Be The Unique Your Clients Seek
Differentiation is considered one of the core principles of a financial advisor’s value proposition. It identifies what capabilities you offer that sets you apart from the competition and it explains what unique value you provide to clients that other advisors cannot replicate.
Are You Really Different?
Differentiation is critical to success in today’s competitive financial marketplace and if the process is utilized correctly, it can be one of the most powerful ways to acquire and retain ideal clients. Unfortunately, most advisors fail to effectively differentiate because they misunderstand the term and the process.
Ask any group of financial advisors what distinguishes them from their competition and the majority will default to a sterile summary of their expertise and experience. That’s okay to a point because expertise and experience does matter to clients and prospects. They validate credibility but rarely do they rise to the level of being true differentiators. The reason why is because qualification parity is so widespread in the profession. No matter how well-schooled or experienced you are, there are many other advisors elsewhere who have similar or superior qualifications.
Some advisors try to differentiate by injecting marketing-speak into their narratives. They are quick to call attention to their “holistic approaches, proven methodologies, robust resources and personalized solutions.” They too, fail to differentiate because they are just repeating what everyone else is saying and the only thing different are the words they use to explain the exact same things. It’s no wonder why investors complain about how hard it is to distinguish one advisor from another. Their critique is well-founded in fact.
Distinguish Yourself From The Client Perspective
So how can an advisor differentiate in a profession where everyone sounds the same? The first step is to realize that differentiators exist only in the mind of the beholder. It’s never about you, your credentials or experience. It’s always about the client or prospect. If you can successfully articulate why you are the best provider of one-of-a-kind solutions to the one-of-a-kind challenges your clients and prospects face, you have discovered your differentiator.
Finding your differentiator isn’t easy. Identifying one can be a complicated, painstaking task. If it was simple, every advisor would have one or more. The fact is, most advisors don’t have a meaningful differentiator. They may think they are different and better, but in reality, they are more like their competition than distinctive.
However you choose to differentiate, make sure it’s relevant to the client or prospect. If it doesn’t matter to them, it doesn’t matter, period. Differentiation is all about creating value and the more unique that value, the more it will be memorable and credible to your clients and prospects.
Be Different And Better
If you don’t have a differentiator, do the next best thing – create one. Just make sure the differentiator you choose is authentic rather than aspirational. If it’s not factual and provable, don’t claim it because empty promises can do more damage than no promises at all. If you claim to provide something other advisors don’t offer, make it a reality. Live your differentiator with passion and purpose and hold yourself consistently accountable to the higher standards that define it. The risks may be great but the rewards are even greater.
Another way to discover your differentiator is through honest self-assessment. You already know what type of work you do well. The next step is to discover what clients tell other people that you do great. Their answers might surprise you, so ask. Their feedback can help identify a differentiator you were too blind to see.
Speak to your colleagues and professional alliance partners. If there is something they consider you the go-to person on, amplify that asset. It could be hard subject matter expertise such as tax optimization strategies or a softer skill such as your ability to naturally connect with younger members of multi-generational families.
When you find your differentiator, seize it with the passion of chasing down the last bus of the night out of town. Make it yours in ways other advisors might try to imitate but can never replicate.
Break Away From The Status Quo
Most advisors make the mistake of trying to be unique like everyone else. Top advisors break away from that status quo mindset. They draw a line in the sand that other advisors hesitate to cross. The story they tell is not who they are or what they do, but how they do it that makes them unique. Their relentless conviction to do what others won’t or can’t do is what makes them stand out and shine.
General George S. Patton once said “If everyone is thinking alike, then someone’s not thinking.”
Start thinking, acting and doing differently. Your clients and prospects can’t help but notice the difference you can make in their lives.
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