Imme Rog (CMO): 'The challenge is to surprise our clients every time again'

According to the American consultancy firm California Environmental Associates, the Postcode Lotteries are 7th in the top 20 maritime philanthropic funders for the period 2010-2016.

The new edition of MarketingTribune Magazine interviews Imme Rog, CMO Novamedia/Postcode Lotteries. She is with the Lotteries for over twenty years where she fulfilled several roles and therefore knows lottery-marketing by heart. Her focus: the customers (players). Her strategy? Keep surprising!

In the Dutch marketing trade magazine, Imme Rog talks about, among other things, how the Lotteries handle all marketing (concept & design), advertising and TVC’s in-house, the importance of charities, the (digital) future of the lotteries and the joy of winning. “We like to do everything ourselves. That’s why we have always room for young, ambitious mar-comm people who want to make the world a better place!”  

Read the original Dutch version in Marketing Tribune Magazine here.

Read the English translation of the article here below:

In spite of the coronavirus pandemic, players in the Nationale Postcode Loterij, VriendenLoterij and BankGiro Loterij (the Dutch Charity Lotteries) remained loyal in 2020. The lotteries were even able to record a nice growth figure. In marketing, an important focus is on continuing to surprise and inspire the 13 million players in now five countries. Innovation is key, both in devising original prizes and in the fulfilment that has been carried out flawlessly for 16 years in the Netherlands by the Sidekix agency.

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Imme Rog: “We combine state of the art marketing with making the world a better place.”

We talked to Imme Rog, the CMO of Novamedia/Postcode Lotteries – the company behind the lotteries – about foreign expansion, the importance of the charities, retention and growth, the digital future of lotteries, and the joy of winning. 

The Holding Nationale Goede Doelen Lotterijen consists of the Nationale Postcode Loterij, the BankGiro Loterij and the VriendenLoterij. The Postcode Lottery format is now also marketed in Great Britain, Sweden, Germany and Norway. Other countries are beckoning, such as Canada, but setting up a lottery is subject to specific licences, and therefore not easy. Together, the lotteries in the Netherlands and abroad are the third largest private donor to charity in the world, contributing €800 million annually.

The organisation supports charities – with 45% of the players’ stake in the Netherlands – that are working for a just and green world, for health and welfare, and for culture and the preservation of cultural heritage. In the Netherlands, hundreds of organisations receive a financial contribution, from Stichting AAP and Amnesty to the Nationaal Fonds Kinderhulp and more than a hundred museums. Moreover, substantial funds go to extra support, such as Food Banks and the Red Cross in this pandemic. 

Marketeer of the Year
Rog has been CMO at Novamedia since 2018, having previously held various positions in the organisation. In 2000, she joined the Charity Lotteries, where after a short period of time as Marketing Manager at the Sponsor Bingo Loterij (now the VriendenLoterij) she advanced via the position of Head of TV and Internet to Media Director, later becoming Deputy Managing Director.

In 2009, she was appointed Managing Director. In this position, she is responsible for marketing the Nationale Postcode Loterij and the VriendenLoterij and the departments Television & Events, Retention & Intelligence/Marketing Services and the Creation department. In 2011, she was rewarded for her marketing efforts with the title of ‘Marketer of the Year’.

Customer focus 
In the past 20 years of working for the Lotteries, Rog has, of course, seen many changes in the field of marketing, but one thing has never really changed and that is the focus on the customer. Imme Rog: “ We warmly welcome every new player. But our existing players deserve at least the same amount of attention.”

 “We are constantly working on the interaction between retention and growing the number of players. The more money that comes in, the better it is for the charities, of course. At present, 39% of households in the Netherlands play in the Postcode Lottery. Of course, we want more players, and we are putting a lot of energy into that, but what I think is even more important is that our existing customers are continuously happy and have a good feeling about us."

"As a marketer, I am extra focused on that. We have a separate department here that is constantly innovating, and coming up with new, surprising prizes that make people happy. Prizes that are fun, but also scalable and good for people and planet. With our prize money we create more than just a prize, we also offer new sustainable brands, such as Seepje, a detergent made from the skin of a tree fruit – a ‘sample’ opportunity. This way people get to know a sustainable detergent.” 

Competition & expansion
And that customer is becoming more and more important. Competition among lotteries is already fierce and will only increase with the imminent opening of the online gaming market in the Netherlands. That is why foreign expansion is high on Novamedia’s agenda.

Rog: “Next year, the balance of our investment will most likely be transferred to our foreign subsidiaries. In Great Britain, 4 million subscribers are already playing; in Germany and Sweden 1 million each, and in Norway 2.2% of all households. We are exploring Canada, and we would love to get started in France. But in terms of licences, it is not a done deal from a legal point of view. In Germany, we now want to step on the gas. We have our own office in Düsseldorf with 115 people and later this year we’ll be appearing on television with Marble Mania, a programme centring on marbles. That will really boost the number of players.”

