I ran across an interesting use of the old phrase “the ugly truth,” in an article counseling financial advisers to always, whether in success or failure, be candid with clients. In fact, the title was “The Benefits of Telling the Ugly Truth.”
So, Your Mother Could Have Been A Brand Consultant
The article is based on a recent study, sponsored by Allianz Global Investors (not at this writing a client of ours). Its author, Professor Shlomo Benartzi of UCLA, is quoted as saying what most parents have been telling their kids for centuries: “From a behavioral standpoint, it’s really better for your credibility if you’re honest.”
The study offers other trust-building tips to financial advisers, such as explaining the potential downside of an investment before touting the upside. Not rocket science for seasoned investment professionals? Perhaps. But it is apparently rare enough that the simple act of telling the truth offers financial advisers a competitive differentiator and, therefore, an advantage.
Brand Truth and (Beneficial) Consequences
I would argue that this applies not only to the financial industry but to any marketer in any category. In fact, at Creative on Call we encourage our clients to not just identify and communicate their core truth, but to assertively encourage comparison with their competitors. This enables prospects to come to their own powerfully self-persuading “Aha!” moment.
For example, when our team was charged with helping the leading independent broker-dealer, LPL Financial Services, recruit more advisers, one of the most effective recruiting tools we created was a workbook that made it easy for them to compare LPL and its competition on all the most important parameters. We identified the simple truth about what the brand delivers and then let it speak for itself within an easy-to-use framework (segmented to both types of adviser prospects, those from independent broker-dealers and those still at wirehouses). It worked wonders.
Does Your Brand Know What Its Simple Truth Is?
A core task for any marketer, then, is to drill down past your feature set (and the corporate-speak that usually attends it) to clarify the essential benefits your brand delivers, the ones that make a real-world difference to your prospects. Once you do that, you’ll discover that the truth is never ugly. It may sometimes be unpleasant, inconvenient, uncomfortable and indicative of needed change. But it ultimately sets you free to succeed – and that is a beautiful thing.