Boots on the Ground Marketing

Boots Jumping

Small Casino? Satellite Locations? Limited Resources? Q and A with Janet Hawk

Janet Hawk

Janet will be the first to tell you that she credits so much of her successful gaming career to some tough sons of bitches that broke her in when she started in Las Vegas. The opportunities and lessons she got and her willingness to try everything. And what refined her skills she owes to her customers – from the demands of a group of WWII airmen to Katrina survivors – never being so rigid to not think outside the box.

Her career has taken her to Colorado, Oklahoma, and Mississippi, before joining Raving as a Partner in 2015. Some of her accomplishments include: being a key player in creating and implementing the very first slot tournament in Colorado, as well as implementing a new Player Development and Comp Program for Chickasaw Nation, which is still in use to this day.

She’s Raving’s secret weapon when it comes to helping gaming properties that:

  1. Have a shoestring marketing budget.
  2. Have several satellite locations with little or no central command.
  3. Have a young or inexperienced staff that needs a tough S.O.B. to show them the ropes. (Okay, she’s really not that way.)
  4. Are small in size, with limited amenities.

Q: Janet, when working with casinos that have very limited marketing budgets, what are the key areas of opportunities that you look for?

The first area that I look at is guest service. Is there a guest service philosophy and is it consistent throughout the property? For any guest service program to be successful, there must be buy-in across the board. Exemplary guest service is where a small property (any property, really) can get the most bang for the buck because every employee is a part of your sales team. The secret? Guests will go where they are appreciated. Your guests will then become your best marketing tool. So many underestimate just how important and vital consistent guest service can be. I’ve worked with small properties surrounded by resort-style “big dogs,” and we have succeeded in the market because of guest service.

Next, is analyzing the database. Most smaller properties don’t have a dedicated analysis team, and many times I have found that they have never looked at their database with an eye on true growth (because no one has ever taught them how). Analysis is the fuel for all of your marketing efforts. All marketing efforts should be targeted and focused, using the four basic marketing strategies: Acquisition, Retention, Growth and Reactivation. The analysis will help evaluate a guest’s total worth by weighted values and the following criteria: Recency, Frequency and Monetary Value. This information helps identify potential “sweet spots” and variables that can potentially increase revenue.

Finally, I look at promotions and direct mail programs. By utilizing the knowledge obtained from the analysis of your database, you can determine the best way to leverage that information for your promotions – making them focused, targeted, measurable and, ultimately, more profitable. What promotions are they doing and what are they trying to accomplish? Do the promotions make sense when looking at not only the market that they are in, but also with the information derived from the database? Direct mail programs are essential and will give you the best ROI of most marketing programs when focused on specific marketing strategies such as acquisition, retention and reactivation. Having a quality “mail partner” – one that understands these strategies and will work with you toward that goal – is key to your success. You can’t just throw free play at everything and call it good. You have to be targeted in your intentions. Without it, you will create an atmosphere of expectation with your guests. This can grow into a big problem and make your marketing efforts ineffective. For more information, read my article on Building Better Promotions.

Q: When you get hired by a casino that needs to bring up talented yet inexperienced staff, where do you start? Or if you are looking to identify talent, how do you do that?

I start with getting to know the team as a whole and individually. This may take time, but it is critical. I need to see where they are coming from and how each person fits into the team as a whole. I don’t really want to know what the boss’s opinion is of them; I would rather come in with a somewhat clean slate so I can evaluate their strengths and weaknesses, as well as the individual personalities, more effectively. I have seen many properties where the team has great potential, but because of a few personality conflicts (sometimes with an inexperienced manager), they are not succeeding. Once I have done this, it is easier to see their strengths, if anyone needs some additional attention or training, or who isn’t a good fit. This is especially crucial in Player Development. I have seen too many times management promote someone to PD because they seem “nice.” Nice people are great, but not always the person you want as a part of an elite sales team. See my article on Common Mistakes By New PD Managers.

Q: You’ve done work with organizations that have slot routes (i.e. at convenience marts and gas stations) and some with multiple small locations. How do you set up efficiencies?

While marketing strategies may be different depending on the individual market of each property, the foundation of policies, procedures and overall philosophy of the company needs to be clear and consistent. I create templates and processes for these types of things and, in some cases, create a central file located online so everyone has access. This also helps communication efforts, which almost always leads to improvement.

Q: Properties that have few amenities, how do you maximize what they do have?

Trust me – you don’t have to be a mega destination casino resort (or even a mid-sized one!) to offer your guests a memorable experience. All of those bells and whistles are great, but often, those types of amenities aren’t even what your guests are looking for! This question deserves an entire article, so please read No Amenities … No Problem! 5 Unique Ways to Win Over Guests.

Janet Hawk