Raving's 14th Indian Gaming National Marketing Conference Day 2

Raving's Guest SpeakerTuesday January 31st, our second day at the Raving’s 14th Indian Gaming National Marketing Conference

Today was my first workshop for the week.  As a group we brainstormed for ways to leverage our current available data and create images and themes for our mailers. When doing this you have to think beyond a single mail piece and visualize personalized mailers for each customer to create a unique experience.

Raving's Guest Speaker That’s not a new idea, but we are working on how to make big variables easy to implement so we can get better results fast.

Lots of great ideas were shared but I’m not here to dictate that to the blog. I just want to share the fun we’re having and the great stuff everyone is learning.  Here’s a picture taken while I was setting up before the workshop.

 

Raving's 14th Indian Gaming National Marketing Conference Day 1

Raving's 14th Annual Indian Gaming conferenceWe drove 4.5 hours from Las Vegas to Rancho Mirage, California today to get set up at the Raving’s 14th Indian Gaming National Marketing Conference.  It was a crazy drive through 29 Palms but I trusted my GPS! We’re just getting setup today so there will be more to talk about tomorrow.  Here is the sign from the registration table.

Agua Caliente is the host property for this event. This is my first visit to Agua Caliente. It is a beautiful property.  It reminds me of a mix between Thunder Valley Resort and Redhawk Resort in Nor Cal or possibly Red Rock in LasVegas.

We got our booth set up and met with everyone, but for the night I will be working at my mobile office in my room (below). The rooms are fricken’ sweet!

My Room Workspace

These are cell-phone pics. I will have much better photos for my next update.

Tomorrow I lead a workshop on personalized direct mail and variable graphics and themes.

Very exciting!

Modern Casino Direct Mail Personalization Workshops

CSG Direct Mail CEO, Michael Hemphill; is teaching modern casino direct mail personalization workshops at Raving’s 14th Indian Gaming National Marketing Conference January 30th – February 1st, 2012.

Modern Casino Direct Mail PersonalizationLearn modern personalization secrets from a variable data casino industry veteran. Learn how to create much higher response casino direct mail programs.

Michael Hemphill leads a hands-on variable data printing casino direct mail workshop at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa,
in Rancho Mirage, CA.

Learn modern Casino Direct Mail personalization secrets at the 14th Annual Indian Gaming National Marketing Conference. Variable printing pro Michael Hemphill will show you how to make an offer more appealing to each guest individually creating a much higher response program.

Michael Hemphill brings decades of experience in results driven casino direct mail marketing to teach how to use available data to personalize the guests’ perception of a casino.

Learn the secrets to high response modern casino direct mail marketing.

Participants in this hands-on workshop will brainstorm creative opportunities for personalizing their direct mail, email and text message communications driven by data available to them through their player tracking systems.

By the end of this one-hour session, attendees will have learned easy, medium and difficult variables in personalization that can increase direct mail responses in their current campaigns and drive more bang for their marketing buck. They will learn how to easily be more relevant to your guests’ specific tastes and purchasing style.

If you don’t know enough about them to truly personalize and get better results, you can append tons of additional consumer data from known purchase data. You can personalize your direct marketing using all kinds of personal interest information, home and family structure, gaming preferences, shopping habits and wealth.

Variable direct mail marketing is one of the most powerful mediums of our times. However, most people who sell this to their clients aren’t really doing variable printing. Mail merge and fancy fonts is not variable personalized printing.

The largest benefit from modern personalization (besides higher response rates) is that each person in your database feels like your property is their favorite venue. It appears that your product is exactly what they are looking for. Every player gets a unique experience that feels most comfortable to them and you get a greater share of their annual gaming budget.

CSG Direct Mail has over two decades in variable data printing, casino direct mail, variable direct mail maps, US Mail Tracking, randomization, personalized emails, personalized websites, QR codes and much more.

For more information about the conference call Raving Consulting at 775-329-7864.
To learn more about casino direct mail visit the CSG direct mail website.

Casino Direct Mail Client Testimonial

We love our clients and we are blessed that they love us too.
Here is a note from one of our clients.

CSG Direct is so easy to work with.  They just know how the casino business works and “they get it”. In my 15 years of working with CSG, they have never made a mistake or missed a deadline!
Lisa Rahme
Director of Marketing
Gold Dust West Reno

30% Better Results Fast | Direct Mail Marketing Strategy

What’s Better:  saving 30% on your marketing costs OR getting 30% better results?

In the Casino Direct Marketing world the answer is always mathematically about getting the 30% better results.  30% better results means more guests in your hotel and more people gambling and enjoying your food and beverage.

