I've been at a small technical company (<20) since the beginning of this year where I'm involved in product development and research. We expect to grow a lot this year and add a bunch of new clients to our roster, so some of our new resources include a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), marketing manager, and a marketing associate. We have 4 marketing people total now.

After planning out a content schedule earlier this year, they launched their first blog posts. Unfortunately, the launch email is now serving as an issue log. Errors range from grammar mistakes to critical arithmetic errors that disprove their main points. Worse, the CMO has been defending "$1mil ROI" even though that clearly isn't a ROI. A few of us have tried verifying some of their numbers, but can't find a single correct one. The marketing manager has politely declined to share drafts, and the CMO has taken to calling people out for vocalizing these issues, so I'm unsure how to fix the damage.

Given the content is about the work I'm contributing to, I want to have this content done well. I'm debating rewriting them myself and taking my drafts to the exec board. Failing that, I'm unsure if staying at this company will benefit my career. I'm not sure how I would explain my work to anyone in the industry right now. The work is top notch, but now there are a lot of misleading and faulty statements attributed to it, from our own company no less.

How do I help a department I'm not in course correct when the C-level exec is beginning to get defensive?

  • 4
    Don't draft a report as that is not your job. The CMO will just say that report wrong. Take a few of the egregious and easy to prove errors and get some colleges to co-sign and submit them to the exec board.
    – paparazzo
    Jun 2, 2015 at 1:55
  • 2
    Don't worry about it, nobody reads marketing blurb anyway :)
    – Jane S
    Jun 2, 2015 at 2:23
  • I'm one of a few researchers for the product, so my work is immediately visible in the product features. Given the size of the company, I feel like I should say something for the good of the company. The company is one of a few in the industry, so peers are being exposed to these blog posts.
    – chebyshev
    Jun 2, 2015 at 2:58
  • 2
    If the market is so small, the reputation will be based on how the product fills the niche, not what the glossies say :) I am speaking from experience here, as I was working for a similar sized company in a niche market. The glossy paper gets you past the CEO to the CIO where you can start talking nuts and bolts.
    – Jane S
    Jun 2, 2015 at 3:16
  • @JoeStrazzere libelous is a strong word. They represent a month of our data as a week, and bake it off against a week of our competition's data. We look amazing, until they give you the break down-- X more sales/week, Y avg. price, for .... not XY in incremental revenue. XY is some ludicrous amount, and they state a reasonable X*Y/4. I don't think it would slip past a decision maker looking for more revenue.
    – chebyshev
    Jun 3, 2015 at 0:49

3 Answers 3


I have worked in a similar sized organisation as you outline here, that serviced a very small niche market. You need to remember that marketing collateral has exactly one purpose in life - to grab the attention of the CEO so that they can then pass it to the appropriate people within their organisation to evaluate your product against their needs.

I was the product owner, and I stayed clear of marketing. You really should do the same. Let marketing do their job - to get the right people within the potential customer's organisation to talk to you about what your product REALLY does and what value add it can do for them.


I think that it is difficult for those of us on the technical side of things to recognize good marketing. We get too bogged down in the little details like, you know, truth and precision. Correcting their grammar and numbers is not only quixotic, but likely to damage your reputation when your goal is to protect it.

The only solution I've found is to not read it and to let marketing perform their role until it overlaps with mine. Excel at your role and let others do what they think they should to excel at theirs. It is hard to swallow, but I haven't found any way to convince folks that don't have the same desire for things to be correct that it matters. As the saying goes, don't try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig.


The marketing department's job is to show your products in a positive light, so that people are going to buy them.

They may be exaggerating the qualities of your product, but consider that your competitors' marketing departments do the same thing. Trust me, no matter how clever you are and how hard you work, your product will never be as good as your competitors' marketing department's claims.

You should try to make a product that is better than the competitor's product, and your marketing department must present something that looks better than what your competitors' marketing department claims.

Now where should you contact the relevant people in your company: 1. If you feel that the marketing department makes claims that could get your company into legal problems. 2. If your marketing makes claims that fail to show your product in a good light. 3. If your marketing departments' materials are rubbish, containing spelling errors (I wouldn't trust a company that cannot get the spelling in their marketing materials right) or arithmetic / logical errors ('one customer saved 20% of his $1 million cost, that's half a million dollars').

Don't even try creating your own draft. You are not competent doing it. If your CMO is also not competent doing it, that is sad, and should be addressed. If you write a letter, a start might be "I'm not a marketing person, and I wouldn't know how to create marketing materials, but I can read marketing materials just as well as everyone else, and I tell you that after reading these materials, I wouldn't buy our products. Here is why: "

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