Since he was a child, John Policicchio, the new senior vice president of marketing at MotorCity Casino Hotel, has been enamored with the gaming industry he grew up seeing in casino movies. While this nostalgia may have had a part in jump-starting his career in the gaming industry, Policicchio quickly learned how data-rich the industry is, and the sheer amount of information that is available when making decisions.
“There is a lot of data that helps when making business decisions on a monthly basis, which keeps it really interesting all the time,” he says.
In Policicchio’s opinion, the marketing department has its own set of challenges within the gaming industry.
“You’re trying to always do more with every dollar of your promotional offers to maximize the impact on the bottom line,” he says. “There’s a bucket of promotion types that you can run, but you want to try and keep it compelling for your players while actually being able to execute.”
This becomes challenging, because it is not practical to change entire marketing strategies on a monthly basis. For example, from a regulatory standpoint, once you have figured out what you want to do, promotions must be submitted 30 to 60 days before they can actually come to fruition.
As experienced by many up-and-coming executives, Policicchio’s biggest career challenge to date was figuring out his personal leadership style.
“You realize this is the type of leader that I am; this is how I want to balance being personable and friendly and helping my team grow, while making the right decisions for the business and making sure everyone is doing what they need to,” Policicchio says.
In addition to one’s overall style, Policicchio believes it is also important to understand that everyone is different and, as such, “everyone has their own strengths, weaknesses and, most importantly, unique needs, etc., and figuring this out was probably the most challenging, but also the most rewarding thing for me.”
Policicchio’s entrance into the gaming industry came when Jenny Holaday, now president of MotorCity, hired him as a digital marketing manager in May 2010. Holaday has become the most influential mentor in Policicchio’s career by taking him under her wing and advising him on the additional talents and skills needed to excel in his career.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today without Jenny’s mentoring, support and, what I appreciate most, her time,” Policicchio says. “Honestly, I would put ‘find an executive champion’ pretty high on the list of things you should do to advance your career.”
Policicchio’s advice to other emerging leaders in the gaming industry is to be comfortable in understanding your abilities, which includes knowing when to admit you do not know something.
“When you don’t know something, you say ‘I don’t know,’” he says. “It’s pretty straightforward, but it’s a lot better than trying to make something up on the spot or trying to make yourself sound like you know something that you don’t. Just say ‘I don’t know, and I’m on it.’” Additionally, he suggests keeping an open mind and not accepting industry trends and practices simply because they have worked in the past.
Moving forward, Policicchio is curious to see how the market performs in terms of growth, both in the gaming industry and in the city itself. There’s a new hockey arena being built in Detroit, surrounded by an entirely new entertainment district, right down the street from MotorCity Casino Hotel. “Over the past year or two,” says
Policicchio, “Detroit has been on the upswing, and the local gaming market has been improving. I’m really excited to see what’s going to happen in the next couple of years.”