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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.


The Abyss


Howling, biting winds ravaged the coastline, while thunder bellowed overhead and echoed across the sky. Powerful gusts sent boulders flying from rocky precipes. The rocks loosened more debris as they tumbled down, causing whole sections of the cliff sides to cascade into the sea, like castles made of sand. 

Flashes of blinding, white lightning periodically lit up the sky before quickly receding back into the darkness. A violent sea raged below, churning chaotically as it attempted to devour itself again and again. Great, mountainous whitecaps shot high into the sky, before being pulled back into the watery abyss. 

The unseasonal tempest had hampered Central California for weeks, with no sign of letting up. Tom Ashford sat comfortably behind his laptop, in a nearby cabin. The building’s interior was warm and comfortable, yet it still trembled from the constant barrage of violent weather. 

After a year of debilitating setbacks, Tom’s new brand was almost ready for launch. Covid had been a tough hit for the young entrepreneur, and keeping his business afloat through all the financial chaos necessitated a number of sacrifices on Tom’s part. Now, that was all about to pay off.

The runway leading up to SalesMatrix’s launch brought on a hiring spree which saw Tom’s team double, and then quadruple in size. Accompanying the recent influx of brand representatives was a desperate need to manage and track their valuable corporate data. Tom did what was expected of a new founder and invested in the hottest new MarTech app that had people raving all across the Bay. I mean, why wouldn’t he? They had one of the most impressive offices in town, and their price tag was unbeatable.

At the moment, Tom was busy creating logins for all his new sales reps. He needed to get roughly two dozen users added to the system and set up with the right permissions, on top of his already long list of pre-launch activities. He had left the city for a remote coastal cabin, hoping that the secluded location would eliminate distractions. Tom had no way of anticipating the horror to come. 

Tom nearly buckled under the pressure. Tomorrow was an auspicious day, November first. The beginning of November marked the first time that all of the payments for Tom’s new suite of digital infrastructure would fall on the same day. The funds had already been allocated, with little to spare, but still Tom dreaded the occasion. 

The CEO had become virtually unhinged by the vigorous demands of prepping for the launch. New, pulsating veins continued to appear around his temples, and each time he showered, new clumps of hair came loose. The additional blow of tomorrow’s payments left Tom in a fragile mental state. He could feel the walls closing in around him as he sprinted to complete his remaining tasks. His breathing sped up, and his chest tightened. Then everything went BLACK.

The storm had brought down the power grid, causing widespread outages. Tom’s location prevented access to roaming data, leaving the CEO disconnected from the outside world, stranded in a primordial wilderness that seemed older than time itself.

Tom spent the next several hours pacing back and forth. Repetitively, he cycled through a brief list of ideas about how to get back online, each one a nonstarter. The cabin sat in complete darkness, save for periodic cracks of lightning. Something sinister hung in the air. The strange malignancy seemed to radiate from the ground itself, as if some unfathomable wickedness, long dormant, was escaping from deep within the earth. An unsettling musty smell permeated throughout the cabin, an omen of the wickedness which lurked just out of sight.

Tom didn’t remember falling asleep. He wouldn’t have thought it possible had he tried, but Tom assured himself that must have been the case. It was the only way he could possibly explain the wild and fantastic images which haunted him through the night.

Tom remembered being in a forest of crystalline of fountains, overflowing with liquid gold. The illustrious nectar had flooded the plain, immersing Tom’s lower body in a sea of shining, metallic yellow. Intricate constellations of flaming diamonds illuminated the sky above.

As Tom’s mind attempted to process the inexplicable beauty around him, a deep, ominous rumbling echoed across the plain, and a mighty chasm materialized in the distance, splitting the earth in two. The golden lake drained into it’s black maw, and the shattering of crystal fountains echoed across the plain as they tumbled into the abyss. Even the flaming diamonds, placed so high above the earth, were not exempt from the pit’s gluttonous appetite, and they fell lifeless to the earth. The pit gurgled and belched as it fought to consume all of the plain’s vast wealth. When all the riches had been consumed, Tom was left standing alone, amidst the darkness.

Tom awoke at dawn, still trembling from the shadowy phantasms which haunted his dreams. He struggled to his feet, and then meandered to the desk. He hulked forward slowly, with unsure footing. In his mind, Tom tried to shrug off the delusion as a flight of fancy, but something deep inside himself told him it was a premonition for what was to come.

Powering on his phone, Tom noticed a long list of notifications from his bank, something he’d prepared for. What he hadn’t prepared for was the paralyzing shock which overtook him when he saw the monthly charge for his new CRM. The price tag said ‘$1,000’, but the charge on his phone was for nearly ten grand. When the company failed to answer his numerous calls, Tom frantically headed to their website to review their pricing page. Tom knew he was right, this must be a hiccup, he reassured himself. To Tom’s horror, he realized he forgot to read the fine print. The price was indeed $1,000 for his pricing tier, plus $200 for every additional user!

Tom’s failure to understand TCO, nearly cost him his company. Don’t let the same thing happen to you! Understand that the monthly subscription rate as advertised, is always less than the total cost of ownership. The actual price of a business solution includes resources spent on add ons (like additional users and premium features), in addition to the operating costs associated with getting your team onboarded and using the platform. Read the fine print, and learn the total cost associated with any new software solution.

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