In this article you’ll learn how your firm’s point-of-view fits within its brand strategy, why and how it’s most important in differentiating the firm, and how to ensure the POV you have is compelling.
What is a Point-of-View?
At Rattleback, we believe for a professional services firm to differentiate and best position itself to compete, it must approach developing its brand strategy differently. In traditional marketing you’ll hear a lot about how to differentiate, you must develop a positioning statement that defines who your audience is, what claim you can offer that audience, and the benefit(s) that will be felt. Yes, positioning is important, but when doing brand planning for the professional services industry, it’s only one component in a three-part strategic framework, which together leads to a marketing platform that will best separate your firm from the competition.
The Rattleback brand framework includes brand positioning, personality, and point-of-view (POV). Having already defined positioning (understanding what you do), personality should define who you are in terms of articulating the culture and personality of the firm. While POV, which the rest of the post will focus on, should define why I should hire you in terms of understanding your firm’s unique philosophical belief that separates it from the competition. This POV can be developed for the firm as a whole if it’s narrowly positioned, or might also be developed for individual practices if the firm is large and highly diversified.
A Point-of-View Attracts the Best Clients Who Believe in Your 10%
A compelling POV is important because it sets the foundation for landing successful client relationships. This is because it works to not just attract the type of client whom you can best help and whom you most want to work with, but also works to repel the prospects whom do not align with how you think and act. The way I like to define this is to imagine you’re sitting on a panel with your competitors. Though your processes might be different, the reality is your expertise lies in the same domain and you’ll likely agree on 90% of what’s being discussed. However, there will be 10% where you philosophically disagree and it’s this 10% that is the basis for compelling debate. And it’s within this 10% where your beliefs do not philosophically align and thus your POV begins to separate you from the other.
The Best Point-of-Views Circle Around Four Themes
When developing a compelling POV, you must understand the arena it might exist within. These deeply rooted beliefs could be in how you forecast, how you deliver, how you perceive trends, or how your firm views its deeper-rooted purpose.
- Forecasting: One way to develop your POV is to think about where you believe the market is heading and how your target market can prepare. An example of this is global economics and consulting firm, ITR Economics (not a Rattleback client). They externally message under the umbrella statement, “See tomorrow’s economy today.” When you analyze their book, Prosperity in the Age of Decline, you understand the basis for this message is POV driven because they forecast that in 2030, they believe there will be an event that leads to a decade-long depression on a global scale and they’re advising clients on how to be prosperous within that reality.
- Today’s Trends: Alternative to forecasting, you might consider a POV based on how you perceive current trends and how they might be causing the central issues clients face today. An example of this is our own firm. We message under the umbrella statement “Some firms chase projects. Others shape markets.” We believe that within the professional services industry, marketing is too often focused on supporting the business development needs of the sales process to land the next project for the firm. Yes, that work is important, but we believe it’s more important that marketing be primarily focused on generating the demand for tomorrow by working to define where the firm will continue to compete while developing the required thought leadership that will shape future conversation in the market.
- Delivery: A POV developed around delivery works to define how the firm philosophically believes its services should be executed. An example of this is Rattleback client and operations consulting firm, TBM Consulting. They message under the umbrella statement “Speed Wins Every Time.” TBM Consulting philosophically believes a bottom-up approach is best when it comes to accelerating performance within one’s manufacturing and supply chain operations. This includes getting to the point-of-impact, pushing the pedal down to identify break points, and then implementing continuous improvement initiatives to rapidly deliver bottom-line results.
- Purpose: A POV developed around purpose works to articulate why the firm exists and/or what it socially cares about. An example of this is Rattleback client and healthcare engineering firm, Mazzetti. They message under the umbrella statement “Tackling the most complex environments to make the world better.” Mazzetti is a benefit corporation and its purpose is rooted in making the world a better place by building better environments. This purpose is culturally embedded within the firm and driven through the firm’s own sustainability initiatives, employee wellness and betterment programs, its efforts bring better health standards to the developing world through unique partnerships, and through its support of The Ten Commandments of the UN’s Global Compact which focuses on human rights, labor, environment, and anti-corruption.
Put Your Point-of-View to the ‘How Compelling Is It’ Test
Once you have identified a POV you believe could differentiate the firm, begin to understand how compelling it might be by putting it up against these questions.
- Is it disruptive? Does it evoke strong emotion by working to both push people away while also attracting the like-minded?
- Does it capture a white space in the market? Is the competition competing under a different view point?
- Is it defensible? Could you effectively debate it with a competitor on a panel?
- Is it applicable? Does it cut across the primary market segments you target?
- Does it inspire passion? Is it your north star in determining strategic decisions; are you willing to bet the company’s future on it?
Get Started by Thinking About Two Questions
Developing a POV is hard. And by itself is not an effective brand strategy as it’s still just as important to work to define your firm’s personality and strategic positioning. However, it’s a critical component that will truly separate your firm by defining how it philosophically thinks and behaves. To begin thinking about what your POV might be, begin with these two questions:
- Where does your firm create value? For example, when you’re successful at delivering whatever it is you deliver, what’s the end result?
- Is there a fundamental mistake client’s in your space make over and over again?