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Internet Marketing Lessons From A Side-trip In Las Vegas

While attending an Internet marketing seminar in Las Vegas recently, I decided to spend some time observing how those with huge budgets market. I reasoned that in a city where buildings often cost billions (with a B), they must know a thing or two about effective marketing.

In this article, I'll share just a few hours that I took out from my day to tour a timeshare resort.

While walking through the casino where we happened to be staying, my wife and I were approached by a casino employee. He asked if we'd be interested in a few free shows, and some buffet meals. My interest was piqued, and I wanted to see how such a huge operation used a freebie as a lead generator.

The employee steered us to a information counter where we were told that to get the freebies, we needed to attend a one-hour tour of a local resort... with no other obligations. They did require a $40 deposit to reserve our spot on the bus, and to ensure that we showed up.

At this point, the marketer in me "was game" even though I considered my one hour... plus travel time, worth much more than the value of the tickets and meals. However, I wanted to compare their marketing to mine, so I went along.

At the appointed time, I showed up, filled out a short form, that basically entered ALL of my contact info into their funnel, and got on the bus.

On the bus, we were given a short survey to take that would be used by the sales person to structure their pitch. The survey asked about our opinions and travel habits. It also was VERY leading... pointing out how much more sense it made to stay in a 5 star resort condo for only $200 per week, than it did to stay in a "ratty" hotel for $200 per night.

Getting off the bus, they collected our survey forms at the door, and then seated us all in a large room that, among other things, had a guy on a ukulele singing and providing mood music.

A sales rep walked into the room periodically and yelled out one of our names. They'd then ask a few very brief questions and tell us that a guide would be with us shortly. I suspect that the purpose of that "little exercise" was to assess each couple or prospect, and try to figure out which sales person it would be best to match them up with. They were matching us up with someone enough "like us" that we'd probably like them ... and maybe even want to help them make a sale.

They fully understood that "people prefer buying from people that they know, like and trust." People are also often more inclined to buy from people that they feel are "like them."

Our tour guide/sales person guided us into a large presentation room where we were seated with our sales person. Dozens of other couples were similarly seated in the room.

The sales person got enough preliminary information out of us so that as we went around the room later, they could share something special about each couple with the group. They were somewhat creating a sense of community... or connection.

Next, one of the better sales people got up front and made the first pitch, rolling in things such as scarcity, social proof, consistency, authority... all of the things that I'd read about in Robert Cialdini's book, "Influence, The Psychology of Persuasion."

As the presentation proceeded, people in the room frequently clapped at certain statements. Most of these were sales people, but before long the prospects were also clapping.

I reflected upon the fact that on comedy television shows they overlay "laugh tracks" to que you as to how you are suppose to feel and respond. Cialdini tells of how they even had people in the opera whose job it was to stand up and start clapping to trigger that same response.

I smiled as I observed how well they orchestrated the psychological triggers that I somewhat understood.

During the presentation it was pointed out how rapidly phase 1 of the project had sold out and how likely phase 2 was to quickly sell out. In the pit of my stomach, I began to sense the urgency/scarcity of the situation.

They continued by pointing out how rapidly prices were indeed increasing for property in Las Vegas, and how the cost of a unit on that condo could very well double by next year. The urgency continued to build, except that the salesman in me was enjoying watching the crowd more than I was paying attention to the message. There was a small voice in the back of my head reminding me that I didn't travel to Las Vegas searching for property, and in-fact had never even considered living in Las Vegas.

They mentioned all of the celebrities, politician, and "big wigs" who were a part of the project. Our sales person also mentioned that she was an owner from phases I. That played on a number of psychological factors including authority... and social proof.

As we wrapped up the group presentation, and our guide took us on a tour of the property, it was repeatedly point out to us how "it only made sense" to purchase if we took even one vacation a year. That point was really hammered home... much as many online copywriters point out how much of a "no-brainer" certain decisions are.

As the tour wound down, the sales person asked what we though. She did several trial closes and also looking for the decision maker.

My wife deferred to me, and I said that I rarely made snap decisions. She pointed out that some people would instantly "see the value" and that others wouldn't. She emphasized that since Las Vegas saw million of visitors per week, it really was "no big deal." My mind instantly flashed back to sales letters that I've read where they point out that "they'll eat steak that night regardless of my decision." As I declined "the deal of the century," naturally the sales manager and other "very likable people" were brought in to help out.

They assumed that it was "a price issue" so they strove to determine what monthly payment I would be comfortable with. They enlightened me to the fact that this was the only number that really mattered :-)

As someone with a harddrive full of digital properties (resale rights to ebooks, software, etc.) that I might never use, I CERTAINLY saw no logic in buying real properties that I might never use!

The sales person asked me what she did wrong... and pointed out that her manager would be critiquing her performance so she really wanted to know. I wasn't sure if this was an attempt at making me feel guilty... and to therefore reconsider, or if it was a genuine effort to determine how to improve their process.

The sales manager asked me similar questions, patiently waiting for me to talk myself into reconsidering :-)

In the closing room, whenever a customer said yes, they put on a big show, to include having them spin a wheel for a big prize. That offered more social proof, and gave them an opportunity to build value by piling on the bonuses.

In the end, I didn't purchase but did feel that I'd gained tremendous value from the experience. I saw how many of the very things that we used in our online marketing are used in "higher stakes" offline marketing. Practically everything that they did made perfect sense, and I could see that I was dealing with a well-oiled selling machine."

As they transported me back to my hotel-casino, I also smiled at the fact that while they had indicated that it was a "now or never deal," they also had my mailing address, phone number, email address, and enough demographic data to follow-up with me forever... if they choose to. I'm certain that they will, and so I look forward to continuing to hone my online marketing skills by studying sales people trained in a "billion dollar environment."

I also appreciate the fact that they staunchly refused to discuss my going home and "thinking about it." That simply was never acknowledged as an option. They framed is as there will be millions more next week, so we will sell out soon. They closed the door of too many options, and I'm sure that that increased their closing rate (since most who say that they want to think about it, are soon sidetracked).

As an aside, during the formal presentation, they showed how hotel after hotel was being bought up, and then imploded, so that they could build several billion dollars resort casinos on the same land. They frequently tossed around "the B word," and I could see that they were both building value and doing an "apples to oranges" sales pitch.

I was mildly impressed when they mentioned that hundred million dollar building were often bought only because someone wanted the parking lot!

My little excursion provided dozens of other marketing lessons that, if you are really listening, PROVE to you how effective the very things that you are taught online everyday can be. The fact that I am a sales person also shows that when you market in a niche that's full of other marketers (such as Internet marketing) you will face a tougher challenge than you would if you were marketing to someone who didn't analyze your every word.

Now I feel less guilty about skipping some of the seminar presentations. As you can see, I WAS working. I was studying how others practice my profession :-)

Willie Crawford is an internationally-acclaimed speaker, author, seminar and radio show host, and leading Internet marketing expert. When not out fishing in the Gulf of Mexico, Willie can be found sharing his 11 1/2 years of online marketing experience with members of The Internet Marketing Inner Circle. Join them at: TheInternetMarketingInnerCircle.com

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