Last week, I took a trip to Sin City. This wasn’t a raucous bachelor party or a mid-life crisis free-for-all (as I’m only 32), but a planned trip for a friend’s wedding. So if you’re looking for debauchery in this blog, you will be sorely disappointed.

What I did see is a city that revolved around marketing, from the homeless population to the time-share sales representatives to the casinos – everyone seemed to have some thing to market. So here are my five takeaways from Vegas marketing. 

More than just smoke and mirrors

A main takeaway from my trip to Vegas was that pull marketing is much more effective than push marketing. Everywhere I went, I was bombarded by representatives from timeshare companies, people trying to sell their demo CD and gentlemen handing out… we’ll call them trading cards, with scantily clad women on them. It was exhausting. 

The point is, with all of the push, I had to find ways to avoid eye contact, walk away from where these people were, or pretend I didn’t hear them at all. Marketers need to follow the same advice, and follow the next tip…

If you build it, they will come

The businesses that I wanted to enter brought something of value to the table, pull marketing at its finest. Even if it was the very strange pirate ship opera of Treasure Island casino, or the epic roller coaster of Stratosphere, these casinos went over and above the bare minimum, and in the meantime, patrons gambled away their money while in the hotel. Free drinks while at a casino table or machine, is at its base, pull marketing, and the return on investment is exponential. Casinos that didn’t have an attraction or a theme were significantly less busy.

So the first step is to identify your value proposition and brainstorm what nugget of value you can offer to attract a customer to your site, or to take action. Whether this comes in the form of a company blog, a free trail, or a financial benefit, it is up to you. Be the casino that is on the must-see list!

“Find us on Facebook!”

One of my favorite moments in Vegas, embarrassingly, was watching this guy participate in a cheeseburger challenge. If you’ve ever seen Man vs. Foodyou know what I mean. Immediately after finishing the absurdly huge cheeseburger (left), the manager rushed over for a photo op (right) “for Facebook.” 

Additionally, numerous restaurants had Yelp “check in bonuses” and had an UrbanSpoon stamp of approval on the door. No longer are the Michelin stars and Zagat ratings the core judgment for a diner, but the opinions of peers are central to that decision.

Every day before we visited restaurants, we checked the ratings and peer reviews on Yelp and UrbanSpoon, and looked for Facebook pages for locations and menus. People trust their peers, and your business needs to do all that they can to leverage this.

It’s more than just neon lights

As strange as this may sound, the panhandlers and street performers were doing some of the best marketing in Las Vegas, and some of the worst. Grabbing attention was the first step to getting my money, and this came in the form of cabaret girls, costumed cartoon characters, and breakdancers, along with the less spectacular – people claiming to be homeless, needing a ride back home or food for their dog. They all played to some sort of emotion, but those that managed to stand out amongst the glitz and glamor were who also seemed to have the fullest “tip jars.”

In today’s marketing landscape, interruption marketing and social media allow marketers to reach you at all times on all channels. So it has become more important than ever to stand out amongst the crowd. Having a presence online and a TRULY multichannel approach will get you noticed. For every customer that relies on email as a sole approach, there is another that can be reached through social, direct mail, radio, etc. You need to get your customer’s attention.

Vegas isn’t for kids

The sights and sounds of Las Vegas simply weren’t for kids. Vegas entertainers know this, and while there are certainly family-friendly attractions there, marketers in Vegas did a good job of considering their audience. As a marketer, segmentation and clustering should be a vital part of each campaign, as your message should vary based on each audience segment.

After (most of) a week of Las Vegas, I took in plenty of great food, shows and marketing tips. While it wasn’t The Hangover, and I didn’t steal a tiger, I had a great time and was ready to get back to the slower lifestyle I am accustomed to. Viva Las Vegas!