As we continue exploring how to unleash adviser potential, let's recognize something important: You're probably doing a supremely mediocre job of articulating your value proposition.
Recently, I googled "wealth management firms" and selected four registered investment advisers. Here's what I found on the first four websites listed:
• We are here to provide customized, objective advice.
• We are an independent financial planning and investment advisory firm delivering comprehensive advice.
• We uphold a fiduciary standard. The mission of X is to provide each of our clients with unbiased advice, excellent service and unsurpassed products.
• In business since 1986, we provide holistic, objective financial, investment and retirement advice to individuals, executives and institutions.
Nearly every website uses catchwords like personal, customized, objective, holistic and client first. Many are indiscriminate and include them all. But these are not propositions, they're attributes. Attributes don't compel people to come in or sign up. Outcomes do.
Why are so many advisers communicating their value proposition with jargon and generalities? Either they aren't clear on what they really deliver or they lack the conviction to stand for something for fear of eliminating any potential client.
mind-set Drives market
Your mind-set drives your marketing far more than your methods. A lack of clarity, confidence and conviction limits advisers' ability to propel firm growth to anywhere near the levels possible. It's the equivalent of putting watered-down gas in a race car. It will look good and it will go, but the engine will sputter rather than roar.
To understand how to connect with prospects, imagine a successful couple sitting on the couch finally having the conversation about needing to plan and getting some help. Is this couple passionately discussing their risk tolerance? Or how many years of experience their adviser must have? Or whether they should choose a firm that's objective and will put their interests first? Do they talk about their need for holistic, customized planning? Unlikely.
Prospects are people too. Their mind-set and motivations drive their behaviors, just as they do for advisers. Once you understand this, it changes the way you message. You realize prospects aren't visiting your website looking for attributes but for answers to their most important questions. When you know these questions, and speak to them, you get their undivided attention — and a phone call. When you don't, they leave your website and look elsewhere.
Take a look at your value proposition. What promise are you making to your marketplace? What critical outcomes are you delivering (in 10 words or fewer)? Hint: If you can't find it on your homepage within 10 seconds, prospects are going to visit and move on. Instead, shift your messaging from a passive list of attributes to a clear, concise and compelling message about the outcomes you deliver.
shift in focus
I recently refreshed the brand of a firm that was shifting focus from investment management to wealth management. The old proposition was the "what" they delivered. It felt tangible to them, and they knew how to define and measure it. The approach had worked well enough over the years, as they grew to millions in revenue. But it wasn't working as well anymore, and they were far less effective in retaining $5-million-plus clients than they wanted to be.
We reframed the value and explored the outcomes that would matter to a high-net-worth client. The end result captured not just who they really are, but the outcome they deliver: an uncommon level of confidence. This shift changed not only how their prospects saw them but how they saw themselves.
the three c's
Your mind-set has as much to do with your marketing success as your methods. Do you have the confidence, clarity and conviction to message with purpose and — in doing so — to overcome the pervasive proposition problems from which our profession suffers? The speed of change, complexity, cost compression and competition are only accelerating in our industry, and advisers who stand up will stand out and be more successful than those lost in the crowd.
Stephanie Bogan is the CEO of Educe Inc. and has spent 20 years helping advisers unleash their potential to build successful firms and lives they love. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.