What drives Michael Hemphill: casino direct mail

Direct Mail Man MichaelI have been in direct mail for over 20 years. If direct mail were a hotel room with 300 rooms… I’ve been in every one of them. I have been certified by the US Postal service multiple times over the years as a Mail piece Quality Control Specialist. CSG Direct also backs me with at least 25 other people certified at the same level. Together we optimize print, data and mail projects every business day.

I get a unique excitement when I walk into a casino. Standing on that casino floor, I have the most experience, qualifications, training, and innovations of any direct mail person to ever walk in those golden doors. I am born for this and it is what drives me every day.

Ironically, my biggest competitors are printers that have been dabbling in mail for 3 to 7 years. They are by no means current on direct mail marketing but their company decided to sell direct mail to get more print. The sales representative that represents that vendor is not in the same ballpark as me when it comes to experience or training. I have been innovating in the direct mail industry for over 20 years, they have started ‘selling it’ as an add-on because they were told to.

What drives me so intensely now is that this representative is my actual person-to-person competitor. “Is that all you’ve got?” I yell to the world. Casinos deserve better than that! Our tourism economy requires more than that.

To further break down my competitor: he is not a programmer, he is not a database person, he is not my direct mail equal by any measure, he is an ink person trying to compete in my data world.

CSG Direct invents and evolves direct mail. Our competitors can only follow.
• We Created the 1st direct mail portal.
• We invented “to our friends at” and it grew across the country from my use.
• We invented direct mail tracking and we are unmatched
• We are early adopters of NCOA and were the only vendors in NV for years
• We provided direct mail software to casinos for years
• We are the only vendor uploading data into player tracking systems
• We have worked with Casinos all over the country
• Innovated variable printing with Variable Direct Mail Maps
• Direct mail SEO leads champs
• Landing pages, Salesforce.com
• Early adopters of IMB barcodes
• QR codes and so much more

We Are Casino Direct Mail, Nobody makes variable data printing dance like we do.

That Casino deserves us and we deserve them.
They deserve the best. We are the Best.

That’s what drives me.

We attended NIGA (National Indian Gaming Association)

It’s been an exciting year! We had the pleasure of attending The National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) this April and met with top regional and national Indian Gaming casinos. Everything went great, we were warmly welcomed. We are an associate member of NIGA now too and are excited to contribute to the association.

NIGA, established in 1985, is a non-profit organization of 184 Indian Nations with other non-voting associate members representing organizations, tribes and businesses engaged in tribal gaming enterprises from around the country. The common committment and purpose of NIGA is to advance the lives of Indian peoples economically, socially and politically. NIGA operates as a clearinghouse and educational, legislative and public policy resource for tribes, policymakers and the public on Indian gaming issues and tribal community development.

The mission of NIGA is to protect and preserve the general welfare of tribes striving for self-sufficiency through gaming enterprises in Indian Country. To fulfill its mission, NIGA works with the Federal government and Congress to develop sound policies and practices and to provide technical assistance and advocacy on gaming-related issues. In addition, NIGA seeks to maintain and protect Indian sovereign governmental authority in Indian Country.

Learn more about NIGA

Direct Mail Marketing Strategies (5 of 5)

Direct MailerStrategy #5) Tracking and Reporting for Success

Every sale in your company should be recorded where the sale came from.  EVERY SALE!!  If you miss this trick you will throw 3/4 of your annual direct mail marketing dollars in the trash.

I know it feels like you drive your own fate and ‘shoot from the hip’ with your ‘gut instincts’ but don’t be so vain that you don’t track the number of sales and value of each from every thing you sell.

This applies to direct mail as well.  Every redeemed piece should be recorded in your CRM tools.  CRM tools you say? If you don’t know what they are or don’t have them in place you and your job are at serious risk.  It’s the year 2010 – get serious.

The strongest businesses around got there by using math, reports and tracking sales. So how are you going to come anywhere near them if you don’t know where your wisest marketing dollar was last year.

