“What’s a brand? A singular idea or concept that you own inside the mind of the prospect. It’s as simple and as difficult as that.”
In their longstanding bible of branding, ‘The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding,’ Al Ries and Laura Ries take the reader on a journey of brand understanding. If you haven’t read the book, please do yourself a favor. It’s a classic for a reason.
As business owners, we can fool ourselves into thinking that telling prospects that we’re ‘financial advisors’ is sufficient branding. We think that they’ll get what we do and have a full understanding of what it means to them. The sad reality is that we’re wrong.
Consider this: How many times have you heard a prospect tell you, after you’ve tried for months to win their trust and their business, “I didn’t know you did that!” It can be maddening. How could they have not known that you do that? Of course you offer life insurance, or IRA rollovers or investment management. That’s what financial advisors do, right?
As the book suggests, the most important aspect of a brand is its single-mindedness. That is, you should mean one thing — and only one thing — to those you’ve chosen to serve. If that’s true, then what do you want to actually mean to your ideal client? And do they agree with you?
The challenge of this ‘Law of Singularity’ is that you’d be hard pressed to narrow your entire value proposition down to one single value. If you don’t do it, however, you’re taking great risk that your next great client will be able to fill in the blanks and choose you to accomplish that which they’re looking to accomplish. People have short attention spans and vast choices available to them, so you have to say it clearly and quickly for a busy prospect to choose you.
As an example, we recently redesigned our website. If you’ve done this for yourself, you know it can take months. Throughout the process, I continued to add content, increasing the number of pages in order to leave no detail out, no argument for our firm left un-argued. In the end, we had a good-looking site that could keep a prospect busy for quite some time, researching our firm.
After all, wouldn’t you want to know a lot about the people who would manage your life savings? The problem is, when I applied the concept of ‘singularity’ to the site, I couldn’t find it; that one idea or concept that I could own inside the mind of the prospect. It wasn’t there, or at least it could not be found quickly.
As a result, we added a single, bold sentence on the home page of our site that summed up what we do best. In quick fashion, the prospect could arrive at our site, and in 10 seconds know what we can do for them. Boom, singularity.
It shouldn’t matter to you what our single idea is, because yours should be different. It should be unique to you, singular in its focus, clear in its delivery. Within seconds, your ideal prospect should see their future in your value proposition. The rest of the information you present should point back to that message and support its weight.
Naturally, there are many more laws of branding that we should consider when building our practice: ‘The Law of Consistency,’ ‘The Law of the Generic’ and more. Each law has incredible power to either strengthen a brand or weaken it if ignored. The key is to start thinking of a brand that goes much deeper than “I’m a financial advisor.” That’s a great start, but what will you do for me as you advise me with my finances? How will you help me in ways that nobody (or everybody) else can?
The game is changing quickly: DOL regulation changes, robo-advisors, mega firms, etc. What doesn’t change is physics. If you do little to attract your ideal prospect, they’ll be drawn to the advisor who does, like a magnet. Therefore, choosing singularity in your branding creates the greatest opportunity to attract the right people, offering them the right services, at the right time, for the right reasons.
Again, it’s as simple and as difficult as that.
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