Better Results Profit Math

math is your guide

The Math provides the answer to this question but if $5000 normally earns you $50,000 in gaming revenue then you are better off spending $500 more to get a greater return than you are saving $1500.

To survive the economic downturn we looked for ways to save money and cheaper vendors looks like easy savings, however your response rates and profits have dropped as the cheaper vendors delayed projects, had higher levels of mistakes and didn’t keep you up with technology and marketing advances that bring more guests.

Marketing is not a commodity, make vendors compete for highest response, not lowest cost.

The services look similar but our recipe is different!  Our customers have seen 30% increased response rates working with us after switching from other vendors.  They always wonder what we do different and it really is just how we approach the problems.  Cheap print does not increase response in any way. We are a direct marketing company disguised as a direct mail printing company.  We look at your data differently. We look at your offers differently.  We care about every single record and every single piece and how it affects response.

As your direct mail partner we affect response in a positive way.
That is our reputation with customers that switch to CSG Direct Mail.

30% cheaper no longer possible
We really have found the bottom price in the last 2 years.  Many vendors are closing their doors now as the “going price” is below the cost of doing business. The people still offering that price are doing so hoping in the long hall they are the last plant standing and then can raise their rates back much much higher. In the meantime a lot of industry talent is getting crushed and destroyed by this horrible industry direction.

When the current price becomes the norm you can’t find 30% more savings so this exercise has played out and is no longer a future option. Cheaper vendors don’t have better ideas, an R&D budget or talented people on staff or they wouldn’t be the cheaper vendors.

It’s the dumbing-down of an important industry as your vendors shed the most talented employees to save costs in order to survive with the lower bids.  Eventually you end up with untalented companies with beaten down equipment as your primary vendor and that is not going to bring you more guests or better ideas.

It’s time to reverse course and get better results
Lower costs vendor picking is lazy and unproductive in the end. The goal now is to quit looking for the lower costs and start looking for the best results. Better Results means more income, prosperity, more guests and job security.  That the big picture everyone wants, right?

Would you know how to gauge Better Results?
The biggest difficulty most teams have with the “Better Results” scenario is that it is harder for them to demonstrate in a simple manner.  I mean, it’s easy to see 2 bids side by side when you get them but it is not as easy to see the end results side by side.  The best way really is to use each new vendor for 3 months to gauge their recipe and track the overall results with your post-formas.  It’s the easiest way to spot a deeper trend.  However there are really easy ways to tell during the interview process too.

Ask ALL vendors about response rates and what they do to improve results.
My goodness, shouldn’t everyone be doing that every month anyway. Some people are so focused on price they forget to keep up with competition by interviewing everyone for new ideas.  If during the process some vendors look like a deer in the headlights you will recognize that.  However, if given the opportunity to shine; the better vendors will give you all kinds of modern trends and ideas.

Better Results is the new goal and the only way forward
Once you figure out which vendors have the ideas and response growing tools… USE THEM! If you want those kinds of tools and better results in your arsenal you need to support those vendors to get better results.  Choosing cheaper vendors only encourages “cheap” and bankrupts “Better”.  Support “Better” with your purchasing dollars and Better Results is what you get.  Make it part of your overall strategy to find “better” and keep it on your team.

Even if you only give them half of your business you have just upgraded your whole marketing teams capabilities and results. If that costs you only 10-20% more than it is worth it’s weight in gold.

CSG Direct Mail is known for 30% better results, call on us to see the difference a focused marketing vendor makes. We have all kinds of tricks and tools of the trade. Tools like Variable Maps, Email and Cell phone capture add-ons, Data Append strategies, strategic mailing lists, direct mail delivery tracking, timing and so much more.

We’re fairly cheap too.

CSG Direct Mail is the Greatest Value in Direct Mail and known for 30% Better Results.

Modern Database Marketing with Direct Mail Personalization

Direct Mail Personalized

Direct Mail Personalized

Modern Database Marketing with Direct Mail Personalization

In the database marketing industry, we always throw around the word “personalization” as if everyone already understands what we mean.  It really is a generic term.  Are you telling personal secrets? Are you talking about how much they drank on their last trip? Are you getting too “personal”?

The problem with using a generic term to describe what we are doing is that everyone has their own idea what the term means.  To some people in the industry “personalization” means using the recipient’s name somewhere in the copy of the direct mailer.  That is what it meant… five to ten years ago!

Modern personalization  is an incredibly different animal that is not well represented by a one-word term.

Modern personalization is one-to-one conversations with each customer, en mass.

