Advisors: How can a value proposition help you land more clients?

One thing I really enjoy about my job? It’s talking to financial advisors about marketing. Recently, an advisor and I were discussing online marketing and he asked me to take a look at his website and LinkedIn profile.

Well, his LinkedIn profile was pretty bare – a missed opportunity. His website had a video introducing himself, information about why he joined the firm and other basic information. I told him that he wasn’t setting himself apart from other advisors or helping potential clients understand why they should work with him.

So I asked him to introduce himself to me, like I was a prospective client. Basically, he said, “I’m a wealth manager. I work with clients that are tired of the old ‘buy and hold, stay the course’ mentality and want an advisor that helps them build and protect their wealth. My clients like working with me because they typically see 40 percent lower volatility; 25-50 percent lower costs; and more diversity in their portfolios.”

Now, why wasn’t that on his website or LinkedIn page? That’s his value proposition. That’s why a prospective client might want to work with him over another advisor. And he said it with such ease, yet it wasn’t anywhere online. Another missed opportunity!

What is a value proposition?

In a nutshell, it’s simply a promise of value to be delivered.

Why do advisors need one?

According to Pershing, 60 percent of investors find it hard to distinguish among advisors because of “similar” promises.[i] Trying to sell an intangible service, like financial planning, can be challenging. Prospective clients can’t see or feel it like they can a like a car or TV. So it’s difficult for them to differentiate between advisors without knowing what you offer.

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A value proposition:

  • Clearly explains YOUR value – who you work with and what differentiates you from your competitors
  • Sets expectations – think of it as defining the playing field with clients or prospective clients
  • Serves as the foundation of your business – setting the tone for your marketing initiatives and, ideally, your service model

“Our value proposition drives the direction of our business,” said Mark Huchingson, Principal National and Principal Life Financial Representative, Principal Securities Registered Representative and Financial Advisor. “It reflects who we are, what our mission is and, essentially, what we do.”

“Advisors that have a written value proposition are much better at articulating what they do and, more importantly, what they do well with their clients,” said Christabelle Cook, regional director of business development with Principal® and Principal Securities registered representative. “In the absence of communicating your value, the only option your clients or prospective clients have is price. So you need a value proposition to set yourself apart.”

What makes a good value proposition?

It’s a promise that:

  •  Solves your client’s problems or improves their lives
  • Delivers specific benefits (or value) to your clients
  • Describes your uniqueness

Create a value proposition in four steps

It’s easier than you think and well worth the effort. You can find some helpful tools, including a workbook, a listing of sample advisor value propositions and how to market your value proposition at www.principal.com/valueadd.

Step #1: Identify your target audience — think about who you work with now or, better yet, who you want to work with in the future.

Step #2: Determine what your target audience values (i.e., types of products, services, solutions) — ask, what are my clients’ top challenges? What problems can I help them solve?

Step #3: Determine your unique offering — write down the things you’re really good at or passionate about.

Huchingson said, “The only way you can be in this business for a long time is if there’s some part of it that you really love. Find out what that is and build your business around it.”

Step #4: Identify the payoff — think about the specific outcomes your client’s looking for … and if you can deliver them.

I have a value proposition. Now what?

Creating a value proposition is just the first step. Applying it to your practice takes more time and thought, but it’s worth it if you want to attract and keep clients. If so, build it into your service model and marketing initiatives.

“We use our value proposition in meetings – for prospecting and finalist presentations – in conversations with our centers of influence, in seminars and within our marketing materials,” said John Ludwig, a LPL Financial Advisor with LHD retirement

Huchingson added, “Our value proposition is used in every conversation with clients and prospects. It’s part of our referral conversations, in our bios and even in signage throughout the office.”

Cook said she sees value propositions carry over into advisors’ service models. “Their value proposition creates their service offering, which gives them a distinct advantage over their competition,” she said. “It specifically lays out what they’re going to do for the client, which clients appreciate.”

Is a value proposition worth it?

“Absolutely! I clearly believe it’s helped our business,” said Jeff McNaney, Principal National and Principal Life Financial Representative, Principal Securities Registered Representative and Financial Advisor. “As an advisor, it’s important to know what we’re doing and where we’re going. Understanding what, why and how makes everything so much easier. It serves as an internal drive for me.”

Ludwig agrees, “It’s helped us focus on what we do, how we do it and what sets us apart.”

“I’d recommend a value proposition to every advisor,” Huchingson said. “It helps drive the direction of your business. If you don’t have a plan for that, it’s difficult to succeed in this business.

How’s the advisor from your opening story?

Oh, yeah. That advisor I mentioned at the beginning? Well, I’m happy to report that he took our conversation to heart. And he’s worked his value proposition into his website and LinkedIn profile.

Why do you have a value proposition? How are you using it to build your practice? What tips do you have for others? I’d love to hear from you so feel free to comment below or connect with me on LinkedIn.

Clearing services are provided by Pershing, a BNY Securities Group Company, Solutions from The Bank of New York, One Pershing Plaza, Jersey City, New Jersey, 07399. Pershing LLC Member FINRA, SIPC.  The Principal Financial Group is not affiliated with Pershing LLC, BNY Securities Group or their member companies.

John Ludwig, LDH Retirement and LPL Financial are not affiliated the Principal Financial Group or any of its member companies.

Insurance products from the Principal Financial Group® are issued by Principal National Life Insurance Company (except in New York), Principal Life Insurance Company and the companies available through the Preferred Product Network, Inc. Principal Funds, Inc. is distributed by Principal Funds Distributor, Inc. Securities and advisory products offered through Principal Securities, Inc., 800-547-7754, Member SIPC and/or independent broker/dealers. Principal National Life, Principal Life, Principal Funds Distributor, Inc. and Principal Securities are members of the Principal Financial Group®, Des Moines, IA 50392. Mark Huchinson and Jeff McNaney, Principal National and Principal Life Financial Representative, Principal Securities Registered Representative, Financial Advisor.

Affiliation Disclosures

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© 2016 Principal Financial Services, Inc.

[i] Source: Pershing, 2014