Casino Marketing Direct Mail Campaigns

I often have people ask “What is the best Casino Marketing Direct Mail Campaign?”.

There really is no easy secret formula or special tricks for getting the most impact out of a mailing. The best direct mail campaign is simply the one that gets maximum results for the lowest cost. In determining what will work best for each customer, the marketing professional must ascertain what the customer wishes to accomplish, whom the customer wants to communicate with, what the incentive is for the recipient to respond, determining a strong call to action, and producing the project in a cost-effective and efficient manner. It is crucial that the mailer takes advantage of the lowest postage rates available – as postage is often the most expensive aspect of the project.

The next question is: “How do I know I am maximizing my direct marketing efforts?”

This is where the experience pays off. Seasoned marketing professionals will seek out the mail marketers who are innovative, versed on postal rules and regulations, and focused on getting maximum results for their customers. Companies such as CSG Direct are in high demand due to the experience and innovation that they bring to the direct marketing industry.

While many printers and small mail shops may have the ability to put an address on a mail-piece, they do not have the ability to track delivery. They cannot ascertain the “in-home” timelines, analyze the market penetration, or track results in a comprehensive manner. Less experienced mailers do not have strong quality control systems in place, MQC Certified employees, expert data programmers on staff or the systems to expedite the projects efficiently.

This is nearly always followed by: “What type of direct mail piece is most effective?”

Once again: This is determined by the type of results that the customer expects, the type of offer that is being presented, and the demographic that is being pursued. One wouldn’t send a postcard as a high-end wedding invitation….however, they might send a “save-the-date” card prior to sending out the formal invitations.

This is the type of strategy that often increases results. Sometimes a postcard with coupons is the most effective, low cost medium for specific campaigns. Sometimes a personalized letter makes more sense, and can easily be tailored to the individual’s interests or purchasing traits. Self-mailers are often a great alternative, especially if one desires a lot of “real-estate” to get their message across. The type of mail-piece will vary with each project, and should be determined by demographic, content and end strategy.

Marketers should realize that a direct mail campaign is exactly as it sounds: a campaign. A single mailing is not a true campaign. In most cases, it makes more sense to mail to one-third of your top prospects three times than to mail to all of your prospects a single time. Repetition is the key to any campaign. With proper planning and implementation, the cost for a multi-tiered mailing campaign is very reasonable. With a strong offer, proper incentive and an effective call to action…your customers and prospects will react in a positive and timely manner.

In summation: Too often individuals plan, ponder, partially develop and ponder some more about their marketing campaigns. It is a “ready – set – wait” scenario. As the event or promotion draws closer, they are forced to react. At this point the campaign is pushed out late and valuable time is lost. Early planning and implementation will make for a smoother campaign. It is no coincidence that in most cases, the well planned campaigns are the most effective campaigns.

By approaching the objective ahead of time and applying a plan – develop – implement” strategy, your mailings will be received by your potential customers in a much more timely and effective manner. By working with an experienced, competent mail shop – you will have the proper tools to analyze your campaign (and you will sleep better at night).

Effective direct mail marketing….it’s as easy as C-S-G!

Does Direct Mail Experience Matter?

During difficult economic times, I find that the marketing professionals that I work with are more price-conscious than ever. Budgets are slashed, staff is reduced and expectations on marketing teams are raised. How do you do more with less?

Well, first of all you want to partner with a team that has A LOT of experience in dealing with direct mail marketing. Direct mail is the most targeted and trackable form of advertising. Savvy marketers have learned that having experienced vendors/partners is crucial when budgets are tight.

The anguish of having a budget overrun due to postage upcharges or undeliverable mail is an experience that has destroyed more than one career. One needs to analyze the true value of experience and leadership in their marketing campaigns.

You wouldn’t hire an attorney or surgeon based on price. The end results are just too important. The same philosophy holds true on your marketing – the lifeblood of your company. A vendor who is less than qualified to properly assess, critique (really), analyze, and process your mail probably is not going to save you any money on your overall campaigns.

A Direct Mail specialist, such as you will find at CSG Direct; is trained and versed on postal regulations, design elements, USPS rules and regulation changes, and targeted marketing strategies. Our staff of fully certified USPS MQC (Mailpiece Quality Control) specialists often find design elements, size constraints or data problems that would get past the most experienced of mail shops.

We also offer creative solutions to save our customers money on production and postage rates, which sometimes makes an individual project less profitable for us… but we are here as a partner, for the long haul. Your projects deserve the experience and expertise that comes from seasoned mail professionals.

Let your competitors work with the inexperienced, fly by night companies while you shop for a company that makes you shine.

You will look better for two reasons:

#1) Your campaigns are effective because you found the true value of experience and expertise. The mailings are dropped in an efficient and timely manner to the intended recipients. You can track your mail through the mail stream (a CSG Direct exclusive) to identify when your target markets are receiving their mailings. You have confidence that your projects stay within budget, and are offered the tools to fully justify the mailing.

#2) You sleep well at night because you know you are working with detail oriented partners who care about your success and are certified in every avenue as meticulous professionals.

The next time you plan a mailing campaign, take a moment to reflect on who you are working with. Are you getting true value?

Are you comfortable with the experience level of your direct mail partner? Are you taking advantage of all of the benefits of a great response and postal discounts that are available?

Either way, get a quote from us so you can compare your vendors to the benchmark in direct mail. You deserve a good nights sleep!

Mailing List Strategy

Mailing lists can be extremely complicated or very easy.  It depends on a couple of different things.  One of these is what you are trying to sell.  The other is what type of business you are.

If you are trying to open a new business or a new location, I believe the best strategy is to hit every address within a 2-5 mile radius. Your postage rate will go down significantly when you mail to every address in a neighborhood. The list is cheaper for more records (which is important in these times) and you can increase your overall ROI due to the larger area you are covering. Add “To Our Neighbors At” (which we pioneered!) and you give your mailpiece a more personal feeling.

If you are looking to target a specific group of people, then trust the experts at CSG Direct to guide you down the right path.  Whether you need to target golfers, motorcycle enthusiasts, or people interested in bingo; we can put together a great mailing list for you.  Since the data is self-reported, you know you won’t waste your valuable marketing dollars mailing to people not interested. If you can think of a list, CSG Direct can put it together for you. We can also add variable data to the piece to give the client the feeling that you know them.

Give us a call, or just shoot us an e-mail, and the experts at CSG Direct will be happy to guide you down the path to building a successful mailing list.

Mailing Services, Direct Mail Partnership

As a mailing services provider and someone who has helped set up many mailshops over the years, I regularly find a lack of honest communication. Too often I find clients want to hold back from revealing the full details of a project for fear of putting too much on the table.

For example, a client may need to sell 500 hotel rooms in the next two weeks for fear of losing their job (random example), but instead of sharing that, they just say “I need a bid on a postcard mailing”.

Pull us into your battle! Get us involved in your mission. We have decades of experience at making things happen. Engage us!

The big crime in the scenario I just described is when they end up going with the lowest bidder because that is what they are trained to do. Then the event fails. No 500 rooms, no success – no job.

The proper bid-request should be “How can I use direct mail to fill 500 rooms in two weeks?” and then let the games begin. Now you will have idea after idea flowing your way and the good vendors quickly rise to the top. You can then make an informed decision based on your ACTUAL goals.

When you build a true relationship with a direct marketing mailing services shop as opposed to a average direct mail is an add-on vendor, you will find the direct mail success you seek.

Feel free to email me if you want to talk about it more.

Intelligent Mail Barcodes

This is a new feature from the Post Office that was originally slated as a requirement starting May 2009.  So many mailshops and software vendors freaked out that the USPS has decided to delay that requirement for one more year.  The program is alive and well, however, just not yet required.

We have been using and developing systems around the Intelligent Mail barcode since January 2008 and have had extensive experience in Planet codes before that.

Have you seen our new US Mail Tracking tools?

We are ready for this and have actually lead the way.  Is your mailshop using this technology?  How many other things are coming that your current mailshop is going to wait for, before learning on your project?  Why do they put your mailings at risk as they “figure it out” near deadlines? It’s because most shops are reactive instead of proactive.

You deserve to be kept at the front of the direct mail revolution, not in the backseat.  These new systems create dynamic advantages for the people that partner with us. What if your competition is using these advanced services and you are not?  Mailing with CSG Direct ensures that you are staying at the front of the pack. 

