A few words on the importance of ‘location’ within a brand story as PokerStars prepare to roll out the changes at the upcoming European Poker Tour pit stop in Monte Carlo.
Bill Perkins. Now, there’s a man who has his shit together. Tall, handsome, immaculate bone structure, a mass of finely tuned muscles, ideas flying out of his ears sprinkling feelgood juice on anyone within spitting range. Evidence that money can buy you an excellent looking birthday suit.
I’m in his apartment, asking him questions, one of which surrounds his hobby of making movies. I can’t remember the context, but I remember his response. For Perkins, making movies isn’t about making money, it’s about the love of the artform.
The more I think about it, PokerStars Live has the same feel.
PokerStars became the largest online poker room this side of my blue belly button fluff because they created the perfect online experience. The acquisition of John Duthie’s European Poker Tour (EPT) was a side gig. Yes, it fits nicely with what they are doing online, but it’s more fancy wine and cheese than bread and butter.
Take EPT Monte Carlo for example.
I’ve just finished The Fortune Cookie Principle by brand specialist Bernadette Jiwa. One of her chapters focuses on the importance of location.
“Location, though isn’t just about where you choose to do business; it’s about figuring out where your customers are.”
I don’t think they’re in Monte Carlo.
I’ve worked at EPT Monte Carlo once. I walked for miles to a little Spar so I could stock up on food and water, and stole what I could from my free breakfast bar. And it isn’t only the writers who find it difficult to survive in the land of silk scarves and stockings – the players are also a tad sensitive to spending €30 on a cheeseburger.
And yet, the EPT brand screams Monte Carlo.
At the end of Jiwa’s chapter on ‘location’ she suggests that every business should attempt to answer four questions.
Let’s give it a go.
The Four Questions
Does the location of your business fit with the rest of your brand story?
Monte Carlo is a flash joint pure and simple. It’s where people like Patrik Antonius call home, and the residents are so fucking cool they can’t be arsed to build a Formula 1 racetrack (they host the race on the main road).
PokerStars is also flash.
For as long as I can remember they have been the home of the cool gang. And until recently, all the big money flowed through their chamber pots.
Where are your customers?
Like I alluded to earlier, they aren’t in Monte Carlo.
PokerStars hosts events there for two reasons. It fits with the main story arc of the company, and it gives online satellite dreamers the opportunity to have a wet one.
How does the location of your business make customers feel?
For many, a once in a lifetime trip.
For the grinders, a pain in the arse. Too many ticks in the expense column. And yet there is ego at play here. Monte Carlo – fuck yeah!
How does your location support the rest of your business strategy?
I believe the business strategy of PokerStars is to provide experiences of a lifetime. That’s what the Players’ No-Limit Hold’em Championship (PSPC) is all about. Come rain or shine, anyone qualifying for EPT Monte Carlo will have a tale to tell no matter how deep they limp.
A New EPT Monte Carlo
PokerStars resurrected the EPT because their customers voted with their feet when they decided to put a shotgun to the head of the PokerStars Championship and pull the trigger. Live events aren’t PokerStars core business, the online realm is, but this is an integral part of the experience as it extends to that online demographic.
You send the peasants via online satellites and hope they return as kings.
Then they tell their friends about it.
“Where you choose to interact with and sell to your customers – and, more important, where they want to connect with you – must form part of your story strategy.” – Bernadette Jiwa.
PokerStars brand story has changed over time. For many years, it was to give hope to the person who wanted to be a professional poker player. Today, it’s all about providing memorable experiences, and so the EPT brand falls into that category even if it isn’t a core part of the business.
This year, things change.
There will be 39 events in all, and 27 of them will incorporate the Big Blind Ante, including the Main Event. Also, the Main Event will allow one re-entry per person (based on the cost of travelling to such a locale), and the shot clock comes into play on Day 2, the first time in EPT Main Event history.
There will be six Platinum Passes up for grabs:
EPT Monte Carlo winner
EPT Monte Carlo Day 2 Random Draw
EPT National winner
EPT National Day 2 Random Draw
Event #28 PSPC Live Satellite
A PokerStars, TV viewer.
And PokerStars is even doing something about those expensive cheeseburgers by providing players with food vouchers guaranteeing 10% off casino grub, meaning you don’t have to steal eggs and croissants from the breakfast bar which wouldn’t gelwith the classy brand story I’ve been banging on about now would it.