Tom Osiecki, advanced operations and marketing partner for Raving, is a successful casino executive with corporate, multi- and single-property management knowledge as well as marketing experience. Currently, he assists tribal and commercial casino enterprises of all sizes in building strategic marketing plans and mentoring marketing executives.

Recently, Osiecki took some time to answer a series of questions involving casino marketing department operations and strategy. What follows are some excerpts from his answers.

When it comes to planning a new promotion, can you recommend a way to stress the value of data-based decisions to upper management?

OSIECKI: If your upper management is tied to promotional plans that have existed for years, the best way to introduce data-driven decisions is the provide analysis for all programs. Start with pro- and post-formas for existing programs. If your existing programs are monotonous, they most likely lost effectiveness a long time ago. Tracing promotional analysis year over year can also help show success or weakness in promotional programs. The key to promotional success should always be ROI—tracking expenses versus revenue that captures all expenses, including taxes will help. And, always keep a focus on gaming revenue for each promotion. 

How can an operator find a brand niche during a time of expansion and growth?

OSIECKI: The key to understanding your niche is to ask the question, “What do we do better or different from the competition?” That difference will become your niche or your brand. During the time of expansion, your core brand differentiation remains your niche and continue your market on this focus. In addition, you can build anticipation for the changes coming with your expansion or growth by making that a secondary niche. 

Do you have suggestions on marketing/promotions around sports betting?

OSIECKI: Sportsbooks peak during major sports events like the Super Bowl, Final Four, World Series, World Cup, Stanley Cup Finals, etc. Sportsbook promotions can be tied to hotel packages and food and beverage. Much like promoting bars and lounges, you can tie the sportsbook to food and beverage promotions like pitchers of beer and wings. The best promotion is to tie sportsbook activity to your club to earn points and comps. This will keep the repeat visitation loyal to your property sportsbook. 

How do you get HR on board to have the marketing department either driving or participating in guest service initiatives?

OSIECKI: Guest service initiatives typically encompass the entire property team. Marketing is primarily responsible for the brand and, therefore, the brand experience. A property can have the best brand in the world, but if the execution (guest service) supporting the brand fails, the brand will serve to alienate guests. Communicating with HR the importance of marketing as the driver of brand experience is the key to HR’s understanding of marketing’s vital role in driving guest service. Guest experience and customer service are some of the most important roles in marketing. 

How do you stay flexible with promotional strategies while adhering to advertising deadlines?

OSIECKI: In the end, you control the advertising deadlines. If your strategy needs change due to competitive pressures or changes in market conditions, you should be able to revamp your advertising schedules to meet changes in promotional programs. In a perfect world, schedules can be followed. But a dynamic environment often requires that you change advertising to meet your needs. 

How much do you pay attention to psychographics versus demographics?

OSIECKI: Unless you have a strong artificial intelligence (AI) program, demographics are a more reliable source of revenue data than psychographics. There are hundreds of programs that source guests or regions of your market according to designated segments of the population such as “soccer moms.” The psychographics companies have not succeeded in tying the potential for gaming revenue to population segments with accuracy. A better route is demographics tied to gaming revenue and zip codes that are generated from your database. 

When looking at the success or failure of a promotion or perk, what is a good threshold for a minimum timeframe?

OSIECKI: Promotions that run a month are a good baseline. Promotions that carry over two months are usually undertaken when a casino believes it will save expenses by stretching out a time frame. This usually results in loss of interest by guests because promotions that run too long are difficult to maintain.