by Dennis Conrad
I have a confession to make. Actually, it's more of an acknowledgement
than a confession.
Let me explain.
I used to think that marketing was all about finding "lightning in a bottle",
about discovering those 6 or 8 high powered "things" (promotions, programs,
strategies, etc.) that could make immediate and discernible impact on
a casino's business fortunes. To make things worse, I actually stumbled
onto some casino marketing "home runs" that only deepened this conviction
and made me mine even more frantically for more of those veins of gold.
Maybe it was the two and a half years of grappling with a flat market
against more formidable competitors. Maybe it was the wisdom that comes
with age. But whatever the case, I'm here to tell you now that it's not
about finding the SECRETS of marketing. It's all about identifying and
leveraging the ENDURING PRINCIPLES. And while I may not have found all
of them yet, I'd like to share now those that I have found.
1. IT'S THE CUSTOMER, STUPID - I hate to inform you of this, but
it's not about managing limited budgets, or making the General Manager
(or even the stockholders) happy or being the most creative marketing
organization since time began. It's about KNOWING WHAT YOUR CUSTOMER WANTS
AND THEN DELIVERING IT. Period.
This is the mother of all enduring principles. All of the other principles
are secondary to it or flow from it.
2. YOUR MOST IMPORTANT CUSTOMER IS RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU - do you
see that middle aged lady on your Wheel of Fortune machine? Or that twenty-something
man at your blackjack table? Or that cooing couple in your gourmet restaurant?
Well, they ARE your business. And until you've invested every last scintilla
of energy (and available money) finding out WHO these people are, what
you can do for them to improve their experience NOW, and HOW you might
be able to offer them additional ways to spend even more money with you,
then you are missing out on the most immediate and impactful marketing
opportunity available to you. These people do not need a cheery letter
from your General Manager inviting them back, a discounted room offer
in an out of town newspaper, an invitation to your fun-filled slot tournament
or a phone call asking, "Where the hell have you been?" What do they need?
Don't ask me, ask them!!!
3. LEAD THE LEARNING - it's not as much WHAT you do, but more WHAT
YOU LEARN from what you do. I've always felt that every business should
have a Department of Learning to insure that the entire organization has
systematic, scientific ways of understanding the outcomes of both individual
and group decisions. I know, I know, you'll get laughed off the property
for suggesting a Department of Learning, but you can take the following
learning steps now: - Begin sharing learning materials across your property.
This includes information from gaming periodicals ("Casino Executive",
"Las Vegas Advisor", "Blackjack Forum", "Gaming and Wagering Business"),
non-gaming periodicals ("Harvard Business Review", "Sloan Management Review",
"Tom Peters' newsletter", etc.), management and marketing books (Marketing
the Invisible, Raving Fans, Gung Ho, On Great Service, The Leadership
Challenge) and a host of other audio and visual materials. If you learned
something from it, so will everyone else.
- Make learning a significant part of your management style and insure
that all of the people that you supervise have a chance to learn and grow
and are always being challenged.
- Start asking questions that force learning, like "What did we learn
from our CASH BACK program?", "What did our customers like and dislike
about our VIP party?", "How can we create better, more meaningful measurements
on the effectiveness of our marketing dollars?"
- Become a zealot about all learning gained from your customers, including
that from letters, surveys, comment cards, observations, employee feedback,
and live, face to face conversations.
4. TRY AND FAIL, TRY AND FAIL, TRY AND...SUCCEED! - this enduring
principle goes hand in hand with the LEARNING principle and needs to be
part of every marketing activity you do. TRY something. Try something
else. Try something again. If you don't have two or three dozen "tries"
going on at once, well, you're just not trying. What if you gave your
CASH BACK right at the slot machine? What if you had portable VIP card
making machines on your casino floor? What if you served food at your
blackjack tables? What if you hired comedians and magicians as your bartenders?
What if you gave your customers the screwdriver you used to unjam their
slot machine? Let "WHAT IF" become your mantra!
5. IF YOU WORK IN A "COMMAND AND CONTROL" ORGANIZATION, LEAVE!
- or at the very least, insist on the top salary available. Hey, it's
hard work keeping your mouth shut and your brain turned off! It's also
an enduring principle.
Date Posted: 30-Mar-2000
DENNIS CONRAD is the president of Raving Consulting Co. which specializes in Common Sense, Customer Focused, Marketing Consulting for the gaming industry.
He can be reached at:
475 Hill Street, Suite G, Reno, NV 89501
· (775) 329-7864
· fax (775) 329-4947
· email: TheRadcon@aol.com