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Should you be taking advantage of the huge US market? Ian Trevett meets Martin Cook, UKTI’s USA Director Trade & Investment As the UKTI’s Director in New York, Martin Cook’s role is to encourage and help UK companies export to the United States. Last year Martin’s office worked across the US with approximately 4,000 UK companies who either already had a presence or were exploring the opportunities the US market can create for them. His remit is to help UK companies understand what the opportunities are in America and what the differences are between operating in the US versus the UK. Is there still a strong US/UK relationship? Do Americans like buying UK products? My view is that Americans like dealing with Brits. They see us as honest, straightforward, trustworthy, and often as creative as well.

pretty quickly. Even if you intended to cover

probably a slightly more challenging city 25

it and you were doing it in the wrong order,

years ago than it is today, but people on the

they’ll get bored quickly. So understanding that

whole are very friendly and very willing to help.

cultural difference, how you sell to them, is an

It’s a very international city.

important differentiator coming here. The small talk may come a bit later in the

They like dealing with the UK, and that will get

meeting when they’ve figured out that there is

you in the door. It won’t keep you in the door.

an exchange of value that they can make with

What keeps you in the door is having the right

you, then they’ll invest some time getting to

product, the right sales pitch, understanding

know you.

how to deliver it in America, particularly in New

I always hear people say that New Yorkers

Which sectors can British exporters or British companies really exploit in the US? That’s always a tough question. To me, it’s a little bit less about the sectors and a little bit more about the differentiation you bring to

York. In a typical sales meeting in the UK, we’ll

are not friendly. I don’t buy that. I think New

your product. If you add to this the capability

discuss the weather for at least five minutes,

Yorkers are really friendly, they’re just time-

to build partnerships and support the product

or last night’s football match, before we get

poor. If you ask them for help, they will almost

with marketing, then you can make a significant

down to the business of the day. In New York

always suggest something to you before

amount of money.

that’s unlikely to happen. The chances are that

moving on but New Yorkers are generally

in the first two or three minutes they’ll expect

very open.

you to be telling them about your KPIs and how

I first lived here in the early 1990s and I

We see quite a lot of food and drink companies coming here, as well as giftware and jewellery businesses. The UK is quite design-

you are going to earn them money. If you aren’t

had people say to me, “New York is a pretty

strong; there is some really cool stuff that Brits

ready for that, then you’ll be out of the door

scary place. You’re going to die.” New York was

do, and we have a very quirky take on things.



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