Thursday, July 06, 2006

A Philosophical Musing On The Letter V -- And Words Tethered To It

I first came across this article, written by Russ Stoddard, back in December. Regardless of your position on whether he's right or wrong, it definitely makes you think. Reprinted here with permission:

There's a "V" word that isn't in our Vocabulary at Oliver Russell -- and it shouldn't be in yours, either, especially if you're looking to create Value.

In this case, V isn't for victory and it isn't for the monologues. V is for Vendor.

There. I've said it. The dreaded V word.

Now some folks might wonder why I'm making such a fuss. And some might not mind being a vendor. Or called one.

But here's the deal. We all know that vendor is often used, whether innocently or not, as a dehumanizing, clinical, insensitive pejorative. (Are you wondering how I truly feel about it?) Dictionary definition aside, vendor has come to connote total commodity -- who can provide something the fastest or the cheapest. And that's a dead-end, zero-sum game going forward in the marketing arena.

The key to success when using resources outside your business is to find individuals or agencies or alliances outside your company walls that add value -- true partnerships that deliver forward-looking return on investment beyond the simple scrimping of cents on the dollar.

I know here at our agency, we have higher aspirations than to be a vendor -- and we're keen on semantics as well -- so we've outlawed the word from our vocabulary. We're sharpening our brains to help brands navigate marketing change and add value with a big-time V. We aren't looking to work in vendor relationships, and similarly we aren't referring to printers or mail houses or our freelancers with the V word -- we're according them the respect of partnership and demanding that they add value to the equation for our agency and our clients. And guess what? Sometimes in the process of engaging outside brains we even get thinking that pushes the cost lower as well.

And you? Where do you fall in regards the V word? In the camp of value or on the sword of vendor? I'd like to know -- email Russ at

Please feel free to comment here, or send Russ an email if you'd like to discuss this with him directly.

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