|Okay, it's a kinda cool headline - but what it's leading up to ain't so cool. Our kind -- members of the press, on that side of the fence -- often shake their heads while sharing anecdotes that converge into sentiments best paraphrased by "there's lots of idiots working in this industry". Mind you, we don't mean this derogatory as though we were above criticisms. Far from it. Really. Still, working on our side means we constantly absorb certain impressions from the manufacturing side of things that may not be intended (one hopes) but are still damaging and should thus be rectified. Say we sent out a review solicitation and used an e-mail listed on the company's contact page. When we don't hear back, ever -- or 5 lame weeks pass before we get a "not interested" note -- we start to wonder whether a customer would be treated with equal neglect.
|When a manufacturer's last item on their on-line news page is 2 years old, it raises questions. When review gear is promised and shows up months after the fact without warning, it calls into doubt the manufacturer's ability to supply customers in a timely basis. (It also jams up our schedules.) When a European manufacturer signs on a distributor who doesn't operate a website and in fact runs another job "in the real world", you can't fail to question that maker's seriousness. True, we operate by the "don't ask, don't tell" credo. But if readers ask us -- and they do, about a specific firm, about what we'd recommend -- the innumerable impressions percolating in our grey zones upstairs will influence our answers. Hey, that's human nature. It's why mom drummed into your head that first impressions matter.
It's completely unacceptable to hear that a foreign manufacturer fails to respond to service queries -- after a customer has already exhausted domestic avenues to no avail -- with the justification that they're too small and busy making stuff and hence have to rely on their distributors to interface with the public. Not! You make something, it breaks, your chosen retailer/ distributors fails to service the owner, you're responsible. Any argument to the contrary simply means you deserve to go out of business - and the sooner the better. Axe your distributor too while you're at it. If you can't figure out how to send review product into Canada without having the recipient billed for customs charges, call your shipper's local account manager and have him show you how to properly fill out the waybill. If you can't be troubled, we can't be, either.
The industry at large complains about poor sales, a down economy, the wrong president. But when you consider certain behavior, scapegoats aren't needed. The afflicted parties themselves do just fine, thank you. Don't believe in astrology, cosmic cycles, the Age of Aquarius? Not necessary. Nobody living today can fail to acknowledge that ours is an area of information and communication. It's mandatory to either personally acquire the requisite communication skills or contract with others who can fill that void in one's company if one hopes to prosper. Spending big money on amateurish ads that don't get changed in years just doesn't cut it. Assuming or hoping that people will wade through excessive flash and convoluted website menus to find no product pricing only to pick up the phone and call you about it ... boy, that's way asinine. To open exhibit doors during trade or consumer shows two hours late because you partied into the wee hours the night before sends the wrong message.
|To have some dude man the room who's utterly clueless and armed with last year's brochures is stupid. What does it say about you and your professional conduct? Not using a basic spell checker before you submit a manufacturer's reply is careless. Trust me, the list continues ad infinitum. And none of this is rocket science. Answering e-mails in a timely fashion, returning phone calls, updating the website, remaining easy to reach and willing to address issues, honoring commitments or informing the other person when one can't (and before one ends up in a tight spot) ... all of that is common sense, nothing more. And while it's convenient to point out that many HighEnd niche manufacturers were founded by engineers and continue to be run by tinkerers and mad inventors, it perhaps explains things but still fails miserably to excuse or justify
|'em. That's why today's headline reads "All Buzz, No Biz". To get the business aspect up and running and out of the garage so to speak (even if the garage remains the base of operations) requires professional conduct all around well beyond the actual hardware.
|If a reader asks me for a recommendation on an integrated amp below $2K, a handful of favorites might present itself quickly. But if one of their makers is a rude and obnoxious ass and the other always late with replies and deliveries, I'll only mention the remaining three. I'll remain mum on the other two unless I'm asked outright. You can't help to get impressions about people. It's all the little things over the years that add up. In the end, it's not just about the product, it's about the people behind it. And that interpersonal domain outside of the hardware is often the one where exasperated reviewers with close connections wish that portions of our industry grew up and acted serious and professional. Hang loose, be eccentric - but also mind those other aspects which, whether you know it or not, are inextricably entwined with your sales efforts.
|Those twines are either conducive to your forward momentum or grossly counter-productive. If it's the latter, shouldn't you get out of your own way by now? Just a thought - precipitated by recent internal discussions in fact. Of course, some folks not only enjoy cycling uphill, they add excess weight just for the challenge. That certainly builds strong lungs. Could be useful to complain ever more vociferously "why no bloody biz with all that wonderful buzz"...