Derek Young on Being a Trusted Advisor

Pic: Derek Young, speaking at NAMA

Pic: Derek Young, speaking at NAMA

I haven't written a blog post in a couple of weeks. I've been waiting for some inspiration to hit me in the head. Good news! Today it did at Nashville's American Marketing Association (NAMA) lunch program, NAMA's Marketing Power Lunch - I would describe the program as comical and amazing.

The speaker was Derek Young, a corporate advisor to companies such as Dollar General, Cracker Barrel, and Tractor Supply Company (and those are just the Nashville ones). But don't get me wrong, aside from telling us he has billionaire and Dollar General founder, Cal Turner's cell phone number, he's not a "name dropping" kind of guy. If fact, one of the lessons learned from his presentation is to "Give people the flowers before they die," meaning don't wait to tell people they are great. Show your appreciation now.

What Derek speaks on, "How to earn the trust of influences," is in line with my career goals: bringing value to an organization as an entrepreneur within; providing consultation to drive innovation and change to build new services and processes that generate new revenue growth.

"Trusted advisers help people achieve their personal goals." - Derek Young

Marketers seek to understand our target market, speak their language, and offer solutions to them. BUT do we put that much effort into understanding the people in our own companies or clients companies?

One of my biggest challenges is to silence my inner voice that screams "this is the right way to do it" and "just listen to me because It's my area of expertise". It does not work that way. Especially with digital marketing. There are tools, technologies, and lifestyles that are drastically different from what most people know and are comfortable with. I have to put my ego aside and remember it's not about me and my great ideas, it's about helping others. Get on their level and present ideas in their language and in a way that appeals to their needs and desires.

Integrating digital into traditional marketing takes a lot of time and patience to sell the concepts before the plan even starts.

I've often described it as "herding wet cats with clothespins on their tails. "This is the marketing challenge I enjoy the best: figuring out how I can help someone by connecting ideas and concepts, implementing new processes and procedures, a way that they see as a win.

So not only do I need to read and stay on top of digital and social media marketing trends, I need to put on my explorer hat and my big dumbo ears to really get into the world of MY audience. What's important to them? What makes them look good to their boss? What reports and publications are important to them? Do my solutions bring results? Do my solutions bring the people they respect positive results?

Below is advice Derek Young offered that I know will make me a better leader and marketer:

  • "We have to earn the right to whisper into our customer's ear." -Seth Godin
  • On building relationships:  Listen 6X more than you talk. Study their dynamics. Read and interpret their reports. Speak their language. Eat a meal with them. Work in their shoes. 
  • Get to know all dynamics of an organization.
  • Study the way your clients respond to what you offer them.
  • Know why your boss is your boss. Ask about their backstory.
  • Never trust the person who knows everybody's business.
  • Be the best friend of every administrative assistant in the building.
  • Teach your team to be strategic and anticipate needs.
  • Everyone has fears, doubts, and worries. Be that trusted person that can help them.
  • If you really want to get to know someone, get in a car with them (windshield time).
  • On meetings: When you set a meeting with someone, send them three options. Never schedule a meeting without an end time.
  • Sleep when you're dead! Build relationships in the day and think at night.
  • Be swift with your ideas.
  • It all comes down to your willingness to dignify people.

I hope you find these tips insightful and useful as well! What have you learned from listening to your company's leaders?