I’ve said it on many occasions, one of my favorite things to talk about is strategy, specifically marketing strategy. A solid strategy unveils a path to success because it identifies where you want to end up. It differs from your marketing plan, which is the collection of steps you’ll take on the path and the tools you’ll need to get further.

You may (or may not) know that most of my work history has been in the casino industry. It has been a career that has allowed me to grow in my skills as a marketer. And though I work in other industries now, I often rely on the lessons learned “taking a gamble.” There are five casino marketing strategies any business, large or small, can adopt.

Winning Casino Marketing Strategy: Database Marketing

Like any other businesses, casinos compete for the disposable dollars of adults, specifically disposable dollars that adults may choose to use for entertainment. Casino marketers are asking for a not-so-insignificant part of that entertainment budget. While a trip to the movies with popcorn and soda could easily top $50 for two people, casinos are looking for that spend from one adult. So, how they identify a target is worth a look. In my opinion, few companies leverage a database quite like a casino. They have been collecting information about customers for years and are now able to leverage that information to determine who the most valuable customers are today and will be tomorrow. They have learned to understand the triggers that drive visits during targeted times. And, given the explosion of technology, they continue to use snail mail in successful ways. You can do this too! CRM and sales tools about from free starters great for small businesses to rock star business intelligence tools.

Winning Casino Marketing Strategy: Personalization

You’ve seen the movies. You’ve seen HIM. He’s the slick smooth-talking casino host. Wrong! Let’s bring that time machine back to the present. Today’s casino host is part salesperson, part customer service representative. The primary functions of the casino host are to create experiences for high-worth customers by providing the complimentary perks that make their visit truly personal. At the core of this function is the understanding that casino customers – indeed all of us – want the businesses we patronize to know who we are and what we like. Years ago, I dropped a dress off at my usual dry cleaner. I walked in and place my dress on the counter as usual. The young lady behind the counter greeted me and proceeded to complete my ticket and let me know when my dress would be ready. Notice anything? She didn’t ask for my name. She knew it even though I barely stopped there every one or two months. To this day, that little moment is still memorable. Jim White is chief culture and experience officer for Ignite Medical Resorts. As one of the most innovative providers of post-acute care, Ignite looked to him to create an environment that would differentiate them. Sure. “In the Medical Resort model that we have created, a personalized experience is truly the only way to differentiate yourself from all the other businesses that do what we do. It’s all the little extra touches – in addition to the excellent clinical care we provide, that causes more people to recommend us and make us their provider of choice.”

Winning Casino Marketing Strategy: A Chance to Win

Ever wonder what makes people buy lottery tickets when the odds are stacked against them? Psychologists will tell you that our brains can’t really compute probabilities that are that high. They might also argue we mere humans fall into a trap of “near miss”, in other words, “If I was that close this time, I could be the winner next time.” But what about freebies? When 7-Eleven gives away free Slurpees, people line up by the hundreds and thousands. Whether it be free or a gamble, people want a chance to win something. Casinos understand this and build calendars of events that use drawings, free spins, and tournaments to create multiple chances to win.

Winning Casino Marketing Strategy: Value

Anyone with a dollar to spend wants to feel they are getting something of value for that dollar. Casinos understand pricing and value like few other businesses. Thousands of focus groups have repeated the same feeling. Gamblers know the odds of winning are not in their favor, but they want to be able to play a sufficient amount of time with the budget they have. That’s how they interpret value on the casino floor. Additionally, casinos price certain food venues to appeal to that need for value. Value is not a dollar amount, it is the relationship to your customer’s wallet. So, as you look at your offerings and customer experience, think about those moments you add value and where you take it away. Sometimes, something as easy as using a POS system that easily emails a receipt can add value to a checkout.

Winning Casino Marketing Strategy: Community

Let’s be honest, when casinos came to the area, many looked forward to the fun and excitement. Few really believed the operations would enhance the community. At the last company I worked for, employees performed over 14,000 hours of community service in only one year. Perform a simple search on the American Gaming Association site and you’ll see an example on top of an example of how the communities were enriched by the hard work of casino employees. And, yes, I am aware that some people are unable (through their own control or forces beyond their control) to game responsibly, but this story is about being a part of the community and encouraging your employees to use their time (and perhaps a day or two of yours) to be a part of this beautiful city and the surrounding parishes. Get involved. There are too many needs and I bet given the opportunity, your employees would love to get involved.

As a marketer, I constantly look to all industries for examples of best practices. These are the five casino marketing strategies that can easily be adopted by you.

A shortened version of this column appeared in the October 2017 issue of Biz New Orleans.

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