You can always smell desperation.

It has a certain… quality that gently waifs into the nasal cavity, tickling those very nerves that are too oft neglected in our sanitary society.

You know, the same ones that pick up the odor of sewer crap.

What’s odd is that this smell is extruded not only by the truly desperate, but by those whose self esteem is so battered that they crave every bit of validation they can beg off the nearest passerby.

It’s a strange dichotomy. When evaluating vendors and their chances of success, desperation isn’t always a clear indicator of their future. On one side we have the truly desperate, such as the vendor I worked with, who was quietly shopping around for a buyer and could only provide small school districts as references. On the other side was the bully; the successful startup who revelled in sending photos of their gear replacing a competitor’s on a rack. They eventually got bought for big money, but I suspect that marketing manager is blowing it all at a strip joint dropping twenties in the hopes the dancer will make eye contact and call him darling before strutting off stage with enough cash to solve the crisis in Darfur.

Today, thanks to Alan Shimel, we see probably the most amusing act of desperation I’ve ever witnessed. One of his competitors, ForeScout, bought the Google AdWords for Alan’s name. Now, every time you search on Alan, the first thing that comes up is:

Replacing Safe Access? Get CounterACT – Clientless Network Access Control from ForeScout

This is the security marketing equivalent of political push polling, but probably a lot less effective.

Okay, it’s amusing, but ForeScout has probably given Alan one of the best sales tools he ever asked for. How hard do you think it will be for him to use this to his advantage in a competitive situation?

Here’s a note to you marketing folks- take a look at sources like this Security Catalyst Forums thread on vendors. Acting like a used car salesman is a sure fire way to alienate a prospect. I hear this time after time. Yes, as Rothman tells us certain heavy handed tactics work, but if it smells like crap on a simple Google search, odds are the customer will figure out it’s crap.

(For the record, I know nothing about ForeScout and haven’t ever worked with them; the product might be great for all I know)