The mentor – Party Marketing

The mentor

Nick sat on the edge of his bed enjoying life. The rain was hammering against the window and he felt that he deserved a really good breakfast today as a little reward. The phone was set at the lowest volume so it took a while before he realized what it was.

“Congratulations!” It was Uncle Gus. “I heard about your success.”

“Thanks, and thank you for all your help,” Nick replied, surprised by the call. And who had Gus received the information from?

“The fact is that you have actually held a party according to my marketing model in ten steps that I use in all my assignments and courses. Would you like to learn even more about it?”

Nick was completely taken aback and didn't know how to react.

“Marketing model? Wasn't it a party model?”

“Well, it's universal and works equally well for learning, planning and implementing successful marketing in a business.”

“Oh, I don't know, I don't know anything, even though having the chance to work in the marketing department and learn more about marketing is just what I've been dreaming about,” he said.

“I know that you are willing and interested in broadening your understanding,” said Uncle Gus.

“Well… sure, it would be great. But it would have to be after work.”

“That's fine, Nick! I might not have mentioned it, but your boss is an old friend of mine, and we have agreed that you can put a few of your working hours each day into this for two weeks. As long as you also put some of your free time into it. The company will let you have the time you need with me and so you'll have to make it up with some of your free time. You'll still have to take care of your work as a salesman though.”

“Wow, this is absolutely fantastic!” Nick was overwhelmed. Both by the fact that Gus and his boss knew each other, and that they had been planning this on his behalf.

“Without a good, neutral adviser, there are lots of pitfalls. The process is more difficult and there is a risk of the results not turning out so well. And here's your chance. I really believe in you, and would very much like to help my favorite nephew in his development. What do you say?”

Nick swallowed hard and took a deep breath.

“YES! Great, what a terrific opportunity.”

“Good, you'll come to see me over a period of ten days, and we'll go through one point a day, then we'll see… Monday then at four, OK? You come here!”

“OK!” Nick replied quick as a flash, almost in falsetto.

“Monday then; bye-bye!” Uncle Gus hung up.

When Nick arrived the following Monday he saw that there was another picture hanging in reception that he hadn't noticed before. In a gilt frame and underneath a rough crayon drawing of Mick Jagger it said: “A rolling stone gathers no moss.”

Uncle Gus opened the doors to his office from the inside.

“Welcome to today's party,” he said with a wry smile, giving Nick a crushing handshake. Shaking hands with Gus all of a sudden must mean that it's serious, Nick thought.

“Have you been given something to drink?”

“No,” Nick replied nervously with a dry mouth. “It's OK, thanks.”

“Sure? In that case we'll get started at once, come in.” Gus gestured towards the lovely old leather Chesterfield armchair and Nick sat down. He was a bit tense and very expectant.

“Congratulations once more about the party. How do you feel it went yourself?”

“Really well. Everybody thought it was great. The boss was simply beaming along with the disco lights, and kept repeating ‘wonderful, wonderful’ all evening!”

“Great,” said Gus, and he meant it. “As I said, I would like to help you to understand some of marketing's codes and simple formulae.

“And as I also said, I know that you want to, and it's enough if I put a few hours a day into introducing you into my everyday activities.”

He went up to the flip-chart and wrote METAPHOR, and said, “Jesus used metaphors as imagery to get the people and his disciples to understand what he meant on an emotional level and to make it easier for them to take his message of love on board.”

“Is there something religious about this,” Nick asked with some disquiet.

“No, I simply mean that it's nothing new! For example, take the picture of Mick Jagger out in the reception. Did you see it?”

“A rolling stone gathers no moss,” Nick replied.

“And how did you interpret it?”

“The Rolling Stones. Those old guys are still going, looking better than ever! No moss there, fantastic!”

“It's a metaphor! I guess you've also heard of Achilles’ heel,” said Uncle Gus.

“A person's weak point?”

“Precisely! Instead of ‘ignorance is your weak point', you can say, ‘ignorance is your Achilles’ heel'. And if you're going to learn something, then the brain looks for old structures on which to hang the new knowledge. And a metaphor makes it easier to understand and remember the information.”

Nick grasped the fact that it was about a kind of poetic rewriting of real conditions.

“It can also be put like that,” said Uncle Gus. “Let's move on now! Do you really want to become a deep-thinking marketing man in ten days?”

“Of course,” replied Nick.

Uncle Gus took off his jacket and loosened his tie to show that the serious stuff was about to begin.

“Everyone's thrown a party at some time. Or at least been to one. I realize that you'll think that what I'm about to say sounds strange, but my philosophy is based on the following statement,” and he continued in an authoritative tone, “I CONTEND!”

He paused for effect.


“Are you joking?”

“That's where the metaphor comes in,” said Gus. “We all have some sort of relationship with how to put on a party and actually have plenty of straightforward knowledge about what is required to plan one successfully. One can and should think in the same way when planning marketing work. Clever isn't it?”

“That's precisely what I'm saying, you're joking!” Nick wasn't sure what Gus meant. After all, surely it couldn't be that simple?

Gus turned to face the flip-chart, picked up a felt-tip pen and started to write. He whistled the guitar riff from the Stones 60s hit Satisfaction while he wrote. Nick sat silently observing how rapidly the pen moved over the sheet of paper. It clearly wasn't the first time – fast, but completely legible.

