As you know, I've always been adamantly opposed to negative campaigning. I don't mind honestly critical thinking - in fact I welcome that - and I don't mind a battle on the merits of something. But I really don't like it when one company trashes something.
It gets particularly painful when companies I like do it.
When companies I don't like do it, I'm pretty much on it. You hear about it.
When companies I truly like and sometimes even admire do it, I'm honestly not as enthused but I still have to be a straight shooter and do it anyway.
This is the tale of a company that I like.
A Tale of Infusionsoft
Last week, I heard from Infusionsoft via press releases and links that they were changing their name from InfusionSoft CRM to Infusionsoft (the full press release on their name changes is here) and that they would no longer be involved in CRM but now in "e-marketing." Their reasons are discussed on their website:
"Looking for Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software for your business? Before you go down that path, there's something you should know about CRM. For years CRM software companies have made big promises. And for years, they've missed the mark. Outrageous claims of all-in-one business solutions turned out to be…well, outrageous. CRM software has been a big disappointment... especially for entrepreneurs and small businesses. Why, you ask?
- CRM software is old technology invented decades ago
- CRM was originally created for very large businesses, not entrepreneurs
- CRM solutions for "small business" aren't much more than contact managers & static data repositories
- CRM has an extremely (and embarrassingly) high failure rate
Basically, CRM software has failed to live up to the Customer Relationship Management philosophy and what it was supposed to be. And unfortunately, small business owners have thrown countless dollars away on "miracle" CRM solutions that amounted to little more than frustration & additional headaches!
Today's small business needs something that goes WAY beyond CRM software. If you want to grow your business instead of just managing it, then you need eMarketing software."
Now they are an "emarketing" company and that is supposed to be completely different and far more successful than CRM.
First, before I get into it.
I have no problem with being critical of CRM. I don't even like the term and think that it needs to be changed or evolved or eliminated for something else. We are in an era where customer engagement is the order of the day and managing customer relationships is no longer viable nor desired. The name reflects a period that had different customer expectations and different perceptions by practitioners and vendors.
But what's going on here is disappointing for more than one reason.
First, for purely selfish reasons, Infusionsoft is reducing CRM to a software solution - despite the software industry claims to know better. Anyone in the field including the good folks at Infusionsoft, know that when we're dealing with CRM, we're dealing with a strategy for customers, not just an application or on demand service. The reasons for its failure were not uniformly ponderous software but more often than not failed thinking about the strategy and the programs prior to the implementation of the software. In fact, if you look at the reasons that were given when CRM did fail, the big ones were failure to adopt (which is a software issue) and a failure to define the elements/metrics/indicators for success (not a software issue). So this description is pretty self serving.
Second, as my good buddy Brent Leary has pointed out in many columns, we're at a point (despite Infusionsoft's claims) that there are numerous options for small business to choose from ranging from Infusionsoft (emarketing notwithstanding) to CRM Guaranteed to Zoho to salesforce.com etc.
Third, and most ridiculous is that "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." Meaning all Infusionsoft did here, unless they can prove otherwise, is rebrand themselves - which is great and fine. But they felt that in order to rebrand (and distinguish) themselves, they had to start reviling something they had actually been no more than 2 weeks ago without any fundamental changes to anything but their message and website. They were (and still are) a CRM application - a very good one for small businesses I might add - and just because they call themselves something else doesn't make them something else. Maybe I should change my book title to "EMarketing at the Speed of Light...."
I just find this sad -- and silly. I truly like this company, think that Clate Mask is both a smart guy and a great guy. But this effort that they are making to distance themselves from CRM without any changes but to their message and the generic trashing of CRM that's used to trash CRM non-specifically is just...well, sad, sad, sad. Because they didn't need it just to rebrand.
If they had simply said that they were going to rebrand as emarketing and explained it around changes they made to their applications functionality - and how they had been misaligned as CRM when they were actually more of a company providing emarketing (which in all fairness is more of the weight of their applications than any other components) then, okay. No problem.
But, in effect, to rebrand and then blame it on the failure of CRM and then not change their applications to reflect what they're doing? That smacks of desperation to differentiate. If they are actually changing their applications and just not telling us, then their timing is bad. They shouldn't announce their bye byes to CRM until they've eliminated their salesforce automation components and their ecommerce components so they can truly eat their own yummy emarketing dog food.
And don't bother with the CRM sucks argument. Stay positive. Just be straight as to why you decided to rebrand. How can you be one thing one day and then trash it totally the next and not make any other changes than verbiage? If you're making other changes that gives me (and everybody else) a sense of why you truly had to trash CRM to make the changes, please announce them so I can say, okay, that works for me (and everyone else). I have no vested interest in CRM nor do I have one in emarketing. But because I like you guys, I'd like to see you not do things like this which seem somewhat petty.
Damn, I'm disappointed.