What Hugely Successful Firms Have In Common With Kleenex


When you can make your firm synonymous with the solution clients are looking for, new business arrives automatically.

When you need to blow your nose, what do you call the thing you reach for? Of course, a Kleenex. But that’s not what it is. What it is is facial tissue. So, why don’t we call it that? Because the brand Kleenex has done such a superior job of identifying themselves with the solution a facial tissue represents that we all have now come to call the generic solution by the brand name. When you want canned fruit suspended in a wobbly green mold, what do you look for? Jell-O. And if you say Jell-O to anyone, they will know instantly what you’re talking about even though it is actually instant gelatin. And although it is not quite as common as it used to be, the verb for duplicating documents used to be Xerox. As in “would you Xerox this in time for the meeting?”

So, what does all this have to do with financial advice anyway? The idea of your brand becoming identified with a particular solution or experience can help you build your firm the same way it helped these consumer products achieve market dominance.

Rob Brown is an attorney who specializes in employee stock ownership plans. It is all he does. While his firm has the typical Four Names, LLP name, their website is esopplus.com. He has a national reputation for counseling business owners who are interested in the idea of employee ownership, and not just as a succession strategy. Perhaps most impressive, partners at large regional and national law firms unhesitatingly refer clients to him if the topic of employee ownership comes up. (Most of the time, partners will only refer to specialists within their own firm.)

I see lots of financial advisors who promote their expertise and working with business owners. And all the ones I have seen also have expertise with lots of other types of clients as well: corporate executives, doctors, retirees. Okay, let’s say it: they have expertise in everyone. None of these advisors will accomplish what Rob has. They will not be able to develop even a local reputation as the one advisor to go to if you are a small business owner. Because, they want to “specialize” in everyone. They therefore represent no one in particular.

You may not be able to become the Kleenex of financial advisors. But following Rob Brown’s example, you can become the one person everyone thinks of as the solution to a particular problem. In a large portion of the financial and legal community in the Northeast, Rob now owns the real estate on everyone’s brain labeled ESOP. And when a business owner client mentions that word to their attorney or wealth advisor, there is a good chance Rob’s phone will ring.

What spot on your clients brain do you want to own?

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