Little Glass Houses For You And Me

So this announcement kind of stunned me.  I've never been a customer of Competitive Cyclist, and while my wife bought some chamois cream from RealCyclist I've personally got no experience with that enterprise/conglomerate/whatever you want to call it. Nonetheless, Mike and I both enjoyed reading the CC blog, where this was announced.  "Enjoyed reading the CC blog" is sort of a funny way to state it, because while they had some good insights and definitely had some quality snapshots up there (it is mostly due to them that I ride with a camera pretty much all the time), they also got pretty far down the "J Peterman Urban Sombrero" rabbit hole pretty regularly.  A new CC blog would usually inspire a flurry of texts between the two of us, running the gamut of reactions. It's about a million times easier to be the critic than the creator, and while we always found something to sneer at (between the two of us, it's our 3rd most popular response to stuff!!), I at least speak for myself when I say that I have to respect that they built up a huge audience of loyal and engaged people, and built a business out of that.  The great big machine of the market told them they were doing okay when they were able to sell stuff at full pop based on a really good customer experience. 

We were engaged, and so, it seems, were their customers.  Lately, they had kind of taken a beating in the comments for the editorial direction of the blog.  It used to have sort of a lot of fanboy stuff, way too much for my taste, but would reliably include some worthy nugget about the sport or the industry.  In recent times they'd been more and more about why the limited edition $12k Pinarello is the only bike that any self respecting cyclist would want to be seen on (hyperbole, I know this, but not in extremis).  The line between selling Dura Ace (and everything else) for full retail on the back of stellar customer service and great business practices and shilling needlessly expensive and ever more esoteric stuff is not a fine one.  People noticed. 

But we were engaged, and so, it seems, were their customers.  So why in tarnation would you go out on your blog, a blog that had been a pretty witty, engaging (that word again), at times very forthright, and conversational platform, and put a bone dry press release about selling yourselves to a place that you knew had the potential to alienate a lot of your audience.  Mike and I would probably feel like we had to run such a move past a few dozen customers before we got too far down such a road as selling ourselves.*  I sort of feel like the least they could have done was be super honest and frank about it.  The guys behind that place are characters in the story of a lot of people's involvement with cycling.  Take those people on that journey with you, help them see it the way you do. 

Unless you're stupid, you go into this kind of a deal thinking that it's going to be a good move for as many of the relevant players as possible, and when you are in retail (or a lot of things, most things maybe even, but especially in retail) YOUR CUSTOMERS ARE THE MOST RELEVANT PLAYERS.  If it doesn't work for them, it doesn't work for anyone. 

I just see the way that announcement was handled as the front runner for the year's prize for "Biggest Missed Opportunity."

*Mike and I have no plans to sell out.  We are more along the path of desperately trying to sell in - that is to say do what they did a while ago and make this the thing that they do for real, all the time.  Our endgame features many more thoughts of "when we get to do this full time" and fewer thoughts of "when we sell for millions and sip fruity blender drinks in exotic locales."

I don't know, what do you think?

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1 comment

Don't go anywhere, though my checkbook would appreciate it if you quit offering such great deals…


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