Drop the Value Prop

By David Greene

If you have been in a client-facing role in any industry for more than a year, you likely have been trained to develop your “value proposition”. Some call it the “elevator message”, some the “positioning statement”, some use their “mission statement”, and some refer to it as the “4-point branding message.” In fact, we at Greene Consulting are guilty, as we also have historically used some of the same terminology over the years.

But think about it – does any 60-second message about what YOU do actually cause a prospect to see you as someone truly different in the financial services marketplace? There are some techniques to make this messaging intriguing by converting it into a niche market message about how you help clients. But that can be tough if it doesn’t fit the client’s specific situation.

So how can you be different? How can you deliver a message that resonates? How can you distinguish yourself among the sea of competing providers, all of whom pretty much say the same thing?

To answer this question, think about other firms with established brands that distinguish themselves with short, unique messaging.  Take Disney, for example.  They don’t say, “We provide rides, entertainment and engaging experiences for children and families allowing them to spend quality family time together.”  They know that only puts them among a bevy of competitors and conveys WHAT they have – not what they DO.  Instead, they focus on the “Magical Experiences” they deliver. They don’t talk about their rides and theme park – despite that being core to why you pay over $100 per person per day to enter the park.  You pay for the EXPERIENCE.  At the Ritz-Carlton, they talk about their mission as delivering an experience that “enlivens the senses and fulfills even the unexpressed needs of their guests.”

So, when we see traditional sales and client experience programs in the industry teaching advisors to perfect their “elevator message”, “60-second value proposition”, or “x-point branding message”, we know the focus is to merely perfect how you position WHAT you do.

In the competitive environment of financial services today, there are a couple of inherent problems with this approach.

  1. Can you truly develop something about WHAT you do that distinguishes you from anyone else?
  2. Is that what your clients are looking for?  If you focus on WHAT you do, rest assured they can find many that say the very same thing.
  3. When you talk about WHAT you do, you are talking about features. This requires the prospect to interpret those features into the benefits they would receive. Few, if any at all, will be able to effectively make that translation.


A Different Approach

There IS a different approach that is far more compelling.  Instead of talking about WHAT you do – which essentially is a commodity in most cases – how about taking a cue from other industry leaders who focus on their commitment to clients and the outcomes they help them achieve?  While compliance may limit the extent of such a “promise,” there are some commitments you can make.

Communicating your value to clients and prospects first requires that you define your purpose.*  WHO are your clients and WHAT is it that you are seeking to achieve in your work with them?  Note that it is about what you help THEM achieve – not what you do.  Second, define HOW you do that.  This is tough to keep short, but being able to communicate how you deliver is vital to validating your purpose.  From our experience in working with thousands of advisors, this is a key differentiator between the best and all the rest. It provides proof that you have a defined approach to achieving that purpose.

The standard “elevator pitch” or “4-point branding message” can no longer distinguish you in the marketplace.  Every advisor has tried it, and the reality is that most of them sound the same.  The best advisors have an ability to deliver a short, passionate perspective of their purpose, the clients they work with, and their approach to consistently meeting their clients’ needs.

For more information about Greene Consulting and our services in this area, contact David Greene at davidgreene@greeneconsults.com or directly at 404-324-4600.




*For more insight on defining your Purpose and the value of doing so, we highly recommend the book Selling with Noble Purpose by Lisa Earle McLeod.