Roles & responsibilities?

Yesterday AU had a meeting with a local marketing communications outfit to discuss a fairly extensive document (i.e., wire frames, biz requirements, etc. for an unusual e-comm site) we put together for a client. (Note: Due to the nature of this document we are not able to share its content at this time.) Per the client’s request, we’re shopping the document in order to explore the possibility of a design & development partner suited for this large and detailed effort. In the course of this meeting the head of their interactive group got bold and said, “We have a process. One of the things we aim to do is reassess and even validate the business model…”

Did he say, “Validate the biz model?” E-comm is the new gold rush. It’s growing hand over fist. Even marginal sites are doing 7, maybe even 8 figures, and this developer thinks his company has some grand insight into things? Shocking!  Marketing firm… Creative/developer type… Suddenly they’re in the in depth business consulting, management consulting, VC-esque biz?!?! Who’s going to dole out this expertise, the creative director?

This coming from the type of outfit who uses the term, “We’re selective” when they often should actually be saying, “This is more challenging than what we can handle. There’s risk involved here. We’re not good at risk. But give us a mainstream middle of the road B and we’ll make it a B+.” It sometimes difficult to understand what gets passed off as expertise, or at least is attempted to be as such.

On top of it all this there is no doubt that this agency’s own web site needs a make-over. Like a super model, it looks nice but the fact is it lacks depth. There was a severe disconnect between the brand they presented in the meeting and the brand that’s on their web site. If anyone should know that in today’s biz world the walk needs to align very closely with the talk it should be a marketing communications outfit. I was sitting in a meeting in the late 90’s.

Granted, one must keep an open mind. There’s always some potential insight to be gained from even the most unsuspecting of sources. But to put in a good 60 minutes and not hear anything about what this outfit is going to do for the client. About what makes this outfit that much more likely to deliver success *to the client* than someone else. Well, we were honestly dumbfounded. Sometimes it’s best to just shut up and listen to people who actually believe their own press releases. Unfortunately, the client with extensive depth in retail and e-comm wasn’t laughing.