The Business of Connecting Players to What They Like to Do
Marie Kondo has taken talk shows, Kindle, and YouTube by storm. From her toddler years through to her adult life, she has been obsessive about the art of tidying. My father’s form of tidying was to align magazines on the coffee table to achieve a look of order. Extraneous items would be “processed”: meaning unceremoniously thrown out. As a teenager, I knew I’d lose an item if it were left unattended. Conversely, Kondo’s tidying ethic reaches further. It outlines a means to evaluate what is kept, provides a method of discarding items, introduces a science to folding and putting away, and reveals a refreshing approach to how we acquire and face the results of our excess.
Learning to discard
The first step using the KonMari method is to take everything from the entire house in a given category and spread it out on the floor. Picture pulling all of your coats, jackets, and sweaters from every closet and storage box and spreading them out in one place. Kondo directs her reader to hold each item. If it brings the owner joy, keep it. If there is a hesitation, discard it. Even if there are issues of guilt or potential utility, the item must go if it doesn’t spark an immediate positive reaction.
Think about how this could affect your Direct Marketing program. There is undoubtedly utility in every piece of mail, email, or other entreaty that you prepare and send. However, each piece was most likely created with siloed thinking. You send an offer in the mail. You expect to drive a response. But have you ever evaluated each piece as part of a continuum of customer satisfaction? Does each piece follow a thread of communication and engagement that makes sense? Or, was the item an impulse communication for a short-term result? Per the KonMari method, does each piece give your player joy?
Practicing respect for your collection of items
Unbeknownst to me, there is a science to folding clothes. Marie Kondo has countless videos online that demonstrate how she insists on putting each shirt, each sock, each pant on end so that she can see all her available choices when she opens a drawer. She takes great pride in the touch and feel of each item. She cherishes everything she has painstakingly decided to keep. It sounds crazy, but she thanks each item as she stows it away at the end of the day. And when the utility of a book or a pair of jeans has come to an end, she thanks it and lets it go.
So too is there a timeline to each communication and promotion within a direct marketing program. Take a long look at each section of your monthly mailer. Do you carve out each page as if each block were a priceless piece of real estate? Do you ask yourself whether each phrase is entertaining, educational, or informative? Do you stand back and see if all the pieces come together as a whole? Do you ask yourself whether the player feels closer to the casino and its brand after digesting the piece? Monthly, we have a chance to connect with customers. Rarely does the monthly mailer do this as an extension of our brand or as an expression of the property’s unique personality.
Protecting ourselves from accumulating to excess
The third step in the tidying process is to develop a better eye for clutter before it begins. We want to protect the serenity we have fought so hard to achieve.
There is a novelty in incorporating new gadgets, but is it a natural fit along the path of the player? Does it enhance the customer relationship? Before adding a new mailer, sending another text, or recycling a banner ad into a section of a direct mail piece, ask yourself whether the words fit the message. Does it empower the guest to connect more with your property?
Going forward, once you have cleared out unnecessary and kneejerk forms of communication, consider re-architecting your omnichannel communications plan along distinct customer pathways. From Acquisition to Retention and through Reactivation, re-evaluate how often you communicate using what method. For every offer and message, there should be a placeholder. For every milestone in the relationship, there should be a touch point. Walk the complete path of the customer. You may not need an offer or a mail piece for every step. Reserve slots for added messaging and promotions if you need to respond to competitive threats or motivate stronger sales. Tidying your direct marketing program means mapping out what is necessary, what makes sense amidst your existing touch points, and what furthers the connection with the player.
Marie Kondo emphasizes that happiness comes from surrounding oneself with things that give a person joy. This requires fortitude in deciding what to discard and what to keep. As direct marketers, we are not in the business of selling our loyalty programs. We are not in the business of selling a car promotion, a tchotchke, or a cash bonus. We are not in the business of buying the next visit. We are in the business of connecting players to what they like to do and recognizing the value of the experiences that we have shared. Putting our direct marketing house in order aims to add continuity to our communications and our offers amidst the clutter and confusion that exists.