Where’s Waldo? Developing your value proposition

I’m not sure any business can take it to the next level without really thinking about their value proposition

I have 4 young children and I spend a lot of time reading books with them.  Recently, I pulled out a Where’s Waldo book and went through some pages with them.  If you’ve never heard of where’s waldo books, the goal is to look for Waldo in a picture filled with lots of people.  Here’s an example:

A couple of things happen with my kids that I think relate to the real world:

  1. Know what you are looking for? Before you start looking for Waldo, you need to know what you are looking for.  In the Where’s Waldo game, Waldo has a few distinct characteristics – Red and White Stripes, matching hat, blue pants but the real unique characteristic is his buggy eyes.  Take some time to really put yourselves in the shoes of the client and see what they see.  What are they looking for in an advisor?
  2. If it’s not easy, you might give up.  A couple of my kids gave up before finding Waldo.  If it’s too hard to find what you are looking for, then people tend to give up.  This is the world we live in today – an impatient world or what I call the NOW society.  If it’s not easy we move on.  We’ve all got other things to do.  As an advisor or business, you can learn from this.  Just remember, If it is too hard to find you, they won’t.  You need to make it easy and branding and marketing are the keys to being found.

Developing your value proposition

When I had my practice, my value proposition was “Helping people retire happy.”  I built an entire brand around my value proposition as I wanted people to know that I specialized in retirement planning and preparation.  My target market was the 50 plus people who were in the final stages of getting ready to retire or those that were already retired looking to manage their retirement income and lifestyle.

Today, I am re-branding my new business which focuses on Group Benefits, Group RRSPs, Pensions and Financial Education in the Workplace.  As I do this, I realize the importance of defining my value proposition so I thought I would share with you the excersize I use to help me define it.

1.    What makes you different and unique?

The very first step is to brainstorm.  Try to come up with lots of things that might make you different and unique.  Once you do that, take a step back and really thing about your list.  Are there things on your list that sounds cliché?  Search the internet at other advisors and see if they are saying the same things:

  • “We deliver exceptional service”
  • “We shop the market for the best products”
  • “We custom tailor portfolios to your individual needs”

If everyone else is saying the same thing, then it’s not unique and different.  The problem with clichés is they are too general.  Really try to get to the root of your uniqueness.

One you have done that, circle your top 3 or 5.

2.    What’s in it for your clients?

This next step it to get you to think in the eyes of your clients.  In other words, it’s about thinking of “You before Me”.  True success comes in your ability to put yourself in the shoes of your client.

3.    Why do your clients need your products and services?

This is similar to the second point.  Put yourself in the shoes of your clients and try to come up with their biggest problems.  You can come up with solutions, services and products but if you don’t know the problems first, you may have the wrong solutions.  One of the best ways to put yourself in the shoes of your clients is to simply ask them the question.  Call a few of them up and take them out for lunch and try to ask them what they think is important when looking for a financial advisor?

4.    What is the primary reason someone works with you?

You can try to answer this yourself but I would suggest you ask your clients.  Build this into a testimonial gathering exercise.  You might be surprised at what you hear.  The key word in this question is “Primary”.  At this stage in the exercise, you are really trying to narrow down your key value.

5. If you had 10 words, why would people buy your products or services?

If you’ve made it this far, answering this question will be a lot easier than if you tried to tackle this question right at the start.  The best value proposition is short, sweet and to the point.  Your goal is to find 10 words that capture your uniqueness.

As I said from the start, I’m not sure any business can take it to the next level without really thinking about their value proposition.  It’s going to take some time, It’s going to take some work, It’s going to require some soul searching and thinking.  But in the end, it will be worth it!  It’s all about being Waldo and standing out in a sea of advisors.  how can you stand out and get noticed if you don’t know what makes you unique.

Written by Jim Yih

Jim Yih is a Fee Only Advisor, Best Selling Author, Financial Expert and a syndicated columnist. He is a sought after financial speaker on wealth, retirement and personal finance. He currently specializes in helping employers implement Group RRSP and Pension plans along with his Financial Education in the Workplace program. For more information you can visit retirehappy.ca. You can also follow him on TWITTER @jimyih.

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