ROI or Die!

Jake Sanders

/=*- -*=/
/=*- PROLOGUE-*=/
From the moment you hear the gunshots, you realize this isn’t going to be a normal marketing conference.
As a marketer with almost a decade of experience working for some of the top brands in the world, getting an invitation to speak at SwipeSummit in Dallas had been a career goal for a while now.
But as the peals of screams begin to echo off the chandeliers, and you watch the terrorists pour into the ballroom with their assault rifles drawn, you begin to consider a pivot into a less dangerous career, like a marriage counselor for bears. 
The armed assailants are clad in a riot of camouflage and American flag designs, each wearing tactical helmets, face masks, and patches bearing the insignia of the terrorist group, Black Fang. 
Someone with a festival badge rushes up to the main terrorist, wincing out a polite smile, pleading with them. The whole room gasps as the terrorist pistol whips the man, folding him like a blanket into the side of a table. 
Over the shrieks you hear one of the terrorists shouting through a skull mask, “Who knows the most about marketing?”
The swerving barrels of their guns produce undulating waves in the crowds as people cower behind chairs. The main terrorist is clearly agitated. He cracks his neck and readjusts his shoulders around his assault rifle. 
“I’ll ask again. Who knows the most about marketing here?” 
Someone at your table passes out in a clang of silverware, bringing the terrorists over. Four goons quickly approach as you step in front of the table with your hands held high, trying to protect the strangers you just met.
“You don’t need to hurt anyone else,” you say, a little over the top as your knees shake beneath you.
“I’m scheduled to speak at this conference. Not sure if I know the most, but I’ll consult and help, if you promise not to hurt any more people.”
You lock eyes with the apparent leader as he jerks his helmet in your direction. Taking the cue, two paunchy terrorists approach you, zip tie your hands, and bag your head. 
With a gun to your back, you’re shoved out of the ballroom, stumbled into a waiting van, and in total darkness, as the tires screech and you lurch toward the unknown, you realize that this may be the last consulting gig of your life.
After what seems like hours, the van stops abruptly and the engine turns off. The overweight terrorist that placed the bag on your head in the ballroom, now takes it off and pushes you out of the van. 
You see a row of sun-bleached office suites in a warehouse district of some kind. Down the road is a gas station, a donut shop, and a print & copy store. In the distance you hear the roar of a highway, crickets in a field nearby. 
Inside the building things are very normal looking, cubicles, a meeting room, break room, and bathroom. You and four of the top terrorists pour into the conference room and plop onto swivel chairs. Under the hum of fluorescent lights, you accept an energy drink and a bag of chips, crinkle into the snack, and take in the scene.
The leader-type, who they call “Shep,” sits at the top of the table, greasy waves of red hair fall around a tense jaw, connected to a thick neck trapped in a too-fitted t-shirt that wraps his venous biceps; the man looks like he’s ready to explode out of his own skin.
Next to Shep sits Canton, another leader-type figure. Black hair, thin mustache, hunched frame of a gamer, his left leg jumping wildly under the table. 
The other two terrorists are called Lemmy and Hang-10; Lemmy, the bearded and rotund terrorist that bagged your head, is now covered in chips, breathing solely through his mouth, staring at you through bleary eyes. Hang-10 is short, intense, in surf shorts. Under his wrap around sunglasses you see his temples pulsing as he clenches his jaw.
The terrorists thank you for your time, but that’s the last clear sign of any internal organization. 
They start arguing about why you are here, specifically, and you get the sense that not everyone agreed to kidnapping you. 
You decide to ask a few questions about strategy. It’s not the strategy, they say; terror is the strategy. Do they need a brand refresh? How are the analytics on social? Is it the approach to the marketing budget? Do they have a budget, or a goal for ROI?
“What’s the ROI for killing God’s sworn enemies?” asks Shep, to a chorus of ‘fuckin a’s.’. 
You take that as a maybe, after all, how are they renting out this office suite and arming and equipping their ranks without some financial backing? The disheveled and mismatched bunch has an eager vacancy filling their eyes, as you realize how dangerously disposable you appear to them. 
The way you see it, you have three choices; you can choose the low-budget, guerilla marketing route, you can lean into digital marketing, or you can ask more questions, do some more research. Which will you choose?
Go guerilla
Go all digital
Do more research