For example, Customer Mary visits the casino with her husband and enjoys playing Keno and eating at the buffet.  Customer Jim is single and likes to come to your concerts, drink beer and bet on sports. How do you make one invitation that appeals to both of these people?

Just putting “Hey Jim” in the direct mail piece is usually not enough to make an offer more appealing to him if it isn’t relevant to his interest in your property.

A customer asked me the other day why they get so few responses to their concert promotions.  They mail out 10,000 pieces and get 100 responses.  “How come?” they asked.  Well it turns out the exact same 10,000 people are invited to each concert and they aren’t sure if those particular people share a like for each particular type of concert.

They need to code their database with music interests and invite people that enjoy the type of concert you are promoting.  This is the first step in modern personalization.  Put the right act or promotion in front of your customers that like that act or promotion.

Music is a great way to have this conversation but it applies to everything about your Hotel Casino property. You don’t promote 80s hair band music to 60 year old guests and you don’t promote the steak house to people who like the buffet.  Send blackjack invites only to people that like blackjack and send slot tournament invites only to people that like slot play.  This is the heart of high response marketing.

This can be done all in ONE direct mail piece!

With today’s modern technology we can do all this in one direct mail piece. There are only a couple of hurdles to making this possible. First you have to find the easiest ways to match your event and hotel casino offerings to the guests that like each of your amenities.  This is best established by tracking EVERYTHING your customer does.  For example, you need to track the types of rooms they stay in and the types of food they prefer on property.

Next we need to establish things about your clients that you currently do not have access to.  For example, do they golf? Are they married? What kind of music do they like? What kind of occupation are they in?  There are many ways to do this with in-house surveys or modern data-append services using some great outside consumer databases to gather new information.

Finally, the last step is to learn how to build a marketing matrix.  This is a spreadsheet where we describe the differences in each dataset we have pulled and what offers each database receives.  Basically, we query each special interest we can find to market to and make a map to which offers will be rotating in each direct mail piece.  This  personalizes the offers, look and feel of each piece.

The art

Now the fun happens. We build four different art sets for the invitation.  One design caters to blackjack players, one design feels more like buffet and keno, one design is 80s hair band and buffet and the last design is a golf themed piece that includes a slot tournament and steakhouse offer for those people we know like those.  This is all for offers for the same weekend, of course.

We compile your databases together and rotate the graphics in the printing and outputting process.  This is the recipe for high response modern direct mail personalized casino marketing.

Everyone gets something that appeals directly to them and their interests in a gaming experience.

The biggest gain is that over time each person in your database starts to feel like your property is their favorite because it appears that your product is exactly what they are looking for.  Every player gets a unique experience that feels most comfortable to them and they end up visiting more often.  This gives you a greater share of their annual gaming budget.

 

Casino Direct Mail Marketing, You're Doing It Wrong!

Forget everything you have ever been taught about Casino Direct Mailing!
You’re doing it completely wrong!

It’s not your fault, you had horribly untrained people teach you your job and you are doing what you were taught to do. The math is just wrong.

You and the majority of everyone else in direct mail marketing were taught wrong. Everyone suffers when you can’t bring enough profitable guests to make a profit and grow the casino to what it was originally destined to be. It must be outside of your control because you are doing what you were taught and the people around you keep telling you that you are doing it correct, right?

Why are you listening to them? Do they have decades of creating and measuring direct mail results? Probably not! You are listening to them because if you do what you are told and excel at what you are taught your job is safe right? You are being lured into a false sense of security by not questioning the process and not recognizing that you are surrounded and trained by people that don’t have the experience to judge or train you.

Take a look around you at you and your team. Lots of great people all trying to pay their bills, raise kids and have a beer on Friday night. Great folks I’m sure, I love a beer on Friday too. But they all moved up the same way you did. Perhaps you started in the players club desk or at the valet parking garage. You got a few promotions and now you are a casino host. Next thing you know you are working in special events and now you find yourself promoted into marketing as a coordinator of some kind.

This is a common path type to marketing director positions in our industry, ironically. I cannot count the number of special events assistants that have been promoted to marketing director without real marketing experience.

Now that you are in marketing you’re fully trained and experienced in all aspects of direct mailing, right? Nope! Now all those people above you that basically started the same path that you did a few years before, will be teaching you all their “expertise”. But who taught them? and who taught those before them? Are you feeling me yet?

Our gaming industry is full of the marketing blind teaching the blind. It’s not your fault. It’s the nature of the gaming industry but if you don’t grow, learn and adjust then it is your doing.

