July 21, 2016


I'm presenting information ... #datadriven stuff, no less. In other words, I have facts to back up what I'm asking business leaders to do.

As I tell the audience to take a break, one of the attendees walks over to me. Here's how our conversation goes.

Attendee: You realize that our industry is a relationship-based industry, right?

Kevin:  Tell me what you mean by that?

Attendee: You are asking me to change my marketing strategy, right?

Kevin: If you want to attract new customers, yes.

Attendee: Yes, I want to attract new customers. But here's the problem. If I do what you say, then I walk away from people I have relationships with.

Kevin: You mean your co-workers?

Attendee: No, I don't spent a lot of time with my co-workers. I'm talking about vendor partners. I've worked with these people for thirty years. If I do what you are telling me to do, I'll have to walk away from these people. These people are the reason I work in this industry. They are the people I care about.

Kevin: Are you saying you would rather have your company make less money so that you can allocate company resources to the vendors who you like spending time with?

Attendee: It doesn't sound so good when you say it that way, does it?

It's not common anymore for me to sit in a meeting with both marketing and merchandising professionals. Used to happen all the time. But something broke in the marketing/merchandising relationship in the past ten years ... and the beneficiary of this broken relationship is the marketing vendor community.

If you're a merchant, trump what those vendors do ... go buy your marketing friend a $49 prime rib meal or alder planked salmon meal or a salad or whatever ... and expense the meal, and see if you can rebuild your relationship with the marketing team. The marketing folks are getting a better deal from the vendor community than they're getting from the merchandising team.

Build a relationship.

I know, I know, you're a merchant and you want to know why the darn marketing folks won't make peace - why can't the marketing team take YOU out to dinner? I get it. They should take you out to dinner! But I've been in too many meetings where the merchandising team beats the living daylights out of the marketing team, to the point where the marketing team would do anything (i.e. spend time with vendors) than attend one more meeting with the merchandising/creative team.

Ok, fine. Both side are accountable. Both side should try to rebuild relationships. Have at it!

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