It is important to know what you need to get done today, what projects you must prioritise and tasks your business needs to tick off. However, you also need a clear understanding of the ultimate objective; the long-term rationale behind what you’re doing.
For me, there is no better focus point than the idea of the Trusted Brand or Trusted Advisor.
This is the ideal long-term position for your business to occupy in the mind of your consumer, client or customer. Ultimately, your business must be a Trusted Advisor in the hearts and minds of its stakeholders.
Take a moment and think about a business or service provider in your life over the last ten years. I want you to think of a person or a service provider that you pay on a regular (or semi-regular) basis. Think of a person or service provider that you are happy to pay because they provide exactly what you need. It could be a banker, your kid’s extra-class tutor, a mechanic or a chiropractor.
Now, when we think carefully about this good relationship, it is clear that the person or service provider does much more than simply provide a service. They provide advice. They provide support. You trust and can rely on them to help you to make tricky decisions. They are, in other words, a Trusted Advisor. It is only Trusted Advisors to whom we are happy to pay money on a regular basis. They give us true value; not once, but throughout the relationship.
No matter what area your business operates in, and no matter what kind of Brand Message it sends, if it can occupy a position as a Trusted Advisor with customers and clients, it will achieve sustainable success.
Trusted Advisor = Roots, Brain, Heart
Here’s a way to explore the different parts of the Trusted Advisor/Client Relationship. Collectively, the different parts listed below define the greater whole of a Trusted Advisor:
Here’s how they fit together:
- Roots – Foundation first
The foundation of client relationships consists of two elements.
First, your business must have real empathy for its clients – it must be able to relate to your clients’ challenges and successes. This means having the experience and imagination to understand what they are going through, practically and emotionally. If you can’t genuinely relate to your client’s problems, challenges and triumphs, you will always struggle with Marketing and Sales.
That being said, it is equally important that your clients see you as independent of them and their business. There is nothing more disturbing to a relationship than the sense that your service provider needs your sale in order to stay afloat. When this is the case, they are unable to genuinely empathise and provide the best solution possible for you. More likely, they’ll provide a solution that creates the sale they need to keep doing business and not necessarily the best solution you need to succeed as a client.
- Brain – Thinking ability, intelligence
Specialised skills and knowledge are essential to any field. This is why we take our cars to mechanics for a service, rather than to an accounting firm. No business, however, operates in isolation. A Trusted Advisor must, therefore, have wide contextual knowledge about general areas of life and business.
For example: Your bookkeeper or accountant can describe best financial management practices to you as defined in textbooks, but these thoughts will be of limited help to your business in the real world. What happens when you need a new specialist staff member in the next thirty days, and you don’t even know how to think about finding the money to pay the specialist required?
When the same service provider gives you advice that takes this specific challenge into account, their place at your side becomes valuable. If the service provider helps you to develop a financial plan that supports your need to expand your skills base, including a plan for how to secure the necessary finance, then we’re talking about a Trusted Advisor.
However, an advisor can only do this if they have wide-ranging experience in the world of business, across many different sectors. If they have this range, they can apply their expertise to your agenda, effectively putting all of their experience, across different sectors and industries, to work within your context.
- Heart – values and principles
Trust, and the tendency to stick to principles, is a vital element of the Trusted Advisor relationship. But, it requires a strong foundation. If this were all that mattered, we would only ever do business with our mothers!
Heart enables you to operate from a place of well-grounded values, principles and overall trust. This is what will enable you to better apply genuine empathy and intelligence in and around the work you do for your clients.
Without grounded values and principles, you would lack an understanding of the world around you. This would reduce the necessary understanding of how the world impacts on your clients’ business dealings and how it relates to the service you need to provide to your clients. I’m sure you see how this then compromises the quality of service you can provide and therefore your status as a Trusted Advisor.
I trust this gives you some context on how you can use the above-mentioned components in your marketing and journey towards becoming a Trusted Advisor.
Stay tuned for the follow up article titled “Marketing and sales as business processes”.