The Oldmeldrum farm machinery show went through its usual motions and visits were made to the various stands, showing their wares. No more than to Johnny’s, who had by far the most visitors, but the least sales returns to register.
The other salesmen wondered at this and could not fathom it. In the bar they asked around, but still were no further forward.
“What’s going on?” said Billy.
“Oh, we just keep in touch. He is a good man to know,” said a farmer.
“For why?” said Billy. “What good does it do you if you’re not buying anything?”
“Well for Johnny, sales always come later. So we come to chat to make out appointments,” said the farmer.
“Appointments? What do you need appointments for?” said Billy.
“It’s like this, if we don’t have an appointment then we can’t buy the equipment,” said the farmer.
“But you can buy my equipment here. You don’t need an appointment. Just come to my stand,” said Billy.
“Na, na. It’s not the way. I’ve been buying from Johnny for twenty years now and we prefer the appointment. It’s the highlight of my year,” said the farmer.
The salesmen reviewed the discussion and set out a new course for their stalls. They put up banners stating that sales would be made by appointment only. Their returns dropped to zero.
In the bar, Billy cornered the farmer again.
“We tried the appointment process on our stands, but no one took us up on it,” said Billy.
“Aye, I can understand that,” said the farmer.
“Understand what?” said Billy.
“You didn’t do your marketing,” said the farmer.
“Marketing, what marketing,” said Billy.
“You have to tell what you get at the appointment,” said the farmer.
The salesmen reviewed the discussion and adjusted their banners to highlight the benefits of the appointments. Their returns stayed at zero.
Billy returned to the bar and sat down beside the farmer.
“It must be your round,” said the farmer. “Mine’s a Macallan.”
“A double Macallan for you if you explain how my appointment and the marketing doesn’t work,” said Billy.
“What football team do you support?” said the farmer.
“I’m from Glasgow. Rangers,” said Billy.
“I’ll have the whisky now,” said the farmer.
Billy got the order in and the farmer sipped the dark brown liquid.
“What has Rangers got to do with this?” said Billy.
“You wouldn’t know Harry Yorston then?” said the farmer.
“No. Who’s he?” said Billy.
“The best Dons player of my generation, scored 141 goals. He works at Johnny’s,” said the farmer.
“And?” said Billy.
“All the farmers here are Aberdeen supporters and at the appointments we get to chat with Benny,” said the farmer. “So unless you can introduce us to Joey Harper you haven’t a chance of a sale.”
“Joey who?” said Billy.
“Well, there you go. Scored 199 goals in 300 games” said the farmer. “I think you should get a new hat.”