Seeing yourself through your client’s eyes
by Tiffany MarkarianMs. Markarian is a marketing strategist and keynote speaker helping financial advisors and wealth professionals advance their niche market development, branding and practice momentum. She can be reached at (617) 312-0591 [email protected] or via Twitter @AdvantusMktg.
Like all businesses, financial advisors are always trying to set themselves apart in this crowded marketplace. One of the ways they attempt to do this is through a strong value proposition. A value proposition is a statement that articulates in clear terms the value you and your firm provide. It is one of the most powerful elements of your brand. The big question is: Is your value proposition valuable?
A value proposition articulates the top benefits a client would gain from working with you. It gives insight into:
- The problems you help solve
- The positive improvements you bring
- What makes you distinct from other competitors
A value proposition sounds logical, but it is quite difficult to get right. You need to be concise – preferably 8 words or less – and it must quickly engage your audience in a meaningful way. It cannot be a diatribe about you, your process or your expertise. It needs to speak from your client’s point of view, not yours.
A Few Great Examples-
- Uber – “Drive When You Want”
- The Tamron Hall Show – “Talk That Brings Us Together”
- Walmart – “Save Money, Live Better”
- Pinterest – “The World’s Catalog of Ideas”
Crafting Your Value Proposition
Financial advisors and their teams spend hours developing their value proposition and brand. They scour competitor websites to see what others are doing and try to improve it. They may hire a creative firm to write something unique and different. The problem is these approaches are often written from the advisors’ point of view, not the client. Your prospective clients will not engage if the message is not relatable or valuable to them.
A value proposition should be created by engaging your clients and ideal prospects in the process. This means, taking the time to personally interview your clients to learn what you help them accomplish and how that has benefitted them. With prospective clients or a niche market you want to serve, it involves doing personal interviews to identify what they wish a financial advisor would do for them and the challenges they want to solve. It is not about sending emails or asking clients to complete a survey. It must be a personal conversation so you can probe deeply into their perspectives.
In the end, you will have a reservoir of words, phrases and benefit statements that can be weaved together to create your unique value proposition. Moreover, doing personal interviews will help ensure your value proposition is valuable because it is derived from how your client articulates value.
Forget the Jargon
Too many advisors try to sound sophisticated when creating their value proposition. They use sophisticated words or industry jargon that are only relatable to the financial industry. As an example, if you focus on portfolio construction, risk management, or equity planning for corporate executives, these are buzz words in the financial industry. Clients rarely use these words. You need to create a value proposition that is relatable using words clients relate to.
Focus on the benefits clients want to achieve, such as: comfort with their finances, greater financial security, less worry in retirement, better balance in their financial life.
Your Planning Process
In today’s fiduciary and regulatory environment, many advisors attempt to make their value proposition about their planning model. For example, a fee-only advisor might believe the fee-only model is their true value proposition. The problem with this line of thinking is that it can have the opposite effect. If you lead with fee-only planning, or the way you are compensated as your main point of value, the client will immediately think, “What’s the fee?” Your client may focus on your cost without understanding what they will accomplish with you.
Consider using statements such as, we help you gain more order in your financial life, comfort with your finances, more balance with competing financial demands.
Many advisors have a value proposition that focuses on helping clients reach their dreams or achieve financial goals. The problem with these phrases is the word “dreams” is not often used by clients. In fact, it could come off as trite or artificial. Helping clients achieve their financial goals is too broad and is overused by all facets of the financial industry. Achieving financial goals is important, but you should carry the statement further.
A client’s objectives are always changing based on the circumstances in their lives. They want an advisor who keeps pace with them and walks alongside them. Your goal is for them to have a better sense of financial confidence. You help clients take positive action with their finances.
Holistic planning might have been a differentiator in the past, but it is showing up on too many websites. You want to make sure you stand out by communicating what holistic planning means to the client. It means understanding your clients and their values and weaving their intentions into a comprehensive financial plan. You help clients understand how different financial strategies work together alongside life’s competing demands.
Speak from Your Client’s Point of View, Not Yours
Speaking from your point of view is important and we are not trying to diminish that. There needs to be certain explanations of how you do things. But that comes after your value proposition. Before you get to how things work, focus first on the positive benefits and value your clients will receive. Then let the client ask, “How do you do that?” Your client will be more engaged and active in the process with you.
When developing or redefining your value proposition, ask your clients what they have accomplished by working with you. Ask your prospects or target market what they would like to accomplish and how that would benefit them. Their words are the keys to crafting a value proposition that is actually valuable to clients.
The concepts and content discussed in this article are meant to be educational in nature and are not to serve as specific business, financial, tax, legal, or regulatory guidance. Individuals are advised to seek the counsel of such licensed professionals as it relates to their specific business.