As you head into 2013, consider re-evaluating your personal and professional value proposition to ensure that you – and your practice – are aligned with your natural market.
“If I’m an advisor trying to craft a value proposition, I have to find a way to break through all the noise and stand out,” says George Hartman, managing partner with Accretive Advisor Inc. in Toronto. “I need to find that thing that distinguishes me from the rest.”
To best identify how you stand out from the competition, Hartman suggests undertaking a two-track evaluation. The first track focuses on the products and services you offer to your clients. The second track is more intuitive and addresses much broader questions such as “why am I an advisor, anyway?”
Hartman says that in today’s business environment, advisors should be more introspective in order to find their natural markets. He defines your natural market as the part of your target market with which you share a personal characteristic or interest, and with which you’re most engaged.
Often, the best way to stand out is to highlight how you exceed others in delivering services, Hartman says. And, whenever possible, underscore any emotional appeal.
“Clients really relate to things like peace of mind, confidence or security,” he says. “Telling them a story that illustrates these emotional aspects will let them reflect on what those [values] mean in their own situation.”
The process of redrawing your value proposition should revolve around one thing — your defined purpose, says Eileen Chadnick, founder of Big Cheese Coaching in Toronto. She says having strong values ingrained in your practice will help you to continually drive towards your objective.
More, understanding the interaction between these elements, she says, will drive you towards your natural market – which she says is a “sweet spot.”
“When your business is an authentic expression of your values and it meets the needs of others, that is a sweet spot, it is the perfect intersection point,” she says. “Your values should never just a be metaphorical poster on the wall – they need to be incorporated into your every day.”
The challenge, she says, is to stay mindful of your purpose and how each task you perform fits in with that broader purpose.
Many advisors don’t spend enough time defining their value proposition, says Kurt Rosentreter, a financial advisor with Manulife Securities Inc. in Toronto.
He says that “as long as [advisors] continue to think like sales people rather than professional financial advisors,” many will end up blending in with the wallpaper because they aren’t communicating their specific value to their clients.
In order to avoid getting lost in the shuffle, Greg Pollock, president and CEO of Advocis says advisors should find practical ways that they can increase their value to clients. For example, he encourages advisors to earn a designation, such as the certified financial planner (CFP), chartered life underwriter (CLU) or certified health insurance specialist (CHS). Clients will value this added knowledge and expertise, he says.
Unlike Hartman, Pollock sees opportunities for advisors to differentiate themselves on the product front, as well. Given the challenging economic environment and very low interest rates, many products of years past are slowly disappearing from firms’ shelves.
By developing a mastery of newer products, advisors could stand out from their competition.
When brought together, Pollock says the numerous tracks of a solid value proposition all lead to the same conclusion: “As an advisor, you need to know your product, but knowing your client and yourself is also important, too.”