You are about to enter another dimension. It is a dimension more vast than the Internet and as timeless as print advertising. It is the middle ground between leads and conversions, between experience and data. It lies between the pit of a marketer’s greatest fears and the summit of the industry’s collective knowledge. Here the dark entities which haunt the edges of the marketplace come to center stage. You are now entering the Scary Space.
It was hellish winter’s morning in Boston, Massachusetts. The frigid city was covered in a thin layer of ice, lethal to anyone who ventured off the beaten path. Icy sleet had continuously bombarded the city for the past three days, before easing up sometime in the early hours of the morning. But inside ShutterSoft’s corporate headquarters, the atmosphere was almost jubilant, and a warm content feeling seemed to hang in the air.
ShutterSoft’s CMO, Jack Harlow, strutted down the long office corridor with glee, shooting glancing smiles to each employee he passed. Jack was the type of man who never wore the same suit twice in one week. His shoes always appeared freshly polished with the laces always looking perfectly symmetrical. His business cards were exquisite. They were printed on 29.5pt white cardstock and included an embossed personal monogram, outlined with metallic gold ink. He had just picked up an order for two thousand new cards. He was kind of like Christian Bale in American Psychopath, if Bale’s character had been just a little bit less of a psychopath.
Jack’s glee in that moment can only be explained by the great success he’d experienced in the last few months.
Jack, known as ‘the G.O.A.T.’ among ShutterSoft’s corporate elite, had finally made his way to the C-Suite in late May. To christen his shiny new position (complete with a shiny new company car and a shiny new corner office), Jack had engineered a seasonal marketing promotion that he had no doubt would double the company’s December conversions. He had worked tirelessly day in and day out to build a fully automated marketing funnel, complete with dazzling graphics, witty copy, and a sophisticated degree of personalization. Not a single member of his team had touched this project other than himself. Jack wanted this project to showcase the fullness of his capabilities. He planned on casually bringing it up at the end of the quarter meeting without any hype or theatrics. Then, when it was hailed as the greatest holiday campaign in company history, he could feign humbleness at what he considered ‘just another day’s work.’ Sure enough, the promotional idea, which he modestly brought up at the end of a very busy and eventful second quarter meeting, was rubber stamped by the corporate brass without a second thought. The meeting now seemed like almost a lifetime ago.
Content with the months of hard work he had put into his promotion, and eager to reap the fruits of his labor, that cold winter’s morning started as the greatest day of Jack’s life. He felt on top of the world.
At the end of the hallway Jack made a smooth right turn into the employee break room. It was warmly lit and included a number of small water features and floral designs. A pathetic Christmas tree was propped up in the corner. He strode casually over to the water cooler to chat with Bill and Doug from sales, hoping to earn some much deserved praise. Jazzy holiday music hummed in the background.
Bill and Doug were just two average Joes, but like a campaigning politician, Jack felt the need to ingratiate himself with the common man. Doug was a tall, lean man with a deathlike pallor. Bill was short and had an average build, but likewise appeared aged beyond his years. After some casual banter, sports references, and light politics, Jack brought up numbers. “Everyone’s saying that this new holiday promotion performing even better than expected. Have you boys seen any uptick in your numbers?”
“What promo?” plainly asked Bill.
Jack’s gentle grin transformed into a thinly veiled grimace, and he let out a nervous chuckle.
“Good one. Seriously though, how many new conversions do you attribute to our ‘Season’s Greetings Campaign?’”
“I’m not quite sure what you’re referring to. I haven’t heard any talk of a promo from the team. I had a few clients call in asking about new member discounts, but I set them straight, explaining that they must have had us confused with a competitor.”
All the color drained from Jack’s face. A throbbing pulse began to surge in his forehead, quickening with every passing moment. He began to sweat noticeably. He swallowed hard.
With a nervous smile he excused himself from the conversation saying, “Excuse me gentlemen but I just remembered, I need to run something by Bill.”
Jack peeled out of the breakroom like a bat out of Hell, anxiously walking down the hall to the elevators. Sheryl from HR tried to stop Jack to discuss something, but in his frenzied panic, Jack’s tunnel vision only allowed for a singular train of thought.
As Jack sped down the hall, the winter time merriment which pervaded the building turned into a dark, foreboding presence. Shadows began to appear sharp and jagged. The bright, fluorescent lights which lined the hallway seemed almost blinding. Strange looks from coworkers made Jack feel uneasy, as nausea gripped his stomach.
Having barely missed the elevator at the end of the hall Jack sharply cut right to the stairs. After climbing twelve flights of stairs he finally reached Bill Domhall’s office, looking completely unhinged.
“Good morning. How may I help…” chimed Bill’s young secretary as a bewildered Jack pushed passed her desk.
Bill sat behind a walnut desk. An enthusiast’s collection of bottled ships which cluttered his bookshelves contrasted with the otherwise minimalist, Zen aesthetic of his office. The aging CEO, who had become somewhat disillusioned with the day to day running of ShutterSoft, was working on one such bottled ship when Jack burst through the door.
Jack was sweating profusely and wore a nervous smile which stretched from one ear to the other. “Hey Bill! I was hoping we could chat about the December marketing campaign.”
“Sales just can’t seem to get it right and I’m at a loss. I’m at a loss here Bill!”
“Jack you haven’t worked here in weeks. We sent you a pink slip.”
Bill appeared distraught from Jack’s erratic display. The tweezers he was using to position the mast on his bottled schooner had fallen to the wayside. He gathered his wits and began speaking in a flustered tone, slowly gaining confidence as he spoke.
“Jack, you’re a bright kid, but you were a terrible CMO. Your team had no idea what was going on, you didn’t tell anyone anything. You would just lock yourself up in your office for what seemed like days at a time. We had to find someone else.”
Jack shook and stammered as he failed to form an articulate counter point. The reality of what had been said hadn’t quite sunk in. The room began to spin and as he heard the building’s security team crash through the door he blacked out, crashing to the ground. His mental wit had long deserted him.
Jack’s decision not to collaborate with his team, his failure to maintain the proper channels for communication, and his lack of knowledge of company operations ultimately led to his fall from grace.