Thursday, September 3, 2009

What have you SU Ladies decided to do???

I saw this today, and it is just ridiculous!! I got this from Happy Happy Joy Joy at Obsessed with Scrapbooking...

"Stampin Up! unveiled a new demonstrator agreement form yesterday that has some severe restrictions on the online marketing practices of their demonstrators. For starters, the agreement states:

9. Restrictions on Representation of Competing Companies or Products: I understand that as an independent contractor, I am free to conduct such business in such manner as I deem appropriate. I also understand that the value of my demonstratorship and the demonstratorships of others, as well as the Products, is in large part dependent upon my obligation to refrain from promoting or selling the products of other companies, or engaging in recruitment that competes with the Products that I have a right to sell through my demonstratorship. In this regard, I understand that although restrictions may apply to promoting, marketing, or selling products of other companies, such restrictions shall not extend to the casual or incidental reference or display of such products as long as the reference or display is not reasonably made to drive people to the source or seller of those products, such as providing purchasing information, referrals to catalogs or publications, or links to blogs, web sites, or the like that promote, market, or sell products of other companies. Accordingly, I agree to the following:

(d) Electronic Communications: I understand that the content of my electronic communications such as e-mail, personal blog, web site, Twitter, Facebook, other social media and the like can have a considerable influence on how I am perceived as a Demonstrator for © 2009 STAMPIN’ UP! and also reflect significantly on the Company. Accordingly, I will refrain from using such electronic communications to promote, market, or sell the products of other companies (direct or retail sellers) who offer similar products, which includes: decorative stamps (in any form), stamp art accessories, scrapbooking products, digital art solutions, and vinyl wall art.What are the implications of that new policy? How does it impact a demonstrator's personal blog, separate from the SU! business? Does that mean demonstrators can no longer link to friends' blogs who may sell a competing brand (CTMH, Creative Memories, etc.)? What are the implications for SU! reps who are on multiple design teams? What about online forum advertising/posting? Gallery and contest submissions? The implications in this policy are huge!Here are some FAQs that SU! has provided:Re-signing the IDA

Q: How do I sign the new Independent Demonstrator Agreement (IDA)?
A: Log in to the Demonstrator Web Site and either print a copy of the agreement from the Printing Place, or go to My Business>My Profile. There is a link on the right side of the My Profile page for the new (2009) Independent Demonstrator Agreement. From that link you can read the new IDA and electronically agree to the new terms. Demonstrators who do not have Internet access can contact Demonstrator Support to make alternate arrangements.

Q: What's the deadline for signing the IDA?A: You have until midnight on September 30, 2009, to sign and submit the new IDA.Q: What happens if I don't sign the new IDA by the deadline?
A: If you haven't signed the new IDA by October 1, 2009, you will be unable to place any orders through OEX until you do so. If you try to place an order, you will be prompted to go through the quick, easy process of signing the new IDA.In addition, if you haven't signed the new IDA by October 1, your customers will not be able to place any orders through your Demonstrator Business Web Site (DBWS) and you will not be included in the Demonstrator Locator or Demonstrator Finder tools on the Stampin' Up! Web Site. Make sure you sign the new IDA before October 1 so you don't lose any potential sales.

Q: How does this impact new recruits? If I or a member of my downline just joined in August, do we still need to sign a new IDA?
A: Yes. The new IDA is available online now, so any new recruits who sign up now will need to sign the new IDA. However, those who signed up before September 1 also need to sign the new IDA, and may do so electronically at any time before October 1. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause but hope you understand how important it is that every demonstrator is aware of these changes.

Q: Why do I need to re-sign the IDA?
A: While we can make minor changes to policy and the IDA without requiring demonstrators to sign the agreement again, we felt that the changes on this revision were significant enough that we would give all demonstrators the opportunity to read and accept the new terms. TopPersonal/Business Impact

Q: If I have a Stampin' Up! blog where I promote my Stampin' Up! business and a personal blog that I keep separate from my Stampin' Up! business, do the same guidelines apply to both blogs?
A: Yes. As a Stampin' Up! demonstrator, any presence you have in the electronic communications world (blog, web site, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) must meet the guidelines outlined in the new IDA. When you sign the new IDA, you agree to refrain from using any electronic communications to promote, market, or sell the products of any other companies (direct selling or retail) that offer similar products, including decorative stamps in any form, stamp art accessories, scrapbooking products, digital art solutions, and vinyl wall art.Keep in mind, again, that the restriction does not completely prohibit you from using competitive products and posting images on your personal web site. You could, for example, post a project you made for your child's birthday party using non-Stampin' Up! accessories, but you would need to refrain from providing specific sales information (price, retailer, etc.) that would be considered marketing of those products.When you post projects, whether they are on your Stampin' Up! blog or a personal blog, you are representing Stampin' Up! and your postings impact your business and Stampin' Up! as a whole.

