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Marketing Challenge: Ignore or Engage the CEO

Customer engagement is a top priority for Damon Thorogood. As customer success director for Strategic Technology Corp. (STC), Thorogood is responsible for all of STC’s retention marketing efforts. This includes the company’s voice-of-the-customer strategy, its events, its content marketing, and nearly everything related to retaining customers, except tech support.

One of the simple engagement strategies that Thorogood enjoys most is gift giving. In his role Thorogood spends a great deal of time with top customers and he knows them well. So along with holiday gifts, Thorogood will send other tokens of appreciation for customers’ business, participation on the advisory board, referrals, and the like. If he comes across a book or some other inexpensive item he thinks a customer would enjoy, he buys it and sends it to them. He insists that it’s a powerful way to surprise and delight top clients. With a 92% retention rate among high-value customers, Thorogood is doing something right.

A new CEO, Stan Wilson, has joined STC. He is against gift giving, preferring to find other, more business-oriented ways to engage customers. Among the new policies he introduced in his first month at STC is a no-gifts rule. Thorogood has chosen to ignore the edict.

Unfortunately for Sherry Nolan, STC’s CMO and Thorogood’s boss, this causes a problem—especially with the holidays looming. While she can’t keep ignoring Thorogood’s dissention, she doesn’t want to demotivate Thorogood over such a small investment that he feels delivers such big returns. But is saving corporate gifts a discussion worth having with the new CEO?

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