October 13, 2020

Case Studies

The Executive offered one of those salty, Zoom-based comments designed to "put you in your place":

  • "If you the kind of Consultant you say you are, you'd have two dozen case studies on your website. You don't have any. You must not have any customers and you don't want anybody to know you don't have any customers. Interesting, don't you think?"
Yeah, interesting.

Here's the thing. Vendors lie. All the time. They lie to get business, they lie to sound important, they lie because they're generally honest but they hired a lying public relations professional.

When I worked at Nordstrom, we had a line in our NDA saying that vendors could not use our logo, period. Not on websites, not on external communications. No case studies. In fact, the vendor could not ever mention that the vendor worked with Nordstrom. I arrived at Nordstrom in January 2001 knowing this fact. So when a vendor called me (a warehouse / operations vendor) to "congratulate me for starting my tenure at Nordstrom", I found it interesting that the next day the Nordstrom logo appeared on their website. I called the vendor, and asked why our logo was on their website when we hadn't worked together ... ever?
  • "Because we had a conversation yesterday, so we consider that 'working together', and as you can see, the text says 'brands we've worked with'".
A phone call is not "working together".

Furthermore, because we hadn't signed an NDA (there was just a phone call, that's all), the vendor wasn't subject to the Nordstrom rule of not disclosing the relationship.

In other words, the vendor found a loophole in the system, and used the loophole to their advantage ... misleading every visitor to their website into thinking they provided services to the brand logos displayed on the page.

Vendors lie about case studies. When I worked at Eddie Bauer, a statistical software provider asked me to offer a few quotes about our relationship. Then they showed me their "case study" ... full of misleading statements. I asked to have the statements corrected, and the vendor obliged. A month later, I left Eddie Bauer. Two months later, I noticed that all of the lies had been republished, attributed to "me". I called the company, telling them that while I no longer worked at Eddie Bauer, I didn't want lies attributed to me. The software company did two things.
  1. They instead attributed the lies to my boss.
  2. They published a version of the case study / lies attributed to my name in Japan, thinking I'd never see that version (Narrator:  He saw that version).
To this day, I can perform a Google search and find versions of the lies.

There are reasons you won't find Case Studies and References on my website.
  1. Most NDAs (especially with large brands) require that I keep the working relationship quiet.
  2. Most of my Clients don't want you to know that we worked on a specific project, because knowledge of that fact means the Client loses their competitive advantage. If JCP knew that I worked with Macy's to improve profitability by $10,000,000, JCP could hire me to perform the same work. Why would Macy's ever want that to happen? Discuss.
I spent nine months working at an internet startup that later became known as the "retargeting industry". I was part of a team of five ... we had a Product Manager who repeatedly told our team ...
  • "It's my job to lie. It's your job to make my lies come true."
Be careful when asking for Case Studies or asking for References. Lies have become a best practice, as we see each and every day. But that doesn't mean that everybody lies.

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