What you will be taught as you enter and develop in direct marketing is simple production level stuff but you will falsely be made to feel like you are the heart of direct marketing when you do it. You will learn how to pull a mailing list. You will learn how to get a nice mail piece designed. You will learn how to get bids from vendors (often misguided by cost-per-piece purchasing hawks). You might even learn about tracking and manager level reporting.

Now you are on top of the world and the top of your game, right? Sorry to disappoint but in the real world this is “direct mail coordinator” and you could be eaten alive in the private sector by some detail-oriented kings and queens of our industry. There is so much still to learn.

So where am I going with this and how will I transition to the “make us all feel better” part of this article? Well lets pull out our calculators and talk about some things that nobody taught you yet. Direct Mail Marketing is about MATH! It’s about Investment, Dividends and Results!

Take a hard look at the direction of your casino. Is your casino saving money and declining or investing money and growing? It seems odd that no matter how much money we save in the bidding process casinos all over the country are still declining in profitability! I don’t find that odd at all and neither will you. It’s even more difficult to comprehend that you sell FUN everyday of your life and you are getting lower and lower response rates.

You can’t sell FUN because you were trained wrong. Let’s turn your career around.
We need to start by getting back to core basics. What is our real core job in marketing?

Is your job to mail as many pieces for the cheapest price you can or is your job to bring in the highest rate of return as a percentage of the invested expense? Unfortunately 95% of every casino executive I have met would not recognize that they are supposed to be investment hawks trying to make the casino the biggest gains with the best investments. Our number 1 goal is to help our casino make as much money as possible so they can give us raises and perks and benefits and we have lots of room for growth in careers and opportunities.

A casino hires thousands of workers, friends and neighbors and supports our communities with taxes, wages, tourism, sponsorships and lots of fun. So our number 1 priority is to seek ways to help that casino maximizes its earnings by bringing ideas to the table on how to MAKE money.

It’s not about saving money, it’s about MAKING money!

Don’t panic, we’ll save money too but lets take those shackles off for a little bit while we talk about how to make money first. Lets assume for now that 95% of all other purchasing is being managed by Ebeneezer Scrooge and we get to invest the 5% he doesn’t manage. It doesn’t help that purchasing plays such a large role in overseeing money in the marketing department and they are singularly focused on words like “cost per piece” or “unit price”. Lets leave them out of this while we talk about what should be in play and not what currently is.

To properly turn around your direct mailing training you need to think like your casino owners do. Everyday the investor-mind asks themselves “how do I invest $100 safely to make $1000?” Shoot, even getting $200 from a $100 investment is gold if you can do it safely. You judge every investment based on dollars at risk, percentage of gain and time to payoff.

So let’s think like the owner and do some math. If I mail out 10,000 postcards at $0.50 each than I have invested $5000 of the casinos money on a direct mailing. Let’s say for the discussion we get a 3.5% response and 350 people come to the event. Sure there are other expenses to consider but we’re going to keep this simple for now.

That is an investment of $14.28 Per Response!
($5000 / 350 responses = $14.28 per response)

Per Response” are words missing from casino marketing departments everywhere. It doesn’t matter how much money you “saved”, what matters is profits made. With a $14 per response budget you can probably think of a lot cooler things you could send to your guests than a postcard. Much more personalized, tiered or unique mail pieces can be justified at a greater expense but a greater return on investment too. But you have to do the math.

If we mail half as many pieces and get the many more guests than we are marketing smarter. We would also be able to “own the mailbox” that day crushing out competing offers and getting 100% open rates on creative invitations.

I submit that casinos have focused so much on saving money that they have watered down all their direct marketing efforts to the point of dwindling return.  You can only squeeze so much savings out of your marketing budgets. Eventually you crush your casino with dwindling occupancy, forced layoffs and the properties decline into misery.  You can prevent all of that.  You hold the key to bringing in the most guests possible and creating the greatest opportunities possible for you and those around you.  Break the chain of the misguided trainers before you and lead your casino marketing with cost per response direct marketing.

Close your eyes and walk to your mailbox in your mind.  Open up the mailbox and what is in there? You see a stack of newspaper coupons, some envelopes, some postcards and….  this small box.  Instantly your mind focuses in on that box and everything else is forgotten.  You grab the mail, tuck it up under your arm and in your hands you hold the box.

What is in this box?  It is from a casino, it could be anything really, but surely it has to be something fun right? You take the mail in the house and your spouse walks in and says, “what’s in the box?”  you both open it together with curiosity and excitement and all the rest of the mailbox stack is forgotten for now.