Here are some things you should be tracking.

What brought the customer in? Did they see your sign or did a friend tell the to check you out? Did they see your ad n the paper or were they just at the store next door and liked your window display.  Whatever it is you want to focus some effort there.

How much did they spend? If the people than randomly walk by your store spend an average of $20 per visit, but the people that drive to your store directly spend $100; you’ll want to spend more time on your direct mail and print ads since they earn you more money.

Who are your multi-trip customers? If you have customers that return to your business time and time again would you know who they were?  Identify loyalty and reward it! Then give them an offer for them to bring a friend.  Birds of a feather do what?

Who are your top spenders? If they like your products why do you wait for them to randomly come in?  Personally invite them for something they would like.  It’s really simple if you take action.

Your best Direct Mail Marketing strategies start with you understanding your clients and learning how to market to each type of client. If you are not tracking anything how will you ever do that?

Step up; it’s not a game you want to lose.

Direct Mail Marketing Strategies (4 of 5)

I’m sitting down with a client the other day and we are discussing the direct mail giveaway offer and the size of the mailing list. One of the people at the table says, “We’ll if we’re mailing 10,000 people we need to reduce the size of the offer, we cannot afford to give that much away”. This is a typical answer from a newbie.

Strategy #4) Don’t be stingy with your offer

The entire idea is to make sure you offer everything you can to each individual where you maximize profit and results. This is what personalization is all about. If one guest is worth offering $20 to get them in and another person is worth offering $100 to, you can do that easily with variable data printing. If you only offer $20 to both people you usually eliminate the response from the $100 guest and your company is full of $20 guests.

As far as “Everyone showing up” You have to ask yourself how many people are really even paying attention to your offers. Direct mail is a numbers game and the more you water down your offers the fewer the number of people that really even care.

Let’s say for example I was giving away a free car and I mailed 1000 people to give them away.  I would only likely have to give away 50-60% of those at most.  First off there are a huge percentage of people in your database that don’t read direct mail at all. The there would be skeptics, then people that forget to respond, etc.  So you might get a 50-60% response with a free new car.

So when you take your $50 offer and decide to lower it to $15 you are likely taking your 3% and cutting it down to 1% or less. You are also drawing in a much cheaper crowd.  If $15 is important to someone they are not likely wealthy enough to be a good customer buying all your goods and services, are they?

Make sure you use your customer historical sales to manage to offer everybody the most you can, based on what they average to spend.  Then you get sales from all levels of your customers and not just the cheaper ones.  Don’t guide your business smaller and smaller by catering to your cheapest of customers by getting cheap on your offers.

But then again don’t offer the best you have to your cheapest customers either. I hope you are tracking your customer sales and building offers based on their value.  I truly hope you are!

Direct Mail Marketing Strategies (3 of 5)

In Direct Mail Marketing we usually have a product we want to sell and we try to find the best way to sell it. We then work every trick and angle we can think of to develop the best response possible.  Have you ever thought that maybe this is backwards?

Strategy #3) Sell what your database tells you to! Direct-Mail shoes

Do not tailor your database to your offers, tailor your offers to your database. You need to send things your customers want, not just what you want to sell.

This is where direct mail tracking pays huge dividends.  On every mailing and every promotion you ever do you need to find ways to track and record sales and all sales details on each person.  This is the only way to develop what each individual likes about your products or services. Information is King!

An example is trying to sell coats to people that buy shoes. Sure you can likely sell some of them coats but for best results sell them more shoes.  Then, if they like black shoes; quit trying to sell them blue ones.  If they don’t like laces, promote shoes without laces to this particular person.

Variable data printing makes this easy!

Why are you pushing coats on your shoe people, anyway?

