Should Growing Tech Firm CEOs Be Writing Blogs at 3am?
The answer to this question–and a few others we’ll address—is no. The question is not whether press releases or blogs should be written. It’s whether the CEO of a firm that has exceeded its first round of growth should be focused on this type of important tactic when there are bigger fish to fry. However, this scenario frequently has come up over the years when I’ve met with tech and professional services company CEOs when their company had reached their first plateau and were trying to get to the next level, wherever that may be for them.
The same question could be asked about the following marketing tactics:
- Creating presentations
- Researching contacts at sales target lists
- Refining messaging documents
- Creating competitor analysis documents
In my first few years as an outsourced chief marketing officer/go-to-market strategy and execution consultant, I sometimes said to colleagues that I usually get engaged when the CEO realizes that he or she should not be drafting press releases at midnight. Many of the CEOs we worked with were doing it all and had just realized that they needed to bring in better resources in key areas, such as sales, finance and human resources to make the leap to the next level.
However, bringing in a resource to improve go-to-market strategy and execution was usually not something that they thought about in that first round of adding organizational supplements. However, when the new, more costly sales efforts didn’t take hold, as they often did not for a plethora of reasons, a common reason was that the way the company went to market did not make sense anymore and was not supporting the new sales efforts.
The company was not effectively communicating what its vision now was. The messaging and communications strategy was not consistent with what Sales was expected to tell prospects. It usually fell apart in the field.
This is when we were usually called in to help.
WHAT THREE CEOS TOLD ME ABOUT WRITING RELEASES AT 3AM
I had not uttered the CEO writing press releases at midnight justification for my services for a number of years. Usually, the CEOs we’ve worked with the past few years needed help bringing new products to market more effectively or growing their existing products or services in new vertical markets.
But here’s the interesting thing: Over the past two weeks, I’ve met with three CEOs of small to midsize, growing and seemingly successful tech and professional services companies who said that they were faced with “press release at 3am” challenges. These challenges were keeping them up at night and biting into the time that they should have probably been spent sleeping (reference one of the hundreds of studies that talk about the need for more sleep such as this one). Or, if they really wanted to add value to the company mission, focus on how to better finance their operations, hire better people, or build a stronger management team.
Each of these CEOs, who were in their first CEO role, came to similar conclusions for a few reasons.
- They were all tech professionals who realized they needed to think and act strategically from a go-to-market perspective. They realized that not having a sounder, more professional way to communicate their vision with more mature marketing processes was hindering their firm’s growth. This epiphany does not always happen, but when it does, it can hasten the process to accelerated growth.
- They recognized that offloading a process they did not excel in would help in the long and short term. While I’ve supported many tech and professional services CEOs who were great sales people not all were familiar with the go-to-market process and all of the elements in it. I’ve worked with great CEOs who have sold products and services to many early clients but stalled when the first plateau was reached and new people needed to be introduced to the firm. And, usually that select group did not understand the elements and nuances in developing and implementing go-to-market and product marketing processes beyond the initial push.
- They could detect a blind spot that was slowing them from reaching the next level.It was apparent to all three that they saw a hole in their operations that needed to be fixed. They did not understand how critical this was to fix at present but definitely recognized a hole that was inhibiting their growth.
ONE OF THE CONVERSATIONS HAD A DIFFERENT TWIST
Although all three conversations were enlightening, one of the conversations had a slightly different twist. In the first two companies, there were no marketing people on staff, so the work fell onto the CEO, hence, the writing blogs and press releases at midnight. Both CEOs knew that this was not the best use of their time, and finally they had had enough.
But in the third meeting, the CEO already had a marketing team in place. Yet, he still was drafting press releases at midnight. When I asked why this was, he said he did not think that his marketing team understood the firm’s mission well enough and that he usually had to redraft whatever they came up with anyway. He had hired a few, young motivated people who were knowledgeable on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, but had no idea how to craft a sound message and then effectively get it in to the market to accelerate sales.
He said the firm’s messages were not baked and that he realized the marketing team did not have the capabilities to help drive sales. While they had energy, they didn’t have the savvy to move the mission forward. He still, personally, had to fill in the organizational gaps.
When you need to get past that first plateau, don’t waste your time with marketing, sales target development, or communications challenges, especially at 3am. Focus on the important stuff, such as financing, partnerships, and team building. Bring in supplemental skilled resources so that you can address the big issues that will help your firm grow.
Fred Diamond is a top outsourced chief marketing officer and go-to-market strategy consultant and execution expert to tech and professional services companies. He is also the co-founder of the Institute for Excellence in Sales. Are you or do you know a tech or professional services CEO who is drafting press releases at midnight? Give me a call or shoot me an email. I love talking about this stuff with CEOs and marketers alike.