November 07, 2008

Marketing Vendors And Customer Centricity: Four Questions

Question #1, To Research Organizations: Your publications tell brand leaders that we have to offer the same merchandise at the same price across all channels. And yet, you charge me $79 for a paper, then offer the same paper at a later date to another individual for 20% off if that customer buys two or more papers. Why do you demand that brands charge all customers the same price across channels, but you feel it is acceptable to rip me off while charging other customers a lower price? Bonus question: If you preach "customer-centricity", as so many research organizations do these days, how is the behavior described above "customer-centric" to me, the sap who purchased your research report at a higher price?

Question #2, To E-Mail Marketing Vendors: You preach the importance of opt-in e-mail marketing strategies, of respecting the customer, of minimizing frequency and eliminating spam. And yet, some of you send me e-mail marketing messages that I never opted in to, and you send me direct mail without my consent. Why are you allowed to explore different best practices than the practices you tell brands they must adhere to?

Question #3, To Software Vendors: Why do you charge me, a sole proprietor, $3,000 for software, but you offered me a volume discount for my employees when I worked at Nordstrom? Why do you charge the small business channel more than you charge a large brand like Nordstrom? Bonus question: If you preach "customer-centricity", as so many vendors preach these days, how is the behavior described above "customer-centric" to me, the sap who has to pay a higher price than the big players pay?

Question #4, To An Organization Hosting A Conference In January 2009: Why did you send me an e-mail message that I did not opt-in to, offering large brands eleven registrations for the price of ten if the large brand sends eleven individuals to your conference, but you won't offer me, a small business owner, a nine percent discount? Bonus question: If you preach "customer-centricity", as so many conferences preach these days, how is the behavior described above "customer-centric" to me, the sap who is only a sole proprietor?


  1. Question #1 for Kevin: Why is being "customer-centric" all about giving YOU a better deal?

    Isn't it feasible that while the companies that made you offers would love to see you accept the offer, that they've determined someone else (ie, the large firm in the case of the conference) is a better potential long-term customer? And that, by offering the larger company a better deal, that -- in the eyes of the larger firm -- the marketer IS being customer-centric?

    I'm kind of playing devil's advocate here, but the root of the issue here is what do you (or anyone else, for that matter) really mean by "customer-centric"?

  2. I'll buy your argument, it is possible that these folks are being customer centric by treating certain customers well.

    In each of those instances, the companies wrote white papers telling big brands to offer the same price to all customers in all channels, or have scheduled a speaker to address that topic. So sure, according to your definition of being customer centric, what they are doing is customer centric. But what they are doing runs contrary to what they tell B2C brands they must do --- so they are hypocrites.

  3. Anonymous8:52 AM

    How about another question for email vendors: How is it you preach limiting email frequency when your volume-based business models drive you to increase customer touches?


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