ID 665990 © Jorge M Vargas Jr |

Only in Vegas …

I recently spent a long weekend in Las Vegas with my wife and youngest son. Although this was my fourth visit to Sin City, this time seemed very different.

We were in town to cheer on my nine-year-old as he competed in the Kids Fitness category of the Natural Olympia bodybuilding event. This was his third competition since embarking on his bodybuilding journey about a year ago. By far the youngest competitor, my son posed like a pro and had a blast meeting his fellow athletes and sharing tips on nutrition and exercise. He even got to enjoy dinner with his West Coast grandparents – a rare treat. He was floating on air the entire weekend.

The event was held at the Rio Hotel and Conference Center, a well-appointed property off the Strip. It has some excellent restaurants, and our room was clean and comfortable. However, as we trekked from our room to the adjoining conference site each morning, we had no choice but to navigate the hotel’s crowded, noisy casino. My wife and I kept our son close as we hurried him past the habitual gamblers at the roulette tables and retirees pulling the one-armed bandits. A few seemed to have been there all night. My son held his nose, complaining the air reeked of smoke.

On our last day, we spent a few hours walking the Strip. We gazed up at the faux-Eiffel Tower at the Paris Hotel. We marveled at the Bellagio’s synchronized fountain show. We stopped in the souvenir shops and ate massive pancakes (my boy’s post-competition “cheat meal”) at the Hash House a Go-Go. But the sidewalks were more crowded than I remembered, stifling and sweaty with the press of humanity. I gripped my son’s hand tightly as we traversed the filthy, trash-strewn staircases and walkways.

My prior visits to Vegas consisted of work conferences and getaways with college buddies. Under those circumstances, the city sparkled with the promise of excitement and adventure. I visited the clubs, ate at the steakhouses, played some golf, and yes, hit the blackjack tables (up to a predetermined, modest limit of cash on hand). This time, with my wife (a Vegas newbie) and son along for the ride, the City of Second Chances seemed decrepit, slightly menacing, and above all, depressing.

What factors account for this stark difference in perception? Context and point of view.

Vegas hadn’t changed. But my perspective clearly had. Seeing the city through the eyes of my companions, who had no interest in all the “mature” entertainment the city has on offer, I was able to see right through Vegas’ veneer of glitz to its decaying core.

Context is Everything

Context and point of view are crucial elements in content marketing. When you’re marketing to your prospects, you must grasp their mindset – at a specific moment in time. What stage of the buying cycle are they in? Are they early in the process, just beginning to analyze their needs? Are they considering expanding their product offerings? Deciding between offering a solution in-house or outsourcing to a third-party vendor?

Or is your prospect further down the sales funnel – fully sold on the need, and beginning to explore specific solutions? Have they narrowed their search down to a shortlist of providers, vetting references, and comparing features and pricing?

Just as critically, what is your prospect’s role in the buying process? Is she the decision-maker, or an information-gatherer?

What baggage does your prospect bring to the table? Have they already tried different approaches to solving this problem, with little success? Did they try a competitors’ solution, and been burned? Perhaps they used your solution in the past. How did that go?

Before you communicate with the buyer, you must understand where they are coming from. You need to consider their unique perspective, past experiences, and biases. You must understand their goals, pain points, and needs. Only then can you help guide them to the next stage, and ultimately toward a buying decision.

Without an understanding of context, it is nearly impossible to develop a compelling and impactful marketing message. Without considering where your prospects are today – at this moment— you’re simply blowing smoke in their faces.

Even in Vegas, that’s never acceptable.