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Ozark Is a Worthy Binge-Watch With a Pointed Message on Trust

Ozark Is a Worthy Binge-Watch With a Pointed Message on Trust

“It’s so hard doing business when you can’t trust anyone.” – Martin Byrde (Ozark)

As Ringo once said, lend me your ear, and I’ll sing you a song. Well, in this case, not so much a song as a story about trust, truth, and consequences. Granted, that might sound a touch foreboding at first glance but, scout’s honor, there’s a lesson to be learned here for the casino industry so indulge me for a moment, and I'll try not to sing out of key.

One of my favorite shows is Ozark, a binge-worthy drama that exists somewhere between Breaking Bad and Parenthood on my highly subjective Internal Thematic Scale. And, yes, I just made up that term, but it sounds great and fits nicely. Anyway, Ozark stars Jason Bateman as Martin Byrde, a money laundering financial advisor with some dark secrets and skewed motivations that, suffice it to say, leaves his Hogan’s Family persona in a dust trail about 20 miles behind a speeding car.

As the story hurls itself across a series of twists and turns that will leave you equal parts exhausted and exhilarated, a common theme slowly starts to reveal itself -- trust. That docile little word permeates every aspect of the show and, perhaps even more importantly, Ozark pulls no punches in portraying the dire consequences when that sense of trust erodes. As the show so poetically demonstrates, trust is an essential building block for all aspects of life, the casino industry very much included.

Trust Breeds Enduring Success

As we’ve discussed before in Gary Border’s article, The Trust Factor plays an absolutely critical role in determining the ultimate success or failure of a casino brand. The consuming public is already weary and punch-drunk from a constant barrage of messaging coming from all angles and at all hours, particularly when brands have failed to meet expectations and fulfill promises.

Whether a casino is aware of it or not, their relationship with the target audience relies on trust in a seemingly endless number of ways, ranging from the subtle and mundane to the obvious and critical. For example, just look at a guest’s journey and experience while staying at a casino and the expectations that determine the trust they feel towards the brand. Between check-in, the room itself, time on the floor, and the overall experience, there are many points where a casino can fail to exude reliability, safety, and accountability. Any bump in the road can make trust disappear like lobster tails at the buffet -- fast and without warning.

Of course, a brand’s marketing messages through mobile apps, inbound marketing, and any other channels it might employ must also be reliable and authentic, once again requiring trust to make them engaging and healthy for ROI. Lackluster branding, comps and offers that go unfulfilled, and an unfocused, imprecise voice might as well be the ticket that sends guests to the competition down the street.

So What’s a Casino to Do?

The good news, however, is that all is not lost -- far from it. Casinos have the power to instill trust within their grasp but, as always, must reach out and grab it to leverage its benefits. Aside from the obvious like clean rooms, a friendly and safe environment, and ample tables and machines, a casino’s marketing strategy can be instrumental in developing trust.

Have a distinct voice and tone across all of your marketing channels, breeding familiarity and comfort throughout your message. Everything needs to work in a highly coordinated manner where one hand always knows what the other is doing. Mobile apps, websites, and social media channels need to relay the same promotions, speak the same language, and be simple yet powerful in their delivery.

From an operations perspective, utilize CRM software to establish consistency and an organized approach, knowing which particular guests received specific push notifications, emails, or messages. Likewise, use CRM to build on the ever-important guest profiles to continually expand your understanding of your target audience, the affinities that drive their decision-making, and the customer personas that will refine your marketing well into the future.

Long story short, as Martin Byrde in Ozark would readily attest, the biggest hurdle in developing trust is avoiding situations and circumstances that destroy it in the first place. Don’t burn bridges for short-term gain as it will inevitably damage long-term success. Most importantly, casinos must have a distinct, authentic, and trustworthy voice throughout their messaging, one that both informs and engages. As anyone that watches Ozark would say, mistakes and missteps will follow you like a shadow, no matter where you might try to hide. With almost no margin for error, casinos shouldn't make those same mistakes.

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