Are we not handsome enough? - Principles of BLISS #4

In this instalment, our Customer Experience Manager realises that having started a blog series, and recording and listening back to the interviews he conducts, he is now in danger of talking about himself so much his head might explode. He is joined in this conversation by Wendy Ng, food blogger and e-commerce manager at Elvis Jesus.

Agencies don’t listen enough as we like talking about ourselves. And quite clearly this propensity for self-promotion applies to both agencies and people. This is, after all, coming from a guy who writes a blog. 

But do agencies overstate how much people care about how their ethos, their methodology, their process? Surely all a client wants to know is ‘Will this achieve my objectives and work for my business, how much will it cost, and when will it be done by?’. But with the plethora of digital agencies springing up, in Manchester especially, we are fated to constantly try and differentiate ourselves. 

But do we always give clients enough time and space to differentiate themselves too, to show themselves ?

I took Wendy Ng, e-commerce manager for Elvis Jesus, out for a bite to talk about working together but also to find out what the hell an e-commerce manager actually does. 

It should be noted here that when I first moved to Manchester, soon after deciding that I wanted to “work in digital”, I did a lot of research about what jobs there were out there for someone with my own particular set of skills. I did a lot of this research on LinkedIn. I remember reading one person’s profile, which included the words “I am passionate about e-commerce.”

Now come on, I can understand being passionate about food or fashion, both of which I talked about with Wendy, or sports, literature, fishing, or cartography. But e-commerce? Really? 

Obviously, after a few months in the industry, I have worked out why this isn’t such a silly thing to say. Shops are great. The experience of discovering something new, the cheerful customer service assistant, the welcoming glow of capitalism and choice, whether it is a £4.90 copy of Proust ‘In Search of Lost Time’ in a charity shop or whatever it is that normal people like buying, like, I dunno, selfie-sticks, still kicks us a kick, offline and on.

E-commerce platforms are just delivering that freedom of consumption that we take too easily for granted in a new way. And it allows people that make things, not just buy them, to reach an audience. Elvis Jesus make clothes, made with a love for rock ‘n’ roll. Wendy makes sure it keeps ticking over because she loves fashion and she loves Elvis Jesus.

I understood all this about her from our chat. What I also learnt was that I talk too much. Wendy barely had a chance to talk about the food blog she runs, a small part of her life outside of fashion e-commerce. Not because I was too busy talking about BLISS, my agency, and trying to differentiate it, but just talking about myself.

Here are some excerpts from the chat, taking place at the new Infamous Diner in the Northern Quarter.

***

Wendy: It’s the second time I have walked in here, the first time it was over lunch and it was very busy. It’s nice, it’s quirky.

Me: Do you think it’s actually any different to what we already have in the Northern Quarter? (heavy dose of sarcasm)

Wendy: Interior-wise I think it is very different. But yeah, there are a lot of American stuff these days. Obviously we have Solita, Almost Famous...

Tiru: Do you think maybe Northern Quarter could do with something else? I mean, I am from London and I appreciate ethnic food, like Turkish, Vietnamese, you know, different sights, different sounds, flavours...

Wendy: If you want Vietnamese, you got Chinatown, you got Arndale Centre, there’s a new place opening in the Corn Exchange...

Tiru: So you’ve been doing this restaurant blog for 3 years, you’ve done a lot of reviews. What inspired it?

Wendy: I have always loved food and I always love sharing. Friends always ask me where to go. I don’t blog about everything. Now, my focus is on photos. The name derived from Almost Famous and their triple Nom Burger. I was just about to eat it and my boyfriend pointed out that I pull my “Nom Face” before I take a bite. So it just stuck.

*

Tiru: What have you been doing today?

Wendy: A photographer came down from London to shoot our products for editorials for his own magazine and others. So we took a model down and we had to plan out their outfits, and I had to steam them.

Tiru: You had to steam them?!

Wendy: Yeah because of creases.

Tiru: Oh.

Wendy: Fashion isn’t always so glamorous.

*

Wendy: I am quite particular about cheesecakes

Tiru: What’s a bad cheesecake? What could go wrong with a cheesecake?

Wendy: I don’t like cheesecake when it is dead soft. There are two types I like. One from Costco, a big one, a New York cheesecake. I quite like that kind of cheesecake. It is plainer, a bit thicker. And one from Starbucks but they don’t do that anymore…

(load retro rock music flares up)

Tiru: Do you find the music in here ostentatious?

Wendy: What, don’t you like it?

Tiru: Erm. I guess so…No, no I don’t.

*

And from here on, it is just a litany of stories about myself. 

For example, when Wendy started talking about how she got to be working for Elvis Jesus through a series of internships, I went off on one about my first internship being for a film production company run by Rick Astley’s wife and how I met Rick Astley briefly but he was very shy.

When Wendy mentioned some of her other favourite restaurants, specifically Solita, I went on about how when my friend Tom and his family came down to Manchester to see Fleetwood Mac but the gig was cancelled. About how luckily I was on hand and took them to Solita instead which they loved. About how the next day when I went back for lunch, the staff there told me that at the very same time my disgruntled friends were eating their Solita goods, so were Fleetwood Mac, who had ordered a big take out that night too.

When Wendy asked me why I didn’t seem to be enjoying the Infamous Diner experience I went on about my preformed prejudice against them because when they first opened, they were giving out free burgers and how the BLISS team came along and joined the huge queue. About how their staff asked people to pose for pictures to create a buzz on social media. About how I volunteered my lot to take part in the shoot, but Infamous never uploaded that photo, and about how I sent them a stern tweet a week later saying how disappointing that was and why, weren’t we handsome enough?

***

So yes, I don’t listen enough. I like talking about myself. Hearing the tape back, I was embarrassed for my inability to actually listen and let the other person speak. 

Maybe all us business development types do that. Or maybe it’s just me? Either way, I learnt something that night. Charisma isn’t volume.

Note to self: stop talking.