Tuesday, September 4, 2007
Kinky Friedman and The "Texazen" of Marketing
"I admit to drinking it, but I did not swallow."
- "Kinky" Friedman, when asked why he had drunk a Guinness beer in a moving vehicle in Dallas, Texas on St. Patrick's day.
by Tammy de Leeuw
Financial Advisors Netzone
I lead off with Kinky Friedman, a true Texas original. When it comes to off-the-wall, way
beyond the box marketing and self-promotion, no one does it better than the original Texas Jewboy.
Kinky is an interesting case study on many levels. In 2006, he managed to scrape together enough signatures to get himself included on the Texas gubernatorial ballot- no mean feat for someone who advocates relaxed marijuana laws, has stated that he is pro- gay marriage, and is seldom seen without a gigantic (real Cuban, by the way) cigar between his teeth.
That Kinky managed to charm the big old buckle of the Bible Belt enough to get the needed signatures and over 12% of 0f the vote is a tribute both to the inherent contrarian spirit of Texans (being one myself, I know this to be true) and Kinky's understanding of sales and marketing principles. Kinky Friedman managed to avoid the common sales and marketing mistakes most financial professionals make. Let's look at Kinky Friedman, the entrepreneur for a bit to find out what makes his empire tick.
A Kinky New Strategy-Looking At Common Mistakes That Derail Advisors
1. Not Being yourself- While I am not advocating you stick a baseball bat-sized stogie in your mouth and wear a black cowboy hat, I am suggesting that you be genuine. Are your clients seeing the real you or some caricature of a professional you dreamed up? Do you come across as warm, caring, down-to-earth, and empathetic? Do they see you as a take-charge professional with a message to which they need to listen? Are you witty and clever? Then, without being crude or non-professional, bring that side of you to the fore.
Kinky Friedman has never been accused of false humility. Can you say the same? Are you good at what you do? - Then don't grovel at your prospects' feet and offer to crawl over glass when they show the least resistance. Even prospects you consider to be naive have a way of seeing through phonies. Without being bombastic or condescending, let your clients and prospects know that you are the real deal.
2. Not listening to your clients and prospects- During his unsuccessful, but vastly entertaining campaign, Kinky Friedman hung out a lot with his would-be constituents. Spending time in bars and dance halls may seem unproductive at first blush, but for Friedman it provided the opportunity to LISTEN to the people. Doing so, he gained a genuine understanding of what their concerns and needs were. Kinky asked a lot of people a lot of questions to get a feel for what was meaningful and important to them. He had his own agenda, but never allowed that agenda to dominate the conversation.
All too often, advisors are so busy thinking about what the next thing out of their mouths should be that they miss everything the client is trying to tell them. Research shows that one of the deepest human needs is the need to be heard. Are you listening to your clients and prospects? Do you listen to your employees and value their suggestions?
Do you employ the skills of an active listener? If not, you should buy yourself one of the many good books on developing good listening skills and read it. Practice active listening techiniques on your friends and family and ask them to critique you.
When meeting with clients and prospects ask questions, lots of them, and not with a view to boxing in your prospect to make a sale. Most of you have read the question-based and spin-type sales books. These are NOT the kinds of questions about which I am speaking.
Michael Lovas, a sales trainer and president of ABOUT PEOPLE , says that question-based selling, while a step in the right direction, is still lacking.
"To truly help your clients by using a consultative approach, you have to learn how to listen in a totally different way. This is not easy. It's like learning to inhale in a different way. It's like re-learning your golf swing. It is essentially taking an unconscious activity and bringing it in to your consciousness, then changing how you do it. And the rewards are amazing,"says Lovas.
So, determine your client's agenda and ask questions in line with that agenda and not your own.
3. Be a flexible thinker: One of Kinky Friedman's most well-known campaign slogans was: "Why the hell not?" In keeping with his character, Friedman wasn't trying to be vulgar or shocking- just realistic. In Kinky's world "why the hell not?" simply serves to remind us that most limitations are self-imposed. If you think something won't work before you even try it, you are destined to get poor results.
If your marketing efforts have gone flat and your client attrition rate is climbing, can you afford NOT to be open to new ideas? If you dismiss technology and client retention methods and cling steadfastly to old marketing models- are you relegating yourself to the dinosaur herd? It pays to mix and mingle with advisors, successful and otherwise, and learn from their triumphs and mistakes. Imitation is more than just flattery- it is one of the best ways to save time and money when growing your business.