June 10, 2008

Rebuild Your Database Marketing Department: Part 2

The Vendor Conference

Now that you've put the fear of God in your team by demanding that they meet your high expectations (things like working a full work day or not tearing into each other), it is time to find out what everybody is made of.

In each functional area, invite the vendor that supports that area for a one day or two day conference. You pay the vendor for their time. You invite the staff that manage the functional area to participate --- everything is transparent, you don't betray trust by having a hidden agenda.

The conference is designed to illustrate what your staff know about their functional area. It is also designed to illustrate what your vendor knows about their area of expertise. Your staff are required to present their processes and results to the vendor. The vendor is required to present "best practices" to you and your staff.

More than anything, you get to see if your staff have what it takes to succeed. You get to see if your vendor is capable of being a "strategic partner". You get to benchmark yourself against competitors.

Don't be stingy --- invite every vendor you have, be it your co-ops, your e-mail vendor, the folks you outsource your database to, your catalog request fulfillment house, your paid search vendor, your statistical modeling joint, bring 'em all in.

It will probably take three or four months to get through your "conferences". Your staff are likely to rebel against you, suggesting that since you set such high expectations, they don't have time for this garbage. Your vendor is likely to not meet your expectations --- they may send the sales force instead of sending the CEO or EVP that you really need to meet (hint, that tells you something about the vendor).

Your job is to gather information, information that will shape the future of your database marketing department.


  1. Your posts on this topic are excellent. Anyone just moving into a new position, regardless of the level, will benefit by reading The First 90 Days:Critical Success Strategies For Leaders At All Levels. You can find it here:
    I read this just as I was moving into my new position and was able to create a one-page 90 plan that got me off on the right foot.



  2. Anonymous10:45 PM

    Hi Glenn and Kevin,
    Thanks for the recommendation. I love 90-100 day plans. While I have never read the book, my inspiration is the master of the 100 day plan--FDR. Everyone should read up on his first year in office to get an idea of leadership. Another one is George C Marshall--one of his first actions was to reduce the number of people who reported to him daily, thus allowing him to be more productive.
    Key is to follow up with fresh 90 day plans that keep you on a fast pace of your overall strategic plan.

    For your graduates and job seekers, presenting a 90 day plan to a prospective employer will help you get hired. When negotiating salary, use the 90 days as a litmus test, that if you accomplish 75% of your goals, you should receive a bonus.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Cost Differences

Do you remember Bernie Mac in Oceans Eleven ... negotiating van prices? Muttering nonsense about Aloe Vera while squeezing the sales dude...