Q: Once I sign the new IDA, what am I allowed to have on my blog?
A: The changes restrict you from providing purchasing information, referrals to catalogs or publications, links to blogs or other web sites, or other similar material meant to promote, market, or sell competitive products.For instance, if you created a project that used a wooden block, you could show the project on your blog and mention that you used a wooden block. You could even mention that you purchased the wooden block at a craft store or big box retail store, but you should refrain from giving the name and location of the store, or any other purchasing information.We do not want to list everything you can and cannot do in electronic media-partly because the list would be incredibly long, partly because it would need to be updated every time technology changed (and that would be almost daily!), and partly because we want you to understand and respect the intent behind these changes and use your own judgment in making these decisions. As you consider your activity in electronic media, ask yourself if what you are doing undermines your business, the businesses of other demonstrators, or the company as a whole. If the answer is yes, please refrain from doing it.

Q: On my personal blog, I have links to my friends' personal blogs and web sites. Some of them sell competing product. Do I need to remove these links?
A: Yes. In evaluating the links on your web site, you will need to remove any links to blogs, web sites, or the like that promote, market, or sell competitive products.

Q: I regularly participate in online forums relating to the craft industry, and maintain a gallery of my artwork on one of these forums. With the new IDA, is this activity still allowed?
A: Yes. Participating in forums and posting your projects for your fellow crafters can be an important method of inspiration and recognition. It's important to note that the new IDA does not prohibit this kind of activity.However, there are some guidelines now associated with activity using any electronic media. Consider the web site or online community you choose to participate in. Does it actively promote or market other craft companies? Does it provide information on products or catalogs for other stamping, scrapbooking, or home decorating products or companies? If you directed your customers to the web site, would they have the opportunity to learn about and purchase similar products from other companies, and not from you? If the answer is yes, then under the new IDA guidelines, you should refrain from linking to the site in your other personal electronic communications, regardless of your personal activity on that forum or web site. We understand that this may be difficult for some, but hope you understand the impact on your customers when you direct them to a location where their attention is diverted from you and the products you have to offer. We are currently exploring ways to provide more of an open community and sharing environment to our demonstrators, and will keep you updated on any new developments.

Q: I create electronic banners, backgrounds, and other projects for my web site using digital artwork from other companies. Can I still do this?
A: Absolutely. Again, using or displaying products that compete with Stampin' Up! products is not restricted. However, promoting that artwork, such as providing links to product web sites or giving specific purchasing or download information, would be against the new IDA.

Q: I design projects for another company, web site, or publication using non-Stampin' Up! products. With the new guidelines, can I still do this?
A: That depends on what the company, web site, or publication has asked you to do. If you simply design projects that are then displayed on the web or in a publication somewhere, but you personally do not need to promote it on your blog or web site, then yes, you may still do this. Once you are required to personally promote competitive products in any manner, you will be in violation of your Stampin' Up! agreement.

Q: If I am under contract to promote other company's products on my blog, or to design for another company and promote it on my blog or other social media, how do I handle the new guidelines?
A: If you are under contract to promote competing products through your web site, blog, or other electronic media, please contact Demonstrator Support, who will refer you to the Compliance department. We understand that you need to honor commitments you've made under contract; therefore we will work with demonstrators (on a case-by-case basis) who are in this situation. This does mean that there may be some demonstrators who appear out of compliance with the new guidelines for a short time, as they work through the terms of any contracts they may have.We will work with demonstrators on these exceptions within reason. If a demonstrator is under a contract, for example, that has no end date, that demonstrator would need to work with Compliance and determine how best to terminate the contract.

Q: I get a lot of traffic on my web site, and I receive requests to advertise other craft products. Are you saying I can't have any advertisements like this on my web site, even if I have the opportunity to gain some income from them?
A: Yes. Although you may gain potential income from providing links and/or purchasing information about certain products, at the same time you are losing potential income by driving customers to competing companies. Although it's difficult to measure in hard numbers, we believe that by keeping your visitors interested and informed about Stampin' Up! products, they are more likely to purchase those products-from you!Keep in mind that these restrictions only apply to competing non-Stampin' Up! products. We are not restricting advertising for noncompetitive products.

