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Lessons From Casinos

Five winning strategies you can adopt today.



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 that path and the tools you’ll need to get further.

1. Database Marketing.

Like any other business, 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 amount from one adult. So, how they identify and 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 abound, from free starters great for small businesses to rock star business intelligence tools.

2. Personalization.

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. The lesson here? It’s the little touches that matter.

3. 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.

4. 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’s the relationship to your customer’s wallet.

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.

5. Community.

Let’s be honest, when casinos came to the area, many looked forward to the fun and excitement but 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 example after example of how the communities were enriched by the hard work of casino employees.

The message here is simple: get involved. There are too many needs, and I bet that given the opportunity, your employees would love to join together and do some good.

Julia Carcamo is president and chief brand strategist at J Carcamo & Associates, specializing in brand and marketing strategy. She is also the co-founder of espNOLA, a Hispanic marketing and engagement agency. Learn more at jcarcamoassociates.com and espnola.com.