Monday, January 6, 2014

Failure Coach IV

St. Louis - Inside Marketing at Failure Coach LLC 

Alan arrived early to seize the large table in the Starbuck’s location in the Dierberg’s strip mall in Chesterfield (West County St. Louis). Jan agreed to meet before heading downtown since this is routine latte stop for her in the morning. Dan lives in Fenton but doesn’t mind the scheduled power breakfast especially if he can come away with approval to proceed on enhancements to the inbound marketing blog and CRM ideas he hopes Alan will agree to.      

Jan Abbeshire and Dan Bluestone are the marketing advisors for Alan Edgewater Failure Coach programs. Alan hired Jan’s firm when he was in a corporate role as director of global communications about five years ago. He met Bluestone more like 15 years ago when Adamson was one of the largest independent advertising agencies in St. Louis. Bluestone was a creative director there before they merged with an agency in KC. Eventually almost everyone of the 40+ employees became a victim of downsizing in St. Louis. Bluestone thought he was going to get the nod for a spot in KC but didn’t make the cut. All but a handful of people were eliminated.  

The Failure Coach knew integrating the activities of Jan and Dan would be a challenge. They are both talented people but their personalities are polar opposites. Jan is very tactical. Dan thinks of himself as strategic. Outside of an agency context Dan relies on a network of freelancers.

Jan arrives just a few minutes after 7 o’clock in a handsome business suit and already on her cell phone with her office manager. She marches directly to the barista and excuses herself on the phone quickly to get her drink order moving. Only then does she notice that Alan has already staked out the big table. Jan is completely at home with her drink as she takes a seat. She gives a quick glance to her smart phone before turning it off to offer undivided attention.

“The releases look good Jan. We are going to go ahead with the seminar, albeit in a smaller room in New Orleans. The Blaine Kern Ballroom at the Marriott will comfortably accommodate 900 but will still be okay if the number is more like 350. We'll be lucky if we can get that. I’ll have time of course to talk to editors if you can generate any interest. The book isn’t going to release until the Fall, Maybe September so maybe the hook needs to be about the first book and the scholarship thing…”

Jan is a professional and is expert at non-verbal communication. Alan has known her long enough to surmise she will confine activities to those that can be managed by her office manager, project account coordinator and intern from Mizzou. “We have a good list of magazines and editorial contacts. We can see what kind of pick up we can get on your seminar in New Orleans but we need a hook if we’re going to get feature treatment for you. I know you are willing to meet in person or via scheduled phone patch but we really need to agree on key messaging.”

Just then Dan swings his shoulder bag around and hangs his leather jacket on a chair at the table. He makes no apology even as Alan notes on his laptop that it’s already 7:20. Jan smiles. She agrees to send a copy of a revised status report to both Alan and Dan later on today. Jan is polite but clearly wrapping up as she checks her smart phone again.

“Do you need a coffee or anything Dan?”

“Nah, I’m good. Hey great news about the New Orleans event. If we play our cards right we should be able to fill that room. But you’re smart to keep it more intimate this time. Are we keeping the price point where it is?”

“Yeah, I’m really trying to keep the seminars affordable.  I mean with the early bird discounts the average attendee only pays $199 and can use PayPal. Surprisingly, the math on these events works out to break even at best. Food, catering, audio-visual support are the killers. Ya know in Orlando the bills we ended up ringing on travel, hotel, Coach Siena, his posse and our people… We gotta watch expenses. We are getting better...but. The Orlando event was a blast but we really end up losing money if we aren’t careful.”

“Come on man. Don’t talk to me about fiscal responsibility. I’m not the guy who picked up the bill on the open bar and appetizers. I told you that was a mistake. I know I talked you into a lot of collateral things and merch but those are still a part of reinforcing your brand. I hope you don’t have buyer’s remorse on that stuff.” 

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