by Frank Cotolo
Once racetrack management initiates the “partner” goal, concentrating all public relations/advertising efforts in the interest of the betting public, there is any number of things to do to maintain and make the program grow.
All efforts must be ongoing; management can never lose aim at its partners; the job is never done. The betting public — the partners — must be pampered, protected and constantly caressed; it takes time and creativity and has as many risks as a bettor may take when playing pari-mutuels.
Reality rules in the planning; beware of misleading sources… An example:
One of the greatest business fallacies of modern times can be found in the phrase “If you build it, they will come.” That it originated from two works of fiction — an unpopular book titled “Shoeless Joe” from which came a popular movie titled “Field of Dreams” (1989) — indicates how pop culture invades reality and is accepted as an adage.
The quote went viral, if you will, in the world of business and the business of self-help. It was meant, literally, to support the notion that if you create a product there is bound to be an audience that simply needs to know it exists in order to arrive at using it, no less paying for the privilege. The quote has had powerful commercial impact, having gone beyond the business translation, passed along by some as a spiritual message that more than alluded to a definition concerning a destiny.
In the racetrack-business sense, especially in the proposal of players as partners, the definition is nowhere near reality. It’s the new millennium. It’s an era when brick-and-mortar institutions are closing faster than you can text the letters “LOL”. The individual client won’t come no matter how you build “it.”
Ask any investor that spent heavily on the construction of a pari-mutuel racetrack before the digital revolution if “they came” after the world went online. Look at the graveyard of racetracks strewn across North America since the phrase began to catch on. Grand fixtures like Garden State Park, Hollywood Park and Roosevelt Raceway, to name just a few, have fallen to the bulldozers, so to speak, and everyone knew that the survival of other racetracks was not to rebuild them.
So it goes — racetrack management has to aggressively identify, appreciate and create players at their convenience. The hunt begins with the dwindling players seen on the apron and grandstand, etcetera — the regulars. Management has to put “boots on the ground,” so to speak. A publicity blanket needs to be spread with bait if needed. Offer a free item of food or beverage to anyone attending if they add their names, emails and comments to a simple form, perhaps one like this (remember that all of our suggestions are meant as examples for management to amend as necessary):
Sign up to become a member of the [track name] database and receive special attention to your individual needs as a bettor so [track name] can assist in making you profits and reducing your expenses doing so.
Do you wager at [track name] mostly . . .
[ ] on line at home
[ ] on a mobile device
[ ] at the raceway
Would you like to receive a [weekly/monthly] email newsletter with valuable offers and information for players?
[ ] yes
Initial comments: ___________________________________
Add a line promising that no information in this form or any other communication between the track and the player will ever be shared with any other individual or commercial operation.
The area where these forms are available must be monitored. Someone from management or the publicity department needs to be walking the apron and other areas where bettors hang out to pass the word that the forms are available (along with whatever is being given away). There should also be signs in areas with the most public traffic to alert players about the forms, as well as the track announcer should regularly broadcast getting the forms, the free food and using a catch phrase for the campaign.
None of the gimmicks created can be overexposed. The launch of a “players-as-partners” campaign must have all the power of a carpet-bombing attack. Though handled politely and with great respect for the audience, any and all means of attracting them to track management’s sincerity about joining forces with them is imperative.
It may take a while, but once the regular crowd signs off on the concept, the track will have invaluable information and the foundation for doing more work to secure its most important elements — the players — and work to create more, even new customers.
More every month on the pari-mutuel partner revolution.