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.

The first time I opened a piece of my own marketing campaign

The first time I opened a piece of my own marketing campaign mail more than twenty years ago, I was astonished to find the letter inside was glued to the inside flap and as a result came out in tatters from the envelope.  After I tried and failed to open the letter without tearing the piece into bitty sections, I just went at it until the thing was lying across my desk like a crossword puzzle.

Thing is, the coupons attached were in sections too.  I was horrified because the procedures for accepting the coupons was to have the customer hand the entire letter with coupons attached to the Player’s Club to be able to acquire their $5 in coin and $5 in food credit.  It said it right on the coupon.

I glanced down at the scattered micro-perforated mess and immediately hurried to the Player’s Club to make sure the representatives took the coupons no matter how they came into the counter.  Oh my!  The line of guests extended for a hundred feet and every one of them had some kind of abnormal untidy heap of baffling print tangled rag in their palms.

They all looked confused, but more importantly angry.  Instead of throwing my hands up, quitting my job and running to the nearest pub, I decided to call in every slot attendant I could get my hands on and give them directions on making our customers feel at ease. Each one of our guests were told we would honor every coupon and I ran upstairs and created a sign to post at the casino entrance and the player’s club that we would handle their bewilderment without argument.

The next two weeks went fairly smoothly and we actually had comments that the staff had done a fantastic job in the presence of catastrophe.  The GM gave me a pat on the back and then told me to fire the mailing house, but I had already communicated my frustration to the company and they gave me a credit on the next mailing. Apparently, the auto-letter stuffer had just been cleaned and the equipment malfunctioned that added the minute amount of moisture needed to seal the flap. Instead, the amount ended up being about a tablespoon and was not caught by handlers at the end of the line who were wearing gloves to protect their hands from paper cuts.

More than ten thousand letters were ruined, but a lesson was learned.  Always be prepared for anything happening and think through the confusion to the solution that ultimately makes the customer happy.

John Evanoff

Casino Database Marketing: Do the easy things first!

We often pitch projects to clients related to advanced marketing:  model
development, behavior-driven segmentation, pricing optimization, data
mining, and other fun things.  However, I always ask my clients if
they’re doing the easy things before calling us in to refine their core
targeting methodologies.  Without further delay, here’s a quick list:

New Player’s Card Signups:
Treat your new Club signups like Gold.  Get them a welcome letter as
quickly as possible, preferably within a week.  Personalize it,
acknowledge their earned level, and if they triggered a good rating,
include a bounce-back.  Bonus points if you integrate this first contact
with your VIP introduction.  Most properties do this, few do this weekly.

W2G Winners:
Here’s one of the most valuable lists that often goes ignored.  Although
small, here’s a great chance to recover your payout.  Send a
congratulations communication quickly, and several weeks before the
first anniversary of their win, arrange a “winner’s package” where
you’ll book their same room, comp dinner at the same restaurant, and
remind them of their great luck!  On a side-note, if your behavior
models don’t account for post-high-win sessions, the models will
overestimate this player’s baseline play amount.

Hotel-only first-time visitors:
Just send a simple postcard to acknowledge their visit, and include your
favorite retail-grade offer.  Its a nice reminder of their trip.  If you
make the front of it postcard-like, it might find a place on their
refridgerator!  After this first contact, include this populuation in
your modeled hotel population.

Keno Players:
The data is sitting right in front of you.  Find all those Keno
players!  They’re different from the video poker players, ya know.
Very, very different.

Younger players:
Have you looked around your casino floor lately?  Gaming has
traditionally been a leisure sport for a slightly older population.
However, there are many players in their 20s and 30s.  Dig a little
deeper, push a little harder.  Some of these players will become your
foundation over the next several years.

Spa or other amenities:
Just an easy initiative to bring people back to the service they
hopefully enjoyed.  If your marketing database is sophisticated enough,
cross-reference this list with your player’s club to find out if any of
your spa visitors are the spouses of your VIPs.  Hint, hint…  “Wow,
honey, they offered me a FREE spa session, can’t you just play blackjack
for an hour or two without me?”

Simple Zip-code untargeted mailings:
Just kidding.  I was just wondering if you were reading this far.  I
have never seen a program like this generate a positive return.  Stop.
Your time & budget is better spent on other projects.  Continuing to do
this is broadcasting to your competitors, “Hey, we don’t have any
end-to-end analytics!”

Ed Gianos is the founder of North Leaf Solutions LLC, a consulting
agency helping clients in gaming and other industries maximize the value
of their data through data quality, modeling, segmentation, testing,
reporting, and various methodologies to please both players and
marketing budgets.

