Research shows that there are more than 1,000 active casinos in the United States alone. Many, if not all, are closed for business until who knows when. Some were in the process of rebranding or being acquired. Some were in expansion and construction mode. Whatever your current situation, as casino marketers, we are all currently in some degree of start-up mode.
When we reopen our doors, we will be back in the thick of competition, not only for the limited gaming budget, but for the overall entertainment dollars that are currently being repurposed and becoming far more limited.
Given the steep and growing competition, it’s never been more imperative to stand out and get noticed.
Yet, casino marketing requires different strategies than those employed by traditional brick-and-mortar storefronts. After all, your entire business model is unique, so your outreach approach will differ from that of your peers.
Before you can start rolling out your actual marketing plan and reaching your target audience, you’ll need a solid strategy in place first. Today, we’re sharing a few approaches that can set your casino business up for success. Read on to learn how to play your cards right from the very beginning.
1. Understand Your Audience
The gaming industry is unique in that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all buyer persona.
Every day, there will be people who walk through your doors with unique wants, preferences, and objectives. To retain their business and keep them coming back for more, you’ll have to know how to create an environment that caters to everyone’s needs while still feeling personal.
Sound impossible? It isn’t when you take the time to brainstorm.
The first step in your casino marketing strategy should be to define your most common buyer personas. This process can be a daunting task, especially if you are opening a casino in a new market or just starting your casino marketing career. How can you anticipate the kind of people who will frequent your facility?
To start, check out this Las Vegas Visitor Profile compiled by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA). In the report, researchers break down casino visitors into four consumer segments that fit most markets, particularly regional destination markets. These include:
- Convention Visitors: 8%
- Package Purchasers: 13%
- General Tourists: 62%
- Casino Guests: 17%
Generating Buyer Personas
With this data, you can begin to get a clearer picture of the guests you might encounter on a given basis. Let’s consider how these segments could translate into buyer personas for a regional destination casino.
General Tourists = Vacationers
General tourists are those who came to your city to explore all that it has to offer. In addition to gambling at your casino, they also plan to discover local eateries, cultural sights, performances, and nightlife. You can attract this crowd by offering hotel bookings and package deals to ensure you’re one of their many stops.
Package Purchasers = Entertainment Afficiandos
Package purchasers differ from general tourists in that they’re most interested in experiencing as many of the entertainment options that your locale has to offer. While they’ll still do their fair share of exploring, these visitors are also buying groups of tickets to see shows, attend dinner theaters, go to concerts, and visit nightclubs.
You’ll catch their eye by upping your entertainment game. In addition to basic casino games, how can you make the entire experience as engaging and eye-catching as possible? Events and bookings (e.g., bands, comedians, celebrities) will be most effective at piquing their interest. Consider also how you are positioning your entertainment.
Casino Guests = Gamers
There will also be visitors who come to your city specifically to check out its gaming options.
More well-versed in the industry than others, they’ll be the ones analyzing your casino and inquiring about specific machines and games. You can lure this buyer by hiring staff who can deliver incredible gaming content and help establish your casino as relevant, on-trend, and high-tech. These “experts” are your daily visitors, whether you’re in a destination or local market.
Convention Visitors = Business Leaders
If you operate your casino as part of a greater hotel facility, many visitors will walk your floor on their way to a meeting in your showroom or conference room.
You can turn that business into casino income by creating an entertaining and client-friendly environment that executives will appreciate. From nightlife and entertainment to business event planning services, the key is to strike a balance between pleasure and professionalism.
2. Identify Your Brand Personality
With your key buyer personas identified, it’s time to consider the brand personality that you’ll project to appeal to each one. In short, this is the aura and culture of your brand or the human-like characteristics that set it apart from the rest.
Your personality defines how people will feel about your casino and interact with it. What kind of experience do you want them to have when they visit?
While you won’t land on a specific personality overnight, it helps to brainstorm with your team the image that you want your casino to portray. What initiated you to open a casino in the first place? What is the “why” behind your mission statement, and what drives your business?
Referencing your buyer personas, consider how each group communicates as well as their communications preferences. How do they talk? What kinds of problems do they face? To be successful, your brand personality or brand identity should mirror that of your target customer base.
Will you project a vibe that’s over-the-top luxurious and opulent? Or, will your casino be a smaller, more intimate operation? The personas you’re targeting can help answer that question and help you pinpoint the ultimate brand personality you’ll display. Once you land on a brand type, make sure it’s consistent throughout your operation, from the back of the house to the signage on your curb.
3. Build Your Customer Database
Database marketing doesn’t work for every industry niche, and many wonder why we still rely on it as the foundation of casino marketing. The list of various personas above reveals why.
Some companies cater to a very narrow audience group. For instance, a makeup brand might target tween girls ages 10-13. Conversely, casino marketers are challenged with appealing to everyone, from busy business executives to die-hard gamers.
As such, it helps to maintain a database that tracks who’s visiting your space, where they came from, how much they’re spending, and other key demographics. Today, there are multiple resources available to help you set one up. These range from simple Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems to intricate business intelligence tools that leverage Artificial Intelligence (AI) and similar technologies to forecast future sales. The overarching goal of setting up your database is to get your players cards into the hands of people you know will use them. You could have the contact information of everyone in your city. Still, unless your approach is targeted, those efforts won’t generate the revenue you’re expecting.
