Casino Direct Mail: Competing on Experience or Price?


Some brands chose to compete on experience while others compete on price. Given the two options why would you pick price?

One of our first clients was a database marketing specialist. Through working with them, we were afforded the opportunity to talk to marketers about how to identify the people in their database that have more value than the past purchases tell them as well as those who may be at the end of their lifetime value. These conversations have always been about reinvestment and the offers they should be making.

Casino Direct Mail

Casino marketers have a way of looking at their mail programs in a variety of ways. Some call them “core mailers”. Some refer to them as the “monthly newsletter”. Interestingly, news is probably the lesser of the focuses of these monthly mailers. As I’ve worked on designing some of these pieces, it’s all about how to layout the offers front and center in a way that makes it easy for customers to find them, clip them and want to redeem them. I’ve sat in a number of focus groups over a variety of years and markets, and I know that the offer is what the customer is interested in. They’ve said it, “I take my coupons and throw the rest away. Then, I put my coupons on my refrigerator door.” As the one responsible for the communications platform, this has always been kind of disheartening. In addition, I think it has made me think the same way. My design directions have been totally influenced by those comments, but at some point I have to ask if it was the chicken or the egg. Do customers just look at the offers because we designed the platform that way or did we design the platform that was intended to tell the brand story.

More Competitive Each Day

Our markets are getting more and more competitive each day either by virtue of improved entries or because the casino down the street isn’t afraid to over-invest and thus they flood the market with less than wise offers. It makes me think. It makes me wonder “Why do we continue to compete on price when we have such distinct brands and personalities?” What if we created these mailers in a way that is still easy for the customer to understand what we’ve given them, but also gives them a piece of mail that is exciting and important enough to make them want to put the whole thing up on the refrigerator rather than throwing the communications part in the garbage? What if these mailers become an actual piece of brand storytelling? As operators slowly trim away indirect expenses (i.e. advertising), this remains the single-most important vehicle we have to deliver our message.

There is no denying that this type of approach could cost more to produce. Could it influence more of your customers to choose you over your competitor even if the offers aren’t equal? What if we experience-engineered our database marketing creative rather than value-engineering it?

Start Small

Take small steps if you’re concerned about budget constraints. Instead of sending out postcards the size of the ones you get when it’s time to bring your puppy in for her shots, consider a larger size that will stand out in the pile. How about special coatings to make that invitation stand out? Think about sending a promotional item tied to the theme of your event. If your agency has a good production manager, they’ll be able to give you all sorts of ideas for shipping containers, materials to be used and printing process that add pop. If you’ve been using the same dependable mail house for years, I bet you they are dying to show you some new things that can showcase them as well as you.

Why choose to be a value engineer when you can be an experience engineer? Have some fun and ask for ideas from small to crazy. You never know what you’ll get, but it won’t be boring and the same.


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