The Blog

Go to for Don McNay's column and other articles.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Chasing that Neon Rainbow

Chasing That Neon Rainbow

Just trying to be somebody.
Just want to be heard and seen.
Chasing that neon rainbow, living that honky tonk dream..

-Alan Jackson

I feel a kinship with the famous watercolor artist Pat Banks. We both live in Madison County and share the same birthday.

And, we both want people to pay us for what we create.

Pat started selling her art while in high school. She knew she was good and had the confidence to ask people to pay for it.

Many creative people won’t put a price tag on their work. Art is a reflection of the artist’s personality. When someone says they don’t like the art, they are really saying they don’t like the artist.

When someone says my column is a piece of garbage, I know they don’t care for me either.

I’ve watched lots of people try to make it in business. Those who believed in themselves made it; those who were afraid to be turned down did not.

I understand being afraid to do something.

I can’t make cold calls over the telephone. I never have been able to. It’s difficult to get me to call in an order for a pizza.

Not using the phone is a severe marketing handicap, especially when I started 24 years ago. I could not use email like I do now.

Many people suggested I keep calling people until I got over my phone phobia. I knew that would not work for me

I needed to do something to get people to call me, instead of me calling them, and I found a niche called structured settlements.

Structured settlements are financial planning tools for injured people and my goal was to know more about them than anyone in the world.

I studied, wrote numerous articles and let people know I was an expert.

Eventually people started calling me and referring me to their friends. They wanted my expertise and were willing to pay for it.

They did not care that I can’t pick up the phone and call Papa Johns.

Alan Jackson’s song “Chasing the Neon Rainbow” is about going after a dream but it is also about the struggle to get people to notice your work.

I have done all kinds of creative things to get people to recognize me and my business.

Pat Banks is a genius at getting noticed too.

For our mutual birthday, she made me some luggage tags with her unique watercolor designs.

Although they destroy any attempt to maintain a macho image, I put them on my luggage and briefcase. You can see them from halfway across an airport and I never lose a bag.

Since many people ask me about the tags, I tell them about Pat Banks and it gives her free advertising.

People need to be creative in getting their message out but the message needs to be simple and straightforward.

It drives me crazy when a person calls to sell something but never gets to the point.

Early in my career, I shared an office with a guy who would talk to people for hours but never tell them what he was selling.

He did not call many people, but every time he made a phone call, he would laugh like crazy at everything the other person said.

I concluded that he only marketed to comedians.

Since we were selling life insurance, most of us did not have knee-slapping conversations, but every call kept him in stitches. It was not unusual for him to stay on the phone for an hour but I never heard him say the word insurance.

The comedian market must have dried up as he came in one night, cleaned out his desk and found another career.

I’m sure Chris Rock and George Carlin bought their life insurance from people who actually asked them to buy it.

I really admire people like Alan Jackson and Pat Banks. They have talent but a lot of talented people don’t make it. It takes a lot of drive and determination to keep your eye on that “neon rainbow” and ask people to pay you for what you create.

It also helps if you don’t limit your market to comedians.

Don McNay is President of McNay Settlement Group and would be happy to have comedians as clients. You can write to him at or read other things he has written at