by Dennis Conrad
Signs of a Well Marketed Casino
By Dennis Conrad
I believe that I have seen some very well marketed companies and products in my lifetime. Besides the TV infomercial-based Ginsu knife or Vegematic, or Joe Karbo’s famous Lazy Man’s Way to Riches, or slick companies like Capital One’s “What’s in Your Wallet” or the ubiquitous AFLAC duck, some companies just seem to do a better job of selling themselves. Southwest Airlines sells “Freedom” and “Love” with whimsy and humor, and wraps it up with no frill, low fares and incredibly friendly employees. Ben and Jerry’s markets fun flavors and social responsibility. For a while, Saturn sold itself as a whole new concept and way of doing business. Disney doesn’t sell overpriced rides and cheap souvenirs, it sells “Magic,” in a world terribly in need of some.
There have also been some extremely well marketed gaming companies. Jack Binion’s Horseshoe Casinos were great examples of how to hit the hot buttons of real gamblers. Steve Wynn has always had an effective combination of state of the art bricks and mortar, along with incredibly motivated and focused employees. Barona Valley Ranch in San Diego has uncovered the powerful, integrated approach that combines facility, with continuous innovation, with passionate people who understand that they serve “Real Players.” And of course, Harrah’s has long understood what makes for a well marketed (large) gaming company by leveraging the principles of the Service Profit Chain against its core customer group of Avid, Experienced Players.
As a whole however, I believe that most casinos and casino companies market themselves inefficiently. Sometimes it is a question of marketing spend – either they spend too much or too little as marketing, but mostly spend marketing dollars for results too little understood. Sometimes it is a question of casinos not understanding “what business they are in” and providing a series of processes and (highly regulated) transactions, rather than an entertainment experience that enriches people’s lives. And sometimes this casino marketing inefficiency manifests itself as a focus on the wrong marketing tactics, usually on advertising to the exclusion of more impactful techniques like direct marketing to known customers of known worth.
But rather than harp on casinos’ typical marketing shortcomings, I thought that it might be instructive to provide a checklist of sorts on the Signs of a Well Marketed Casino. You know your casino is among the marketing mavens when:
- Your senior casino executives spend considerable time with your best casino customers and know your top 100 customers by name.
- You have an annual strategic marketing plan that is a real road map to success for the new year, and not just tweaked or rehashed budget numbers.
- Your casino employees are encouraged to have fun on the job.
- You regularly meet with your top casino customers to get their feedback on how they want you to operate “Their” casino.
- You have measurements in place to evaluate your return on investment for at least 75% of your marketing spend.
- Your employees all give the same answer to the question “What do you sell at your casino?”
- You have a branded, effective customer service training program.
- Your advertising spend is not excessive.
- You do not waste time “trolling for customers” in expensive outer markets where gaming customers have more convenient options or no compelling reason to make the long trek to your casino.
- You do not blow a bunch of money on bus programs, prospecting lists, junket reps or other expensive marketing initiatives where you “buy the business.”
- Effective direct mail is a cornerstone of your marketing strategy.
- You regularly survey all of your employees on their likes and dislikes, suggestions for improving business, the effectiveness of their supervisors, and what they need to do their jobs better or provide better customer service.
- Your CFO takes a turn in the dunk tank at the employee picnic.
- You have an employee picnic.
- You have real casino hosts that really sell, and understand that they have measurable goals around customer acquisition, reactivation, retention and growth.
- Your casino floor is not too smoky, too cramped, too disjointed, too drafty, too hot, too cold or too noisy.
- You are using your marketing technology to near maximum efficiency and your employees are incredibly well trained on it.
- Your employees understand that they are all marketers.
- Your marketing offices are located near the GM, the CFO, and the senior gaming operations folks.
- Your players club is located in a prominent position on your casino floor.
- Any one of your employees would have accurate information on any of your marketing promotions, events or programs.
- You don’t do coupons.
- Your general manager knows the first name of every one of your employees.
- You never hear “It’s not my job” at your casino and your employees have the resources, the ability and the willingness to solve a guest problem or deal with a guest complaint.
- Your senior executives park in the employees’ parking lot and eat in the employees’ dining room.
- You share with all of your employees all results, financial and otherwise, of all of your marketing efforts.
- First and foremost, you listen to your customers, not the GM, or the tribal council or the Board of Directors.
Date Posted: 29-Oct-2008
Dennis Conrad is the President and Chief Strategist of Raving Consulting Company, a full service marketing company specializing in assisting gaming organizations. He can be reached at 775-329-7864 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit Raving’s web site at www.ravingconsulting.com.