Why is it that 30 million people will pay 342 times more for a Swiss brand watch than a $2 Chinese watch — when both of them perform the exact same function of telling time?
Here's a fact.
A watch exported from Switzerland costs, on average, $685. By contrast, a watch exported from China costs, on average, just $2, according to The Economist. Despite the huge price gap, 30 million Swiss brand watches were exported in 2012.
As The Economist wrote, “No one buys a Swiss watch to find out what time it is. The allure is intangible: precise engineering, beautifully displayed.”
In other words, the difference between the $2 watch from China and the $685 watch from Switzerland is the value of the Swiss watch brand. And it's colossal.
THE 'SWISS WATCH' FINANCIAL ADVISER
Consider this: If Swiss watchmakers can sell a commodity product at a 342 multiple over its substitute good, just imagine what you — as a human being who can deliver service, develop a relationship, and help people realize their goals for the future — can do for your clients.
Start by asking yourself where you are positioned on the brand scale. Are you closer to the $2 Chinese watch or the $685 Swiss watch?
In fact, take a look at your wrist. What kind of watch are you wearing? Is it a Rolex or a Timex? Does the quality of the watch you wear line up with where you've positioned your business on the brand scale?
As the value-priced end of the investment management market gets taken over by the robo-advisers, true planning is what's left. This business is hard enough, so rather than being the low-priced investment provider, become the high-quality financial planner and charge for it.
INCREASE THE VALUE OF YOUR BRAND
Here are five things you can do to increase the value of your brand and move toward the Swiss watch price point.
1. Deliver a remarkable experience
Pretend you are a new client at your firm. Think about the first six months' experience you would receive. Are you proud of it? Be honest.
How remarkable are you at delivering a “wow” experience?
How remarkable are you at solving client concerns, or, better yet, anticipating them?
How remarkable are you at communicating with your clients on a regular basis? Calling them just to touch base? Surprising them for no reason?
How remarkable are you at recognizing your clients' birthdays? Anniversaries?
How remarkable are you at tracking the specific likes, dislikes, interests, hobbies, important dates, relationships, communication styles, etc. of your clients? Are you tracking all this in a database and using it to deliver personalized service?
How remarkable are you at delivering value above and beyond investment performance?
2. Build a genuine relationship
The more your clients like and trust you, the more they will share with you. The more they share, the more you will be able to help them realize their dreams.
Only work with people where there's a mutual “like and trust” and who are a good fit for your firm. That way, you don't have to fake anything. Clients that are a good fit become engaged clients and once they're engaged, all sorts of good things happen.
3. Appeal to positive emotions
Clients may want more money in the future, but what they really want is to wake up each morning and look forward to the day. Call it happiness, well-being, fulfillment, flourishing, joy, or living a meaningful life, everybody wants their life to be uplifting, not negative.
It's about life planning, not benchmark comparisons.
So don't scare your clients into working with you or spend all your time focusing on their “pain points.” Yes, figure out what they need help with but then solve it in a way that is engaging and connects them to their highest positive emotions.
If you can help your clients realize their ideal life, they'll become an ideal client and you'll both have a lot more fun.
4. Focus on a specific niche
Swiss watches appeal to upscale consumers who like to accessorize with the best of the best. A premium-priced brand succeeds by going deep and narrow, not wide and shallow. By deep and narrow, I mean offering a comprehensive suite of services (the deep part) for a specifically chosen audience (the narrow part).
Have you developed a specific niche that is willing to pay a premium price for your extraordinary services?
Look at your current client list. Are there any similarities among your top clients? Is there a potential niche in the making? Think about what you are specifically interested in and then consider leveraging that into a niche.
5. Deliver true financial guidance
Investment planning is becoming commoditized. The real value comes from delivering true financial guidance where you help your clients make smarter decisions about their money and their life.
Clients should be able to look at you and say, “I am so relived that you are handling all this because now I don't have to worry about it.”
Now, I'm not talking about a 70-page financial plan stacked with charts and projections. No, just wrap the salient points into a compelling, personalized narrative and deliver the goods.
Do you have the proper software, tools and systems to deliver true financial guidance?
Make your clients' lives easier and less stressful. Proper guidance can do that.
Your business can fall anywhere along the $2 to $685 brand continuum. How high up you land is only limited by your desire and your imagination.
Steve Sanduski is a New York Times bestselling author and president of Belay Advisor, which designs, builds and delivers comprehensive business solutions for companies that want to make a profound impact in people's lives. Follow him on Twitter @SteveSanduski