by Dennis Conrad
The 10 Biggest Casino Marketing Sins
By Dennis Conrad
Often in my work, I get to do “get everyone on the same page” casino marketing presentations. Typically many of client casino’s senior executives (from all departments) are in the room to hear me speak and (hopefully) participate in the discussion that this presentation always seems to generate.
Anyway, in this “Customer Focused Marketing” presentation, I try to make a few key points:
1) That “Marketing” should not be a “department,” but rather an integrated way of doing business, involving all departments (you should see the looks I sometimes get from the OPs guys and gals on that one).
2) You need to focus on the 20% of your gaming customers that typically account for 80% of your profits.
3) A player’s “lifetime worth” is a much better strategic focus than their average daily theoretical worth TODAY.
4) Information and a player’s likelihood of being “a gamer” are two critical marketing variables and marketing plans can be constructed around them in a highly prioritized fashion.
5) Some marketing tactics are better than others and yes, there are ways to effectively compare them.
I always try to close my presentations with some fun and effective ways to leave participants with some useful take-aways and some bite-size chunks of marketing magic that they can hang on their wall or refer to in their notes. And that’s how I created a closing summary, based on the aforementioned principles, of HOW NOT TO do effective casino marketing. I call it “The 10 Biggest Casino Marketing Sins That I Have Seen.” I share them with you now, in reverse order (a’ la David Letterman) along with a brief description of what I mean:
The 10 BIGGEST Casino Marketing Sins
10. Trying To Be Who You Aren’t – this is the Las Vegas Strip Casino trying to attract locals (and the Las Vegas locals casino trying to attract Strip customers). It’s the terribly remote tribal casino trying to be a regional entertainment center or a destination resort. It’s the struggling megaresort with a weak stomach for taking big bets, fancying itself as a high roller haven. This is any casino, in a desperate attempt to grab more business, that positions itself as something it can’t possibly be.
9. Chasing Unqualified Groups And Lists – in this sinful activity, casinos adopt the short sighted attitude that “hey, our current customers already love us, we need new customers!” They buy prospecting lists, do expensive advertising in outer markets, and bring in any groups they can find to fill their hotel rooms. They forget that it’s easier and more efficient to get your current customers to spend a little more or stay a little longer, than it is to milk that mythical “untapped market.”
8. Short Term Marketing Focus – this sin typically involves a casino looking out to next week or next month and saying “Hey, business looks weak, let’s do something!” It’s reaction rather than proactive and reasoned strategic marketing.
7. Half-Assed Measurement – and sometimes this involves no measurement at all, but it absolutely includes every instance where a casino spends money to drive business and doesn’t know “reasonably” to “absolutely” well what its return on investment was (“What was the cost per response of that ad campaign???”).
6. Advertising Is A Sacred Cow – and in this sin it typically means that advertising is a disproportionate (and often bloated) part of the casino budget. But hey, don’t touch it; the GM (or the tribal chairperson, or the CEO, or the Marketing VP) feels we need to be “top of mind.”
5. Always Looking For The Home Run – in this sin, “simple” and “solid” and “tried and true” isn’t enough. We need “sexy” and “flashy” and “more of Las Vegas.” So roll out the Mercedes, ramp up the $1 million giveaway and get the big names in the showroom (usually on a crowded Saturday night)!
4. Taking Current Customers For Granted – this sin is manifested in many ways, but let me tell you about this in the words of your own customers: “Hey, we play here 4 times a week and rarely get anything. But a bus rolls up, and these strangers get a roll of quarters, a free meal and a gift (and then they clog up my favorite machines!). What about me???”
3. Viewing Marketing As A “Department” – in this sin, you typically hear operators talk about “those marketing people” and marketing people saying “we bring ‘em in, and THEIR frontline employees run ‘em off.” This is the sin of not understanding, or not believing, that every employee needs to be a marketer.
2. Lack Of A Marketing Plan – and in this sin, I don’t mean “budgets” or “goals” or a tweak of last year’s marketing schedule. No, I’m referring to a true strategic marketing plan, created by ALL of a property’s Senior Executives, based on effective marketing principles and real marketing needs. It’s a sin that few casinos have this.
1. Listening To The GM Instead Of The Customers – and in this most mortal sin of all, the trademarks are a cavalier GM (or Tribal Council Chairperson, or Marketing Exec) who makes marketing decisions based on what HE or SHE thinks is best, or most profitable, or “what we really need around here.” It’s often characterized by a lack of listening to customers, executives spending little or no time on the casino floor, and Department Heads managing to rules, budgets and the GM – to anything and anyone, but the casino customer.
And there you have my top 10 casino marketing sins. And if you are a sinner, fear not, it is never to late to go and beg your customers for forgiveness and to insure that those who giveth don’t taketh away.
Date Posted: 29-Sep-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.