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5 Things That Don’t Make You Different

by Bill Cates

88 percent of Americans rate themselves as above-average drivers. Let that sink in a minute.

94 percent of college professors rated themselves above average relative to their peers.

Scientists call this phenomenon Illusory Superiority.

“What does this have to do with what makes me different?”

Glad you asked!

Over the past 2.5 years, I have had the opportunity to review hundreds of value propositions from advisors I’ve interviewed or coached.

Based upon my informal observations, approximately 75% of the value propositions that I reviewed stated that the following things set them apart from their competition:

  1. That they offered advice tailored to their clients’ needs, and
  2. That they really get to know their clients

Is my point becoming clearer? Many people overestimate their abilities. And many advisors are using look-a-like attributes as differentiators.

I don’t believe that most of your prospects care as much about what makes you different than all the “marketing gurus” will lead you to believe. Your prospects want to know if you’re right for them. With that said, if you’re going to talk about what makes you different, I suggest you find something that actually sets you apart from other advisors.

5 Things that DON’T Make You Different

Here are the five most common attributes I see advisors using in their attempt to differentiate themselves with prospective clients.*

  1. “We Care About Our Clients”
    Well, I should hope so! Now, IF you have some anecdotes and/or case studies that show what this really looks like … if you can really paint the picture in words or with actual pictures… then perhaps you can make it one of your differentiators.

  2. “We Get to Know Our Clients’ Goals and Dreams”
    This, too, should be a given. Almost every financial advisor I’ve met talks about this, and they should. What CAN set you apart from most others is if you keep referring to these goals and dreams with your clients. Support them in any way appropriate. Become your clients’ dream maker!

    Listen to how Lester Matlock does this:

  3. “We Offer Advice Tailored to Our Clients”
    One could make the case that “tailored advice” is a relative statement. There is no doubt that some advisors bring a cookie-cutter approach to their process, while many other advisors work quite diligently to offer highly-customized solutions. The key to turning this look-alike attribute into a differentiator is to share specific examples, anecdotes, and case studies. Bring this to life and it can become a strong differentiator.

  4. “We Educate Our Clients”
    I’ve observed that how advisors educate their clients varies greatly. Some advisors do the bare minimum, and some go to great lengths to educate their clients in many ways. Some advisors may explain things very well in meetings. Others produce a blog and/or newsletter. And others host regular educational events – not prospecting events, but events for their current clients and guests.

    Pet Peeve – Some advisors merely forward educational pieces supplied by their “mothership.” Others, make sure they add their perspective to these – rewriting them in their voice, and/or finding a way to use less corporate speak and more personal speak. Having read hundreds of these pieces, I can immediately tell when the advisor actually paid attention and added to what they were sending. For example, just the week before writing this piece, I received the same exact “educational email” from two different advisors who were merely forwarding something from their Broker-Dealer. Yes, you need to stay compliant. But that doesn’t mean you can’t put your touch on things.

  5. “We Provide Great Client Service”
    Providing timely and accurate service is the price of admission for any business. Once again, if you can bring this attribute to life with examples and testimonials, you will make this feature of your company stand out. A differentiator? Maybe not. Important? Certainly!

*Please Note – I’m not saying you shouldn’t communicate these 5 attributes to your prospects (in meetings, on your website, etc.). You probably should. But unless you do any of these things in a demonstrably superior manner, they are not strong differentiators.

What DOES make you different?

Stay tuned to future emails and blogs from me where I will share real-life examples of what financial professionals of many types are doing to standout and win new clients through personal introductions.

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