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Monday, October 31, 2005

When To Flaunt Success...and When to Hide It 

The publisher of the Ft. Worth Business Press, in introducing his paper's list of the Top 100 Private Companies in his area, decides to publish his own numbers as well.

Grab: Which brings me to this question: How’d the Business Press perform in 2004?

Glad you asked.

Our revenues were just over $2.5 million and that was an increase of 21 percent driven by advertising revenue increases of 22 percent. We followed it with the best quarterly profit in the company’s history, which dates back to 1987.


This disclosure makes perfect sense in the context of publishing a list of hard-to-find and harder-to-estimate private company revenues. I wonder how many other b2b "top" list publishers would have the guts to print their own figures.

But it also reminded me of a lesson taught me by the single best advertising sales executive I know. This guy owns a pretty hot Porsche. But he keeps an older, less powerful and less expensive car for sales calls. Even though he earns every penny he's paid, he prefers not to have his clients thinking about how he's spending the money they pay him. He doesn't even drive the car to his magazine's office.

A few months ago, I was tooling around in my almost-seven-year-old BMW 3 Series, when the president of one of my clients passed me in his theoretically lesser car, honking his horn and calling out: "Hey, you consultants must do pretty well."

Ouch.

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