Listen to your customers
But as she said, the customers in the Netherlands are not being forgotten. On the contrary, the aim is to make playing as attractive as possible, and keep it that way. Rog: “You asked about our image. When we started 30 years ago, our concept was already unique. You became a subscriber to a lottery and your proof of participation was your bank statement, which was unknown at the time. If you go to the other countries where we operate, they think they invented the postcode lottery! Do you have this in the Netherlands? they ask. That’s fantastic, isn’t it?"

"People really feel at home with us. We constantly listen to our customers. What can be better, what can be more sustainable? Is cancellation difficult? I get nothing but positive feedback from our customer service, with nine out of ten customers saying they were well served on the phone. We have already reduced the number of physical letters by 40% and we are going to optimise that even further. But I think asking people directly twice a year to play is acceptable. We like to show what we do for charities, but there are also a lot of extras such as the unique Christmas star last December, and the extra donations to the Red Cross and Food Banks. That makes people think and you can pull them over the line.”

What’s more, it’s still wonderful to dream and bring people pleasure, says Rog. “Let’s not forget that we want people to dream, too. In our latest Kanjer television commercial, we showed a group of friends imagining what they would do with a large cash prize. That’s the Lottery, too. Yes, you can win a huge amount of money, and the bigger the prize, the more people will play. That’s the way it works.“

For those who don’t win a large sum of money, there is always a variety of great prizes, ranging from BMWs to bath towels, syrup waffles, the now famous Ben&Jerry’s ice cream, and much more. As part of the innovative marketing, this already impressive prize package is constantly being improved.

Rog: “This is always a challenge for us every day. With our own in-house creatives, we are always dreaming up new initiatives, such as the BankGiro Loterij VIP card that gives you free admission to 125 museums, but also discounts on theatre performances, zoos and musicals. This is a great partnership that directly connects the goal of funding with benefits for you as a player. Another good example is our four-part Cookbook series and the card with shopping credit for local businesses, which is an initiative to help entrepreneurs in these difficult times. With this card, winners could spend a certain amount of money at a local business.” 

One of her dreams is that in the near future a play along will be possible via the TV screen in your living room - a sort of gamification of the lottery that makes playing more dynamic and surprising. At the moment, the Charity Lotteries are working hard on designing such a game. 

Bird guide
Right now, Rog is particularly proud of the new, beautifully illustrated nature book ‘Birds in the Netherlands’ that will be sent to millions of players in the coming weeks. “To illustrate our innovative prize package, complete with QR codes and bird sounds. In addition, we are organising the ‘National Bird Photo Competition’ in which the whole of the Netherlands can take part from 20 April to 31 May. The winners will be announced on 8 June by a jury consisting of our ambassador Humberto Tan, and the birdwatchers Arjan Dwarshuis and Gert Ottens, who works for the Dutch Bird Protection Association. On the first day of the competition, we already received 12,000 entries.”

Imme Rog: “Concept and design of our campaigns, TVC’s and other advertisement: we do everything ourselves, in-house. Except the prize distribution.”

In order to deliver all these millions of prizes and gifts sustainably, flawlessly and on time to the homes of the winning players, the Lotteries have been using the services of Sidekix, who specialise in fulfilment, e-Fulfilment, Direct Mail and Contact Centre, for 16 years. Rog: “We do everything ourselves, except the prize distribution and communication with the winners regarding the prizes. This is a huge logistical operation in which, of course, everything must be right and run smoothly. The Sidekix agency has been doing a great job of that for years. We don’t work with parties who think 8/10 is enough, because we never think it’s enough either. They always go for 10/10. For this process, they have invested in machines that perform the distribution quickly and well. Over the years, they have proven to be a flexible partner that is always on the ball. Sidekix constantly adapts to the heartbeat of our organisation and has always grown with us, as it were. That gives you a nice reliable feeling.”

A brilliant campaign deserves a perfect celebration
Tjeerd Nijenhuis, CEO of Sidekix about the partnership: “The Charity Lotteries were a major source of inspiration for the name Sidekix. It’s about the charities and the players in the lotteries being surprised and put in the spotlight. Our role is the sidekick who can carry it out operationally. We are constantly working on making the experience of winning a prize a party. For example, by doing something special with the packaging. Bearing in mind that it must be executed as efficiently as possible and be applied to large volumes."

"A good example is our Giftwrap 3000, a special machine that wraps gifts fully automatically with the same look and feel as manually wrapped gifts. Yes, even with those typical folding points. And then at high speed and in large numbers.”
Nijenhuis believes that the entire customer journey – online, offline and in real time – should be a pleasant experience. The agency makes things as easy as possible for players to pick a prize online, sign up for a TV show, or attend an event. Sidekix does this by means of efficient landing pages, a telephone helpdesk for questions, user-friendly flows and on-site assistance.

Nijenhuis: “There is a lot involved in a major national winner’s campaign. In our experience, it only succeeds if the execution is right, down to the smallest detail. We know all about that. A brilliant campaign deserves perfect execution.”

Photo credit: Zuiver Beeld