EDITOR’S NOTE (That’s me. Sometimes I call my self “Editor” or “Fluffy”): This was originally intended to be a guest post on IttyBiz, but it is no longer needed there for a reason that is actually incredibly awesome but which I’m not going to tell you about yet. But I still think it’s pretty funny, so I’m offering it to you as a bonus.
The people who read my blog — and there are at least two of them, and I have a suspicion that neither are my parents — know me as a lot of things. They know me as a guy who’s a bit off the wall. They know me as an irresponsible dickhead who refuses to watch the news. For a while, they knew me as Robert Goulet. What those people don’t know me as — and this is a bit of a shame, really — is a marketing genius.
This is somewhat due to the fact that I underplay the business aspect of the Johnny B. Truant empire.
But it is mainly due to the fact that I am not a marketing genius.
The truth? I don’t know what the hell I’m doing most of the time. I go to IttyBiz and Marcia Hoeck for my marketing, and I have the instructions of a few mentors who either feel sorry for me or are trying to sabotage me or both. I don’t have a plan. I just sort of try to be funny and hope that people will come running toward me with stacks of money in their hands. But so far, this has only happened once or twice.
And all of this despite the fact that my own mother is in fact the marketing genius that I am not. When I used to go out for the night, she’d tell me, “Be home by midnight, drive carefully, and mind the integrity of your brand. And whatever you do, don’t use Brush Script when you’re spec’ing fonts.”
But how do you market “being funny”? That’s my constant quandary. Do I have a value proposition? And if so, how do I sell it? I sort of have a value proposition. If I’m competent, I make you laugh. That way, you’re happy when you go elsewhere and buy Cheetos and beer.
So I decided to outline an action plan.
1. Package funny into a product.
I took a bunch of my material, made it super-awesome (and that’s EVEN MORE super-awesome than it already was, if you can imagine that) and made it into a book. I put one of my dogs on the cover. My dogs are both hilarious, so I chose the one that bit my friend Gretchen. I did this even though I knew this would mean the loss of at least one sale (to Gretchen) and possibly more (to her fan club and/or lawyers).
2. Offer this product for sale.
Unfortunately, this didn’t work as well as I’d hoped. I am able to keep up with the volume of orders I receive. I do not yet own a Hummer. I haven’t been on Oprah even ONCE.
After a fair amount of introspection and booze (just kidding — I barely drink; it was actually introspection and horse tranquilizers), I decided to add even more depth to step 3 above.
I already knew all about querying, which is the process of sending letters to literary agents so that they’ll send you a rejection letter. I’d done it circa 1999, when I wrote a novel that the back of my closet is currently reading and laughing its ass off at. So I asked for some referrals, and several very funny people gave me the names of agents that they probably don’t know at all, and actually just pulled from a hat to fuck with me.
To round things out, I did some research on my own. People tell me I’m kind of like David Sedaris, if David Sedaris were taller, straight, offended by the Jonas Brothers, and lived in Ohio. So I Googled “David Sedaris agent” and discovered that he’s represented by the Steven Barclay Agency. So I added them to my list.
“Dear Agent,” I wrote. “I am funny. Please give me a lot of phat cash so that I can stop writing about human resources and buy an iced-out grill with which to woo slutty bitches.”
Xerox. Stamp. Mail. Celebratory latte.
Life went on. I continued the casual marketing strategy I already had in place, which consisted of writing my blog, posting it to Facebook, and shooting out Mitch-Hedburg-like lines (and occasionally just Mitch Hedburg lines) on Twitter. Two weeks later, the Steven Barclay Agency was the first to respond.
I eagerly opened the letter and read:
Rejection. Again. And for no tangible reason whatsoever. My dislike for agency return addresses came back, refreshing repressed memories of 1999’s rejection festival. I wondered if I should not have revised step 3. I returned it to its original form and stared at it, curious as to what it still needed.
Should I send press releases? Teach monkeys to type? I figured the latter was a long shot as far as publicity was concerned, but would save me a shitload of time as long as they didn’t throw feces all over my office, which they almost certainly would.
Create fliers? In Garamond, with the title of my book written in a nice Brush Script?
No. Not that. Anything but that.
I still have not yet figured out step 3. I keep asking people if they know Oprah, and so far nobody has been willing to introduce me. The monkey training ended in disaster. Several agent queries are still out there, waiting to insult me. I continue to write my blog. I continue to solicit advice, to brainstorm new projects. Sometimes I eat Fiddle Faddle. I actually have the IttyBiz Online Business School but haven’t had the time to get through a lot of it yet. I have resolved to make it a priority in the coming week.
Perhaps Naomi figured out how to tame the monkeys. That would help, from a branding standpoint.