That is why a trip in California is better than 10 marketing books

4 December 2015

During these holidays I went to California and it felt like walking through a marketing book. In a country where everything is marketing, everything is communication, a trip becomes a review of the main chapters.

I took some notes, simple things (maybe trivial), but if put into practice also by our homegrown companies, would skip the italian economy into the hyperspace. That said, let’s get back to school to learn how to communicate by the Americans (or at least to figure out what works for them).


Positioning, values ​​and self- affirmation

In America they are not afraid to assert their values​​, their origins or their qualities. All the products (or services) are better than everything else. In other words they are not afraid to boast . This choice is expressed in very effective copywriting:

  • The university says – “Come for a degree, remain here for your dream”
  • The Toystore – “Better to scold your children for five minutes now, we are 5 minutes from here . “
  • A cup of tea taken in a small cafè – “Green tea, but with real lemon juice, everything is organic!”.
  • San Francisco’s Vodka says – “Born in San Francisco where progress comes natural” or “Toast to the progress of San Francisco “.


The Brunch Restaurant, or the bbq restaurant, or the Beer House etc .. – “The best BBQ in San Francisco” or “We serve the best breakfast in San Francisco”.


The pizzeria says – “This is pizza unlike any other in the city and maybe even Naples”.


What I’ve learnt in this marketing lesson: strongly notify your values.


Branding & identity

Branding is everything, wherever and however. Americans know very well that a brand is not just a logo, but it’s all the experience and the memories of an organization.

From the restaurant where you eat to the small chocolate shop, everything has a distinct identity and everything attempts to penetrate into your memory.

  • The bakery uses large fonts, paper packaging and red tins; while you’re queued you see the persons who make the bread and prepare your lunch.boudin
  • The small Beer House has tablecloths made with rough paper, wooden furniture, exposed bricks and dishes in old metal on which they serve hamburgers. On the menu is written: “The Perfect Pour. Our beer is served at its optimal drinking temperature via several variable storage and delivery systems. Our custom “on the fly” gas blending system is one of only a handful in the world and allows us to precise control over every beer. What does this mean to you? Your beer will be served at the proper temperature to ensure all the flavors you’d miss with a standard system are there for you to enjoy from the first sip.” In other words: they know how to adjust the pressure of the plugs.
  • The airline does not simply sell you a lowcost trip, they sell you freedom. “This aircraft is dedicated to you, our loyal customer. You are the reason why we give America the freedom to fly.” Only missing Captain America uncorking a Jack Daniels with the teeth and winking.


  • The Italian delicatessen seller (which is not really Italian) is my favorite: he only sells Italian sausages, the unusual ones and the hardest to find. The persons in San Francisco are queuing to buy ‘nduja, ‘ciccioli’ and ‘finocchiona’. The packaging is made of paper, the logo is hipster and the naming is wonderful for those who want to spend a lot of money in a ‘nduja produced in the Silicon Valley. It’s called Boccalone. (#epic you won my communication – holiday award).


What I’ve learnt in this marketing lesson: branding is the memory of the entire business. Do it nice!


Segment the market and expand the supply 

When you buy something, there is always a choice to make, normally limited in three ways: basic service, intermediate and plus.

  • The hotel in Las Vegas offers the normal check-in with an hour queue, open only from 3pm to 6pm, the early check-in before 3pm, with an extra fee. Or the mysterious diamond check-in, hidden by two large golden doors made in glass.
  • The drink of the amusement park costs 5$, but only for 15$ you can have it in the water bottle in the shape of your favorite character and with 1$ more you have free refills all day.


What I’ve learnt in this marketing lesson: Reduce (or expand) the offer to three options, so you are sure that at least the intermediate is considered. (Really you do not want to suck the coke directly from the head of a Minions??!).



The retail is workshops that showcase all the craftsmanship and the story behind a specific product.

  • In the chocolate shop you can eat chocolate, buy sweets and see employees cooking different kinds of cakes.
  • The open-air museum of boats at the port allows you to see boats of the early ‘ 1900, they tell you the story of these boats through apps or by calling you on your phone. Plus they allow you to see restorers and carpenters working on the last renovation.


  • In the Levi’s Store you can buy a pair of Levi’s jeans and also fix the hem, in the tailoring in the entrance of the store. Place one edge and put a patch on a colored jeans costs twice the same jeans. Fix an hem and put a colored patch on a pair of jeans costs twice the same pair of jeans.


What I’ve learnt in this marketing lesson: retails in addition to selling have also to tell stories.


Simple messages  

The communication is simple and direct, no beat around the bush.

  • The restaurant that cooks crabs says: – “EAT CRAB”.



The antique store says: – “USED IS THE NEW NEW”



What I’ve learnt in this marketing lesson: communicate in a simple and direct way.


Queue queue queue

The queue culture is impressive, amazing. It’s everywhere. Rarely you book or reserve a table: you go there and queue. People do not seem angry. Guides and online blogs go even further considering the queue as a symptom of quality and services historicity.

From the queue rise new services: you can jump the queue and pay for this possibility, buy food or drinks while waiting.

In other words, the queue is the first sign of the lack of good/service and no matter if the queues are sometimes completely unnecessary and unneeded.

Here the queue out the Apple store, on Sunday, with no sale and with the store closed.

What I’ve learnt in this marketing lesson: “If there is queue it is because other people like this service. I play safe!”


To see the Italian version of this blogpost, click here

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