As an email marketing vendor that resells dozens of other vendors, ClickMail has always been of the mindset that the customer is first, and the more vendors we represent, the more likely we’ll be to find the best fit for our customers. It’s one reason clients choose ClickMail. They know we won’t force them to use a particular ESP, for example. They trust us to figure out the ESP that will give them the highest email deliverability and the services that best fit with their current and future email marketing goals.
Representing multiple vendors has never, ever been an issue for us. We know the only way we can really serve our clients and help them obtain their maximum email marketing ROI is by being vendor agnostic. We’ve built our entire business on that principle.
So I was surprised to read the comments made by Joe Chernov, Director of Content Marketing at Eloqua, speaking on their breakup with The Pedowitz Group:
“We believe that exclusivity is in the best interest of the customer, because there is no room for opacity in the vendor selection process,” he said. “For the most part, resellers have pre-committed to a vendor before sitting down with a prospect, so to that end, this notion of vendor neutrality doesn’t always hold up in the real world.”
Vendor neutrality is what ClickMail is all about, and has been for 10 years now. I personally think Eloqua’s position is misguided.
I’m not alone. Phil Fernandez, CEO of Marketo,* wrote in response to this attitude: “When independent consultants are knowledgeable about multiple vendors—and conduct themselves in a way that puts the customer first—everyone wins in the long run.”
In that blog post, he then describes his own company’s sometimes frustration with a partner that recommended another vendor to a client, but says, “in the end, we always made peace with it because we knew that we were on a level playing field and that Jeff was representing the customer and putting the customer’s needs first.”
Granted, the whole reason for Eloqua parting ways with The Pedowitz Group is over intellectual property, and that argument makes business sense for them. But speaking as an advocate for the customer, which all of us are called to be, we at ClickMail believe we are doing the right thing—as an email marketing vendor—to work with a variety of service providers, because our focus is the customer’s success, not our own.
*Disclosure: Marketo is one of the vendors we resell at ClickMail.