Sure, maybe you have an inventory of coats to sell too. But you should make those a secondary offer that follows directly behind what you know your customers like first.  “Buy 2 pairs of [insert favorite shoes here] and be entered to win this fabulous coat.” Then when they are buying all these shoes, you get them to try coats on and tell them about the coat sale this weekend too.

If you do not have the data to know what your customers have bought and how to personalize with variable data printing, you are at the right place here at CSG Direct, Inc.

Variable Data Print Sample

There is a huge separation in businesses that track sales and those that do not.

If you do not track your customers preferences you are going to lose in your competitive marketplace. You will lose!  Your competitors will win more sales with less money. You will win fewer sales and spend much more marketing dollars to do it.

Direct-Mail Perfect fit

Does Direct Mail Experience Matter?

During difficult economic times, I find that the marketing professionals that I work with are more price-conscious than ever. Budgets are slashed, staff is reduced and expectations on marketing teams are raised. How do you do more with less?

Well, first of all you want to partner with a team that has A LOT of experience in dealing with direct mail marketing. Direct mail is the most targeted and trackable form of advertising. Savvy marketers have learned that having experienced vendors/partners is crucial when budgets are tight.

The anguish of having a budget overrun due to postage upcharges or undeliverable mail is an experience that has destroyed more than one career. One needs to analyze the true value of experience and leadership in their marketing campaigns.

You wouldn’t hire an attorney or surgeon based on price. The end results are just too important. The same philosophy holds true on your marketing – the lifeblood of your company. A vendor who is less than qualified to properly assess, critique (really), analyze, and process your mail probably is not going to save you any money on your overall campaigns.

A Direct Mail specialist, such as you will find at CSG Direct; is trained and versed on postal regulations, design elements, USPS rules and regulation changes, and targeted marketing strategies. Our staff of fully certified USPS MQC (Mailpiece Quality Control) specialists often find design elements, size constraints or data problems that would get past the most experienced of mail shops.

We also offer creative solutions to save our customers money on production and postage rates, which sometimes makes an individual project less profitable for us… but we are here as a partner, for the long haul. Your projects deserve the experience and expertise that comes from seasoned mail professionals.

Let your competitors work with the inexperienced, fly by night companies while you shop for a company that makes you shine.

You will look better for two reasons:

#1) Your campaigns are effective because you found the true value of experience and expertise. The mailings are dropped in an efficient and timely manner to the intended recipients. You can track your mail through the mail stream (a CSG Direct exclusive) to identify when your target markets are receiving their mailings. You have confidence that your projects stay within budget, and are offered the tools to fully justify the mailing.

#2) You sleep well at night because you know you are working with detail oriented partners who care about your success and are certified in every avenue as meticulous professionals.

The next time you plan a mailing campaign, take a moment to reflect on who you are working with. Are you getting true value?

Are you comfortable with the experience level of your direct mail partner? Are you taking advantage of all of the benefits of a great response and postal discounts that are available?

Either way, get a quote from us so you can compare your vendors to the benchmark in direct mail. You deserve a good nights sleep!

Casino Marketing is our Industry

The mailing industry is going through major changes and I have heard several industry predictions that many mailing services companys and mail processing printers will “get out” instead of keeping up.  This isn’t a bad thing.

It’s an industry reborn!

So as you look for your partner for the next decade I want to tell you what you need to know about mailing services companys.

They all specialize in something

Due to the large amount of mail and data processing needs in our country, you’ll find that almost every mailshop is eventually pulled into some large account they cater to first and foremost. I have seen it time and time again.

They get pulled into tabloids, invoices, publications, credit card mailings, real estate franchises, etc. You go into any mailshop and see for yourself.  What is the primary industry they serve?  That is the industry that they are best ready to serve and most prepared to consult in.

These days you will often find out that their primary industry isn’t even direct mail. The printing industry started adopting direct mail as a side business to increase revenue about 2-3 years ago.

How would you feel if you found out your “mailing vendor” doesn’t even specialize in direct mail at all?  It sure would explain some things that have happened along the way with your mailings, I’ll bet.

