Paul Butler | Marketing 101 and a Tale of 3 Entrepreneurs

Paul Butler: Going the Extra Mile
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I wasn’t a fan of Michael Jackson as a kid. I mean, I admired his talent, but being into new wave music and post-punk bands at that age, I thought I was just “way too cool” to like MJ. So, years later I reluctantly agreed to accompany my wife to go and see “MJ: The Musical” at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood. 

From a marketing perspective, the evening hit all 5 P’s — it was promoted well (the advertisements certainly caught my attention) and the price was reasonable. Although not a big fan of the place (Hollywood), I can see the new mayor is making an effort to clean up the streets. The product (the show) was simply stunning, and the people — the actors — were just top of their game. 

It was when we were heading out after the show that I saw the epitome of entrepreneurialism. We met three folks, each vying for our attention as potential after-show consumers of what they were offering. Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to three Southern Californian entrepreneurs. 

We smelled what the first person was selling before we could see her. As we took our first steps out of the main theater into the foyer area, we could smell this beautiful aroma. The lobby, with its doors wide open, welcomed us back onto the early-evening streets of dreams with a heavenly scent. “What is that? That smells so good!” These were the words we both seemed to say simultaneously, and looking around, we could see other patrons sensing and saying the same. 

Then we saw her: this incredibly industrious woman sizzling big juicy sausages on a mobile hot plate that also doubled as her storefront and cash register. The sign said “$5,” but I’d have paid double. The place was right. The product sold itself. I was snapped out of my Californian Dream that evening when Gaynor, my wife, brought me back down to earth, “You don’t need a hot dog.” I thought I did, but apparently, I didn’t. 

We walked a little further, and we saw another type of entrepreneur. This person wasn’t attempting to sell us a product — he was trying to sell us on a feeling. He was slumped against a traffic pole. He couldn’t even be bothered to hold up his own promotional sign but instead hung it around the neck of his street dog. The sign read: “We both need food.” 

There was a tinge of wanting to help, but as I was about to put my hand in my pocket, I could see he had one of his own hands on a bottle of liquor and the other clicked away on his top-of-the-range cell phone. To our immediate left, a store sign read, “Help Wanted.” I glanced back at this street entrepreneur and his dog and concluded I was being sold a bill of goods here and, to quote Dionne Warwick, we just walked on by. 

At the next crosswalk was where we met our third entrepreneur, who rather like the first, had really made an effort. This was a street musician playing a saxophone. Like the transient a few steps back, I could see this individual had spent many a night under the stars on these streets, but rather than looking for money for nothing, he wanted to entertain us. 

Depending on the streetlight sequence, he had but a few seconds to grab our attention. He’d tailored his repertoire for the evening by wearing a Michael Jackson hat. He even wore one silver glove and was blasting out a few bars of some of MJ’s classics such as “Beat It” and “Billie Jean.” He’d done his homework and had rehearsed for this evening’s performance. 

Yes, the 5 Ps of marketing (product, place, price, promotion and people) have stood the test of time just like the catalog of Michael Jackson’s songs have, even if I didn’t want to admit how good he was when I was a young punk across the pond.   

On the way home, we discussed the genius of Michael Jackson and how sad we were that he left this Earth all too soon. We also thought about the three entrepreneurs we met on the streets of Hollywood after the sun had set. One was selling sausages. One was selling sorrow. One was selling sounds. 

Paul Butler is a Santa Clarita resident and a client partner with Newleaf Training and Development of Valencia (newleaftd.com). For questions or comments, email Butler at [email protected]. 

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