Advisors: Can Tyra Banks Teach You to Find Your Brand Voice?

Advisors: Can Tyra Banks Teach You to Find Your Brand Voice?

Tyra Banks is an international supermodel, a reality tv star, and a successful business owner. Now she is trying her hand at a new profession: Professor of Branding. She is co-teaching a class called The Art of Branding at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. In a recent interview with USA Today, Tyra shared some of the main points she tries to convey to her students; ideas that have helped her shape a successful and unique brand voice. 

While the worlds of international modeling and financial advisory are different in many ways, the concepts she outlined as her curriculum are as applicable to advisors as any other profession that relies on cultivating reputation and finding a unique brand voice.

BRAND VOICE IS ALL ABOUT DIFFERENTIATION
 

“I really had a natural way of walking that was a little different, sometimes a little wacky, and I would notice people smiling. I was like ‘Oh wow. They like this. This is my signature walk.’ So that’s when I understood . . .that differentiation was important.’’

As the world becomes increasingly connected, competition will continue to grow at exponential rates. The way that you set yourself aside from the crowd is perhaps the most important aspect of your financial advisor brand.

One great strategy for winning the game of differentiating yourself is to change the game completely. In their book, Blue Ocean Strategy, W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne outline the process for creating your own blue water. The metaphor comes from the feeding frenzy that happens in the ocean when a bunch of fish and sharks all show up to the same place. A smart fish won’t head towards the red water with all the competition. They will go out to the blue water where they can be away from the crowd.

How does a financial advisor find their own blue water? By taking Tyra’s advice and discovering what it is about your practice that people remember. Talk with your clients and coworkers. It is even okay to talk with prospects who considered you and went with someone else. In all cases, find out what the deciding factor that swayed a decision was for the individual. A pattern should emerge of what special talents and benefits you offer your clientele. Once you’ve identified your special “walk”, recreate your business offering around that. If it is unique, you will find yourself in clear blue water. 

COMMUNICATE BRAND VOICE THROUGH CONTENT
 

“There’s a personal brand that you’re building even if you don’t know that you are. So I think it’s best to be equipped with the tools to make sure that you are shaping something that can serve you in the future.”

One thing we hear over and over from advisors is “I am not a writer. I am not a creative type.” While we understand that the whole reason you got into financial planning was to be an advisor, it is undeniable that good marketing relies on good content. If you want to create a brand voice you will need ammunition with which to do that. Or as Tyra says you need to be “equipped with the tools.”

In her newest book, Everybody Writes, Ann Handley observes that:
 

If you have a website, you are a publisher. If you are on social media, you are in marketing. And that means that we are all relying on our words to carry our marketing messages. We are all writers.” 

She goes on to describe ways that people who are not writers for a living can nevertheless become competent content creators. 

The simplest way to aid in your writing is to get clear on what you are saying in the first place. Handley recommends understanding three objectives before you even put finger to keyboard:

  1. What are you trying to achieve? 
  2. What information, exactly, are you trying to communicate? 
  3. Why should your audience care?” 
     

Take time to answer these questions, perhaps with another person. Jot down your ideas and get a solid answer to each question. Make it as clear and easy to understand as possible. Before you know it you have created a piece of ‘quality content’, which Handley defines:

“Quality content means content that is packed with clear utility and is brimming with inspiration, and it has relentless empathy for the audience.”

PROTECT YOUR BRAND VOICE FROM COPYCATS
 

“The most important thing is to watch your competition and to see if your brand that is now very successful is being copied, because when people see something that’s good, everybody jumps on that bandwagon. Boo, don’t you know you should just make up your own thing, because we’re about to change this, and you’re going to look obsolete because you’re going to be copying something that I don’t even do anymore?'”

Once you succeed in finding a unique brand voice, it won’t be long before you notice the copycats. Imitation may be the highest form of flattery, but in online branding, it is impossible to tell who did it first, only who did it best.

If you find yourself with pretenders coming after you, what’s the best strategy to retain your unique brand voice? According to Kathy Sierra, author of the Creating Passionate Users Blog, the worst thing you can do is try to outspend them in advertising. 

“Instead of out-spending your competitors, out-teach them… Those who teach stand the best chance of getting people to become passionate. And those with the most passionate [clients] don’t need an ad campaign when they’ve got [client] evangelists doing what evangelists do… talking about their passion.”

This strategy inspired the SaaS success story 37signals, creator of the popular Basecamp, to focus all of its marketing around “upgrading their customers.” By providing their readers, prospects, and clients with the best, most insightful information, the company was able to build up a loyal following. Co-founder David Hansson put it this way in his book Rework: 

“We’re trying to build an audience; we’re not just trying to have [clients]. Buying people’s attention with a magazine or online banner ad is one thing. Earning their loyalty by teaching them forms a whole different connection. They’ll trust you more. They’ll respect you more.”

GET STARTED TODAY
 

Once you have established your brand voice, practice making content and focus your efforts on teaching your clients and prospects valuable information, you will have successfully created an online presence that is not only unique but effective in growing your business.

