You want to buy an electric vehicle. In terms of performance, your primary concern is the distance the vehicle can drive on one charge.
Brand 1… all they talk about is the distance their vehicles can drive on a single charge. That said, their service isn’t that great, the salespeople are somewhat sorely, and the facilities are less than impressive. They profess that they don’t need to “impress” because it is about the towing capacity and nothing else.
Brand 2… everything is super over-the-top and flashy. The salespeople are immaculately dressed, there are crystal chandeliers in the showroom, and you are greeted with a flute of champagne. The salespeople don’t appear genuine and they bend their story to match yours.
Brand 3… appears to be super utilitarian. In making your approach you are greeted with respect. The salespeople appear authentic, well trained and gush over how fortunate they are to work with such a great organization. They take their time to listen and talk about the support they provide, services they offer, and trade-in policy. The strengths and weaknesses of the truck are discussed, and they talk about their continuous commitment to better their product.
As the process unfolds you look at all the stats and test drive the vehicles. They all feel somewhat comparable and you finally make a decision.
Unfortunately, the vehicle doesn’t live-up to your expectations. It doesn’t go as far on a charge as you hoped it would.
Which brand is best situated to keep your business long enough to get you into next year’s model – that does meet your expectations?
If it isn’t obvious… I will never be able to speak to your listening.
As a fund manager, do you have to show performance? Of course you do. If the combined attributes of your car aren’t close to the competition, you aren’t even going to be considered. That said, you can never guarantee what the competition is going to do, nor can you control how someone perceives the performance of your product or their true motivations. Best build positioning around the things you can control, your service, your support, and the atmosphere that surrounds your organization.
At the end of the day, people tend to stick with a given brand, when another, at the present time, is arguably better. Why, because of loyalty, which is the measure of a brands strength. They are also betting on the fact that their brand will outperform the other at some point. If it doesn’t, their loyalty will eventually wane and they will migrate to another brand.
The analogy above applies to asset management. You can’t always expect to provide the best performance. You simply have to meet expectations frequently enough to be competitive. More importantly, your brand needs to be strong enough to carry the day when market conditions aren’t optimal or while making improvements that strengthen your competitiveness. And I am hopeful that at this point it is somewhat obvious that the worst thing you can have built your positioning around when your performance isn’t all that impressive is, well, performance.
And all of this is never more acute than it is in situations like we face today.