Casino Direct Mail Marketing, You’re Doing It Wrong!

Forget everything you have ever been taught about Casino Direct Mailing!
You’re doing it completely wrong!

It’s not your fault, you had horribly untrained people teach you your job and you are doing what you were taught to do. The math is just wrong.

You and the majority of everyone else in direct mail marketing were taught wrong. Everyone suffers when you can’t bring enough profitable guests to make a profit and grow the casino to what it was originally destined to be. It must be outside of your control because you are doing what you were taught and the people around you keep telling you that you are doing it correct, right?

Why are you listening to them? Do they have decades of creating and measuring direct mail results? Probably not! You are listening to them because if you do what you are told and excel at what you are taught your job is safe right? You are being lured into a false sense of security by not questioning the process and not recognizing that you are surrounded and trained by people that don’t have the experience to judge or train you.

Take a look around you at you and your team. Lots of great people all trying to pay their bills, raise kids and have a beer on Friday night. Great folks I’m sure, I love a beer on Friday too. But they all moved up the same way you did. Perhaps you started in the players club desk or at the valet parking garage. You got a few promotions and now you are a casino host. Next thing you know you are working in special events and now you find yourself promoted into marketing as a coordinator of some kind.

This is a common path type to marketing director positions in our industry, ironically. I cannot count the number of special events assistants that have been promoted to marketing director without real marketing experience.

Now that you are in marketing you’re fully trained and experienced in all aspects of direct mailing, right? Nope! Now all those people above you that basically started the same path that you did a few years before, will be teaching you all their “expertise”. But who taught them? and who taught those before them? Are you feeling me yet?

Our gaming industry is full of the marketing blind teaching the blind. It’s not your fault. It’s the nature of the gaming industry but if you don’t grow, learn and adjust then it is your doing.

What you will be taught as you enter and develop in direct marketing is simple production level stuff but you will falsely be made to feel like you are the heart of direct marketing when you do it. You will learn how to pull a mailing list. You will learn how to get a nice mail piece designed. You will learn how to get bids from vendors (often misguided by cost-per-piece purchasing hawks). You might even learn about tracking and manager level reporting.

Now you are on top of the world and the top of your game, right? Sorry to disappoint but in the real world this is “direct mail coordinator” and you could be eaten alive in the private sector by some detail-oriented kings and queens of our industry. There is so much still to learn.

So where am I going with this and how will I transition to the “make us all feel better” part of this article? Well lets pull out our calculators and talk about some things that nobody taught you yet. Direct Mail Marketing is about MATH! It’s about Investment, Dividends and Results!

Take a hard look at the direction of your casino. Is your casino saving money and declining or investing money and growing? It seems odd that no matter how much money we save in the bidding process casinos all over the country are still declining in profitability! I don’t find that odd at all and neither will you. It’s even more difficult to comprehend that you sell FUN everyday of your life and you are getting lower and lower response rates.

You can’t sell FUN because you were trained wrong. Let’s turn your career around.
We need to start by getting back to core basics. What is our real core job in marketing?

Is your job to mail as many pieces for the cheapest price you can or is your job to bring in the highest rate of return as a percentage of the invested expense? Unfortunately 95% of every casino executive I have met would not recognize that they are supposed to be investment hawks trying to make the casino the biggest gains with the best investments. Our number 1 goal is to help our casino make as much money as possible so they can give us raises and perks and benefits and we have lots of room for growth in careers and opportunities.

A casino hires thousands of workers, friends and neighbors and supports our communities with taxes, wages, tourism, sponsorships and lots of fun. So our number 1 priority is to seek ways to help that casino maximizes its earnings by bringing ideas to the table on how to MAKE money.

It’s not about saving money, it’s about MAKING money!

Don’t panic, we’ll save money too but lets take those shackles off for a little bit while we talk about how to make money first. Lets assume for now that 95% of all other purchasing is being managed by Ebeneezer Scrooge and we get to invest the 5% he doesn’t manage. It doesn’t help that purchasing plays such a large role in overseeing money in the marketing department and they are singularly focused on words like “cost per piece” or “unit price”. Lets leave them out of this while we talk about what should be in play and not what currently is.

