After graduating from The University of Texas at Austin, and before starting my new journey at Integrate Agency, I decided to take the summer off to travel. Over the past few months, I have enjoyed different adventures across the US and parts of Mexico with my close friends. One of those amazing adventures took place in none other than Las Vegas! What happens in Vegas may or may not always stay in Vegas, but the memories sure can last a lifetime!
Everything in Las Vegas is big and bright: the lights, the shows, the ads… oh the ads! There was so much to do in the City of Bright Lights, but I was constantly distracted by all the HUGE billboards and banners. Everywhere I turned there was a 20-ft ad for a show, a casino, a party, you name it. As I was bombarded by the clutter of advertisements all along the strip, my PR-trained mind began to think: in a city with so much competing stimuli, is bigger really better?
The Las Vegas strip is flooded with advertisements for “The Best Show in Vegas,” and it’s easy to be convinced that the bigger the ad, the better the show, hotel, restaurant, etc. The flashy industry of show business, advertised in the flashy city of Las Vegas, almost requires a giant, flashy banner across the Las Vegas sky. Anything that wasn’t 20 ft high or flashing across a building was muted as the expensive, giant billboards took center stage. Even as a PR professional, I must admit that I was drawn to the flashy advertisements along the strips initially. When it came to the actual purchase decision, however, it was a different story.
It was in the awe of the bright lights of Vegas where I learned first-hand how much your audience and their position in the buying process is key for marketing a product. When traveling to the big city, my friend and I were clueless as to what shows to see or events to attend. My mind was open to any and all decisions on what event or show I should take part in. We were at the initial stage of the buying funnel: completely unaware. At this part of the funnel, yes, bigger is definitely better to capture more audience awareness.
When walking along the strip, my friend and I came across a particular Cirque du Soleil show. The ads for this particular show covered the strip. They were grand, claiming it was the “best show in Vegas” with “4 stars.” We were convinced we had to go. I began inquiring more about it, researching and asking the locals. I had moved from the awareness stage of the general buying funnel to the consideration and evaluation stages.
It is here where I learned my PR lesson of the vacation. Through researching and polling the locals, we came to find that the popular Cirque du Soleil show advertised in such a grand way was not actually the best show and was, in fact, pretty awful. Instead, it was a competing Cirque du Soleil show that was “ten times better” and even less expensive than the heavily-advertised counterpart. Trusting the locals instead of the big, expensive signs, and being two, broke, recent grads, we decided to purchase tickets for the show that was not advertised. Our opinion completely changed as we moved through the buying funnel. For our particular situation, positive word-of-mouth proved to trump the flashy 20-ft ads we initially fell in love with.
Not every product or endorsement follows an exact pattern when it comes to advertising. Sometimes flashy is all you need, while other times reputation and differentiating information is key, or there are times when both are needed to a push your consumer to purchase. Regardless of your marketing decision, you must never underestimate the power of word-of-mouth. Initial attention and awareness will grab a consumer, but a good reputation will help secure the purchase.