Sending customers away and firing your own customers

Yesterday, Paul Greenberg asked on Twitter:

“Can anyone give me names of leading social media/social network analyst besides @jowyang, of course. Big or small firms or soloists okay”.

I’m not sure what he was looking for, or why I wasn’t included in his query (update he responded below in comments), but I quickly responded:

“@pgreenbe try Oliver Young (Forr), @monkchips (redmonk) @gartenberg (Jupiter) @yarmis (AMR Research). Did I just refer to my competitors?yea”.

It should have been @jyarmis I had it wrong

While I’m started, he should also check out eMarketer, Hitwise, Compete, and Gartner, you’ll find plenty of resources from those analyst firms. Need even more resources? I created a list of resources for those seeking analysts.

The natural instinct for most companies is to pull customers as close as they can, so why in the heck would I sent someone away from me? Well first of all, it was clear that he was seeking an alternative voice, so whatever I can do to help him on his quest may lead him back to me.

The thing about people is that if you send them away, when thinking about their best interests, the hope is that they’ll come back with friends, good luck Paul! For another perspective on this same discussion, see what colleague Josh Bernoff thinks about talking about your competitors.

Also, yesterday at the 10th Aniv of the Cluetrain we talked about when some customers are too costly to do deal with, and expelling them (firing your own customers) was a good idea. Apparently, Royal Caribbean cruises banned a vocal customer for life from their ships, I somehow think there are two sides of the stories, but you be the judge.

Tell me a time when you or your client sent customers away, maybe it was to help them, maybe it was to get rid of them.

When would you send away prospects or fire your own customers?