Inspired by Seth Godin’s Marketing Seminar, Lee Davy shares his thoughts on the needs and wants of online poker players.
I used to wake up at the crack of dawn, and play four tables of Rush Poker before driving into work for 12-hours of drudgery.
How times change.
These days, I wake up at the crack of dawn and feed my nine-month-old daughter before sitting in my office writing things like this.
I liked playing Rush Poker.
I love feeding my daughter.
Nine-month-old children are relatively easy to feed. Yes, they get more up their nose than in their mouth if you are practising baby led feeding, but when it comes to choice, there is no menu. She eats anything, including doormats drenched in cat urine, cheap detergent, and Brussel sprouts.
In time, she will become more complicated. The marketers of the world will bombard her with 10,000 subliminal messages per day, and she will go from being uncomplicated to a living nightmare.
And one day, she will wake up at the crack of dawn and may decide to play four tables of Rush Poker.
It depends on her needs.
It depends on her wants.
And I have been thinking about needs and wants as I plod through Seth Godin’s Marketing Seminar (The best $500 bucks I have ever spent), thinking about how they apply to poker.
What do People Want?
Slipping their snapshot of the world underneath the cellophane of some else’s photo album is a mistake inexperienced marketers make. Marketing is not a violin concerto. Think of it more like an orchestra, with everyone playing a different instrument.
And don’t ask people what instrument they want to play.
They don’t have a clue.
Even those who believe they know what they want bury the treasure underneath layers and layers of subtlety. If you operate an online poker room and someone turns up to play on your site just because you run an online poker room, then you are in trouble.
Someone will come along and offer the same thing, and then, if you don’t have a point of differentiation aligning with the needs and wants of your customers, then price becomes king, and in poker, the rake is the price.
But, nobody cares about the rake.
They say they do, but they don’t.
If someone created an online poker room that was trustworthy, put the wants and needs of their customer ahead of EBITDA, whose liquidity ensured life-changing money, and whose game selection and type allowed the money of the weaker players to last longer, then you wouldn’t care one iota about the rake.
As Seth Godin says:
“Price is the last refuge of a marketer who can’t figure out how to move up the hierarchy of what people need and want.”
No More Surveys Please
Last week I wrote an article called PokerStars join Discord; Eric Hollreiser Features in AMA.
Have a read.
It was a decision that the poker media treated like an unrepaired leak. Ignored by everyone except the in-house PokerStars blogging team, and yet I think it’s going to turn out to be as revolutionary as 888Poker’s decision to introduce shot clocks in 888Live events.
How often have PokerStars made changes to changes, after receiving feedback from players, leaving you wondering why on earth they didn’t understand the needs and wants of their players in the first place?
The answer was always:
“Our survey results showed…”
Forget survey results.
They don’t tell you shit because people don’t know what they want or what they need.
What PokerStars need is a way to observe, and listen to their customers, living. It’s important to hear what they have to say about poker, but that only gets you to the wants. The gold is in the needs and to find those you need to know that one of your players gets up at the crack of dawn to play Rush Poker because he is ashamed, believing he plays too much, and doesn’t want his wife to know.
I am unsure about the inner workings of Discord. From what I can gather it’s a voice and text chat space create so gamers can interact when they play. I am not sure if PokerStars can see these conversations, but if they can, it’s perfect.
In the past, the online poker rooms have tried to hang out where their prospective and current customers hang out, and this primarily led them to open up discussion channels on other people’s forums.
It has been a disaster.
If you don’t control the culture of a forum, then it can be disastrous for your brand image, as PokerStars found out during the Supernova Elite changes.
The best way to understand needs and wants is to create a community forum that imbues the culture you want to flow throughout your company. You cannot be all things to all people. But just like 888Poker has declared to poker players, if you want to play an event where there is no stalling then come to an 888Live event you can position yourself to serve the ones who want and need the same things as you.
Eric Hollreiser’s appearance in the Discord AMA is a step towards rebuilding tarnished trust. Now, I would like to see them, and every other online poker room, become even more synergistic with their customers, by creating a truly vibrant and rocking culture where needs and wants are discussed on a daily basis without people even knowing they are doing so.
Create a bloody forum.
Control the culture of that forum.
Now, that’s enough rambling from me; I have to clean the Tahini from my nine-month old’s ear, and take her to her Sing & Sign class; a place where like-minded people converge to discuss the needs and wants of mothers, fathers, and children, where I am hoping poker passes as one or the other.