Top Ten Things I Learned at MEG, Part II

The NRA Marketing Executives Group (MEG) Conference in Las Vegas was a great place to learn, to network and to be inspired. Here is part two of the Top Ten Things I Really Learned in Vegas.

#5   Intuition Trumps Information

Blake Mycoskie’s inspiring story of how he created TOMS Shoes to give a pair of shoes to children in need around the world with every pair sold illustrates the entrepreneurial power of intuition. (I think that’s one of the reasons it resonated so well with the restaurateurs in the audience.) Other presenters reinforced his belief that, at the end of the day, intuition is often the engine behind big new initiatives, not the research or the rationale. As Albert Einstein so famously noted, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

#4    It’s a Small, Small World

Although Vegas is not really a Disney ride, it might just be the adult equivalent. But the “small world” I’m referring to is the restaurant industry. I was surprised and happy to reconnect with a number of California marketers, one of whom worked for me 13 years ago at Coco’s and is now with The Ruby Restaurant Group, one of my neighborhood favorites when I was in Newport Beach.

As I said to the Hospitality Marketing class I’m teaching at Ohio State University, the people you work with today are the people you’ll look forward to reconnecting with years from now.

#3 Just Because it Looks Easy, Doesn’t Mean it IsI stayed over in Vegas to dine out at Lavo and see Cirque du Soleil’s “Love”–the powerful entertainment experience that couples the music of The Beatles with a performance of extreme dance and aerial acrobatics in a custom-built theater at The Mirage. For those who haven’t seen a Cirque du Soleil performance, it’s nothing short of astonishing what these performers are physically capable of doing.

  • Among the all-encompassing soundtrack, the 360 graphics and the raw energy of the on-stage performers, it was easy to become engulfed in the experience.
  • About halfway through the show, my friend leaned over and said, “They make it look so effortless.”
  • It’s true. People who are expert at what they do make it look like anyone could do it, make it look easy.

That doesn’t mean it is.

It’s as true in business as it is on stage. When you work with true professionals, things happen smoothly, without drama. Rollouts happen almost “effortlessly.” When I think about some of the great operators I’ve worked with over the years, I am always astounded by how they can make the almost impossible seem easy. Similarly, when I see a strong marketing team roll out a complex promotional initiative on time and on budget or a development team turn over a new property without surprises, I have the same realization. The understanding of the work that goes into an “effortless” performance and the respect that flows from that are the foundation of real teamwork.

  • Major promotions like Denny’s free Grand Slam or El Pollo Loco’s Taste the Fire initiative rolled out effortlessly because of all the effort from every department that went into making it happen.
  • It takes a lot of work to make it look easy.

#2 Presentation Is Everything

Lavo, where we had dinner before the show, underscores the lesson with lavish Las Vegas style. The Italian-inspired cuisine is served in a sophisticated but cozy atmosphere of a Mediterranean bathhouse. The flavors were amazing, but the two-foot-long breadsticks and the foot-long bone-in chops were the over-the-top presentations that made the meal.

#1  What Happens in Vegas…Doesn’t Have to Stay in Vegas

After a conference as stimulating as this most recent MEG conference, I find myself energized and creative. Getting out of the routine jumpstarts my creative process and allows me to have the “headspace” to solve some of the most complex challenges on my plate. What I brought back from Vegas will stay with me for a long time.

Until next time…I’d love to hear your thoughts.