After umpteen years in the marketing game, I have come to believe one thing: marketing is marketing.
That is, I believe the same “core truths” of marketing a bank or a widget are the same core truths of marketing a casino.
Have a good product. Value great service. Understand who you are (and who you are not). Listen to your customers and your employees. Become known for something. Spend your marketing dollars primarily on the customers who already spend their discretionary dollars with you.
Same core truths. Different products and services.
At the same time, I also realize that in the casino business, marketing to a slot player is different than marketing to a table game player, which is different from marketing to a hotel guest or a restaurant guest. So within these “core marketing truths,” I also believe there are different “guiding marketing principles” for the different kinds of guests that visit casinos with different “marketing hot buttons” that need to be pushed to maximize the revenue potential for each customer segment.
To illustrate my point, and because this month features the Table Games Conference in Las Vegas (and because I am a “table game guy” at heart), I am going to share with you the Guiding Principles of Table Game Marketing:
At its core, marketing table games is primarily about the people and creating an experience. Even if you had the wrong table games, with the wrong limits at the wrong operating hours, if you had the right people that created a memorable experience for players, then you have a pretty damn effective table game operation. This guiding principle trumps all others in the table games marketing area.
“Time on device” is just as important to table games players as it is in slot patrons. Therefore, any table game marketing tactic that creates more of it is good, and any tactic that steals “time at table” from players is bad. So, if you want to market your new “six to five” blackjack games (instead of the traditional games that pay three to two on blackjacks), your huge table games progressive jackpot (that holds 50 percent of each bet and takes a year to hit), or your new specialty table game (that holds 30 percent) you’re barking up the wrong marketing tree.
Table game players may not be more profitable customers than most slot customers, but they sure feel that they are. So if you think you are going to effectively market table games by offering a $5 match play coupon to a player that bets as much as $25 on a hand roll or spin (even if that is what the computer says they deserve), then you will end up just looking cheap to a player that has an inflated view of their value.
Table game promotions can be separate from slot promotions or they can be combined with slot promotions, but they must always be seen as having at least equal value for the table game player. When slot players are seen as having “all the tickets in the drawing drum,” you’re not effectively marketing to table game players.
Table game players play for different reasons—understand that, respect it and market accordingly. This guiding principle speaks to why you have efficient non-chatty dealers with high-quality table players who “just want to bet their money.” It’s why you offer a party pit experience to Millennials starved for fun and social interaction. And it’s why you offer low minimum tables for senior table game players, who may have low daily bankrolls, but significant yearly bankrolls.
Table game players tend to like the game they like, but they will explore a new game if …
Your dealers teach them the game and make it fun; the new game is not a rip-off; and you give them a reason to try it.
Whatever you do, don’t do anything to market your tables that slows the pace of play. Table game players like to play, so handing out coupons for winning hands (that need to be filled out and dropped in a drawing drum), stopping the game to hand out bonus chips or just “sending a player over to the players club to get signed up for the loyalty program” will not produce loyalty, only aggravation.
Pay attention to the Guiding Principles of Table Game Marketing to be a more effective guest-focused marketer. Then we can talk slots.