Thursday, March 20, 2014

Failure Coach XXXIX

On the road again

Alan was pretty busy in Q4 with book signings and group presentations arranged largely by the Ambrosia team. This felt to him more like a book tour than being the big ticket keynoter he wanted to be but he knew group sales depended on high touch. So he found himself at chamber meetings, association functions, fundraisers, churches, holiday parties, retail stores, and malls from Boston to San Diego. Ambrosia was able to schedule much of this tour with various groups agreeing to travel reimbursement and minimum book sales. So net-net, out of the box, he figured in 13 weeks he pre-sold at least 1,200 books and would speak to 50 groups and sit in on at least a dozen book signings. He assumed additional group sales and incremental volume would follow.

Ambrosia representatives did the advance work with staffers when events were within a short drive from their offices in New York, Chicago, Boston and San Francisco. Contract event marketing firms accustomed to sampling and product demonstrations covered appearances in outlier markets like Nashville, Richmond, Birmingham, Mobile, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Austin and San Diego. Alan was only home about 10 days in total during October, November and December. He was on the campaign trail. Along the way he did interviews, some live remote and some recorded radio segments arranged around the Ambrosia schedule. He had visits from Julie Chase, and Grace from Ambrosia at several intervals along the way. Tony Blank showed up in California. Mostly Alan was on his own and working it.

Coach Siena arranged, through Ambrosia, for Alan to visit with a small group of top Sazerac sales people in Mobile. Alan enjoyed seafood with Fontenot, Siena and Bluestone at a restaurant on Mobile Bay. Over Mahi Mahi, they laughed about the escapades of nearly a year ago in New Orleans. Fontenot was excited about several promotional initiatives outlined by Bluestone. The Coach was excited about progress he was making with several accounts in the Midwest. Fontenot indicated that he planned to purchase 250 books to be used as holiday gifts.

Road weary though he was, Alan was encouraged over and over again that he has an audience and the failure fans were alive and willing to buy books, sign up for webinars, attend seminars and recommend Alan Edgewater as a keynoter. He tried to track contacts and collect business cards but often encouraged people to either enter their information on his website or call Julie Chase at Ambrosia.

“Tony, I haven’t forgotten our chat about recapitulation and assessing where we are by the end of the year. Your team has done an incredible job of booking me from sea to shining sea. And that, my friend is why I haven’t been anywhere more than a couple of days since September. How about planning this recap for the first week in January? I really want to understand our expenses before plan for marketing the next book. Negative Space is on a fast tract now too.” Alan was hoping Tony was genuinely looking after Alan’s best interest but he wasn’t convinced. Invoices were comprehensive summaries of hours, blended rates, materials, meals and miscellaneous expenses which were provided along with copies of expense reports. He had time while on the road to study this stuff but he really didn’t want to. He couldn’t help thinking that if his grass roots team of St. Louisans were on the case he would get quicker and straighter answers. Of course visits with his front four of Dan, Jan, Laurie and Bob were fewer and further in between. The Ambrosia monthly invoice arrived almost like clockwork on or about the fifth of the month in October, November and December; $11,500.70, $12,769.50 and $15,250.80 respectively. There was so much documentation that Alan was forced to printout these multipage PDF documents in order to study, what was looking to him, the steady cost creep upward. 

Meanwhile, it seemed like Jan Abbeshire’s monthly retainer was consistent and steady at $7,000 per month. Of course, Coach Siena was managing the bulk of the day-to-day related to the AEFFSF and it was his contribution that assured administrative expenses were available for incremental surprises which were managed in a separate process that Alan was spared.

“Geez,” said Alan out loud and to himself “I cannot sustain an annual $200,000 to $250,000 in agency carrying costs. Most of this stuff is fee-based with a few irritating restaurant bills sprinkled in… I wonder if, when they take me to lunch, it gets charged back to me…” Alan knew he might be over-thinking it. He also knew he was in a pickle because he wasn’t sure his front four could come close to the road show he was currently on. “Is this the price of fame?” he said, again, out loud.

Alan Edgewater was alone in the dark again. Drifting off to sleep in his hotel room he almost drifted back into the dream again. But he woke up in an instant and laughed. “I am king of the world!” he said out loud.

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