Your Product Is You

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When a buyer wants something, and a seller provides it, a transaction occurs. However, before a sale is made, the buyer must evaluate what is being sold against the criteria he or she uses to judge value.

As a seller of services, what you know, what you do, how you think, what you believe, how you speak, and how you work all define you; indeed, you are the product. In parallel, buyers judge you according to three main hiring criteria: your expertise/reputation; trustworthiness; care/concern.

Against these criteria, consider the following challenges people face when evaluating practitioners like you:

Challenges When Evaluating Practitioners for Hire

Explanation

Comparisons are difficult

Judging different credentials, evaluating experience, and reviewing the quality of past solutions are beyond the abilities of most prospects

Key hiring criteria are a matter of heart

Of the three hiring criteria—expertise/reputation; trustworthiness; care/concern—the latter two relate to the practitioner’s morals, ethics, values and beliefs

Worry as motivator

Anxiety for the future is a difficult-to-define force, but highly relevant

Solutions are complex

Implementing a planning/investment solution involves highly technical tools and language

The downside is great

Making a wrong decision can have catastrophic, lifelong implications


Word-of-Mouth Introductions
Given these challenges, a large majority of people are disinclined to undertake an evaluation without guidance. The Oechsli Institute, in a study titled “Understanding Today’s Affluent Investor: Managing Affluent Relationships,” discovered that the overwhelming method people used to identify an adviser involved personal introductions. (Note: this is word-of-mouth influence and not a client giving a referral list to his or her adviser).

Method Used to Identify an Adviser

Usage

Introduced by another professional

19%

Introduced by a family member

16%

I approached her/him directly

16%

Introduced by a friend

14%

Other

14%

She/he approached me directly

9%

Introduced by a colleague

7%

The study concluded:

“The number one method today’s affluent investor used to find their current financial adviser was a personal introduction. Whether from a friend, a colleague, a family member, or another professional, word-of-mouth influence was at work.”

The First Meeting … First Impressions
A person who learns about you through an introduction takes the first of many steps in the hiring process. The next step is to review your website and learn about you (as it is for people doing a direct Internet search).

Your homepage is your store front. How a store front looks and how it merchandises products in the window determines whether a passerby will decide to make an initial commitment and enter the store or continue walking.

So it is with your website homepage. The key difference is the product being merchandised is you.

At this stage, you don’t even know a potential prospect is at hand, but there is a meeting taking place; unfortunately, it’s a meeting in which you are not physically present. Yet, first impressions are formed, and the resulting opinion determines in large measure whether your site visitor chooses to call you for an appointment, send an email inquiry or consider other practitioners instead.

Effective Product Merchandising
Although this first “meeting” is electronic, prospects want to know about you just as though you were there to tell them.

  • Why you feel your work is important.
  • What motivates you to serve.
  • Why you believe what you do.
  • How you attend to clients’ needs, anxieties and aspirations.
  • How your solutions solve problems.
  • Why you’re someone who can be relied upon.

This content rightly resides in your bio as well as describing the firm’s mission statements; each should represent the core of your website’s content. Write passionately about how your solutions benefit your clients’ futures, even to successive generations. Use actual pictures to give evidence of your trustworthiness and care/concern in action. Tell how your solutions brought valuable client benefits, including peace of mind, confidence and comfort.

Equally true, your website is an active storybook. Too often, website content, once produced, sits idle even as important advancements are made in the business and with clients. A store that never changes its window merchandising will be ignored.

This is not to say your website service descriptions are unimportant. They are just less important than you. Think of it this way, before any service can be delivered, you must be hired first. It is you that transforms a service that otherwise could be provided by innumerable practitioners into something special. Each time you transform services into valuable client solutions, a new story is to be told.

Kirk LouryKirk Loury
President, Wealth Planning Consulting Inc.
Princeton Junction, New Jersey  

2 thoughts on “Your Product Is You

  1. Kirk, This is a great article. We often talk about how advisors need to position themselves as thought leaders to be able to reach their clients. The development of the digital age has given advisors so many inbound marketing tools that lend themselves to our industry. It is interesting that many advisors have been so slow to adapt the marketing tools that will be the most likely to help them achieve their goals. Your thoughts perfectly support the promotion of inbound marketing for the financial services industry.

    Like

  2. Craig, thank you for your comments! I agree that the importance of a digital presence is still slow in coming. I’m amazed at the number of advisors that invest in printed materials while the firm’s website is stagnant.

    Like

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