Thursday, May 26, 2011

Monster Management

My evil side has been asleep for years, but today I felt it beginning to pump through my veins again.  The old werewolf muscles began to twitch and swell inside my clothes.  My eyes blackened. My nose lifted and circled around, sniffing the air with a sudden but familiar keenness. I hunched over my desk, fingers clamped the edge, and I asked myself—of course I did — did I really want this?
I’d been poking around at the periphery of an idea, the thought of going back to do some marketing for a friend and colleague who has had trouble finding the right person for the job. Yes, MARKETING. The evil trajectory. The thing that creates monsters. The lifestyle that slays mere mortals — boom, bang, bam! — left and right.
I’d been poking around the periphery, and then I got the nod:  Go for it. Do it. Start marketing.
Oh heaven above. What have I been thinking?
I am in the middle of a long, slow period at my regular day job and so am only working three days a week right now. This friend’s business is great. Deeply caring, of employees and the environment. People- and service- oriented. A nicely executed, 100 percent benefit to a sustainable community. In some ways, I can think of no better way to use a lot of pent up energy and idle creativity than to sell this living, breathing work of art. This beautifully choreographed, holistic business dance with so many fine people stepping together to make it work. I could use a few extra bucks, too.
When my friend was trying to fill the position before, I tried to warn him. Real, honest-to-goodness marketing people are a different breed. If you get a fake, then you’ve got a shyster on your hands. Peddling big words for big bucks, they will constantly try to convince you they’ve created something from nothing, and they will bill for lots and lots of hours before you figure it out.
But if you get the real thing, then you will have everything you wish for. Everything.
And be careful of what you wish for.
Because real marketing people are sickos. Mentally ill. They’re not sniffing the air for blood, or money even, but they’re driven by something so terrifying, so flat black — you don’t want to see it, and you damned sure don’t want to know what it is, deep down inside. Their drive for success is adrenaline addiction juiced up by terror of something — something huffing and quivering in the pitch. Fear of failure, I guess, but it takes on a life of its own. They’ll wreck themselves in the process, if they’re not careful. They’ll come home to their families needing incredible amounts of shoring up. And the other employees in your business? They might not be so fond of the extra work. They might resent the hell out of the relentless pressure from your new marketing machine:  “C’mon, you can do it! What are you, a man or a mouse?” “Hey—I put in 100 hours last week; you can work ten or twenty more.” “So this business has never tried anything like this before? How was that working out for ya?”
And most of all, as an employer of such a scary underworld creature as a real marketing person, you’ll hear this kind of thing, repeatedly:  “I have put my good name behind this business.” A marketing professional is nothing if not aware of this fact. The next job is dependent on the success of this one. And this one. And this one. Your real marketing professional walks into an executive office, or before a social club, or anywhere, anywhere at all, that might buy your product or service. And that marketing professional says, “Buy this. It’s the best there ever was, or my name is not Foghorn Leghorn.” (You get the point.)
And you, and all the dearly beloved, excellent support staff who run the business that is being sold — you all better shine, or Werewolf Heads will spin.

If I sound confident at all about it, I have failed utterly at explaining. My evil side has been asleep for years. I don’t have a decent graphic design program. I can make contacts again, but it will be harder, my having been so far away. Overall, my heart might not be able to take it — not the physical one, but the softer, kinder one I’ve developed in the last decade. And I actually like all these people I would surely piss off, at various points.
Most of all, what if I fail?