You can get huge responses, increased guests and maximum earnings by sending more expensive and unique offers to your valued guests. But they do cost more per piece and they just need to get off your back about it so don’t forget to show them your math.

We end this entry with a link to killface having problems with his mailing.
Don’t forget to visit our casino direct mail marketing website.

RAVING Insider Party at the Tuscany Suites

Raving InvitesAre you going to be in Vegas next week?  At the same time the Gaming Expo in Las Vegas is happening Raving Consulting with CSG Direct Mail and others have put together the insider party of the season.   Our Party pulls together the best marketing and gaming folks in the business for great conversation, free drinks, free cigars and music.

This is the best chances you’ll get for valuable networking time with people that matter!

The Party is Wednesday October 5th from 9PM  ’til midnight at the Tuscany Suites & Casino Piazza Bar and Poolside.  But you must be a gamin insider… or know one ;)

Email Me if you need an invite michaelh@csgdirect.com or call my Las Vegas Direct Mail offices at 702-637-2451

Where did all of your customers go?

It’s hard enough to get new clients and even more difficult at times to keep them.
Active gamblers are the bread and butter of every casino and competing casinos work hard to pry your loyal customers away.  This is more than a competition of offers, free-play and room nights.  The heart of thisCSG Direct Mail active-player tug-of-war is a database strategy competition.

How much you know about your guests, how much you record about them in your database and then how well you use that information to your advantage is the art of casino direct marketing. We need to regularly ask ourselves what information about our guests we utilize beyond the simple play tracking and tiers we have created.

The simplest and most productive additional guest information that we need to use properly is the National Change of Address database provided by the US Postal Service. I will tell you that most casinos still today are not using this at all and when they do they are using it incorrectly.  One of the leading causes of lost guests is that 17% of them move per year and casinos are not following them properly and then addressing them with that new information.

In as quick as 3 years 51% of your database has moved.  Take a quick look at your inactive database counts and you know exactly what I am talking about.  Sure, it is not the only reason but if your competition is keeping their database more current than you it is just a matter of time before they crush you in the market place.

Your profits are being mailed to a garbage can.  As you are losing guests and your responses are dropping each month, you are probably mailing more pieces to make up the difference.  This increase in expenses dramatically reduces or eliminates the profits you would have made if you were not spending much more to get your responses back up. The biggest problem with this is that any pieces mailed standard to someone that has moved are thrown away by the US Postal Service.

Here are the main steps you should take to get back on top of your database.

  1. Do a 48 Month NCOA cleanse to go as far back as the US Postal Service goes.
  2. Upload all the changes back into your database  MOST IMPORTANT STEP!
  3. Re-code your bad-address flags to reflect all the changes.
  4. Re-code your Local/Non-Local flags based on their new addresses.
  5. Repeat with upload every 30-90 days with just the 18 Month NCOA Files.

Anything less is just surrendering your best clients to your competition.

We have been performing this process for casinos all over the country. The hardest step and the most important is the upload back into your player tracking system.  If you need help with that please feel free to call us and we’ll help make you shine.

Casino Marketing Conference Las Vegas

We are here live, today! At the fabulous and trendy Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas for the Casino Marketing Conference!

A little background on the Casino Marketing Conference and Raving Consulting. Raving Consulting Company is a casino marketing company that offers resources to the gaming industry. Furthermore Raving offers casino executives and gaming vendors a wide variety of solution services, training and publications. Areas of expertise include strategic marketing planning; guest service, host and player development sales skills and training; advertising and media partnerships, etc. Raving also conducts conferences and custom training seminars like the Casino Marketing Conference for gaming executives throughout the year.

This years Casino Marketing Conference will help define current thinking about the optimal ways to reach existing and potential customers. Vendors from all over are here to show their unique ways of attracting customers. With gaming now a mature industry in many markets, it has become a mission to understand the casino customer base.

We have never been more excited to show off our talents! While attendees scour the ballroom we would like to make it known that they can win great prizes just for vising the CSG Direct Mail booth! The day is not yet over and we have already given out over $25,000 in certificates towards a direct mail project with us! The prizes include: $500 to $1000 toward your next mailing, mouse pads, pens, gonnahappen.com mugs, bonus bucks for gonnahappen.com and the chance to get a free iPad2!

Let it be known that we live and breathe direct mail strategy, digital printing and results! You are at this Casino Marketing Conference today because you need results! You will get your greatest results right here with us! If you have the project then we have the testimonials, the skills, and the experience to make it successful.

So Let’s do your next Direct Mailing Together!

Learn more about The Casino Marketing Conference and CSG Direct Mail.