Marina Grindle
Digital Marketing
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Marina Grindle is FMG Suite's Content Marketing Specialist, where she works to develop unique strategies to help financial advisors build their brand. FMG Suite is an all-in-o ... Click for full bio

China's Push Toward Excellence Delivers a Global Robotics Investment Opportunity

China's Push Toward Excellence Delivers a Global Robotics Investment Opportunity

Written by: Jeremie Capron

China is on a mission to change its reputation from a manufacturer of cheap, mass-produced goods to a world leader in high quality manufacturing. If that surprises you, you’re not the only one.


For decades, China has been synonymous with the word cheap. But times are changing, and much of that change is reliant on the adoption of robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence, or RAAI (pronounced “ray”). For investors, this shift is driving a major opportunity to capture growth and returns rooted in China’s rapidly increasing demand for RAAI technologies.

You may have heard of ‘Made in China 2025,’ the strategy announced in 2015 by the central government aimed at remaking its industrial sector into a global leader in high-technology products and advanced manufacturing techniques. Unlike some public relations announcements, this one is much more than just a marketing tagline. Heavily subsidized by the Chinese government, the program is focused on generating major investments in automated manufacturing processes, also referred to as Industry 4.0 technologies, in an effort to drive a massive transformation across every sector of manufacturing. The program aims to overhaul the infrastructure of China’s manufacturing industry by not only driving down costs, but also—and perhaps most importantly—by improving the quality of everything it manufactures, from textiles to automobiles to electronic components.

Already, China has become what is arguably the most exciting robotics market in the world. The numbers speak for themselves. In 2016 alone, more than 87,000 robots were sold in the country, representing a year-over-year increase of 27%, according to the International Federation of Robotics. Last month’s World Robot Conference 2017 in Beijing brought together nearly 300 artificial intelligence (AI) specialists and representatives of over 150 robotics enterprises, making it one of the world’s largest robotics-focused conference in the world to date. That’s quite a transition for a country that wasn’t even on the map in the area of robotics only a decade ago.

As impressive as that may be, what’s even more exciting for anyone with an eye on the robotics industry is the fact that this growth represents only a tiny fraction of the potential for robotics penetration across China’s manufacturing facilities—and for investors in the companies that are delivering or are poised to deliver on the promise of RAAI-driven manufacturing advancements.

Despite its commitment to leverage the power of robotics, automation and AI to meet its aggressive ‘Made in China 2025’ goals, at the moment China has only 1 robot in place for every 250 manufacturing workers. Compare that to countries like Germany and Japan, where manufacturers utilize an average of one robot for every 30 human workers. Even if China were simply trying to catch up to other countries’ use of robotics, those numbers would signal immense near-term growth. But China is on a mission to do much more than achieve the status quo. The result? According to a recent report by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), in 2019 as much as 40% of the worldwide market volume of industrial robots could be sold in China alone.

To understand how the country can support such grand growth, just take a look at where and why robotics is being applied today. While the automotive sector has historically been the largest buyer of robots, China’s strategy reaches far and wide to include a wide variety of future-oriented manufacturing processes and industries.

Related: Smooth Tomorrow's Market Volatility With a Smart Approach to Robotics & AI

Electronics is a key example. In fact, the electrical and electronics industry surpassed the automotive industry as the top buyer of robotics in 2016, with sales up 75% to almost 30,000 units. Assemblers such as Foxconn rely on thousands of workers to assemble today’s new iPhones. Until recently, the assembly of these highly delicate components required a level of human dexterity that robots simply could not match, as well as human vision to help ensure accuracy and quality. But recent advancements in robotics are changing all that. Industrial robots already have the ability to handle many of the miniature components in today’s smart phones. Very soon, these robots are expected to have the skills to bolster the human workforce, significantly increasing manufacturing capacity. Newer, more dexterous industrial robots are expected to significantly reduce human error during the assembly process of even the most fragile components, including the recently announced OLED (organic light-emitting diode) screens that Samsung and Apple introduced on their latest mobile devices including the iPhone X. Advancements in computer vision are transforming how critical quality checks are performed on these and many other electronic devices. All of these innovations are coming together at just the right time for a country that is striving to create the world’s most advanced manufacturing climate.

Clearly, China’s trajectory in the area of RAAI is in hyper drive. For investors who are seeking a tool to leverage this opportunity in an intelligent and perhaps unexpected way, the ROBO Global Robotics & Automation Index may help. The ROBO Index already offers a vast exposure to China’s potential growth due to the depth and breadth of the robotics and automation supply chain. As China continues to improve its manufacturing processes to meet its 2025 initiative, every supplier across China’s far-reaching supply chains will benefit. Wherever they are located, suppliers of RAAI-related components—reduction gears, sensors, linear motion systems, controllers, and so much more—are bracing for spikes in demand as China pushes to turn its dream into a reality.

Today, around 13% of the revenues generated by the ROBO Global Index members are driven by China’s investments in robotics and automation. Tomorrow? It’s hard to say. But one thing is for certain: China’s commitment to improving the quality and cost-efficiency of its manufacturing facilities is showing no signs of slowing down—and its reliance on robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence is vital to its success.

Want all the details? Download the ROBO Global Investment Report - Summer Brings Best ROBO Earnings in Six Years or visit us here.

ROBO Global
Robotics and AI
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ROBO Global LLC is the creator of the ROBO Global® Robotics and Automation Index series, which provides comprehensive, transparent and diversified benchmarks representing the ... Click for full bio