October 28, 2018

A Twitter Follower Was Critical

I know, it's hard to believe somebody on Twitter was critical. You are dumbfounded.

From 2001 - 2004, I hosted a day-long session with a terribly boring name ... called a "Vendor Summit". My key vendors paid their own airfare and hotel. In the morning, they heard from a member of the Nordstrom family, they heard from key Merchandising and Creative leaders, they heard from the Digital leader, and they listened as I presented where my team was headed for the upcoming year.

In the afternoon, each vendor gave a 30-60 minute presentation. Some were spectacular, personalized for Nordstrom, full of research and facts and ideas. Some were downright awful, canned presentations featuring buzzwords and tepid ideas promoted by the vendor community in an effort to make money for the vendor community.

I shared the concept with followers on Twitter ... and received a bit of criticism.
  • "Not fair to put vendors through that and make them pay their way. Poor form. Bad way to treat a vendor."
I never thought that I was being cruel. The intention was to facilitate a two-way conversation ... we'd share our plans, our vendors would demonstrate their knowledge, and the bottom vendor or two would expose themselves as not possessing the leadership necessary to help my team. It was the latter that the Twitter follower objected to.

When you are a new Marketing Leader, taking over a broken department, you have to set a tone from Day One. It's important to teach your staff what a quality vendor looks like (quality performance + Leadership). It's also important to teach your staff what a sub-standard vendor looks like (tepid performance and minimal Leadership). 

The new Marketing Leader has a short window to set expectations ... for both employees and for vendors. Take advantage of the tools at your disposal. In modern marketing, you cannot achieve your goals without significant vendor assistance. Your vendors are an extension of your employee base.

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