Advice for getting a foot into the casino executive’s door
Over the years, I have watched literally hundreds of vendors try to gain traction in the gaming industry with their products and services. I meet them at casino conferences and trade shows. Sometimes they contact me or my company directly, as a resource they believe might be able to help them access potential business.
Certainly I enjoy some of those “business-building” discussions with gaming vendors. But to be candid, some of the chats can reveal a lack of knowledge about the gaming industry (and I am asked to educate them), a distorted view of the quality or need for their product in the business (and I have to burst their bubble), or an invitation for the “opportunity” to tout their company to our network (and I have to “surprise” them with the notion that a fee would be involved for such access marketing efforts).
These gaming vendor consulting episodes may not qualify me as an expert in how to crack our industry (or do more business in it); but when coupled with the 15 years of business-building experience of my own company, it gives me a unique and valuable perspective that I am now going to share with every vendor who wants in to this delightful industry.
So, you think gaming needs you and your company? Well maybe, but try to remember a few of these industry door-opening tips from someone who has been there:
1. Know and understand the real need for your company’s product or service in the gaming industry.Just because you think it’s cool or it has worked in other industries, doesn’t necessarily mean the gaming biz will give two hoots about it. Take the time and expense to find and candidly question the industry experts who might have a need for what you do.
2. Realize that gaming is a unique industry. I know, every industry probably thinks it is special, but gaming is 24-hours, it has a one-of-a-kind history, it is more highly regulated than nuclear power plants, and every state or tribe permits or conducts it differently. Learn those nuances.
3. Don’t try to “bully” your way into the industry.Rather than coming in with guns blazing, telling any gaming executive you can corner how wonderful you and your company are, try a simple concept first. It’s called listening, and it will tell you a lot about industry needs, pain points, and who your competition might be.
4. Carefully consider industry conferences, trade shows, and networking events. There are many of them in gaming and you can spend a lot of wasted time, energy and expense if you don’t know the ones that are right for your company. Do you want lots of business-building traffic with a broad gaming audience? Or will less traffic with a focused audience suffice for your product or service?
5. Have a plan and a bankroll, and understand the sales cycle for your product or service. You may think your breakthrough into the gaming industry just needs to be getting in front of a few of the right decision makers, and then it will simply take off from there. Think again. The right decision maker might be a purchasing agent. It might be a department head. It might be an end user. It might even be a tribal council. Know who you’re selling to, have a plan and the resources to reach them, and gain an understanding of how long that might take.
6. Don’t be a pest or a freeloader.I assure you, gaming executives hate cold calls from vendors as much as they do in other industries. And if you think that you can “sell out of your suitcase” by participating in conferences, trade shows and networking events as cheaply as possible, you will have a hard time being seen as legitimate. If you have a short bankroll, select fewer events in which to participate, but support them in a formal way.
7. Support the casinos and go learn about their environment.If you don’t gamble, that’s OK, but find ways to experience the casino, whether it’s restaurants, shows, the hotel, or other amenities. It will give you “street cred” when you go knocking on busy executives’ doors, and help you understand the unique language that is gaming.
Follow these tips. I can’t guarantee you’ll be successful. But at least you won’t flop around trying to crack an industry on a pipe dream and some slick sales talk.