There are thousands of pizza vendors in the United States. But only one of them is known for, “Fresh, hot pizza in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.”There are thousands of clothing retailers in the United States. But if I say the words, “You’re going to like the way you look. I guarantee it,” I guarantee you’ll know exactly whom I’m referring to. You can probably see his face.If you don’t already know what your value proposition is, you probably don’t have one.Your value proposition establishes two things: The value that you bring to the relationship and why you’re the one they should engage to bring it. A great value proposition has six characteristics:
- It defines who you work with;
- It focuses the client experience – not your qualifications.
- It addresses specific problems you can solve for the client.
- It’s unique to you in your market. None of your competitors can quite say the same thing.
- It connects with the client on an emotional level.
- It helps you justify your fees so you’re competing on something other than price.
- Here’s how to create your value proposition so it has these six characteristics.
#1. Focus your statement on client valueAll old salespeople know about the radio station WII FM: “What’s in it for me?” Your value statement should be broadcasting very clearly on that frequency!Used relentlessly, a good value proposition will function like a moat around your practice – and a wedge you can drive between competitors and their clients if you happen to be in a competitive sales situation.Creating a truly differentiating value proposition statement is very difficult in the financial services market. It was difficult in the pizza business and retail clothing businesses, too. But Dominos and Men’s Wearhouse managed to do it – and they built empires with it.In the financial services business, it doesn’t have to be as short as it is in the pizza business though. Here’s an example of a good one:“We work exclusively with health care and technology executives and their families as their “chief financial officer.” We provide comprehensive wealth management and estate planning services, with particular expertise on executive compensation programs, detailed financial and estate planning for people with concentrated or restricted stock positions.”Why does this work? It establishes exactly who needs to call this advisor. If someone in the target market hears it, or reads it, there’s a good chance they’ll say to themselves “OMG, that’s me! Finally, somebody gets me!” The more niche-focused you are, the easier it is to set yourself apart. But even if you have a more general practice, you can still cast a pretty wide net with phrases like:
- “I work with successful business owners, executives and professionals.”
- “I focus on helping career government employees.”
- “I help wealthy families preserve and transmit their wealth across generations through comprehensive estate planning”
- “I help aggressive investors manage risk.”
- “I help retirees with guaranteed income for life.”
#2. Ask for input.
The best place to go for feedback is your best clients. The ones rooting for you, but also who have been around the block enough to know when you’re blowing smoke. They’re going to know why people sign on with you, because whatever it is convinced them. Their feedback will be invaluable.You can also ask other people in your target market – even if they aren’t clients: Business owners, retirees, doctors, any of them who will take your call on a friendly basis. The process may even help them see for themselves the value you provide for people like them.
#3. Craft it.
Once you have the basics down, you can refine it. Try to iron out all the catchphrases and jargon that you see in other advisory firms’ material.For example, a recent study from Pershing Advisory Solutions found that out of Barron’s list of the top 100 advisors, 26 of them claimed to provide “comprehensive portfolio management.”From this we can deduce two things: First, that “comprehensive portfolio management” is something people want, and second, that it may pay to find a different way of saying that’s what you do.The same study, incidentally, found that 84% of investors prefer the word “comprehensive” to “holistic.” So don’t get too “New-Agey,” unless you know your market responds to that kind of language.
#4. Rehearse it.
You should practice your value proposition – so that it rolls off your tongue. You shouldn’t have to think about it. And this is a vital moment in the sale, so you shouldn’t be stumbling to find your words when the critical moment comes. Get a recording device and practice it.Don’t go too fast. Pick a nice, steady pace that will stick in peoples’ brains.
#5. Support it.
Nobody’s going to write a big check just because they hear your value proposition. So you’re going to have to be prepared to back it up. They won’t say “take my money” very often. But they will say something like, “I’m listening,” “Tell me more,” or “Why’s that?”You need to have talking points ready to go.If your niche and value proposition is safe money for retirees, you need to be able to show why it’s important.If your focus is asset allocation, you should have a series of facts to demonstrate the need for having a balanced portfolio. Be able to point to the research. Have some graphics handy, at a seconds’ notice.For example, if your value proposition is “We provide safe money solutions so retirees can sleep at night,” have some real-world examples of why that’s important. And have the data to back it up.
#6. Hammer it home.
Once you’ve developed it, your unique value proposition should be a part of your brand. That means you’ve got to repeat it, one way or another, in every client meeting, in every advertisement and every public appearance.Social media provides a terrific opportunity to restate your value proposition to a tightly-defined audience at a reasonable cost. You don’t need to scale up like Dominos when all you really need to reach are all the medical professionals in your town.