Jump or get pushed?
How to lessen turnover in the marketing arena
I have never seen any statistics on turnover rates for executives in the gaming industry. There probably are some executive search firms that specialize in the casino biz that could shed light on this matter and how it compares to other industries. But based on the casino company contact database that my company updates every few months, I do believe that turnover among senior marketing executives in the gaming industry is inordinately high. Heck, some of my best marketing friends and associates in gaming change jobs and companies every couple of years or so.
Some might argue this high marketing turnover rate is a good thing, you know, to keep marketing fresh with new ideas from new people. But I’m not buying it. Except for situations where an unskilled or ineffective casino marketing executive really needs to move on, I believe that high marketing turnover causes mostly increased organizational costs and decreased organizational efficiency.
If I am right about this (no matter what the variety of reasons behind it are), then I think it would be a worthwhile discussion to have on what could be done to minimize the early departure of otherwise talented senior casino marketing executives, whether it happens as a firing, or as a quitting in frustration, or for a marginally better marketing job.
So from this consultant’s chair, here are some thoughts on how to reduce turnover in the executive marketing ranks of the gaming industry:
When Hiring a Senior Casino Marketing Executive, Clearly Articulate What Skills and Experience You are Looking For – the best way to reduce executive turnover is to hire better in the first place. And from my experience, casino organizations don’t always make it abundantly clear exactly what they want. Is experience in Player Development essential? Is it expected that the Senior “Marketing Exec To-Be” have numerous skills in database advertising, social media, casino promotions, research and the like, or does your casino really think a couple of these skill sets are the most important for your competitive circumstances? And are you interested in quality candidates from other industries, or is gaming marketing experience the only thing you are looking for? I have seen a number of really smart, eager, non-gaming marketers struggle (and soon leave) because the Head Honcho never really fully believed such a “newbie” could ever understand the gaming biz.
Have Clear and Measurable Goals for Senior Marketing Leaders and Don’t Micromanage – this sounds pretty elementary, but I have seen many situations where an organization didn’t clearly articulate what success would look like for a Marketing Leader, or changed those goals over time based on the perception of those with the “biggest sticks” or just had the CFO hand the Marketing Leader a budget they were expected to follow religiously, with no opportunity for input or flexibility. Sure-fired ways to get Marketing Execs walking out the door prematurely.
Have a Process to Get All Senior Executives on the Same Page About What is Effective Casino Marketing – I have seen this a lot. The GM believes in heavy-duty brand advertising. The next GM believes in aggressive database marketing. The slot VP believes in showering slot players with free play coupons. You think a senior property marketing leader doesn’t get whip-sawed by all these various preferences and beliefs? It would be money well spent to get an entire executive team in a room together and agree on a strategic marketing plan, in which all had input, a consensus was reached and everyone left the process arm in arm, walking to the same drummer.
For Casino Companies New to Gaming, Get Some Solid Training for All of Your Marketing Leadership. Marketing (or casino operations for that matter) is not rocket science and does revolve around some basic marketing principles and best practices. And there are several places where your marketing team, whether experienced or not, can learn them or enhance them. Pay attention to this professional development and I’ll bet your good marketing execs will get better, and probably stay longer.
Make Marketers and Regulators be Best Friends. We all know casinos are highly regulated, that’s probably a good thing. But the tension that usually exists between regulators and marketers is not productive. They need each other, so get them together having coffee. You’ll help lessen some of the frustration that makes marketers exit or regulators stiffen their necks.
If you want to lessen turnover in the marketing arena, pay attention to what is making these leaders jump or get pushed. And you might try asking them a simple question, “What do you need to do your job better or help our property be more successful?” They may just stick around to show you.