Sunday, January 08, 2006

2006 arrives with Snow and Advertising in the US

I welcomed in the New Year with some skiing on Colorado - mainly in Beaver Creek but a little in Vail. Snow was great - I’ve never had so much powder in my life, in fact the main problem was probably too much snow.

Beaver Creek is only about a third the size of Vail, which is itself a lot smaller than the big French areas like Courchevel. One thing was for sure, Beaver Creek and Vail are not places to go if you are on a budget - but then few ski resorts are.

The US is long way to go for skiing - for me at least - but it is fun. If you feel like giving it a try then I’d happily recommend renting a Condo for a week - something like renting your own Chalet. We stayed at Beaver Creek West - not cheap but well worth the money.

One of the things that interests me about the US is: how is it similar to Europe and how is it different?

I’ve written a bit about this before - see 12 October, Productivity.

Well, another way the US differs from Europe is: branding and advertising. Ever looked at the names of businesses in the US? Many of them are “Best Sandwiches” or “Superior Skis”, maybe “Super Bar” - people aren’t modest in naming their businesses and they aren’t shy about telling you about them either.

Whether it is direct mail, advertising bill boards, posters or referrals American businesses like to get the message out that they are there. And they don’t stop at telling you once, after all you may forget, or it may not register the first time. Nor do they mind telling you that they are better than the competition.

Europe seems to be more reserved on this count. We sometimes want to hide our businesses, or we think that putting a single poster up is enough. And as for competition, we kind of hope that you don’t know about them either so why draw attention to them?

I can’t prove this comment in any great detail although I have seem some evidence recently in Buzzmarketing - a book I’ve only had a chance to browse not read - but I’ve observed this many times.

There is an exception though: the public sector. The Federal, State and Local Government don’t seem to get this message. Even when it is something important - like immigration procedures. They still work on the “we told you once, now its your responsibility” model.

In the US business knows: if you tell people you are there, and you make it easy to do business then you will get customers. US Government is a little bit ashamed that it exists at all and doesn’t see the need to be easy to do business with - for example, have you ever tried to fill in Green I-94 Visa Waiver form? Its almost impossible to get it right first time.

As I find them I’ll blog some more differences between the US and Europe, maybe we can get some insights. In the meantime if you have any of your own please add them, I’m interested to know what others thing.