This is another core reason to work with a company that is a mailshop first, printer second.  It just makes sense!

Direct Mail Project Tracking Online 24/7

CSG Direct has been the pioneer in online transparency for your mailings. How many times have you called to see if your mailing went out and you just knew they were stretching the truth?

Well, if you do a great job and can handle the rigors of the tight deadlines and high quality demands of the gaming industry, then why not put it all online where customers can see every step and track every detail of their project?

This is a prime example of why some mailshops will be closing. It is 2009 already.  Websites are not new.  Why is it that mailshops all over the country have not adopted this idea? Heck, we’re the data genius industry, right?  I wonder.

We have had live access for our customers since 1999.
We pioneered this idea and we haven’t stopped there.

Unfortunately, it is going to take many vendors over 10 years to catch up with all the new stuff we have coming out. Our pricing is already very competitive and we are creating the new business model – not following it.

This is all part of the industry rebirth I have been mentioning.

Casino NCOA is now Mandatory

National Change of Address is now mandatory.

Something VERY IMPORTANT to consider is that almost every mailshop in the country SENDS YOUR DATABASE OUT to have NCOA done. Yes, your mailshop does too.  In my neck of the gaming world this throws up huge red flags. A big no no.

Currently, CSG Direct is the only mailshop in the state of Nevada directly licensed by the USPS as an NCOALink Limited Service Provider.  [Link]  We have been providing this service for casinos for many years and have perfected the process to make your job of cleaning up your in-house database easier.

Of course, we specialize in database marketing and gaming.

We’ve worked closely with Oasis Systems and others to help you find ways to upload your data back into your master database and save yourself weeks of data entry.

Speed, Quality, Price – Like the Law of Gravity

There is a common industry insider expression that I wanted to share with the rest of you.  It is considered as obvious and unbreakable as the laws of gravity on our planet.

The expression poses this choice to a client:

This expression is fun to play when you realize its validity. Many vendors will promise all three and only deliver one. Most vendors aim to provide all three, only to find that competitors and customer requests prevent it. Like the law of gravity, to try and ignore the rules may be dangerous to your programs.

Some of the reasons for this are:

No low quality shop can offer the high end services of a high quality shop so they have no choice but to be cheaper.  Saving $200 on an invoice may cost you $20,000 in direct mail results.  It usually does.

Also, for any shop to move a project quickly they have to consider the option of overtime pay which is 150% of normal wages. So higher speed always makes for higher cost.

Let’s play with a few of these:

* High Quality Print – Overnight – Costs Extra

* Low Cost Print – High Quality – Takes Time

* Low Quality Print – Done Quickly – Costs Less

Anyway, it’s yours to play with and now you know an industry insider’s secret.

I have tested it myself over the years and it holds true.

If a printer tells me he will print it fast and keep the costs down – the print always shows up damaged, scored wrong or with color problems.

If a vendor promises low cost, high quality work; it always shows up 3 days late. Perhaps you’re all familiar with this one?

We at CSG Direct are focused on quality and speed and we use our high quality staff (25 MQC certified by the USPS) to identify ways to save money through intelligent programs. With high quality staff you have more high quality options.  That is how we attempt to capture all three of the above choices. But sometimes customers just don’t allow us to provide our full service and maximize this process.

Direct mail is not an industry to cut quality on, especially if you want to save money! I have seen too many low cost vendors ruin entire campaigns because they offer low prices and miss all the most important steps (maximizing every step is important.)

Direct mail is a details business. Demand quality if you want success.  We’ll help you find ways to balance cost and speed from there.  Knowing what you’re dealing with is half the battle.

Direct Mail Statistics – What I’m thankful for in 2009

We’ll It looks like we are going to make it out of 2009 alive, Direct-Mail Experiencekicking and screaming. From a mountaintop I want to yell out to the world that we made it.  I have been in direct mail since about 1987 so to say that 2009 was the most interesting year for me is not to be taken lightly.

The economic downturn of 2009 was like a sucker punch to the entire business world so we were by no means alone. But after a record growth in 2008 it was a much sharper decline for us since our eyes were completely in investment mode at the time.

