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Personal Branding: Have You Made It to “It Depends” Status?

By Nick Nanton, Esq.

It is often joked that the most common words heard in a lawyer’s office are “it depends.”

Being a lawyer, I do find this quite amusing. It’s very true. In law school, we were taught to always think about the different paths that clients can take to leverage the situation they may be in - and offer as many options as possible. It’s funny if you think about it, Lawyers are some of the only people in the world expected to understand how grey something looks and then present it as if it’s black and white. Chew on that!

Why do people hire lawyers in the first place? They need to know what their options are. More importantly, they are seeking their professional advice on which option to choose. It is no different when you apply this to businesses. Why do people seek out your services? They need problems solved.

As a branding agent, I often ask clients, “Do you have enough knowledge in your field to be able to say ‘it depends’ when a client or customer asks for your advice? More importantly, do you have enough knowledge to be able to inform that client which option is the best for them?” Here is an example:

A few months back, my wife needed to get new tires for her mountain bike. I would say that I know a few things about a few things, but mountain bike tires are not on that list! When I went to the store, I told the salesperson that we needed some new tires for the bike and asked what he recommended. His answer? “Well, it depends.” Slightly annoyed, I said, “Okay, depends on what?” The man started asking me where my wife usually rides the bike, what kind of surfaces were the most common for her to ride, how often she rides, etc. These are things that hadn’t even crossed my mind. I gave him as much information as I could, and he was able to show me 3 or 4 different brands, different price ranges, warranty options and so on.

The most valuable thing that he told me that day was “If I were you, I’d go with these,” pointing to a moderately priced set of tires. He then proceeded to tell me exactly why he would choose that brand of tire, at that price, etc. I had just found my go-to expert on mountain bike tires! I was impressed with his knowledge, but even more impressed that he had a solution for my problem. He had enough confidence in his knowledge of the products that he was comfortable telling me “it depends” and then offering his advice.

This trip to the store got me thinking about many of the clients of our branding agency. Many of our clients are experts in their field and are offering their expertise on their particular niche to those who don’t have the same amount of education and training, etc. Many of them have used personal branding to brand themselves as the go-to expert in their field.

As many of us get comfortable in our line of work, surrounding ourselves with people who have similar interests, and who work in the same industry – we sometimes forget that there are so many people out there that don’t know anything about the intricacies of what we do – even the things that we think are common knowledge. When people seek your advice, they are looking for you to cut through the clutter and solve whatever problem they may have.

As hard as we try, we can never know everything about everything. We need experts! From mountain bike experts and personal branding experts, to mortgage loan experts and business marketing experts - there are experts everywhere! There are those who spend their career perfecting a skill so others can go to them for solutions in that area.

Do you have the knowledge in your line of work to be able to say “It Depends” and do you have the confidence in that knowledge to provide the right solution?