Monday, November 27, 2006

Hi, I'm Vendor No. XYZ-123

"I spend many hours a day counselling your CEO, my company just designed a programme that is expected to avert a crisis in your lives, and change the fortunes of your company. But hey, I'm just a vendor and supplier, like your plumber, travel agent, and your friendly neighbourhood newspaper boy!"

It's amazing how in this day and age, marketing consultants, advertising agencies and public relations firms get clubbed under the head of "vendors and suppliers" by the clients we work with - for their accounts and other financial purposes.

We all strut around claiming to be partners in the success of our client's business, yet few of us take affront to this misnomer, or expect changes in this area.

Not surprisingly, we're treated as such, especially by the finance and accounts departments! During the last 17 years in the business, I have only heard of such shabby treatment. But in the last 17 months as an independent, I have experienced this first hand.

Clients expect work and results overnight, but take their own sweet time in making payments - often leaving you at the mercy of accountants, to whom you are just another vendor! Junior people down the line in Client organisations have no respect for experience or levels on the other side - because quite simply they're paying and you're vending!

While this is sad but expected, what's worse is how we in the business ourselves often treat the people we work with. I once received an email from the finance head of a PR firm, and the mail neither had the courtesy of a hello or anything, and as I said earlier was addressed to everyone including the guy who books their plane tickets, their telephone service provider, and of course me and their other communication "vendors"!

The text of the whole mail:

"Per our corporate parent ***, ******* is required to notify our suppliers of ***'s code of business conduct and corporate social responsibility policy as it relates to the sale of goods and/or services sold to us. The complete details of this policy can be found at the following website: (url here)
Please take note of the policies stated therein."

That's it!!! That was the whole mail! Well if a PR firm interacts with its "suppliers" this way (perhaps unwittingly), how do you expect clients to be any better!?

Think about it. Do something about it!

Note: Not all clients are like this. I have experienced/heard of great respect being given to our fraternity by companies like Whirlpool, Reckitt-Benckiser, Pepsi, ITC, IBM, Microsoft, and Tata Motors. I imagine there are more. And may their tribe increase!

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