Speed, Quality, Price – Like the Law of Gravity

There is a common industry insider expression that I wanted to share with the rest of you.  It is considered as obvious and unbreakable as the laws of gravity on our planet.

The expression poses this choice to a client:

This expression is fun to play when you realize its validity. Many vendors will promise all three and only deliver one. Most vendors aim to provide all three, only to find that competitors and customer requests prevent it. Like the law of gravity, to try and ignore the rules may be dangerous to your programs.

Some of the reasons for this are:

No low quality shop can offer the high end services of a high quality shop so they have no choice but to be cheaper.  Saving $200 on an invoice may cost you $20,000 in direct mail results.  It usually does.

Also, for any shop to move a project quickly they have to consider the option of overtime pay which is 150% of normal wages. So higher speed always makes for higher cost.

Let’s play with a few of these:

* High Quality Print – Overnight – Costs Extra

* Low Cost Print – High Quality – Takes Time

* Low Quality Print – Done Quickly – Costs Less

Anyway, it’s yours to play with and now you know an industry insider’s secret.

I have tested it myself over the years and it holds true.

If a printer tells me he will print it fast and keep the costs down – the print always shows up damaged, scored wrong or with color problems.

If a vendor promises low cost, high quality work; it always shows up 3 days late. Perhaps you’re all familiar with this one?

We at CSG Direct are focused on quality and speed and we use our high quality staff (25 MQC certified by the USPS) to identify ways to save money through intelligent programs. With high quality staff you have more high quality options.  That is how we attempt to capture all three of the above choices. But sometimes customers just don’t allow us to provide our full service and maximize this process.

Direct mail is not an industry to cut quality on, especially if you want to save money! I have seen too many low cost vendors ruin entire campaigns because they offer low prices and miss all the most important steps (maximizing every step is important.)

Direct mail is a details business. Demand quality if you want success.  We’ll help you find ways to balance cost and speed from there.  Knowing what you’re dealing with is half the battle.

Casino Direct Mail Creates Success in a Down Economy

You might say that there are many types of casinos out there. Hotel resorts, casino hotels, casino resorts, hometown casinos, horse tracks, cruise lines, grocery stores, local bars, etc.  I say there are only TWO types of casinos: those that say they market their property and those that really direct mail market like a frontline marketer would.

You see it in every gambling town across the country. There will be the handful of casinos that dig in and database market hard and often in deep segments and all the rest that only dabble in database marketing and barely squeak by or slowly decline over time.

I know of many casinos right now that are practically keeping the whole town’s economy afloat with proper direct mail marketing.  I also know of towns that are dying because no one wants to “budget” for direct mail.

All too commonly casino staff experienced in direct mail get let go in order to save money. Inevitably the property begins to suffer from quarter after quarter of these cost cutting measures. They may slowly choke the casino to death or to marginalism.

But if you get behind the scenes at a flourishing casino you will see a well-oiled machine of database marketers, graphic artists, results analysts and special events coordinators led by an experienced marketing director.  This team is the most valuable team in a casino and they drive 80% of hotel nights booked month after month.

Many of the other casinos fall prey to the thousands of television, radio and print ad reps that knock on their door daily and offer package after package of broadcast media. Add to that the hundreds of advertising agency reps that call on them to offer them the exact same media options with some add-ons and markups.  (Some have great value, don’t get me wrong).

But, at the end of the day, all other media are merely additions to your budget to augment your direct marketing, not the other way around!

If direct mail has been proven to fill 80% of your occupancy, why would you spend 80% of your budget on billboards, radio and television?

I’ll tell you why. It feels simpler to manage.

You shoot a quick spot or design a quick ad and, based on what the sales rep tells you, it reaches XXXX number of people.  Then you feel good.  Blanket marketing – unfocused and simple – feels good.  But, as everyone knows, it shows very few measurable results.

Direct mail on the other hand can be more complicated if you don’t use someone like CSG Direct. Direct mail takes analysis, testing, tiers, segmenting, tracking, events, redemptions, planning and implementing. But that is what it takes to market a casino.

That’s the whole reason you built a players club!

Don’t be overwhelmed! CSG Direct has mailed over 200 million casino direct mail pieces and has all the tools you need for direct marketing your casino. We are industry innovators and some of the easiest people to work with.

At same time, we are deeply skilled professionals. CSG Direct has over 25 individual employees Mailpiece Quality Control certified by the US Postal Service and we created America’s first public bulk mail tracking systems.

This doesn’t have to be difficult. You should make it your goal to sit down and make a serious direct mail plan for 2009.  Call us and we can show you how to both save a fortune and make a profit with direct mail marketing.