marketing and sales executives from Silicon Valley

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Sorry Vocus and PRWeb, but you sent me to another vendor #vocus #prweb

I really wanted to give PRWeb a chance, but they reminded me of an important lesson.

There's a phrase that B2B startup marketers and salespeople come to expect: "No one gets fired for buying IBM." That phrase has other forms, such as "No one get fired for buying Cisco" and more recently, "No one gets fired for choosing Google."

What the customer is saying in each case, is that time and battle tested vendors with established track records are safe bets. The buyer, or his manager doesn't want the risk of choosing a startup that may not deliver the same level or quality of service.

It's simple really and can be boiled down to a simple formula: pay A get Y

That equation is actually: pay A get Y, Z percent of the time, where Z = a reliability (or trust) factor. For established and trusted vendors, Z is presumed to be 1. There is an implied certainty that the established vendor has survived this long by delivering Y, 100% of the time.

When you're a start-up or less established business, customers don't know what value "Z" is for your company. Start-ups have two main ways do deal with uncertainty in "Z" for customers. Lower A (Charge less) or increase Y (deliver more value). Basically a start-up or less established business can attract customers with lower prices or delivering more value.

I bring this lesson up as I was in the position to evaluate another vendor for press release distribution and my investigation into using PRWeb has proved unfruitful. I know somone at Vocus, who owns PRWeb, and I recalled seeing a note that PRWeb had a partnership with Zemanta which could provide more social media coverage for my release. I researched my options, signed up for an acount, then froze in my tracks due to the menu of choices. I was considering PRWeb's "premium" release, which provided AP distribution for $160 more than their other options for a total of $360, which was less than the $600 I paid for my usual major wire service. After logging in, I saw an option for "Better visibility" for $269 that would give me AP distribution and several other key distribution points. That meant I would pay $629 for better visibility and, it seems, pay for AP twice. I also noticed that the Zemanta distribution that I had wanted was not listed.

So to recap, I originally though I would get Y + Zemanta + other PRWeb social media benefits for a price somewhere less than $600. In reality, there might not be any Zemanta, and I was going to pay $629, and my reliability/trust factor was still less than 1. I would be paying more for less reliability and maybe more features. That confused me, so I asked the salesman: is Zemanta included? and why do I have to pay for AP twice, which I asked for the response in writing. His response, call me. My response - I need it documented, write it down, then I'll call to ask questions. Again, his response: "Call me". Needless to say my time is better spent using an older, but more trustworthy news service.

So thank you, Vocus and PRWeb, for reminding me that no one gets fired for choosing a trusted and established industry leader. In some cases, and this one in particular, it's not worth the risk when your vendor won't document what service they'll provide and even try to you trust them.

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