Promote, Protest and Get TerminatedBy: John Honovich, Published on Feb 03, 2013
IPVM discussions are going great. In the first full month, we had 15,000+ reads, over 700 comments and 70 discussions posted. We have one problem that I simply will not tolerate - manufacturers promoting their products.
Here's what we consider a promotion:
- Person does not disclose affiliation (i.e. "my name is Bob, I am from Buildright security")
- Person posts one or two line comment recommending and linking to their own product without any details or explanation
A promotional comment is typically like: "You should buy Widget W, check out their webpage - http://www.widgetwsecurity.com" and that's it.
With that approach, readers have no way to know that a manufacturer is recommending their own products nor any information on why it would actually be useful.
Promotional comments kill discussion groups. It makes it hard to figure out what is legitimate and what is spam, drowning out quality comments. This is the biggest reason that LinkedIn groups are failing, easily 20% of comments there are pointless promotions for products that make no sense for the discussion topic. I absolutely refuse to allow this to happen to IPVM.
Email Promotional Poster
As soon as I see a promotional post, I email the poster and let them know that we consider it promotional, and that we have deleted it. If they ask why or simply apologize, I have no problem, explain and move on.
Do Not Protest
However, some manufacturer protests, saying things like 'this is my personal opinion' or 'we pay you.' The personal opinion of an RSM to buy the RSM's products is worthless. Keep it to yourself unless you can share real technical or operational details.
The 'we pay you' response is equally inane. IPVM could charge 10x or 100x more for manufacturer memberships (even crappy individual reports from no name firms cost far more than an annual IPVM group plan). We charge a low rate, priced for integrators and users. Manufacturers are allowed to take advantage of IPVM research, a huge value to them, at a tiny cost (because we do not want to be beholden to them). All we ask is that they do not use IPVM for promotion nor promote on IPVM.
If a manufacturer promotes and then protests, their whole group membership is terminated. I am not going to debate or negotiate.
Not using IPVM for promotion is a very simple thing to accomplish. It just takes a little self-constraint and common sense (unfortunately, it seems many mid level sales people lack one or both of these).
How Manufacturers Can Comment
That noted, manufacturers comment every week offering valuable insights on their fields and products. All they need to do is remember to (1) disclose their affiliation up front when recommending their product and (2) explain why their product actually fits the needs of the discussion. Bonus points for acknowledging any weaknesses up front because they have to expect that if they recommend their solution and we have concerns about it, we will respond immediately with them.