Are Your Marketing Efforts Relationship-building, or the Pursuit of Short-term Gain?

Dangling Carrot

Looking at manipulation, incentive dangling, and engagement

What do we really do as marketers? We spend our time mentally running back and forth between the customer and our product, translating wants and needs and capabilities.

Take a look at the following words to evaluate your intentions:Loyalty marketing complicates our intentions. Are we truly building a relationship with our customer for a longer time period? Or, are we trying to close the next trip?

1. Are we seeking to manipulate the customer?

Data can tell us how we make our money. Worth segmentation can flag who gives us the most compelling chunks of revenue. We can add complexity by adding predictive analytics to the story. What we do with this information can quickly distance us from the customer experience. Manipulation sours a relationship when we solely segment and dole out a reward based upon what the numbers tell us. Case in point, if a larger Free Play coupon is dangled in front of an inactive customer, our intent is for the customer to return to the property. If the player plays, we drop them back into our monthly program. Their Free Play coupons drop. By answering our entreaty, we have punished our player with false expectations. When we manipulate, the results look great. The inactive customer has been reactivated. But what happens thereafter? Is this relationship building, or the pursuit of short-term gain?

2. Are we seeking to incent the customer?

The size of Free Play coupons is always a question. Are we rewarding the player based upon past play? This means that the one-day, $250 ADT player gets the same coupon as the ten-day, $250 total-monthly player. That’s equitable. But is that an incentive? In our efforts to be equitable to the highly frequent player, have we driven growth or retroactively made things equal? Equity is not an incentive. An incentive motivates behavior. Free Play coupons that are too big or misplaced create entitlement. Free Play coupons that are too small fall flat. Free Play coupons that are enough to get a customer off the couch and prompt them to use their card for a few introductory spins make sense. In all cases, just make sure that the carrot doesn’t make the meal.

3. Are we looking to engage the customer?

We really are in the community building business. Just as you have a mission statement and vision statement for your employees, so too, can you have a greater vision for your customers. When a player chooses your casino over another, what does that say about who she is? Are you willing to pose a question to your customer as a friend, and are you willing to field the response? This is not a question about whether or not they like the new carpet in your newly remodeled foyer. This is a question about what new dessert she would rather have added to the buffet. This is about what the craziest thing was that he ever spent a jackpot on. This is about inviting your players to join your employees the next time your casino volunteers for Habitat for Humanity. Engaging the customer respects them as a friend who lives in the neighborhood.

All marketing efforts take on a combination of manipulation, incentive dangling, and engagement. It is the responsibility of the marketer to analyze the data that reflects the past, to make the most of the touch point in the moment, and to follow the impact afterward. The relationship is a trustworthy one if there is continuity of intention that is genuine.

Nicole Barker