We’re a mailing services company through and through. Sure, we have also grown one of the largest digital print shops in the state of Nevada and we keep every traditional press within reach dancing on our projects.  But we are a mailshop and we take that very personally.  We make a huge difference with the customers that choose us over the status quo. Ask!

It is a big difference and it is what you are looking for. You will never find deep success with people whose core focus is printing.  Printing is a secondary skill in our minds.  This is database marketing.  We’re database marketers with a reputation in variable data printing going back to the 80s.

Casino Marketing is our Industry

That is just one of the reasons to keep us in mind on your next project.  Because we are close, experts in gaming direct mail and have the tools you need.

Direct Mail Quotes aka Direct Mail Prices

We cannot claim to be the Greatest Value in Direct Mail without talking costs. Across the nation we cost less than the average mailshop for all our mailing services.

My philosophy is that if another mailshop charges more than half of what we charge, they are overpriced.  How is it possible that they can charge the same price we do without giving you all the benefits, service and focus that we offer in every single job we do?

This is why once you try us you won’t look back:
We are the Greatest Value in Direct Mail.

I have been in direct mail and working in mailshops and mailrooms for over 20 years now.  I know what everyone is doing and I’ll tell you we dance circles around almost every other mailshop.  Definitely around EVERY shop working with the gaming industry.

We are very passionate about your mail and making you look good during the process.  We know that with every mailing it feels like your job is on the line and you are constantly having to cover for traditional mailshops.

That is unfair to you and it gives the more advanced mail shops a bad name. You deserve a shop whose #1 focus is handling the many details of your job like true trained career professionals.

I promise you that after we get through just 2-3 mailings together (to get each others’ flow down), that you will never go back to a regular mailshop again.

You know we’re qualified.

I humbly ask you to try us out.
We’ll work hard to make you shine!

You deserve it and it doesn’t cost any more than you are already paying so there is no real reason to say no.

Casino Marketing, Bulk US Mail Tracking is making a difference

Well, the word is definitely spreading about the unique direct mail innovations coming out of Reno, Nevada.  Ironically, the US Postal Service is worried about record profit losses just when the final direct mail dream is realized with US Mail Tracking.

Our innovations on the cover of Casino City Vendors Guide:

We have really started making an impact on reducing the postage expenses of all our Casino Marketing customers.

No matter where your direct mail is processed you have to correctly time your direct mail delivery. For the rest of the country this is still just guessing and estimation, at CSG Direct we’re hitting bullseyes.

We’re about to roll out three new tools to add to these innovations. I’ll tell you about them as we get closer to release.

Casino Marketing and Casino Direct Mail Experience


Wouldn’t it be nice if your vendor knew your lingo, knew your challenges and also knew ways to increase your response or tweak a promotion? If you were to choose between two mailshops you would lean toward the one who could do that more, wouldn’t you?

Several of us have worked in casinos – primarily in the database marketing and players club positions. We also have a large team of ex-marketing directors out in the field promoting our services in their consulting packages.  Birds of a feather, we are.

We believe anyone who takes their career seriously will find a way to get certified in their field.

CSG Direct has one of the largest USPS certified staffs in the country [link], let alone the gaming industry.

Our 23 Mailpiece Quality Control certified employees work on every aspect of your job. They are your service reps, they run the folders, they run the presses, they work in our quality control department. We have MQC certified employees in every aspect of your job’s processing. That is why we have the highest accuracy record of any mailshop we know.

Spend one day observing your local mail receiving dock at any post office and you will see jobs coming off of mailshop trucks and then going back on.  That’s the dirty little secret of the average mailing.  Many times it is delayed because it was rejected by the post office.

You would cringe to know how they “fix” the project after that.  You deserve highly trained people in every aspect of your mailing, not temps, not seasonal help!  You deserve career professionals certified by the USPS itself. That is what you get from CSG Direct, Inc.