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What If You Had No New Customers?

As marketers, we are always looking to “fill the funnel” with new customers. This episode isn’t about inbound marketing or sales pipelines. Also, for my casino marketing listeners, fear not. This isn’t another lecture telling you that your slots won’t attract Millennials, so you better think of some other way to get them.

Today’s episode is about nurturing the relationships we have right now, both those that are already strong and those that are barely breathing.

Let’s set a foundation.

All of us know how to get new customers: advertising, free fill-in-the-blank for new customers, and rebates. We’ve seen them all. We’ve used them all. No one can argue that marketers do a great job investing in existing customers. Moreover, casino marketers live – and die – based on the mailbox.

What I’m talking about is building the future with what we have in our hands right now, as well as what may be slipping away.

No more new customers.

Marketers, especially those new to their positions, are trained to find the quick hits – things that show the boss has made the right decision and can rest easy.

For most, this is achieved with acquisition marketing.

Get people in the door, and everyone will see business is booming!

Sometimes, sadly, those quick hits are cost cuts. I hate cost cuts, and not just because I’m a marketer who spends money. I like to think I spend it wisely.

What I’m proposing is that we look at creating increased revenue from the sources sitting right under our noses.  Let’s turn our attention to the customers who are already within our grasp and find ways to generate more business from them. Those relationships are waiting to be nurtured and cultivated!

In casino marketing, we typically leave retention up to the direct mail folks and the nurturing of high-worth relationships to player development teams. We generally accept the theory that 80% of our revenue comes from 20% of the customers, but does that mean we can’t drive more revenue from the remaining 80% of our customers? I say the answer is “no.”  We’ve got the tools. Let’s use them.

Let’s start with OUR PEOPLE.

I know that I tend to go on and on about employee engagement. I just turned in another column about employee engagement.

So, it comes as no surprise when I say, “relationships take people.” How we treat our people will determine how our people treat our relationships or our customers.

Call centers are a great example of a waste of people power. Call centers are rewarded for resolving calls quickly. The faster the resolution, the more calls an operator can handle. The more calls an operator can handle, the lower our cost per call.

However, what if we thought about looking at the cost as a cost per relationship? Would you want to short-change the time spent building a relationship?

I see you out there. You’re saying, “I don’t have a call center.” But, I bet you have lines forming at your cash register or somewhere else. You most certainly want the line to move quickly, but does a couple of extra seconds spent smiling at a customer or perhaps welcoming them back really drive your costs or are they driving your relationships?

Operating successfully for the long term requires a delicate balance of efficiency and effectiveness. Just remember that it is a balance and not all about efficiency.

Do you know me?

Last week’s episode was about casino marketing strategies any business can adopt. One of those strategies was the notion of player development. That’s the term we use to talk about the job of the casino host.

I said that today’s casino host is part salesperson, part customer service representative and that his or her primary function is to create experiences for high worth customers. They do this by providing the complimentary perks that make their visit genuinely 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.

Ask yourself how you’re creating those types of experiences and understand the tools you and your team might need.

Robust CRM systems can turn a customer from an account number and sales total to a person with wants, needs, and desires. Rather than using your systems to track the number of sales, take a look at the type of soft information you can collect and how that might help make a future visit more rewarding to both you and the customer. Use your systems to understand and nurture those customers.

Relationships must be defined by more than sales.

What’s in the mailbox?

Now, let’s talk about old-fashioned mail. Don’t tell me you don’t flip through catalogs and magazines whenever you take them out of your box.

Direct mail still works.

If you have a database, I’m here to tell you, “There is gold in your database!”

What we refer to as decliners and inactives are your best source of revenue.

For whatever reason, you have a segment of customers that have chosen to visit less often or not to return. It’s probably fair to assume they didn’t have a great experience.

Ask yourself how much revenue you can create in if you get only 1% of those customers back for a visit?

What if you can get 2%? 5%? 10%?

This process will take time. Your patience WILL BE tested. You might even want to throw your hands up and give up.

To regain this customer, you’ll need to do a bit of an internal audit of your offerings, services, facilities, and staff – an honest one. We all love our babies, but sometimes we have to admit they are …well…let’s say they are less than adorable.

You must identify both the improvements you have made since a customer’s last visit(s) and the improvements you can make now.

You have to do this before you reach out to those lost customers. Once you have a new story to tell, then bring in your direct mail team to understand what the optimal messages might be.

My entire career has been in marketing. I’ve had years of finance directors telling me all I know how to do is spend money. Don’t get me wrong. I can spend money like no one’s business, but I can also make money by getting to know the tools I have available and the customers I have, then finding a way to match them up. When you look inside (instead of outside) for marketing redemption, you’ll find more ways to generate business.

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