I feel Thankful and blessed for the whole experience but I’ll get to that shortly.

You see we have a very unique direct mail business that has grown very rapidly due to our very distinct skillsets and driving passion.  Not only do we have 6-10 very unique service offerings for our industry but we also just invented some of the first US Mail Tracking Systems in 2008 for Bulk Mail in America.

Between our new systems and our almost legendary variable data print driven database marketing; we have been booming for the last decade.  We truly thought we were invincible.

We’ll as  I said in the opener, I am just happy to have survived this year. We are much more grounded thanks to the 2009.

That is a blessing actually! We have always been humble hardworking servants to our clients and smiled every day that a client gave us a goal or a technical challenge for us to beat and shine for them. We really have been thrown back to our roots this year.  This is a very big blessing.

Actually I think that is the most interesting part of our entire business struggle and economic transition in 2009.  Like a Laser we were forced to cut every wasted marketing dollar and every non-productive personnel. We were forced to decide what was working for us and our customers and what was pride and indulgence.

We were forced into becoming one of the most productive and cost effective muscle-bound bull dog, strong, tight, lean and fast companies we could ever hope to be. Our marketing has never been so dollar-wise and never has it been this effective either.

For this I am so very truly thankful.

So what’s next?Mailing Services

I have to tell you I still have so many ideas and plans for 2010. My first and foremost goal is to show my employees and my customers how much we appreciate them.  Not by giving free money and 12 months off; but by showing them I see their hard work and give raises to those that have proven they are truly part of my core team. A Blessing like this is to be shared. (wwjd).

I want to continue to invest in them as they have invested in “us”.

Sure, I have equipment I want to buy and people I would like to hire for growth but that is not the most important thing.  The most important thing to do is help my customers and employees reach their personal goals and help them get back on their feet. We have stopped the losses that plagued us in 2009. Now, our growth strategy is to invest in our teams and our customers.

If any of you reading this need help with your direct mail project to help get that extra bang or response; just let me know.  Do you need someone to help you sponsor an event or an event mailer?  Let me know!  If you need someone to help you work your special event to keep your costs down…  Let me know!

We are all here to help with every ounce of effort we can provide.
YOUR SUCCESS IS OUR SUCCESS and I live to prove that 365 days per year.

Direct-Mail Awards

I’m writing this under the headline “Direct Mail Statistics” because I do think this represents a slice of statistics for us all in the direct mail field in 2009.

Direct Mail Marketing Strategies (2 of 5)

I don’t care how clever you think you are there is no intelligent way to send 1 broad message to appeal to everyone in your database marketing equally.

Sure, people have been broadcasting single messages through all forms of media since the beginning of time but that doesn’t make it right. If you’re going to be lazy you will get lazy results.

Strategy #2) Segment Your Mailing List into groupsDatabase Marketing

You would be surprised how you change your offers and promotions just based on what you see in your database. I highly recommend that every marketing manager look into your database personally so you know what you’re working with. As you are digging through your database ask yourself these questions:

  • How many are female?
  • How many are male?
  • What are the age groups in our data?
  • How many of these are “locals”?
  • How many are from out of town?
  • Which groups spend the most?
  • Which groups visit us the most?
  • What are the 5 most popular purchases?
  • What are the 5 most profitable purchases?
  • Who is making these purchases?

This should be the consideration you make before you do any form of direct marketing.  Why? Because you can do this with direct mail and you cannot do with the rest of your marketing budget.  Because it will get you better results!

Once you have your database segmented into 3-5 different groups you need to create offers that directly appeal to each group. Spend time talking to people in those groups about what they really want and what would get them to buy again.  Then plan your marketing to that group accordingly.  Do this with each group you plan to market too.

I know this sounds obvious, pretty logical and a no-brainer but I cannot tell you how many people just swing from the hip. When you are busy and short handed it is easy to just blast something generic out and hope for the best.  In this case it would be best to just identify 1 group and design your campaign around that group directly instead of sending the same offer to 5 groups.

Direct Mail Marketing

If you do not have enough data in your database to break it into segments we can append data from other consumer databases to yours for you. This dynamically changes what you know about your customers and helps you target your direct marketing correctly.