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When the “M” in CMO Stands for “Monkey”


I have said it for years, “Given an unlimited budget, a monkey could be a CMO.” It is easy to get a publication to cover your product if you wave a bunch of greenbacks to its advertising sales team.  Even those pubs that pride themselves on journalistic integrity cannot completely ignore the bottom line.  Pitching a story on its own merits to a journalist involves work, and includes researching the current issues facing the specific industry you are in; knowing the types of stories the targeted publication covers; and crafting a succinct, relevant, news-worthy synopsis of the story.

I am not opposed to outbound marketing and realize that it has its place.  Publications, both online and print, need those advertising dollars to survive.  However, if an article is merely an extension of that full-page, four-color advert of your company (very often found facing the article on the opposite page) both the piece and the publication become tainted.  If pitching a story in accompaniment of an ad, ensure that the story is about an industry issue that your product or service addresses.  In fact, insist on it.  The journalist should appreciate not having to write a puff piece on your company.  It shows respect for the craft and the journalist may find it totally refreshing.  Or faint dead away from the shock.

And while I’m at it, the same can be said of trade shows. A company can spend on the largest space, sponsor meals and side events, in order to get a speaker slot.  If that speaking opportunity, whether it is as a sole presenter, panelist or moderator, becomes an infomercial for a company and its products, it reflects poorly on the company as well as event organizers.  As in pitched stories, keep the presentation topical.  Very few companies have the bandwidth to maintain a large trade show presence while delivering a compelling industry-based presentation during attendee sessions.  The marketing budget is the easy part.  It’s the industry insight and presentation skills that are hard to come by.

Today’s CMO, especially for small- to mid-size companies, must not only possess marketing skills but a deep knowledge of the industry the company services, and well-developed relationships with a long list of journalist and analyst contacts. These relationships, if based on mutual respect and with an understanding of the role each of you plays in the industry, can generate rewards.  Spontaneous  rewards.  Rewards that do not impact marketing budgets. Being called, unsolicited, by a journalist to weigh in on an article (or an analyst on some research piece) is the result of cultivating good, professional relationships.

Let’s see a monkey do that.