Marketing Catch-22

by: Doug Michaelides

“It was love at first sight.  The first time the CEO saw the CMO he fell madly in love with him.” – with apologies to Joseph Heller.

The CEO looked up from the draft press release. It had been a good year. Actually, it had been an amazing year – the best year in the company’s history.

“Nothing succeeds like success”, enthused the CMO, “We need to publicize our momentum, particularly to the local press.” He’d been brought in with a bit of fanfare and at “great expense” a couple of months ago to “raise the volume” on the company’s marketing.

The CEO looked dubious. Despite the pride he felt in the company’s accomplishments, there was a nagging voice telling him to be careful. He rubbed his jaw. “Maybe we shouldn’t mention our actual revenues . . .” he began. “And won’t blowing our own horn just attract headhunters who’ll poach our best people?”

The CMO counted to ten. It wasn’t the first time he’d had this debate.

Another CEO had hammered him to find new customers but refused to publish customer testimonials. “Why would we tell our competitors who are best customers are?” he’d asked in astonishment. “They’ll just steal them away from us!” It had been like fighting with one hand tied behind his back.

Funny, it always seemed to be the CEOs that pounded the table hardest for results that chickened out when it came time to promote their successes.

“Well, I guess some headhunter might hear of us and try to contact some of our employees”, conceded the CMO. “Of course, it’s just as likely that some prospective clients might call us too. And maybe even some job seekers who’d love to work for a company on a roll.”

The CEO considered this as the CMO continued heatedly, “Besides, I’ll wager that a press release publicizing our success might actually make our employees quite proud. Everyone wants to be associated with a winner.”  (“Except you, it seems”, he thought in frustration.)

Eyes narrowing, the CEO said, “OK, then rewrite this thing to acknowledge the contribution of our fine employees and maybe attract some new A-players to the team.“

“Can you do that?”, he challenged.

“Can do!” the CMO exclaimed boisterously, annoyed that he hadn’t thought of this himself. Caught on his back foot by the CEO once again – damn.

The CEO had already turned back to his computer as the CMO headed out of the office, crumpled press release in hand. Pausing, he looked back and delivered a parting shot, “By the way, it’s up to the department managers and HR to keep the employees happy. My job is to raise the profile of this company and get customers in the door.”

The CEO glanced up and grunted,  “So?  Then get on with it!”

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