Financial advisers often struggle to create a value proposition that accurately expresses how they work differently, or what makes them special compared to others.
It isn't that they don't have points of difference, or that they struggle to put ideas into words...generally they are very good at both. Each adviser has a unique way of interacting with customers, and maintains relationships a little differently, and has slightly different views of how and where product solutions fit in, and what the relative strengths and weaknesses of different strategies are.
Despite that, a room full of advisers when working through the process of trying to articulate their value proposition, almost always come up with the same line of thought (and often use the exact same words) to try and describe themselves and their businesses.
It ends up sounding something like this:
"you should do business with me because I am honest, trustworthy and a nice person. I care about people and am very good at my job. I am clever and have qualifications and you will have peace of mind if you work with me"
This is the very simple summary of the typical statement advisers first come up with - as a customer might hear it.
So what's wrong with it? Well, pretty much everything....So let's pull it apart.
1. Honest, trustworthy, etc...these personal attributes are simply expected. There is no value-add here - customers expect this as a minimum standard of integrity.
2. Nice person...of course you are. If you weren't you would have no customers, in fact, you'd have no business if you had no ability to relate well to others and be a decent human.
3. I care....well, once again, you are expected to aren't you? If you did not actually care about others you would not be in a profession of trust where an essential component is the ability to think of the other persons objectives and be willing to work with them to get them the results they want.
4. I'm clever & have qualifications, etc....of course you do. Otherwise you shouldn't be in the business of advising people about money.
5. You will have peace of mind. NOW....the big problem with this is no customer actually believes it, and not very many advisers can actually deliver it.
So let's recap....5 parts to the typical value proposition statement designed by most advisers and 4 of them are "hygiene factors", and one is frankly unbelievable in the minds of the customers. By "hygiene factor" I mean it is a given in the customers mind...as in any hospital will be hygenic. It is not in itself a point of difference for hospitals.
In a previous post I outlined the formula, or the questions that must be addressed, to come up with a genuine point of difference that really means something to a customer.
( http://tonyvidler.blogspot.co.nz/2012/05/3-questions-you-must-answer-to-define.html )
Basically when trying to create an articulate value proposition it falls down in 2 key parts:
- The adviser doesn't think of how different they are to other advisers. They think of how different they are to the customers. So the proposition ends up sounding the same as all other advisers' value propositions...hardly a unique point of difference...and simply highlights the distance between the customer and the adviser.
- Secondly, the value proposition doesn't really capture what benefits the adviser actually delivers to the customer.
Here are some general areas where you might be exceptional and doing unique things, and are able to do what customers value:
- Customisation: using the masses of data and information in a highly personalised manner, or perhaps providing service or advice that is tailored to highly specific customers.
- Risk Handling: taking away risks for customers; transferring responsibilities; removing the need to consider specific risks - making their world less risky than it was.
- Convenience: being able to combine things in a way others can't; getting access to what customers need and value faster, easier, and so on; being there - instead of them having to initiate action, etc.
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