Every new marketing team that a casino transitions through allows for some strategic advantages. As an incoming marketing director, you get to reboot the department with new ideas and eliminate the old, ineffective ones. The traditional method is to come in and keep things flowing as they were for a few months so you can judge successes, then make changes, evaluate the numbers and move forward.
Some casino marketing professionals already have their tools and programs ready for action. They do a clean sweep and come in blazing with a fresh stream of proven ideas. There are only a few places in business where you can do this, but it is the dream of marketing folks everywhere. A fresh start and no previous program baggage is an ideal world for creative minds. Try doing that at any other business!
Even if you tried to follow the lead of the casino marketing team that came before you, it would be an exercise in futility. Marketing and technology are changing so quickly that what was once a proven response-getter is now just wasteful spending. Past casino marketing teams spent weeks planning their phonebook and newspaper ads, now they plan how to link player IDs to custom QR codes!
As a casino marketing director, it is your job to move your casino into the latest, proven, response-getting marketing programs. YOU create the future!
Congratulations, you get to lead in any direction that is profitable!
It is always time to move forward with a new casino direct marketing plan.
So where do you begin? You start with the numbers!
Here are 4 steps to creating successful plans with your new casino direct marketing team.
1) Define what is currently being used to gauge success.
You will need to determine what is working and what isn’t in the current management’s marketing strategy. Are the owners, CEOs and board of directors grading each marketing campaign by the raw number of guests, average theoretical wins or actuals? There are lots of ways to gauge results, but you need to define and understand how they arrive at their judgment of the success or failure of each campaign. Keep in mind that these current calculations might be why the last marketing director is gone, so this is a very important first step in developing your new casino marketing plan.
2) Find profits in past campaigns you can count on – at least for the short term.
Direct marketing is a process. It involves testing and adjusting based on measured results. With this in mind, it is logical to find both the profits from recent campaigns as well the losses. This is valuable information that will give you a jump-start and keep you from repeating the mistakes of previous casino marketing teams.
This is important because many times your customer base has already been “trained” to receive a certain kind of direct marketing and many times new styles flounder for a while as customers are waiting for the type of marketing they are accustomed to getting. The public moves slower than we do in regards to new ideas, so sticking to the flavor of past campaigns in your transitioning period has many benefits.
If your guests are used to getting a big blue postcard, then give them a big blue postcard in the transition. You can still change the content, offers and tiers in that big blue postcard and test your new ideas for profit against the past responses.
3) Adjust to allow for creative new ideas to be profitable.
Once you get to this step you need to adjust and teach your team and management how it works. You will be viewing things with a more investment-styled methodology. You will show several examples from past campaigns and current campaigns when your research is ready and present it in a way that will get you the go-ahead to pursue this new direction. You will build your new marketing plan using Cost-per-response methodology as opposed to a Cost-per-piece bid gathering. You do this by building dueling post-formas to demonstrate the math used to reach your conclusions.
In a cost-per-piece world all you care about is the lowest acceptable bid for the project whether or not you bring a single guest to the property. In this scenario the marketing department is celebrating saving $500 on the campaign instead of celebrating the profits made for the casino. This is the scenario that crushes dreams and slaughters vendors in a race for the bottom price. It is also stepping over dollars to pickup dimes, to use an old expression. There is always a cheapest vendor, who may or may not be qualified to handle your campaign. If a low price vendor ruins your campaign, you never really saved any money. You lose money, lose guests and put everyone’s jobs at risk.
Cost-per-piece marketing is killing the best ideas and great casino properties.
Cost-per-response measures results like an investor would. If you spend $5000 and get 250 visitors, then add a $500 idea that gets you 100 more visitors then YOU WIN BIG!
That $500 add-on would be eliminated as wasteful in a cost-per-piece marketing plan, but when you’re measuring success in cost-per-response, the world and all the creative ideas you can dream of come to life!
Without your $500 idea your cost per response was $20 per response ($5000 / 250 visitors = $20 per response). But by adding your $500 idea you brought your cost per response down significantly to $15.71 per response ($5500 / 350 visitors = $15.71 per response). Cost-per-response opens the doors to more creative ideas that would otherwise be considered too expensive. Often these ideas create much greater profits for the casino.
Now you just need to find all those $500 ideas!
4) Find vendors that can build your best ideas.
You simply can’t afford to try every new idea that vendors present you with, so it’s time to meet with all your vendors. Many great response-generating ideas are absolutely free or can be negotiated. Have each of your vendors come by on a regular basis to share with any new ideas or technologies they are using. Pay attention especially to anything they have created themselves, as you may be able to utilize new marketing ideas/technologies before your competitors!
You are looking to build a creative team and your vendors are an important part of that team.
The big question is which vendors can you count on when you have an idea that needs to be created/invented specifically for your needs. Some of the best ideas come out of collaborative meetings with vendors. If your vendors are creative, they will have many great marketing tools that they can suggest to increase your responses to your direct marketing .
For example, here is a short list of things we have created for $500 (or even for free) that have brought great results to our casino clients:
• US Mail Tracking on the iPhone was created from a customer need. They got a 30% greater response by planning the timing of projects better after analyzing delivery times.
• Email and text capture tools were created from a collaborative meeting and increased customer participation in an event, while helping update and gather new email addresses.
• A specialty mailing list was built from scratch that allowed our customer to get a 3.5% response from their acquisition mailing. (600+ room nights)
• Our customer project tracking site was created from a customer request to compare year over year projects and improve their offer timeliness.
• We created variable direct mail maps and driving directions after a collaborative meeting with a customer in a remote location. This helped their clients find them more easily and got more people in the door.
Don’t be afraid to see if your vendors are creative enough to put some skin in the game. They have a lot to gain by helping your casino profit. Beware the cheapest vendors, though. They cannot have an adequate R&D budget and a talented creative staff if they are cutting those costs to underbid competitors.
A casino will profit most by working with creative, profitable vendors. This can be your final change from the cost per piece mentality. By bringing in vendors that create the lowest cost-per-response, you are changing the way you market for the better.
Dare to dream of ideas that bring profits in the millions by developing cost-per-response programs and fight all urges to return to cost-per-piece!