Sunday, March 16, 2014

Failure Coach XXXVI

Pending Sazerac Review

“You have got to be kidding me. This guy wins the lottery. He retires as a high school teacher and coach. He takes the lump sum payout check for $218,000,000. He pays his taxes leaving about $110 Million. He funds a crazy annual full ride scholarship program under the banner Alan Edgewater Failure First Scholarship Fund with a lump sum $4.5 Million. An unconditional scholarship that is not based on merit or circumstances? And he’s working for us in sales?” The executive board at Sazerac met regularly. One agenda item required a command performance and appearance by the fountain of information, Mr. Joseph Fontenot.

“Yup.” Joseph Fontenot offered somewhat sheepishly. “He’s been opening doors for us and everyone of our key account people in the Midwest love the guy. Sales are showing steady increases in his region.” Fontenot had only just pieced all this information together himself. In his analysis of sales across the country he noted positive increases in Illinois and Missouri first. As he reviewed sampling activity he noticed that the coach getting sales behind nearly every sales promotion he ran. He Googled Siena and a press release from Abbeshire & Bluestone lead him to more information on the coach.

It was the transparency policy at Abbeshire & Bluestone with regard to the AEFFSF that made it simple enough to understand the good fortune of Coach Siena. Alan Edgewater’s website had a link to a separate micro site controlled by Abbeshire & Bluestone, the content of which was managed by Jan. There were pictures of Johnny Appleseed and Andrew Valentine and their respective stories.

“Well then, Fontenot. How do we learn from the coaches best practices? Can we sustain this growth?”
“I think so. The coach has been working with an agency in St. Louis that has really gotten results with strategic thinking, sampling, display initiatives and publicity. He’s been doing it on a shoestring budget I might add.”

“Well, let’s see if we can clone this guy. Or at least, as I said, formalize best practices. I’m sure the board would be supportive if it means growth. This is a business dang it!”

 “Yes sir. I’m on it.” This was such an unusual exchange for Fontenot with the executive board but he felt it was a green light to ramp up some marketing. He knew Bluestone was the guy to get on the horn A.S.A.P.”

Bluestone was happy to take the call in his office. He was careful not to pester Fontenot since Coach Siena was the primary agency contact with Sazerac Brands. The coach was too important as the AEFFSF primary contact to jeopardize to break the chain of command. But the call from Fontenot changed the playing field.
“I’m hoping to make a trip to St. Louis and the Midwest as soon as I can schedule something. I hope you don’t mind but I’d like to hear about what your agency feels we are doing well and what we might do better with regard to sales and business development.” It was like music to Daniel Bluestone’s ears. His head started to spin. He knew he was going to have to rally the troops for a bit of show and tell. But he knew a 
“Dog and Pony” show for a client that was initiated by the client had a higher probability of success. The only concern that lingered in his mind was the feeling the departure this was from Abbeshire & Bluestone SOP. Jan had grown the agency with fundamental fee based staffing and measureable outputs and ultimately media placements. Daniel philosophically wanted to swing for the fences – generally an approach with higher risk.

Bluestone spent the afternoon in the conference room briefing writers, art directors and freelancers about Sazerac Rye Whiskey. Late in the day, he called Coach Siena.

“Coach, I want to let you know we’re pulling out the stops for an agency review on behalf of Sazerac Rye Whiskey. I know you are not asking for this so I don’t want you to worry. We are a creative shop and we pride ourselves in being proactive with our clients. We think there are opportunities some of which we’ve only scratched the surface…”

“Well. I’ll tell you what. I understand Fontenot is planning a trip to St. Louis. Would you folks object to me bringing him along to this review?”

“That would be awesome. Will talk soon. Just let me know what works best for you guys.”     

Bluestone hung up and exhaled. 

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