In the book, Creating & Delivering Your Value Proposition, authors Cindy Barnes and Helen Blake define a Value Proposition as:
“ …a statement of the way a business proposes to deliver superior value to its customers by harnessing all of its resources in a profitable way.”
Using this definition, it is clear as to what a Value Proposition is...and is not. It is not:An Elevator Pitch,
A Messaging Piece,
A Benefits Statement, or
A Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
A Value Proposition is, far and away, a stake-in-the-ground strategy whereby a company definitively outlines how they will deliver “superior value” to their clients.
After a company arrives at this strategy, they can build the Elevator Pitches and the other ancillary declarations that are described above. But the Value Proposition comes first.
Unique...or Not Unique?
One of the interesting questions for financial advisors is…how do I make my Value Proposition unique? After all, FINRA reports that as of January 2011 there are 630,847 licensed and registered representatives. Not all of these folks are on the front lines, of course. An estimate of financial advisors who actively serve clients is more likely to be half this amount…300,000+ or so would be an educated guess.
Moreover, many of the 300,000+ financial advisors have very similar offerings in their product/service mix, which further complicates the matter of arriving at a Unique Value Proposition.
It's Not All About You
To make it more likely that one builds a Value Proposition that is unique and differentiating, here’s a hint. Consider your clients first…assume that value can only come from the client’s perspective.
Before you do anything else, consider the buyer landscape and ask these questions:
- Who are my ideal clients?
- From their perspective, what is their value experience from a quantitative perspective?
- From the client’s perspective, what is their value experience from a qualitative perspective?
By asking these questions that focus on the client at the outset, financial advisors can go a long way to building a Value Proposition that is differentiating, if not unique. This is especially true if the ideal client niche is well defined. The more narrow the client niche, the easier it is to build a Value Proposition that differentiates.
One last point. When building a Value Proposition, although uniqueness is nice, clarity is best. Many financial advisors have built great businesses that stem from crystal-clear Value Propositions that are specific and easily understood….but aren’t terribly unique.
Conversely, the side-of-the-road is littered with “Unique” Value Propositions that are indistinct, vague and ill-defined.