Research show that we use between 7,000 and 20,000 words a day. When we speak about what we do, we should not be winging it. If you search the internet for 20 minutes to see how your competitors and major financial institutions speak about themselves, you’ll likely find they focus, with great specificity, on functions and features: “We do tax-loss harvesting…” “We customize portfolios…” and so on.
Those are all important aspects of what advisors do. However, in that moment when introducing your firm, meeting a center of influence, or meeting with a prospective client, how do you communicate what, how, and why in a brief impactful statement of 30–40 words or less? How do you elicit a response of, “Great! Tell me more”? How do you imprint on others how they should speak about you? How do you anchor your team to speak the same message?
You need a clear value proposition.
Creating your unique value proposition
Your value proposition should be short — three sentences. To pack the greatest punch, you’ll need to work collaboratively and do some legwork. Try these five steps:
1. Determine what makes you unique. Think of a combination of functional and emotional: It’s not just what you do, but how you express it. Three questions might help you zero in on this:
- What do you do?
- How do you do it?
- Why do you do it?
If you find yourself gravitating to anything repetitive, functional or features-based, how do you say it differently and get at what’s underneath?
As an exercise, think about the clients you most enjoy working with, and for whom you feel you do your best work. Who are those clients? What are the things that make that work your best? Create a word cloud listing all these things.
2. Identify your ideal client base. Next, look for commonalities among your existing clientele to help you define your niche. Set up a grid to identify key attributes your clients share, such as average age, the typical need presented at onboarding, profession, personal attributes, similar hobbies or lifestyles — are they outdoor enthusiasts, frequent travelers, academics? You never went to exclude anyone, but advisors can’t be all things to all people. The point of a value proposition is to define yourself for your optimal clients so you can focus your message and attract more of them by speaking to their needs.
3. Laser focus on your clients’ values. After getting as specific as possible about your base, learn as much as you can about their motivations, goals and values. Talk with your existing clients, ask questions, and listen for the emotional needs that drive their decision-making. Are they concerned about their dream retirement, their child’s education, socially responsible investing principles? Perhaps your clients want to provide for their families, maintain independence or achieve a meaningful legacy. The emotional needs behind these goals may be subtle, but that’s exactly what you’ll want to address in your value proposition statement.