Call me crazy, but I’ve never liked visiting Las Vegas. Between the bright lights, the constant dinging of slot machines, the intense summer heat, and the need to move among a constant sea of humanity, after three days I feel as lifeless as a limp rag. My husband, on the other hand, loves—and I mean LOVES—going to Las Vegas. A few years ago when we were listing out the pros and cons of moving from Chicago to Los Angeles, he cited a positive as “being a relatively short drive away from Vegas.” A few weeks ago, I was sitting on the couch reading my latest issue of Travel & Leisure magazine and he proposed an October getaway. Here’s how it went down:
Hubby: Laura, I have a great idea for our next trip.
Me: Oh, cool. I had some ideas too…. I saw a really cheap fare to Iceland the other day…or how about Shanghai? I hear it’s like the Paris of Asia.
Hubby: Ummm…that’s nice. But I was thinking we could spend some time at a spa, go to some Michelin-rated restaurants, hang out in a cabana at a pool, do some shopping and, being the nice guy I am, I might even sit through a Celine Dion concert with you.
Me: Wow, you’re speaking my language. That sounds like just the kind of amazing, relaxing vacation I need. Where is this? Wait…Celine, she has a show in Vegas. Wait, what? I’m so confused…spa, shopping, good restaurants? That all sounds so nice….
Hubby: I know you don’t like Las Vegas, so I figured I could change that by doing all of the things you really like to do on a vacation. If I book it by tomorrow, I can get an amazing deal at the Aria. What do you say?
Me: That’s so sweet. Let’s go!
Pump. The. Brakes. What just happened? Just like that, without any convincing on his part, he sold me on a trip to Las Vegas. How in the world did he do that? More importantly, how did I, a marketing strategist, fall for that? I started to replay our conversation in my head and swiftly realized that he simply took the steps that I take, every single day, to help drive consumers to take action. Well, that’s not fair. Mr. Accountant just used my marketing strategy tactics on moi!
- Identified his target – He knows what I like and what I don’t. Which is not fair, because in my brand strategy work, I spend weeks and even months getting to know consumers inside and out. I work hard to understand what makes them tick through focus groups, 1:1 interviews or even ethnographic research. Knowing your target well increases your odds of being able to drive them to take action.
- Determined my enemies – Clearly, the overarching reason why I don’t like Las Vegas is that it stresses me out. Too much overstimulation makes me want to check out. He knew that these were the hurdles he was going to have to overcome in order to get me to agree to a trip.
- Developed the right content for his message – He knew he was going to have to be compelling…very, very compelling to get me to agree on Vegas. So, he carefully crafted a message that spoke to all of the points that would make me sit up and take notice, be open-minded and consider his proposition.
- Chose the perfect timing – I was already in the travel mindset because I was engrossed in a travel magazine. Had we been out grocery shopping or at the car wash, thinking about other things, I may not have been as receptive to his suggestion.
- Selected the perfect delivery – He could have sent me an email or left me a note. Instead, he knew a face-to-face conversation was his best chance of having his idea resonate with me.
- Presented a compelling call to action – We were faced with the chance of missing out on a good deal, so I was faced with a sense of urgency. He asked me point-blank whether I was in. It doesn’t get any more direct than that. Directness like that doesn’t work for everyone, but because he knows me well, he knew I’d be responsive to that.
Being the “numbers” guy that he is, my husband probably would hate to hear this, but he followed the exact process that I do to help my clients overcome their target’s “enemies” in order to incite the desired action or outcome. It’s about reaching them at the right point in time, with the right message, using just the right delivery mechanism. Not to mention, it’s about knowing your customer so well that you can speak their language and compel them to take action after exposing them to your message.
Perhaps accountants and marketing strategists aren’t so different after all.