To properly turn around your direct mailing training you need to think like your casino owners do. Everyday the investor-mind asks themselves “how do I invest $100 safely to make $1000?” Shoot, even getting $200 from a $100 investment is gold if you can do it safely. You judge every investment based on dollars at risk, percentage of gain and time to payoff.

So let’s think like the owner and do some math. If I mail out 10,000 postcards at $0.50 each than I have invested $5000 of the casinos money on a direct mailing. Let’s say for the discussion we get a 3.5% response and 350 people come to the event. Sure there are other expenses to consider but we’re going to keep this simple for now.

That is an investment of $14.28 Per Response!
($5000 / 350 responses = $14.28 per response)

Per Response” are words missing from casino marketing departments everywhere. It doesn’t matter how much money you “saved”, what matters is profits made. With a $14 per response budget you can probably think of a lot cooler things you could send to your guests than a postcard. Much more personalized, tiered or unique mail pieces can be justified at a greater expense but a greater return on investment too. But you have to do the math.

If we mail half as many pieces and get the many more guests than we are marketing smarter. We would also be able to “own the mailbox” that day crushing out competing offers and getting 100% open rates on creative invitations.

I submit that casinos have focused so much on saving money that they have watered down all their direct marketing efforts to the point of dwindling return.  You can only squeeze so much savings out of your marketing budgets. Eventually you crush your casino with dwindling occupancy, forced layoffs and the properties decline into misery.  You can prevent all of that.  You hold the key to bringing in the most guests possible and creating the greatest opportunities possible for you and those around you.  Break the chain of the misguided trainers before you and lead your casino marketing with cost per response direct marketing.

Close your eyes and walk to your mailbox in your mind.  Open up the mailbox and what is in there? You see a stack of newspaper coupons, some envelopes, some postcards and….  this small box.  Instantly your mind focuses in on that box and everything else is forgotten.  You grab the mail, tuck it up under your arm and in your hands you hold the box.

What is in this box?  It is from a casino, it could be anything really, but surely it has to be something fun right? You take the mail in the house and your spouse walks in and says, “what’s in the box?”  you both open it together with curiosity and excitement and all the rest of the mailbox stack is forgotten for now.

You can get huge responses, increased guests and maximum earnings by sending more expensive and unique offers to your valued guests. But they do cost more per piece and they just need to get off your back about it so don’t forget to show them your math.

We end this entry with a link to killface having problems with his mailing.
Don’t forget to visit our casino direct mail marketing website.

This entry was posted in Casino Direct Marketing, Casino Marketing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Casino Direct Mail Marketing, You’re Doing It Wrong!

  1. Bishop says:

    Good article. It seems a lot of casinos have forgot about the fun aspect. It used to be an experience going out to gamble. Friendly, attentive staff, some fun events to get you in the door and some nice offers.

    if i am going to go to a casino, it’s more about an evening of fun with a chance to win instead of just gambling.

  2. Mike Robertson says:

    Great Point! I’ve worked in the casino industry under people that were carbon-copies of the misguided leaders described above and the price per piece was always the chief concern. Response rates are what really matters and this article beautifully shows where the weak links are within the Casino Marketing Industry. Thanks CSG!

  3. 67ralleysport says:

    Well stated. After spending some time working in a casino and working as a vender for casinos more often than not the marketing director gets more direction on how to proceed from the VP of operations than from the VP of marketing. With operations price per unit is everything when should be about cost per response.

  4. mailman says:

    If I can make you $10,000 more in your results by showing you a $200 upgrade idea you have to jump on it. Saying that breaks the budget proves you are using the wrong math.

  5. Doug says:

    I don’t think I’ve seen it better put then what I see in this blog. It’s nice to know someone has the brains to convey these messages out to the world. I for one, being in the marketing business, will turn to these guys when I do my direct mail promotions!!

  6. Christopher says:

    At first I was blind, but now I can see, LOL! Great article, makes total sense!!!

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