Financial advisors: what sets you apart from your counterpart down the street – or the one with a similar Google page rank?
The market is saturated with people just like you. There, we said it. That’s the bad news.
The good news? There’s hardly a market that isn’t saturated, and saturation does not mean you can’t stand out.
What you need to do is identify your true differentiator, build that into your messaging, and adopt a voice that is uniquely you in all of your marketing. On board? Let’s explore.
Why try to be different?
The goal, of course, is to set yourself apart so that clients have a reason to choose you over your competitors.
It means getting past your service offerings – because you’re all selling the same thing. What’s going to set you apart is the way you sell it, the experience you deliver with it, and the way you talk to your customers. Your differentiators need to be specific to you and the way you and your company do business.
Yet when we ask advisors what makes them different, we often get a laundry list of the same replies:
- I provide my clients peace of mind by making their lives easier.
- We have world-class customer service.
- We take a holistic approach to financial well-being.
We’re going to let you in on a little secret: if the same things you’re listing land on your competitors’ list, then they’re not your key differentiators.
How to Differentiate
Differentiation doesn’t require coming up with a new service offering or overturning your current business model. What it does require is that you position the way you deliver your services differently -- and then create messaging around that difference.
Sounds impossible? We promise, it’s not. The key is to consider your target market, your true strengths (where you can differentiate), and how they align with your business goals. Here’s a brief glimpse at a framework:
1. Get to know your target market. Research, survey, and drill down into the specifics of who you are ideally serving. “45-year old couples” is not enough. Where do they live? What do they do? What do they care about?
2. Identify your true strengths. What truly makes your practice or your firm different? Get specific. Some ideas to prompt your thinking:
- Proprietary models or software. Is there some distinct aspect of your financial model or software that makes you better able to serve your clients’ needs?
- Mission. Do you work for a higher cause that will resonate with your clients? Social responsibility is well respected – but must be done authentically.
- Experience. Is there an aspect of your past experience – either in business or life – that sets you apart and would be valued by potential clients?
3. Consider what’s important to your clients. Knowing what you do about your target market and your true strengths, ask yourself this: what does this distinct difference mean for my potential clients?
Remember: you’re in your business to serve your clients. If your differentiator doesn’t have a positive impact on their lives, it won’t have a positive impact on your business, either.
4. Develop your message with your clients in mind. Speak to the things that will resonate with them. Forget the fluff and skip the non-essentials that don’t set you apart. Don’t be boring. Differentiation doesn’t require an incredible amount of cleverness, and it certainly doesn’t have to be absurd. But it does require stepping outside of your box to break tradition and add some flavor. Perhaps you try to sound more hip and conversational like FitBit or Apple.
Once you’ve run through these steps (yes – it does take time!), it’s crucial that you put your message front-and-center.
Marketing Your Differences
With your position defined, it’s time to go big or go home. Apply your message to your physical collateral, your advertising efforts, and your digital presence. Let it drive your content strategy.
Shout it from the rooftops: tell the community who you are, what you do, and how it’s different.
Most of all, be consistent, be patient, and be true to your core values. Authentic, sustainable positioning that fits your brand will take time to settle in – but the upfront investment is well worth the long-lasting reward of building your client base with customers who appreciate you.