Q: I use my Facebook page or Twitter account to highlight products I like from any company, not just Stampin' Up! Is this now prohibited?
A: Yes. Again, we believe that these changes may increase your sales and will protect your demonstratorship and Stampin' Up! as a whole. As we've indicated, this doesn't prohibit incidental references or visuals of products offered by other companies, and it doesn't apply to noncompetitive products.

Q: Now that Stampin' Up! has announced its Simply Adorned line of jewelry, is jewelry considered a competitive product?
A: No. Our line of jewelry is so limited that we do not consider jewelry a competitive product at this time.

Q: If a customer leaves a comment on my blog that promotes a competing product, am I now obligated to delete that comment?
A: No. However, given the intent of this policy, you may choose to do so, as any information regarding competitive products or retailers is harmful to your business.

Q: Do I have to go through my archive information on any electronic communication and delete any references that don't comply with these new guidelines?
A: No. The policy changes will be effective going forward, and it is not our intent that you would need to go through and "clean out" any information you have posted in the past. If you use or actively refer to an old post or article, however, you will want to make sure that article is compliant as it would constitute current use.

Q: At an event, can I market or promote a product or service that is directly related to my Stampin' Up! business?
A: No. As the new IDA notes, whether the event is organized by Stampin' Up! or a demonstrator, an exclusive selling environment is an important part of the process. When you sign the new IDA, you agree to refrain from promoting, marketing, or selling any product or service that is not directly offered by Stampin' Up! at any Stampin' Up! event, even if that product or service is directly related to your or other demonstrators' Stampin' Up! business.TopPhilosophy

Q: What prompted Stampin' Up! to make these changes?
A: Before the wide-spread use of the Internet as a marketing, selling, and communications tool, guidelines concerning competitive products were fairly straightforward. Our main means of sharing Stampin' Up! was in workshops or similar face-to-face events. In a workshop or other event, it doesn't make sense to promote products available from local retailers or even direct-sellers, as it would negatively impact the workshop total, the hostess benefits, your commission, etc.As time has gone on, and more demonstrators are using the convenience of online tools to market and promote their businesses, it has become necessary to bring our policies regarding the online promotion of competitive products in harmony with our face-to-face events policies.In addition, as we developed My Digital Studio, the need for more defined guidelines became even more evident as we realized the many ways this new product could be used to build your business.These are a few of the things that led us to examine the Independent Demonstrator Agreement and the restrictions we provide on representation of competing companies and marketing, promoting, and selling competing products.

Q: How do these changes benefit me or protect my business?
A: When you sign up to become a Stampin' Up! demonstrator, regardless of your purpose in doing so, you sign up to begin your own business. Stampin' Up!'s goal is to provide you with tools, services, and products to help you be successful at whatever level of business you choose to engage in. But whether you consider your business a hobby or a full-time occupation, the same basic business principles apply.Imagine for a moment that you own a fast-food restaurant that specializes in a specific kind of burger. You plaster your walls with photos of happy customers and provide specials on your food to encourage more customers to come by. You wouldn't suddenly put an ad for McDonald's on your wall, right? Nor would you freely tell your customers that they could get a cheaper burger just down the road.Promoting products that compete with Stampin' Up!'s products is not only fundamentally a bad business practice, it also costs you sales, commissions, or other opportunities. Whether in person or in your electronic media resources, the concept is the same. It is in your best interest, as well as the company's, to not allow competitive businesses to utilize the drawing power of Stampin' Up! to build revenue or find customers. We put our resources into promoting the business for you, and we're sure you'll agree that it doesn't make sense for Stampin' Up! to allow other companies to benefit from our efforts.That said, we don't want you to stop creating. We need you! We need you to keep creating, coming up with new ideas and suggestions, and sharing your enthusiasm. We need to work together to protect what Stampin' Up! stands for and what we offer.

Q: These new policies seem harsh; why would Stampin' Up! make changes of this kind?
A: We have invested substantial resources-financial, creative, personnel, etc.-in providing products, services, and tools to help you build your demonstratorship. While these changes may seem restrictive, we feel strongly that they will protect our investments and your business over the long term.However, please note that the guidelines are designed to restrict marketing, promoting, and selling of competitive products only. The incidental mention of non-Stampin' Up! products is allowed.

I heard about this story over on the Craft Critique site and for more information and to see more details on this hot topic, head over to their site by clicking HERE! Also, keep an eye out for Nancy Nally's article over on Scrapbook Update by clicking HERE!"

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