Sunday, January 5, 2014

Failure Coach II

St. Louis

In the conference room at the Kirkwood Chamber of Commerce, Failure Coach Alan Edgewater is meeting with advisers Daniel Bluestone, a displaced creative director; Jan Abbeshire, an independent public relations counselor; Bob Caster, a golfing buddy and a former corporate counsel (lawyer); and his accountant, Laurie Ripp. This group is loyal to the Failure Coach because he’s been a paying client and a friend to each of them. Nevertheless, they each have demands on their lives and careers forcing them to place higher priorities most of the time. Edgewater recognizes this economic reality and is careful to be respectful of their time. He values his brain trust even as each falls into the collection of slightly flawed individuals that he has come to know and love. (A meeting such as this follows an agenda, includes lunch and adjourns in about an hour and a half.)

Laurie is anxious. “I’ve taken the liberty of preparing a spreadsheet that shows some items that could be a concern. Right now, the investments in collateral items, CDs and merchandise is a long way from pay-back. That might be okay once we take a look at sales totals at the end of the month. The Orlando Conference was a success but revenue at $250,000 will not cover the hotel, catering, A/V and expenses…The promotional expenses around the Alan  Edgewater Failure Fund Scholarship award is a wash since Coach Sienna is covering that but almost every incremental activity puts us in the red…I’m sorry I’m gonna have to skip out early and cannot stay for lunch. I've got a client meeting downtown I cannot reschedule. I have a handout for your review and am happy to address any questions via e-mail…”

Daniel has a couple of book cover designs he wants to share. “The cover of You Can’t Give 110%” will leverage some of the familiar type treatments and colors people may be beginning to associate with the Alan Edgewater franchise. We moved away from the sports images because we didn’t want to look like a sports book. It needs to look like a business book and compete in that aisle in a bookstore. We know, of course, that sales will mostly be on line and through bulk orders in and around seminars…”

Bob Caster is laughing because he remembers when Alan  first introduced the idea of You Can’t Give   110% during a round of golf at his neighborhood municipal golf course in Creve Coeur. “Alan told me about this idea more than three years ago. Back then it came with a pitch for a golf instruction package of 8 lessons for $750 which he said was a hell of a deal since he normally charges $100 a lesson.” Bob is mixing up stories but Alan laughs anyway. 

“That’s right Bob. As you will recall the first lesson is a session in which we talk about your game. You don’t need your clubs for that meeting. You just pay your $750 in cash or check. And we talk about your game. After all, the game is 90% mental.” Alan talks about this with amusement since he and Bob both know he’s no golf pro. The exchange is kind of a private joke between Bob and Alan. Jan, Dan and Laurie are not golfers but seem mildly entertained by the story. It is, after all, a sort of telling analogy of marketing based on hopes of success. It is easy enough to get this meeting back on track though.

“The Coach Siena angle will get some pick-up but it’s tricky since the coach is a local character and newsworthy but it doesn't all add up good press for us. We gotta wrangle this guy if we are gonna use him. Of course, we need to focus on book signings and appearances to keep getting the ink we need.” Jan offers in her assertive confidence. Jan Abbeshire opened Abbeshire Public Relations 10 years ago and has enjoyed a fair amount of success with a roster of healthcare and non-profit clients. Her clients are cautious with expenses but she has found a niche as a cost effective outsourcing of everything from crisis communications to events. She was a PR manager for BJC Healthcare for 8 years but was laid off in a realignment initiative. The break allowed her to spend more time shuttling kids (three girls ages 7, 9 and 11).        

Sandwiches from the local sub shop are delivered along with soft drinks and the conversation continues in a less structured way between the four remaining. Alan loves the book cover design and agrees with Bluestone about branding elements. He is glad to have a creative thinker in the room but is also glad that he has the tactical Jan chipping away at media. Still he worries about keeping up with Jan’s monthly retainer. He is glad to have Caster in the room even if the exchanges they have are mostly social.   

The meeting winds down with only Dan and Alan still seated at the big conference room table. Dan really wants to convince Alan to schedule conferences in Dallas and New Orleans soon. Alan and Dan have questions about Laurie's spreadsheet but they agree it's a damn good thing someone is acting like a responsible financial adviser. "What does it still feel like?... Failure!" This is a running joke between these two like-minded marketers.   

No comments: