soft-drink market.  They considered all shelf-space to be theirs, owned by them and not to be shared.  This level of arrogance made them vulnerable to small brands taking small chunks out of the market, death by a thousand cuts.  Red Bull implemented a variety of ThinkSmallMighty campaigns that successfully carved out a multi-hundred million $ share of the market.  Not the multi-billions that Coke has, but it reflects the vulnerable under-belly of super-dominant mega-brands.  Small local event marketing and creative and inexpensive online social networking promotions delivered just the kind of outcome that Red Bull wanted.  Coke needs everything to scale up, but why can’t they (and Lottery!) also apply strategies that work on a ThinkSmallMighty scale?  Tell a new story, a different story.  Doesn’t need to be either/or.  ThinkSmallMighty doesn’t need to replace traditional strategy.  Can be instead a both/and.

Coke wrote the book on and set the model for mass-marketing brand-building audience-engaging methodology.   Then they applied a SmallMighty concept by putting individual people’s names on the bottle.  This inexpensive, easily done, brilliant idea took a whole year to get green-lighted.  By the time you’ve written your marketing plan, it’s probably out-of-date.  Brands that are re-shaping world (AirBnb, Amazon, Uber, ASOS) leverage individualized, personalized relationship with the customer into a massive scale. 

Connecting with the consumer is about aligning with the individual’s search for meaning and humanity, the quest for community.  The job of the modern marketer is to “Curate possibility, curate the opportunity for change … To see and crystalize that glimmer of hope at the end of the tunnel to make it shine a little brighter for the rest of us to see.”  To tap into that elusive neural pathway that brings us together.   

Messaging is now ALL about video.  80% of all internet traffic in 2018 will be video.  In the new media, with the expectations of the modern consumer, you have 6 seconds to get attention, to clearly communicate what you stand for!!  And User-generated-content (UGC) is the holy grail.

“When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”  (From movie Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.)  Charlie McIntyre described ways the general media continually gets it wrong when it comes to Lottery and ways to change the channel of media mis-information and bias.  One of the most encouraging success stories of the last two years, for instance, is the Michigan Lottery implementation of iLottery.  Retailers and the general media complained loudly that iLottery would have severely negative impact on land-based retail sales.  Land-based retail sales increased 10% the first year and 7% the second year, more than all but a handful of other U.S. lotteries. 

Success is now measured in new and different ways from traditional financial/sales metrics.  Consumer Engagement may not translate into short-term sales but still may build the foundation for long-term sustainability.  Example: Loto-Quebec recognized the tremendous power of eSports to attract the twenty-somethings.  They built a lottery game based on eSports, not with the expectation to drive revenue by causing the eSports betters to migrate en masse over to Lottery, but to reposition brand Loto-Quebec to resonate with younger audiences, cause younger people to think of Lottery in a more positive way.  These are the players we hope will “grow into Lottery” when they become thirty-something’s.  Lottery needs to shape the brand to be cool and appeal to the twenty-somethings for it to be something that is on their radar as they grow older and more predisposed to the joy of playing the Lottery. 

This brief synopsis of things that struck me as interesting hardly do justice to the WL/WLA Marketing Seminar.  Hope to see you next year at this event.  Before then, though, hope to see you at PGRI SMART-Tech Miami March 26 to 28!  I promise our world-class team of presenters and panelists will be tackling some interesting and provocative issues.