Vendor Schmendor

So, I know. I have an issue. If you’ve followed me on Twitter or know me in real life, you know that I have a distaste for vendors. Let me explain…

In my professional career never have I witnessed more advantage taken of ignorant folks than I have with social media in higher ed. Take a moment and think about how many webinars, white papers, vendors, start ups and conference agendas you’ve seen of late that uncover the ‘hidden’ powers of social media for admissions and retention. Probably many, right?

Even before this, I’ve found vendor-itis to be rampant at jobs where people just didnt understand the given communication medium – and they were taken advantage of for this. Education was never an option through vendors, at least not in a way that allowed the consumer to make a better decision. It was always about the bottom line – an itemized list of what you could get to know for a fee.

Dont get me wrong; some vendors and startups have gained my trust. Tweeps at Flimp, Blue Fuego, Azorus, Zinch, Unigo and others have been helpful while adding value to their own services.

Its that kind of service that I’d pay for. Your webinar on how Facebook can be used by admissions offices that tells me how to use a group is not very helpful – nor helpful to those who dont use the medium, really.

Instead of my usual negativity, this is a thank you to those vendors who do add to the knowledge of their consumer. Big ups. Much love.

What has been your vendor experience? Who do you love and why?

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5 thoughts on “Vendor Schmendor

  1. Agreed. I’ll exempt the good vendors I know from the following statement, but here goes:

    There are way to many vendors out there playing on the ignorance, and occasional fear, of uninformed administrators. I’ve had other offices come to me with Webinars on creating a Facebook presence, not realizing we had one, or even seen people put too much time and expense into what are essentially Social Media 101 seminars (‘This is a Web page!’). It’s as if some companies try to slither their way around the org chart to those who know the least, and don’t care if it disrupts existing structures and projects.

    That said, I think a Good Vendor is one that comes in as a true partner to help a college with a pressing problem or need. Not a jackal that preys on ignorance to make a buck. Good Vendors put genuinely helping their clients first, knowing that financial incentive comes from quality relationships.

  2. I’ve been fortunate to work with some really outstanding vendors. As 1 | insidetimshead, I think the best vendors take their customers business as seriously as their own.

    During my tenure at BCBSRI, we worked with Interwoven’s TeamSite CMS tool. The Interwoven team proved to be indispensible. Even though we purchased a software system, Interwoven’s approach to treating our relationship as a partnership was what made our CMS installation a success. Both companies mutually benefited from the efforts that the Interwoven deployment team extended.

    Also, thanks for the inclusion on your “good vendor” list – Flimp is honored.

    Selling just for the sake of selling doesn’t benefit anyone. Good vendors understand that a client’s success in using a product or service is far more important than just “a sale.”

  3. Thanks for the post. I certainly understand and I agree with you. However, I’d make a distinction between a “vendor” and an “agency.” To me, a vendor is in the business of selling you a product or service (e.g., a CMS system). An agency, be it strategy or creative, is something different.

    I’ve always appreciated the creative and intellectual capital agencies bring. However, as you state, it’s gotten out of hand with the social media hype. And it’s mostly by niche agencies that have never had to manage the entire marketing plan. They’re specialists that are branding themselves to meet a changing market. That’s fine, but I agree the hype gets to you after awhile.

    In terms of vendors selling products, I’d prefer transparency with them regarding blogs, twitter and the like so that when they express views, we know they are speaking from their certain point of reference and bias. I read a blog awhile ago regarding enrollment management in higher education saying that social media was over hyped and that colleges should not necessarily have a presence in it. Then I looked at who was writing it and an employee of a mainframe software vendor for higher education that has its own social media capabilities.

  4. What??

    Did I just read Jessica raise props to a select few vendors? Has the end of days arrived?


    Just teasin’ Jess. Glad you’ve turned a page!

  5. Thanks Jessica for your comments and including Azorus in the good vendor list. I spend a great deal of time researching the topics I’ve presented for our webinars on Social Media and I am very aware of how knowledgeable professionals in higher education are.

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