I write often about the future of our industry. I talk about the shift from advisor centric to client focused and how firms of the future will be lumped into three categories: The mega firms, the digital providers and the lifestyle firms. I think that lifestyle firms need to think about ways to stand out — to “out plan” the digital providers and to provide better service and even specialization, versus the mega firms.
At the end of the day, how you communicate you value will be all about what you deliver and how you’ll grow your business. Sure, it may be easier to communicate your differences and your value if you have a niche, but what if you don’t? In today’s guest post, Shauna Mace, a growth coach, discusses and shares a framework for communicating your firm’s value. Shauna walks you through a template for value messaging that should permeate your marketing.
This is Shauna’s first appearance in Practically Speaking, please enjoy her post -- JDA
Communicating your value is hard, standing out is even harder. As a financial advisor, how can you develop messaging and content that you feel good about, which clearly communicates your value and differentiates you?
While a specialization or niche helps, it is possible to develop value messaging without either, I’ll show you how.
Before we dive into how to develop impactful messaging and content it’s important to debunk a few myths.
Myth 1: I just need an elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is important but it’s only one component of thoughtful messaging. Great messaging comes from establishing a framework that is flexible, that can expand and contract to the situation and audience. It should not only be part of what you say, but should inform and support all external communications, including content development, website copy and overall brand. What you say — and how you say it — matters. The more focused and consistent, the greater the impact it will have.
Myth 2: It’s impossible to stand out; there are thousands of financial advisors who provide similar service. Not true. Differentiation doesn’t just come from what you do, it comes from how you do it. There is only one you in the world. There is only one team like yours. Your story is unique, your approach and relationships are distinctive. We will explore how to parse out the values and attributes that make you unique and how to include them in your messaging and content — this is how you stand out (in addition to carving out a specialty or niche).
Myth 3: I’m not great at sales so it doesn’t really matter what I say. You don’t need to be a great salesperson to sell. Authenticity, truth and conviction can bring new meaning and intention to your message. We will explore how to tap into your values and stories to sell with conviction.
There are three areas that inform your messaging and content so it resonates with your ideal client to inspire engagement and action:
- Your ideal clients’ needs
- Your strengths and solutions as benefits
- Your values and approach
Use this Value Messaging Worksheet as a guide. Let’s get started.
This may come as a surprise (and relief), but sales and marketing have very little to do with you and almost everything to do with your audience. The most important and often missed part of developing messaging and valuable content is that it starts with your clients’ needs.
Start by simply listing the most common needs of your ideal clients (note that I didn’t say every client. Focus on your ideal clients).
Next, list the solutions and benefits you provide. If it’s easier, start with the specific services but go a step farther by listing the impact of those services. For example, an advisor I was working with provided financial planning, investment management and tax expertise (he is an accountant). We dug deeper and he articulated that his services (the same list many advisors offer) provided clients with: protection and security, they uncovered threats and helped provide clarity on what to do to make process towards their goals. We used the benefits of the services to develop the tagline, “A secure tomorrow starts today.”
If you have a specialized expertise, niche or approach, call it out. The same advisor I mentioned above is an accountant. He has deep expertise in tax planning and consulting for business owners. We pulled the thread of security and partnership to develop a key date tax checklist that he can provide to clients and prospects, to showcase his expertise and value.
Value messaging does more than simply tell, it showcases the best aspects of what you do, who you are and how you uniquely can help address the most relevant needs.
The last input is your values and approach to delivering your services. If you don’t have specialization or niche, this is helps your messaging and content resonate and stand out. Do you have an interesting backstory? Are you all about the relationship, process, technology, service, investing, a specific area of expertise or niche? There is no right or wrong here as long as what you say, what you do and what your prospects, client experience are in sync.
Developing a brand identify, voice, values, mission and purpose can be very helpful in providing a foundation from where to start. If you aren’t intentional about how you want to show up, you’re missing an opportunity. Learn more about the importance and key components of branding.
Once you have clarity on your ideal clients’ needs and how you uniquely can solve with your expertise and approach, you have what you need to inform your value messaging and content.
For the sake of focus and impact, it’s helpful to limit development efforts and content creation to those things that can directly address and support your audiences’ core needs. Focus drives impact.
Below is a sample of how to use this approach and the Value Messaging Worksheet to develop value messaging and a communications framework.
The final step is to put your messaging and insights into action.
Needs should inform all marketing, content creation, your prospect and client conversations, everything. Why use your time and resources to create content or to discuss a topic that doesn’t really matter to your ideal clients?
Your messaging should show up in conversations, on your website, social media, marketing, client reports, with your team, everywhere you’re communicating.
However, before you go crazy and update everything take the time to test it out. Practice how it feels to use your new messaging. Consider asking for feedback from trusted partners and clients. Just like a new pair of shoes, it make take some time to break it in, but putting it to use helps.
I’ve been at this for many years and it’s safe to say that marketing and client service are both aspects of sales. What you say and how you say it early and late into a relationship can have a direct impact on your business and its ability to generate interest and clients.
You are providing your clients value, it’s time you know how to talk about it.
Shauna Mace is a growth consultant, she empowers her clients to take inspired actions to produce concrete results. She partners with financial advisors, asset managers and business owners in financial services who are ready to unlock potential in their business through sales and marketing. Growth strategist, opportunity hunter and accountability partner – those are some of the names she’s been called over the past 15 years. Learn more at www.shaunamace.com or contact Shauna at email@example.com.
The opinions and views expressed herein are those of Shauna Mace. SEI bears no responsibility for their accuracy. Shauna Mace and Shauna Mace LLC® are not affiliated with SEI or its subsidiaries.
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