The Secret Behind Awesome Financial Advisor Value Propositions
NOTE: If you’re a new financial advisor, make sure you check out Your First Year As A Financial Advisor, where I reveal several things every new financial advisor ought to know.
What's a Value Proposition?
In a nutshell, a value proposition is a marketing statement that is used to summarize why someone should buy a product or service. It’s meant to convince a potential customer why a particular product or service will add more value than the other choices.
A good financial advisor value proposition needs to be clear, with no hype. A potential client should be able to instantly understand it. The ideal value proposition is concise and helps potential clients make a decision.
Why Is A Financial Advisor Value Proposition?
Part of the reason why a financial advisor’s value proposition is so important is because it plays a fundamental role in cultivating first impressions. The value proposition is one of the first experiences a prospect has with an advisor and it can determine whether or not the prospect will become a client.
A financial advisor value proposition answers the all-important question: “Why should I work with YOU?”
Many investors find it difficult to choose an advisor because most of them make similar claims and promises. In other words, there usually isn’t any distinguishing value proposition.
Why Most Financial Advisor Value Propositions Are Terrible...
If I started interviewing financial advisors and ask them “Why should I work with YOU?” this is what they would tell me:
It probably seems silly to you as you read this, but are you doing the same stuff? I see it all over the place – brochures, pamphlets, mailers, websites, social media, etc. Advisors constantly play the “tailored solutions” and “your best interests” card.
But guess what? It’s not enough.
Maybe in 1995 this was enough for a financial advisor value proposition, but it’s not now. Sadly, most managers and trainers are still spewing this garbage as if it’s the gospel. I’m not saying it can’t work – I’m just saying there’s a better way. I can dig a ditch with a spoon, but I’d rather use a backhoe. Hopefully, you feel the same way.
When advisors give their boring answers, they’re being sincere. They’re answering the “Why should I work with YOU?” question, and it makes sense.
Question: Why should I work with YOU?
Answer: You should work with me because I offered tailored solutions to meet your needs. I also put your best interests at heart.
When you say stuff like this, you are technically answering the question being asked, but you are not addressing the real question. Every potential client wants to know the answer to a different question.
The real question is: “What makes you different?”
That means that the secret behind the best financial advisor value propositions is this: differentiation.
“Tailored solutions” and “best interests” are not different. Every single advisor on planet Earth will agree that they provide these two things. No advisor is going to tell a prospect, “Your best interests? Yeah, right! My value proposition is that I do whatever it takes to serve MY best interests.”
Here are some other weak financial advisor propositions:
Why are these weak? They’re weak because they don’t address the real question of differentiation – no financial advisor is going to disagree that he/she does any of these things.
How Can You Create A Winning Value Proposition?
Knowing this “secret”, you should cultivate your value proposition to address what sets you apart from everyone else. Successful financial advisors structure their value proposition to differentiate themselves from competitors.
In my experience, one of the best ways to do this is through your niche. Once you dial down on a particular target market, your unique value proposition becomes crystal-clear. If you’ve been following me for a while, you’re probably sick of me beating this drum, but it’s one of the biggest keys to a financial advisor’s success.
Please understand that to the average consumer, until you work with a niche, you are the same as every other advisor. You are a commodity. You all work with investments, you all have roughly the same ideas and philosophies, your knowledge is all roughly the same, and you will all likely suggest regular meetings. So what could possibly set you apart?
Before I answer that, here’s another question potential clients are asking themselves: “Does this financial advisor understand me?”
If you specialize with a certain niche, you understand them. You work with them all day long, right? You know their wants, needs, situations, problems, challenges, and day-to-day struggles….right? You’re even speaking at their trade shows and seminars… right? Of course, you understand them.
A few financial advisors have told me that they think value propositions are a waste of time. Upon further discussion, I found out that they thought this way because every value proposition they ever heard of was self-centered, robotic, and not geared to the prospect.
When you structure your value proposition around your niche (to which the potential client belongs), you are pushing all the right buttons:
Suppose you work with teachers. Let’s try this again….
A teacher asks you, “Why should I work with YOU?” and you respond, “Because I work with people just like you. In fact, most of my clients are teachers.” Bingo.
A financial advisor’s value proposition should be simple. This is about as simple as it gets – it works because it has a bit of an emotional element. After all, many people want to have a strong relationship with their financial advisor. If you work with people just like them, it immediately demonstrates a propensity to build and keep relationships with that particular type of person. Your potential clients will recognize that and choose to work with you.
Most Financial Advisors Forget These Two Things...
The key to creating a good unique value proposition is revealed in the name - you must let prospects know how you are UNIQUE and the VALUE you provide.
The value you provide is in the eyes of the client, so you need to clearly describe what's in it for your client if he/she decides to do business with you.
Financial theorist and neurologist William Bernstein was once asked this question:
"What essential services can and does a good financial advisor provide?"
"The three most important things are, in order, discipline, discipline, and discipline: the ability to maintain a strategy no matter what CNBC and USA Today are blathering about."
My personal philosophy aligns with Bernstein's. I believe that a financial advisor can add tremendous value to a client's life merely by providing a level of accountability. This could be by encouraging the client to save and invest or by managing the client's expectations.
Always remember that the end goal of comprehensive financial planning goes well beyond choosing investments. You're helping your clients design a life.
A Quick And Easy Way To Develop Your Value Proposition...
Speaking of clients, you have a huge advantage as a financial advisor when developing your value proposition because you can go directly to your clients and ask them questions like these:
These questions are most effective when asked in person, but they can also be asked over the phone. If your clients are willing to help you answer these questions, they will provide incredible insight into your business and how you are perceived by others.
Value Proposition Examples
I try to draw inspiration from the business world as a whole, so here are some value proposition examples that I think are really good. These examples are just meant to get your juices flowing...
Apple: User Experience
It's hard to argue with Apple - it's one of the biggest brands in the entire world, and it was largely built on the unique experience of owning Apple products. They tend to be more user-friendly and design-oriented than their competitors.
Apple is renowned for its commitment to sleek and elegant product designs that are easy to use. In my personal swipe file, I have a piece of copy from Apple that says, "... a phone should be more than a collection of features. That, above all, a phone should be absolutely simple, beautiful, and magical to use."
Square: "Start Accepting Credit Cards Today"
You can say that Square could've dialed down on their value proposition a little bit more, but I think it's brilliant. In this particular market, it's tough to choose a niche because there are so many small businesses, serving different industries, that need to accept credit cards.
A lot of Square's marketing materials include a picture of the credit card reader itself, making it easy to understand what you're getting. I think this value proposition, which implies "quick and easy", is brilliant.
Dollar Shave Club: "A Great Shave for a Few Bucks a Month"
Are you beginning to notice a pattern with these value proposition examples? They tend to be simple and to-the-point. Dollar Shave Club was founded to compete with shaving companies that were charging exorbitant amounts of money for razor blades. Dollar Shave Club saw an opportunity in the marketplace (one where they could add value) and seized it. They put this value proposition in every piece of their marketing material and boy did it pay off.
P.S. If you're a financial advisor who wants to get more clients from LinkedIn, make sure you check out How to Get Clients With LinkedIn: How Financial Advisors Can Set Appointments and Convert Prospects With LinkedIn