Creating a value proposition can help your business stand out from the competition.

“If you don’t have a well-crafted, concise value statement,” says Terrie Wheeler, president of in St. Paul, Minn., “you’re not going to be able to differentiate yourself.”

Your value proposition states what makes you different from other advisors, says Wheeler. It answers the question: Why should a prospective client work with you?

Your value proposition can be a written statement that is presented in your marketing materials. Or it can be spoken, like an elevator speech, when you are talking with prospective clients or centres of influence.

Follow these tips to craft your own value proposition:

> Define your top clients
A value proposition should capture the essence of what your top clients think of you, Wheeler says. So, first you need to be able to identify which clients are the best fit for your business.

The more detailed your description of the clients you serve, Wheeler says, the easier it will be for prospective clients to relate to you and the services you offer.

For example, an incomplete value proposition might say: “I work with retired high-net worth individuals.” But it would be more effective to say: “I work with retired executives who have complex stock-option plans.”

> Ask clients for their opinions
A value proposition is really a statement about your clients, not you. So, it’s important to involve them in the process.

Talk to the top 20% of your clients, says Kevin Toney, marketing coach with Primetime Promotions in Winnipeg, about what they believe is valuable about your business.

Toney recommends asking clients questions like: Why do you do business with me? What do you value about our relationship?

You can ask these questions and others as part of a survey, during a small focus group or during a client meeting or phone call.

> Look for a consistent message
A successful value proposition must convey a single message to prospects. If your research gives you several different answers, says Toney, you may need to take a step back.

Getting different answers from various clients, he says, indicates that the public perceives you in several ways. In order to create a single identity, you need to clearly define how you want your business to be perceived — in other words, your brand.

> Make it credible
Include an example or two to give your value proposition some credibility.

Start your value proposition with a description of your ideal client, Wheeler says. Then, point out what makes that statement true. Give an example of how you have provided that value to your current clients.

> Check back with clients
Send the newly crafted statement to your clients to make sure you got it right.

Running your value proposition by your best clients has two benefits, Wheeler says. The first is that it ensures the statement accurately reflects your business.

The second benefit is that it can act as another touch point with clients. Talking to clients about the value proposition creates an opportunity to have a different kind of conversation with them, she says, which helps to build rapport and your relationship.