A car-buff friend of mine — who is, by the way, a hip, Ivy-league educated 30-something with an income that would make him highly desirable to most luxury brands — sent me a post that made him sad. One of his favorite car sites, eMercedesBenz
, pitched Mercedes on sponsoring the site and was turned down. From the post:
“We wish we could say that Mercedes shared our passion of the project, but the truth is, they didn’t. There were various objections to the proposal, the majority of which we believe were inaccurate. Ultimately, however, we believe the basis of their objection can be summarized in a single word: complacency. Mercedes believes that if they already have you as a customer, it’s not worth the expenditure to keep you, due to the fact they’re already adept enough at doing so. They also believe that their current advertising approach is efficient enough at reaching new customers.”
My reaction was a little different than my friend’s. Look, it’s no fun to be rejected, especially by a brand you’ve dedicated yourself to publishing a site about. And, in this economic climate, generating revenue to pay the bills at a small business is a life-or-death proposition. But the team at eMercedesBenz did what most niche publications never get the opportunity to do: They got an actual meeting with the client-side marketing decision-makers at a tier-one global brand like Mercedes. According to Quantcast, eMercedesBenz has an average monthly audience of around 15,000 readers
. While that puts ChasNote’s audience reach to shame, it’s still a tiny number in the world of automotive advertising.
Brand managers at places like Mercedes aren’t snobs, only willing to meet with reps from Dow Jones and CNBC, and only with *them* if the venue is 21 Club; they just need a level of scale before they can have a serious talk with you. The act of doing business with a partner takes resources — time, employees and mental energy — even before the first dollar is spent. In an economic moment when most companies are cutting costs and scaling back staff, most companies (including luxury brands) are feeling pressure to reduce their number of partners rather than add new ones.
eMercedesBenz Team: I can relate to your disappointment, but you should also take pride in your success. You made it to the table. Keep at it — you’ll get the business eventually. As my colleague James Gross
likes to say, “making diamonds takes time and pressure.”