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Sunday, March 02, 2008

The challenge of negative press

Countryside Publishing Company, Inc. has been the subject of hostile comments on an Internet thread for it sales practices. The company's products are in fact legitimate, and well-designed.

With more than 600 comments, this thread in The Daily WTF, "So You Hacked Our Site!?" raises some interesting and important questions. Initially, I saw this simply as a case of "slagging" on the Internet; but my eyes perked up when I noticed that the business publishing Federal Suppliers Guide, Countryside Publishing Company, Inc. of Ocala, Florida, is also very much in our neck of the woods -- for several years they've produced marketing brochures, CDs and websites for contractors and builders; using the supplier chain to help fund the work.

Unfortunately, many commenters on this thread's postings describe "Federal Suppliers Guide" as a scam. It is not, and Countryside in fact produces technically satisfactory products including its construction industry books and CDs. Some samples of their work (obtained via Google search) are referenced below.


The issue here in my opinion is not Countryside/Federal Suppliers Guide's legitimacy as a business -- but the challenges of aggressive selling practices, and the potential negative fall-out from these approaches.

Outbound telemarketing and sales calls by their nature are intrusive; almost no one asks a complete stranger to call them and invite them to spend money. To be "effective"businesses which engage in processes like phone cold calling and door-to-door canvassing, develop tools to break through resistance and barriers and get the order, often leaving a sour taste behind. Regardless of the actual value or legitimacy of the actual product or service delivered (and I am not suggesting any problems with Countryside's products), the selling process leaves vibes that are less than perfect. And this is ironic, because Countryside/Federal Suppliers Guide is offering marketing tools and services for builders and contractors.

In this thread, unfortunately, Countryside is inaccurately described as a "scam" and one of the company's employees -- rightfully hurt by the inaccurate assertions -- comes on to defend the business. Ouch. This just sets off page after page of rebuttal, compounding the negative publicity.

At times in the past (and probably in the future) Countryside's business has competed or will compete with ours; we use supplier chain resources to sell our advertising features; and some people we've approached in the past have recalled experiences with Countryside (one even provided their sales contract to our representative). Searching through other web postings about Countryside, I don't find negative insights -- instead, I sense this company has built loyalty and respect among its employees.

Nevertheless, we can all learn lessons here about effective selling and marketing and the dangers of overly assertive/aggressive techniques. Here, Countryside/Federal Suppliers Guide is being put through a wringer. We must always be careful that our selling process not be so intrusive that the community forms this type of image of our businesses. In the end, while what we do/deliver is what counts the most, if the overriding emotions and impressions created about us is that we are a 'scam', we will find increasing costs and lower sales -- just the opposite of what we (and I think Countryside) are seeking to achieve.


Anonymous said...

Then please explain this one.

Anonymous said...

I can explain it the above links on 2 words. Disgruntled employees.