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Digital Advantage: Engage the Moneymaker Effect

Aug. 6, 2014 at 2:51 p.m.
Updated Aug. 6, 2014 at 7:56 p.m.

In 2003, Chris Moneymaker - real name by the way - won the World Series of Poker Main Event and sent the worldwide poker boom into overdrive.

Blogs, books and hundreds of magazine articles have been written about the phenomenon, which became known as the Moneymaker effect.

What made this poker champion so different than the 22 previous winners? It was all about how he got there. Moneymaker wasn't a professional poker player. He was a 27-year-old accountant from Tennessee who had won his buy in to the $10,000 event by winning a $39 online tournament.

Millions of people watched an average guy turn $39 into $2.5 million, and he got that opportunity online. Overnight, Moneymaker was a millionaire, and everybody and their grandmother became an online poker player.

The same tournament went from 839 entrants in 2003 to nearly 9,000 just three years later. The tournament's first prize grew from $2.5 million to a staggering $12 million. Online poker became a multi-billion dollar international industry. Poker was changed forever.

Many people think that poker got so outrageously popular because it was on TV. But poker has actually been on TV since the 1970s, first on CBS and later on ESPN. It wasn't until they added the online component that poker became a national obsession and cultural phenomena.

From a marketer's perspective, this is a great example of the symbiotic relationship between traditional and digital marketing. People see something in traditional media and then react online. This online activity then affects offline behavior. What was the effect in this case? By creating more online poker players, the industry created more offline poker players - to the point where they likely just consider themselves "poker players."

Similarly, consumers' physical and digital lives are converging. People aren't just online or offline shoppers. They're just shoppers. They shop with their smartphones while in stores, showrooming, and they reverse showroom by shopping online before visiting stores. Showrooming is annoying for retailers, but it's much worse for the business owner not to be found in the online shopping process.

Don't have a strong Facebook presence? Too bad, consumers expect you to be there for that part of their life.

No website or a website that doesn't work on their phone? You may as well not exist.

They use their smartphone for everything.

Not top of the mind because all of your competitors are targeting your customers on their devices? You guessed it - not the consumer's problem. All they know is that they needed something, saw it online, bought it and moved on.

The next time a potential customer is in your store shopping and showrooming take a minute to think about all of the business being driven to stores by the Internet. If you improve your visibility online, social media and on mobile, play your cards right and you could cash in on the Moneymaker effect.

Jason Holmes is the general manager of Advocate Digital Media, a sister company to The Victoria Advocate that focuses on digital marketing. He welcomes questions and column ideas.



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