Las Vegas Learning

Well, if you have followed my twitter you already know I am a married man now (applause, congratulations; gifts accepted too!). It happened in Vegas on November 27. Sorry for not posting for such a long time.

The trip was fun (I have never been to Vegas before) and it was a very interesting learning experience. Not many people would argue that Vegas knows how to make money. So it was very interesting to watch how to make money off the leisure activities in the time of world financial crisis.

Everything is over-blinged. I mean – we all know that extra bling don’t hurt, but boy – Vegas is one big bling all by itself. One thing that I found very amusing – all life happens in casinos. Food, shows, shops, restrooms – everything is in casino. In fact I was surprised there was a wall between McDonald’s and a casino. My thought was – why not create a McDonald’s casino – you throw in some money, pull lever or hit the Spin the Mac button – BLING! – and Chicken McNuggets fall down the tray. Or fries if you aren’t so lucky. Or, if you are lucky enough – a cheeseburger with soda. Or, as a jackpot – a Big Mac, extra fries and soda. Imagine the possibilities!

Out of all the annoyances – if you want to do anything you will have to pass through casino. Except for Bellagio, where I found a show entrance, their buffet and restrooms to be in direct visibility line from each other. Pretty much everywhere else, you have to pass through a casino to get anywhere. Or through a row of very expensive shops. One way or another – you are watching either a mandatory display of some expensive brands or stimulated to put your money into a one-armed bandit. Now, that’s an effective advertising.

A lot of things change in Vegas very quickly. Two hotels are standing right where was simple nothing just two years ago – Wynn and Encore. As we walked down the Las Vegas Strip I saw at least four other buildings being built. There’s your real-estate crisis, right there. Not.

Everyone – from last cleaner in the casino all the way to the security at the McCarran Airport – is very nice and polite. In fact the only rude person I’ve met was some 300 miles east, at the Grand Canyon tourist center. And even then – it was 7am, so it could be just the morning rust.

Everything is aligned in such a way to help you effectively spend your money in the most convenient and pleasurable way. If there’s a line – it’s almost never to pay for something, it’s usually to get what you’ve paid for already. Sometimes cashiers are slow, it happens mostly because of all the language niceties they have to go through (sometimes I wondered if there are scripts they have to follow), but in large numbers they take care of that anyway.

If there is any luxury that will be in demand – expect to pay a premium price for it. If this is a “necessary” luxury – it would be complimentary. For example – parking in any casino on the strip is free. At the same time a single ride in monorail from one casino to another is a whopping $5.

And speaking of wedding itself – we found the chapel on the internet and the deciding factor was that right there on the first page there was a little video presentation with thorough explanation of all the chapel’s benefits. Plus – they have a live broadcast of the wedding ceremony over the internet, so I had friends all over the world watch it live. People who I could not afford to invite were there with me. It was amazing experience.

For those really interested – I will post a video on YouTube once I catch some sleep after this vacation.


Generally Speaking With A Client

Earth from space - Generally Speaking With A Client - Small Business, marketing and web design blog There is this phrase that I use like it’s a word parasite – “generally speaking”. I use it quite often when I need to point to a big picture. Get on a same page. Explain something in general or layman terms. Simplify things.

Interesting enough, most clients don’t quite get that big picture. Like for example this guy who wanted a six-page web site to sell about 2000 items of merchandise. Not a biggie. Or another group of partners who calculated the industry’s average price per page, then rearranged the information on the site so it would fit into their budget. Then started calling web design studios (us included) to ask for a quote on few pages worth of web site. Turned out they were trying to get a system the size of a Amazon into those few pages.

If you look at any advertising – you can also see what I mean. For example, look at any shampoo ad. You can see a bottle of product, the hair (that most likely belongs to an attractive woman), the zoomed animation that shows how hair is restored by use of shampoo, and all the other stuff. But you are not being sold the bottle of shampoo. Ad doesn’t even try to sell you that bottle, rather it sells you the ability to be attractive, to get that sex appeal. In other words – it sells you happiness, achievable easier than ever by purchasing just that one bottle. If you buy two – there’s a discount available, so it comes with even more happiness. Generally speaking – by buying a bottle of shampoo you are buying happiness. There, now you have it.

Ability to be “generally speaking” is quite rare, as I have found out. Most of the times when I hear someone “generally speaking” I tend to get very quiet and listen. It’s about the big picture, so it must be important.


Small business in Chicago

Yesterday I have returned from a Thanksgiving trip to Chicago. Aside from matrimonial errands (my friends were getting married) I had a chance to communicate to a lot of different people from various social groups. Aside from regular chit-chat I was inquiring on the cost of living. Obviously you can get data from various web sites, from to specialized ones, including Craigslist. What you don’t get is a “feeling”, the whole picture of quality of life. What can you afford if you are making $XX,000 per year? What can you afford if you make $YY,000 more? Gas, insurance, food – you can get the numbers, but it is usually hard to get an idea.As in many smaller communities, much more business done on a personal referral basis. This is good, because you only need to be good at what you are already doing and think less about marketing to various groups. It is also bad, since “word of mouth” is the slowest communication tool. Also it won’t forget your mistakes as easy as larger, unconnected market. Last, but not least – it’s complicated, because there will be a lot of people with whom you will naturally trade, for example – I create a web site for a car dealer to get a big discount on a car I like. No actual money involved, but I still get something for something.Good thing about coming into such a community – you immediately get a lot of referrals and potential clients. Bad thing is – they all expect you to perform nearly for free, because they were personally referred to you. If you set initial price too high – they’ll just flock away without even bargaining. If you set a reasonable price – they will try to negotiate it down to ridiculous levels, spreading bad news if you don’t let them.Probably that’s why, even though so many people encouraged me to move, I still don’t. New York is still much bigger market.