October 21, 2006

The Little Guy verses The Pundit


Today is a spectacular fall day in the Pacific Northwest. The sun is out, and temperatures are in the upper fifties. You can probably count on one hand how many of these days are left.

I received a lot of negative feedback this week. Almost all of the negative feedback came from people who sell products and services.

My goal in writing this blog is to help "the little guy", the individual working at a company selling stuff via the online or catalog channel.

These people typically don't have a voice. They cannot speak on behalf of their company, the speaking role is reserved for the folks in the public relations department. These individuals cannot share proprietary information, because revealing fun, proprietary projects may give competitors insight into what makes a company tick. The work in silence, doing great things, unable to tell anybody about it.

On the other side of the spectrum are individuals who sell products and services. They need to market what they do, the must be seen as an expert, or people like me won't buy what they have to sell.

I am always going to side with the "little guy", the person running the database marketing department at a twenty million dollar online company, the person who does good work, but doesn't have a voice.

And when my opinions represent the "little guy", and fly in the face of what vendors are trying to sell, I get a lot of negative feedback.

That is what I observed this week. Each time I represented things from the point of view of the "little guy", negative feedback came from those marketing products and services --- lots of negative feedback!

I also received feedback this week from folks in the vendor community who are really good at taking that middle stance, between the "little guy" at a B2C organization and the vendors selling products and services. These folks tried to provide a balanced point of view.

People who can take this middle stance, in my opinion, have a great chance for personal and professional success. Seeing all sides of a story is important. I get several dozen calls each week from vendors trying the hard sell. They tell me I must have multichannel solutions, that my website isn't adequate, that I'm leaving sales in my shopping cart, that my inventory systems aren't aligned, that I'm not personalizing the website or direct mail, that my paper quality is too good, that my paper quality is shoddy, that my list hygiene is horrible, that my targeting strategies are stuck in the stone ages.

Every once in awhile, somebody takes that middle stance, and tries to be my partner. The way those individuals talk about their business resonates with me, and makes me much more likely to listen to them.

Instead of decrying somebody representing "the little guy", it may make sense to listen to what is being said, see if there is any truth to it, and try to understand the other side of the equation.

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Kevin.

    Those of us in the vendor community could learn a ton from your message here. It is always good to remind the vendor community that their success is inextricably tied to the success of the companies that they serve. And thus, it is always better to partner than to extoll.

    Thank you for gently reminding, at least this vendor, that tone of voice makes a difference.

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