When Gus was finished a few minutes later, Nick read:

Putting on a party

Marketing a company/product/service

1. Theme/idea – The Unifying Thread

1. Business idea – The Unifying Thread

2. Who shall we invite?

2. Which customers/target groups shall we address?

3. What might make the guests not come?

3. Which competitors do we have?

4. What shall we provide? (See Theme.)

4. Which products/services are we going to offer? (See Business Idea.)

5. Where shall we be located? (See Theme.)

5. Which distribution channels shall we use? Where shall we meet the customer? (See Business Idea.)

6. How shall we take care of the guests? (See Theme.)

6. How shall we take care of our customers and make their contact with us a positive experience? (See Business Idea.)

Putting on a party

Marketing a company/product/service

7. Who should do what, before, during and after the party?

7. What organization, knowledge and distribution of work is required? And internal marketing?

8. What can be spent on the party?

8. What budget do we have? Pricing/costs?

9. How shall we invite the guests? (See Theme.)

9. Which media and messages are we going to use to influence our customers? (See Business Idea.)

10. The moment of truth:

10. The moment of truth:

When the guests leave, will they say: “Wow, What a great party! I hope I'm invited again.” Then we have had a success.

When the customers hire us will they say: “I'm going to hire this company again. I'm going to buy this product again…” Success!

“You can use this structure in the planning for marketing a company or conducting an advertising campaign. Or when you want to present your business concept to your colleagues so that everyone understands it and is able to perceive their responsibility and role in their everyday work. Or when arranging your own party. The structure can even be used when you're planning to invite a beautiful woman out on a romantic dinner, believe me!” Nick looked at the picture. But didn't he recognize the model? The fact was that he had his own party fresh in his memory. But a date?

“The model,” said Gus, “is based on the fact that judgments are always made according to the weakest link in a chain of experience. We might be invited to a party with an exquisite invitation, printed in all the colors under the sun, but what if the food tastes awful or the venue is as boring as a gym, or the music is completely wrong in terms of the age of the guests, or Italian food is served at a party with a Mexican theme? What does the guest remember then, Nick?”

“Not the beautiful invitation at any rate. But certainly everything that wasn't up to scratch,” he said in an assured voice.

“Exactly! So it's important to have considered everything properly beforehand.”

Gus gave Nick a severe look as he sank down into the armchair.

“You have to ensure that all the preparations are one hundred percent functional from start to finish in order to offer the total experience, from invitation to going home. The moment of truth always arrives when you ask someone to dance.”

Nick thought about his own party and the motto “not planning is to…” when his thoughts were interrupted by Gus: “Your preparatory work must have been fantastic, as your party was ultimately so successful.” He continued:

“When I was sketching out my structure, or model, I realized it would be necessary to give it a face. A name. A brand! Just like yours – Nick – and nowadays the Rolling Stones are the Stones. Or IKEA! As a guest or a customer you then know with whom or what you are dealing, and most people have a fairly recognizable picture, an image, of the product, the company, the people or as in my case, Gus's marketing model. It will be a brand with which the world has a relationship. ‘My name is what I am,’ as I believe someone in the bible expressed it…”

Once again he turned towards the flip-chart and wrote at the top:

Party MarketingTM

Party. Marketing. Nick thought that it sounded rather amusing. Just as when he was given the ten points of Gus's model before planning the party.

“Party Marketing,” he said. “Ingenious!”

“Ingenious or not,” said Gus, “it does describe what it's about. And it has worked well as a model thus far, and it will work for another thousand years! The name is new, but the philosophy behind the model has been around forever. Now I'm going to fetch a cup of coffee while you look at the comparison between party and company/product one more time.”

“Do you want anything?”

“Yes, a cup of tea would be nice,” replied Nick.

While Uncle Gus went out to fetch the drinks, Nick sat motionless for a while, studying the text on the flip-chart. He had a mental picture of a washing line with ten clothes pegs, each of which held up an empty paper bag. The line represented the whole structure, or theme. The empty bags had to be filled with facts, content and ideas, all of which were parts in a whole. This is another way of viewing it, as a metaphor, he thought.

“Well, do you think it works as a model?” Gus asked, putting down the cups.

“Yes, I know it works for a party, at any rate.”

They sat chatting about the party for a while, about how everyone had really had fun and about the boss who had “danced his head off” during the evening. Gus laughed at the funny side of the situation and then called a halt with a sudden, “That's it for now! Thanks for today! But before you go you're going to have an illustrated Party Marketing Model to take with you. You can keep it under your pillow at night and look at it if there's anything you're not sure about.” Gus smiled and once again put out his hand for a goodbye.

Nick thanked him and asked if it was OK if he didn't say Uncle to Gus: “I mean… after all, we're almost colleagues now,” he said solemnly.

“Gus OK, but colleague… I don't know. Not for a while yet,” he laughed and waved Nick out of the room with a “Same time tomorrow!”

“Are you going to start working here?” Christine asked as he went through the reception, not looking up from her computer.

“No, but I'm going to learn a lot,” he replied with the confidence of the recently-converted, chirruping a cheerful goodbye.

As he flew down the stairs he thought of some graffiti he had read in a motel toilet: “Art is everything you can't do. For once you can do it; it's no longer an art.” Heaven knows where it derived from, but that certainly didn't detract from it…

He actually slept all night long with Gus's Party Marketing Model in his hand under the pillow…