Pulling People Into Downtown Vegas…With Radio

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The Fremont Street Experience is a destination within a destination. It represents the original Las Vegas Strip, back in the day when you had the Rat Pack, Elvis, Sinatra, and the Mob era. It’s where it all started. You can see pictures of the original Strip that show the Golden Nugget and the other iconic casinos. Back in 1997, a lot of competition started seeping into Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Strip began to take a lot of business from downtown. Downtown businesses knew they needed to be different. Today, the downtown area has a lot of unique elements. In addition to the largest digital display in the world, there is the intersection of the iconic Strip, the casinos, all the neon, and marquees. They have Slotzilla, which is a zip line. The landing is a large slot machine. It’s doing unbelievably well with 1 million flyers in three years. There is also free entertainment every day of the year.

Paul McGuire is the Chief Marketing Office for The Freemont Street Experience. His job is to bring more people to downtown Las Vegas. And, he uses radio to make that happen.

Radio Ink: What makes The Freemont Street Experience different?
Paul McGuire: In a market that’s extremely competitive we have to find points of differentiation. Fremont Street Experience is the heart of downtown. It’s a great value proposition. The slots are a little looser, the price of beer and drinks a little less expensive, and we have free entertainment. We do an amazing concert series like our downtown rock summer concert series. That’s a partnership with my official radio station group for the downtown rock summer concert series which is the most successful summer concert series in the history of the Fremont Street Experience. We have eight artists this year and possibly 10 or 12 next year. The summer concert series used to be called Rock of Vegas. It’s now called Downtown Rocks for two reasons. It’s the locator — its downtown, and it’s everyday vernacular. When you ask, “What did you do this weekend?” “I went downtown,” “Oh, did you have fun?” “Oh downtown rocks, and let me tell you about…” It represents a great social opportunity. The tag line to Downtown Rocks is “One Louder,” famous for the Spinal Tap movie where our amps go to 11.

Radio Ink: How does radio play into your plan to pull people downtown?
Paul McGuire: It first starts with music. Music is the great equalizer. It speaks to all different audiences, genres, age groups. Fremont Street, we have identified music as a core offering to our consumers and that is free every single day of the year. We have three stages which are filled at night with great cover bands. They play all the songs that you know and love. With music being a core “tenant,” the logical tie to that is radio. The beauty of radio is even to this day a lot is personality driven. We are a local community that you wake up to certain personalities that you know and love. They are part of your family and that affinity allows for habitual listenership and creates interest. You have your commercials but you can also be part of content. If you have a product or service that is content-related, for example, “What’s going on this weekend, I heard Rick Springfield is playing this weekend downtown at a free concert.” It allows your product and whatever your promotion is to come to life via the radio stations. When you work with a station group such as a Lotus or CBS or iHeart, if they have inventory on other stations depending on your relationship, they bonus you inventory. This provides frequency and taps into other listeners who have loyalties and interests, whether it be sports or the country genre, it provides tremendous reach. The recency theory is important, meaning you hear a story and react to that message. I have a background as a media buyer. I look at a media plan as a story and each medium and vendor is a character in that story. It’s a holistic approach to communication and so I look at that with putting a little science behind things. If you want broad reach out of home it casts you a very wide net. If you want frequency, radio comes in nicely as well as the recency theory. You want a call to action or verifiable return, then digital and social is the most verifiable medium. If you take away any of the other mediums, that verifiable medium is not as successful. Radio, with music being a core “tenant” of ours, is an extremely important part of it.

Success stories sponsored by Sun & Fun Media

Radio Ink: How do you know you’re getting results from radio and do you use all the Vegas stations?
Paul McGuire: It’s all genre based, tied to our concert series. If we have a rock band we go with traditional rock stations. We take a look at the musical act and identify the playlist and the demo for that station. I look at the amount of commercial time on the station and the personalities relevant to that station. I deal with a lot of different radio groups in town. My budget is related to concerts, events, like St. Patrick’s Day when everyone is Irish, so that allows me to dabble with multiple genres and age groups. That provides tremendous reach as it relates to the medium itself. It’s case by case depending on the product we are looking to promote or push.

Radio Ink: How do you like dealing with radio? Are they doing a good job for you?
Paul McGuire: What’s great about the reps I deal with is it’s less about selling advertising than it is solving a problem, or identifying the greatest opportunity, to deliver results. That’s where you get maybe a remote or certain promotion, some on-air giveaways, personality-driven content or discussion as part of dialogue in programming. It’s extremely valuable to me because that says the content is so rich unto itself we would talk about it whether you were an advertiser or not. The consumer is just listening and being entertained by the DJ and I will take that over a commercial spot anytime.

Radio Ink: Is there anything you would like to see radio do better?
Paul McGuire: With the proliferation of media and the attention span of the young and old, how do you make it sticky? How do you create enough uniqueness, intrigue, enough of a unique selling proposition that creates more critical mass. With the advent of satellite, streaming, the playlist, if you’re going on a long trip with the family and your 15-year-old son takes his phone and plugs in his playlist, that cuts out traditional terrestrial radio tremendously. That’s a challenge for the industry. Ultimately, if you have content, personality, and something that is unique, people will gravitate towards it. It’s a matter of being creative out of the box to be that must-listen-to radio station.

Lotus Las Vegas Sr. AE Mary McDonald

Fremont Street Experience is a tourist destination but with the need to draw over 10,000 people to justify the expense of a national act for a concert – Paul has successfully used our stations in the form of spot schedules and promotions to build his brand and draw thousands from the community and consistently break attendance records for his events…… Mary McDonald

Radio Ink: What would you say to other advertisers thinking about using radio?
Paul: My advice is be true to yourself and look at it strictly from the consumer’s view. Who is your target audience, what is a day in their life, what is your product, how is it relevant, and take that and optimize it across the board. It’s so easy in this day and age for an advertiser to say this is what I want to convey. I start with how does my product have relevance to the end user and how can I speak to them in their language. The last thing I want to be is the advertiser that says I’m selling widgets and this is how I see my product. I’m irrelevant in that equation. It’s all about what the consumer wants and making the cash register ring. The greatest potential to do that is understand who your core audience is, understand what your product is, and tying the relevance of product and end user together in a simple, understandable, and relevant way. That provides the greatest potential for success, although there are no guarantees. It’s media, message, and creative at the end of the day. If you do it right people get it, it resonates and they consume accordingly.

Mary McDonald at Lotus broadcasting can be reached at Mary.MacDonald@lvradio.com or 702-876-1460 Ext 253.

Paul McGuire, Chief Marketing Office for The Freemont Street Experience can be reached at pmcguire@vegasexperience.com

Do you have a sales success story you’re proud of? Help us help the industry tell the story about the tremendous power of radio. We’d love to write about your success story in the next issue of Radio Ink magazine. Send all the details to edryantheeditor@gmail.com.

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