HOLLYWOOD, Fla. -- Do your clients know the value you offer?

“Your value proposition is not an elevator pitch,” said Janet Kelly, a vice president for Pershing and member of the company’s practice management team, at the Insite 2014 conference. “You are identifying what it is about your business that uniquely qualifies you to have a client choose you to be their advisor.”

While 83% of advisors say they have defined their value proposition, according to a recent study by Pershing, only 26% of advisors “strongly agree” that clients can articulate what separates them from other advisors. 

“You have to have the ability to say who you are,” said James Spiegelhoff, a vice president of Pershing who leads the company’s practice management efforts. “You have to ask yourself what differentiates you from your colleagues.”

There are five things to keep in mind when creating and disseminating a value proposition, according to Kelly and Spiegelhoff.

1. Avoid using jargon. “Clients love when you are clear,” said Spiegelhoff. He explains that using complicated terms can alienate potential clients and confuse those you already have. He advises using simple language when creating a value proposition. One of his tips is to discuss the importance of seeking continuing education, rather than stating acronym certifications, like CFP, just to impress clients. “These letters alone don’t mean a whole lot to the client,” he said.

2. Keep it short. “Don’t use 20 words when five will do the job,” said Kelly. Clients will get lost in wordy propositions and simply become confused, she said. “This is not your very elegant 400 word mission statement, or that page-long description of your investment philosophy.”

3. Repeat it verbatim. While advisors tailor what they say to clients, Spiegelhoff recommends repeating value propositions word-for-word. “It takes adult learners three to six times of hearing something before they can articulate it,” he said. Advisors also add weight to their words when they restate their proposition, especially after meeting a client’s goals.

4. Involve your team. “Make sure your team is saying the same thing about your practices as you are,” said Spiegelhoff. Kelly suggests advisors brainstorm with their team members, so everyone has a clear perspective.

5. Have a strong web presence.  Spiegelhoff was blunt about advisor websites. “People don’t like to read, (so) make it as easy,” he said. Spiegelhoff recommends concise and compelling value propositions for online. “At a glance I should know everything I need to,” he said.

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