If you distill the concept of marketing down to its core essence, you wind up with two very simple questions to answer:
1) What are the benefits that your product or service provides?
2) How are you different from everyone else offering the same product or service?
That’s it. Whether you’re buying groceries, a car or sophisticated financial services, the answers to these two questions help you determine if you’ll buy a product or service, and if so, which one you’ll select.
What are your answers to those questions?
Differentiation is an area in which many of the financial planners I work with struggle, so let’s take a look at ways you can stand out from your competition:
Your Area of Expertise
As CFP® certificants, we have broad knowledge of many areas of financial planning. In other words, (as in many professions) we all start out as generalists. However, most clients aren’t seeking a generalist, they want an expert in the issues and challenges that they face. Become an expert in an area where you have strong interest and can provide high value.
Product Offerings and Knowledge
There is an endless array of products you can offer to your clients. Narrow down the list to where you can provide the best value and stand out from the crowd. Leverage the brands that you represent, seek advantages such as better pricing or some form of exclusivity, and know the ins-and-outs of the products you sell better than anyone. And don’t forget to incorporate strong differentiation in the services that you create yourself!
Focus on a Niche
If you narrow down the market that you serve, it makes it easy to show why you are a better fit than the adviser who works with practically anyone. You can speak knowledgeably and confidently about the issues your prospect is facing, more easily relate to them, and show that you can offer the precise solutions to the questions they are trying to resolve.
Years or decades of experience working with clients? Volumes of clients helped? Be sure to tout it!
Competing on price can be a dangerous game and doesn’t provide a sustainable competitive advantage. However, your pricing model can also be a differentiator; fee-only planners often tout their ability to provide unbiased advice while advisers who offer products are often able to offer lower cost planning services to attract clients.
Find your spots where you stand out and include those points in all of your marketing efforts. You’ll make it easy for new clients to work through their two questions.
Kristin Harad, CFP®
Next 10 Clients
San Francisco, Calif.