While you might cater to a broad audience as a casino marketer, it pays to know who’s accessing your content and how they’re interacting with it. That’s why, in addition to your CRM system, a Content Management System (CMS) can also prove beneficial. This is a form of software that helps you manage your digital content, including your online marketing strategies.
Indirect vs. Direct Casino Marketing
In terms of online and offline marketing, what are the most effective forms of initial outreach? If you haven’t (re)opened your doors yet, basic, indirect advertising techniques can help you generate mass appeal and build brand buzz. These can range from social media marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to news articles, blog posts, and word-of-mouth referrals.
Because you more than likely already have known customers, you can target these individuals more pointedly through direct marketing. Conventional approaches include our monthly mailers, but consider how everyone is adapting to new communications at this time, and test SMS or Facebook Messenger to stay in touch with customers.
If you also need to reach business customers and don’t currently have a proper sales database, there are a few places you can access this information. Let’s take a look at a few of the most common ones.
Go ahead and populate your database with any business contacts you already have in your address book. If you already have customers (current or former) in your accounting system, add those in as well. It’s always smart at this juncture to call old contacts and make sure they’d be OK with receiving messages from you.
It’s time to put that stack of business cards on your desk to good use. While not everyone will be relevant to your database, take the time to cull through them and identify those who are. Again, if the contact is very old, a phone call or email to verify participation is a good idea.
4. Identify High-Worth Visitors
Once you (re)open your casino and start generating revenue, your customer database will begin to take hold. It may look very different than BC (before COVID-19). Your profits will become a treasure trove of data that you can use to serve your customers better.
You’ll want to revisit some questions you haven’t asked in a while. Who is frequenting your casino the most, and which of your identified buyer personas do they fit into? What are their behavioral patterns and average spending limits? How long do they spend at your property, and what kind of feedback to they leave about it?
Without a dedicated database resource, the numbers in your CRM spreadsheet could look like a different language. It pays to invest in a staff position and/or external support who can mine the massive amounts of data for the key insights you need to drive and direct future growth.
An effective database strategy will also help you identify your high-worth customers. These are the visitors who contribute the most to your day-to-day revenue, and as such, it’s critical to retain them. Once you know who these gamers are, you can begin to build a long-term relationship with them that extends past generic direct mail offerings.
5. Prioritize Connection
Keeping a steady stream of top-spending players rotating through your door requires more than just an eye-catching spread in a magazine or a slick mailer. It requires a personal connection that begins the moment they step onto the floor.
Visitors, especially high-worth ones, expect recognition for the money they’re spending at your casino, and a welcome or outreach team can help bridge that gap. An outbound phone call within 24 hours of their enrollment can go a long way toward helping your brand appear as personable as possible.
An ideal casino host can act as both an effective salesperson, as well as a knowledgable customer service associate. Hosts carry the brunt of the burden for personalization and outreach. They are the ones who will extend complimentary services and one-on-one support for the high-value customers that keep your casino in business.
Ultimately, the key is to do more than understand who your customers are now and how much they are worth. You also need to know their needs and motivators, so you can make sure they keep coming back again. Establishing a personal connection at the onset can help you get insight into these factors.
6. Focus on Retention
After a while, there might come a time when your once-active customer base begins to dwindle a little, and customer churn increases. For instance, a regular player who always visits your casino twice a week may drop back to only coming once a week or every ten days.
Even if this happens on a smaller scale, it can have a significant impact on your business. Those disinterested or inactive customers could have attributed a substantial percentage to your income. Without their continued support, you’ll feel a financial hit. At this point, ask your team, “What would happen if only 1% of those customers come back? What kind of impact would it have on our bottom line?”
Then, consider how that uptick would amplify if you managed to get 5% or even 10% of them to return. To see that change firsthand, you’ll need to take a deep dive into what drove the disengagement in the first place. Analyze your gaming offerings, along with your ancillary services, structural facilities, and staff members to identify any weak areas or pain points. Then, take a look at what competing casinos are doing to outpace yours and potentially draw business away.
Crafting a Personal Appeal
When you’re ready to reposition your brand to maximize new appeal, you can begin sending new marketing promotions to re-earn their trust and business. In addition to direct mail and similar approaches, remember to make the communication personal.
Have you upgraded your facility or added a new amenity to encourage customers to come back? If so, that’s a viable Reason to Call (RTC). Assign your host or outreach team the task of calling visitors who have fallen by the wayside to share the news. Give them a script that’s flexible enough to include visitor names, and you’re one step closer to bringing them back.
Casino marketing requires a multi-tier strategy that takes into account every aspect of your business. It requires understanding your buyer personas, building your brand personality, managing your performance, and focusing on the personal connection above anything else.
As you work to build your casino marketing programs, it pays to have a marketing expert in your corner. That’s where we come in.
Our team is well-versed in this industry and has the tools, knowledge, and resources required to drive your business forward. We offer a variety of in-person, virtual, and workshop training sessions to help you create and follow a customized plan that delivers.