9 words and 6 steps to creating a unique value proposition

I haven’t met an advisor yet who doesn’t want to keep growing. The challenge is, many advisors overlook the fact that their most potent referral source is much closer and more personal than any marketing campaign or prospect list could ever be. Indeed, highly successful practices typically find their best new clients through referrals from their largest current clients. After all, these clients have experienced the advisor’s work and have benefited from it – and they typically have like-minded friends with similar needs. But, delivering exceptional wealth management experiences to top clients isn’t always enough to secure those important introductions. Clients need to be able to articulate the advisor’s distinctive value. Being “an independent, open-architecture wealth management firm focused on planning and investments, meeting the complex needs of high-net-worth clients” isn’t very unique in an increasingly competitive environment where many of the services advisors provide are becoming commoditized. To increase the chances of those introductions occurring and winning over prospects, advisors need to have a unique value proposition that everyone at the firm, clients, prospects, and Centers of Influence (COIs) can easily recall and repeat. Russell Investments has developed a process for creating a unique value proposition, which we call “The Nine Words.”

“The Nine Words” exercise: 6 steps to create a unique value proposition

Gather your whole team for a brainstorming session and provide each person with nine sheets of blank paper. Ask each team member to title the first three sheets of paper “The First Three Words,” the next set of three sheets “The Next Three Words,” and the last set of three sheets “The Last Three Words.”

Step 1: Brainstorm the first three words: The role the team plays for clients.

Have each team member write one word (in large font size) on each page titled “The First Three Words” that they feel accurately describes the role the team plays for clients. For instance, what can clients expect the team will deliver? How could the team make a difference in their lives? Or, think of three roles clients need from the team to help them reach their financial goals.

Step 2:Brainstorm the next three words: The feelings your team and their work elicits for your clients.

Have each team member jot down one word on each page titled “The Next Three Words” that reflects how the client should feel as a result of working with and being well-served by the team.

Step 3: Brainstorm the last three words: The team’s “secret sauce.”

Have each team member write one word on each page titled “The Last Three Words” that they feel depicts what the team does to embody the “First Three Words” and elicit the “Next Three Words” from the client. What is the secret sauce the team brings to everything it does?

Step 4: Come to consensus on nine words

Now comes the fun part. Have the whole team discuss the three categories of words in turn and come to a consensus on the best nine words (three words for each of the three categories). For example: Brainstorming chart For illustrative purposes only. Step 5: Test the effectiveness of your nine words First, step back and try to objectively evaluate whether the unique value proposition you and your team have brainstormed:
  1. Is specific
  2. Differentiates the practice
  3. Is Short and focused
  4. Is Unique
  5. Is Relevant to the target market’s needs
If you’re satisfied with your sentence, share it with some of your best clients to get their perspective. They want to see you succeed and know the value you deliver to them, so they will likely be a helpful sounding board.

Step 6: Integrate the value proposition into your marketing efforts

For the value proposition to have maximum impact with your team, with clients, with prospects and COIs, these nine words should become the heart and soul of your firm’s brand. All marketing and messaging – brochures, website, presentations, client/prospect/COI meetings – should incorporate elements of the nine words so they become a natural part of how clients describe your firm.

The bottom line

Having a memorable and easily repeatable unique value proposition that is well integrated across the firm’s people, processes and communications, and with clients, prospects and COIs is one of the keys to successful growth. Consider using “The Nine Words” process as an exercise, engaging your whole team to develop a value proposition which reflects what is unique about what you do and the value you bring to clients.