“Everyone has a story. The question is – who composed your story – you or the market?
– David Allison, Meyler Capital
“Story” – or what we prefer to think of as “brand” – is not about what your company sells but what it believes. Or more accurately – what others believe your company believes. It manifests itself in the form of perceptions – perceptions built on the experiences people have when they interact with the company, it’s product, or it’s people.
Having a strong brand doesn’t mean people will buy whatever you are selling. But it does mean that they will be more open to considering it – particularly if it fits a need. And that can be particularly important for fund managers whose “edge” is often presumed to be ambiguous or even non-existent by its core audience.
Seriously – nothing screams, “you’re pretty much all the same to me!!” like being tossed into a giant bucket with absolutely anyone else that happens to trade the same asset class, strategy, or targets a similar risk profile.
That said – with so many managers out there, it’s hard to argue relevance and differentiation if you look the same, sound the same and smell the same as everyone else.
So, aside from having materially better performance, how do you avoid being auto-banished to the bucket?
To do that requires two big steps. One, clearly defining how you want to be perceived. And two, getting that message out consistently and cohesively so that over time it becomes ingrained in people’s minds.
The challenge for most managers is in encapsulating a really big message into something bite-sized and absorbable.
But having a “story” in itself is not enough. The objective is to get into rooms with people that already perceive a fit exists with your strategy before you ever try to sell to them.
If brand is as Jeff Bezos says it is, “what they say about you when you are not in the room,” how do you get them to think favorably about you in the first place without going through an entire discovery process from scratch? That is the easy part but it has one very big hurdle…
Go to Part II here