When Showing Appreciation, Be Creative


Standing out is hard.

In any business, it’s tough to create separation from the competition. Of course, you need to meet the minimum requirements for doing business in our industry. Those are the table stakes that everyone else is doing. Don’t stop there.

What makes you stick above others? How can you create separation for yourself?

Start by thinking about anywhere you’ve been a long-term customer. Are you still a customer? Or, over time, have you slowly gravitated away? Often, when a customer leaves for a competitor, the reason is the same. It’s because they feel underappreciated. If they think you aren’t grateful for their business, they are going to look for someone who is — someone who makes them feel special.

The takeaway is to make an extra effort. Make sure your clients feel truly appreciated. It’s easy to send an email to thank someone for their business. And it’s great to send a hand-written card, especially as it’s a lost art. But the reality is, we need to differentiate ourselves by being unique.

One of the most important aspects to consider when developing a personal relationship, is to stand out in your efforts to make your client feel appreciated.

Last week I talked about being empathetic toward your clients. Use that empathy to view your relationship from the client’s point of view. You aren’t going to stand out by making a call or sending a letter. You need to understand where your client is and what’s important to them. Then tie your appreciation gift to that person.

Today, it’s not enough just to say thank you. Make a memory with your client and concentrate on that memory when you show appreciation. And remember that appreciation isn’t just a one-time expression. If you don’t want to lose long-term clients, stay in touch and remind them how important they are to you. You’ll add value to your overall relationship and, in the process, strengthen your business.


Transformational Tactic

Do more than say thank you. Strengthen your relationship with your client by showing your appreciation in a more personal way.

Making Empathy Part of Your Value Proposition


This blog post originally appeared on the High Performing Practice website. If you want to choose to improve your financial services practice, visit their blog for more ideas.

We’ve been talking about the five different aspects of changing the way our clients measure us.

In the past few weeks, I’ve discussed the need for excellence and making your process repeatable and consistent. Last week I focused on cutting through the noise and making sure you continue to work to the end goal. And today, I’m going to explore why empathy is a key element to success.

Difficult to Master

Although it’s easy to simplify the steps necessary to grow your business, it’s not always easy to achieve them. And empathy might be one of the most difficult of all to master. Let’s put it in perspective by looking at an example.

Has this ever happened to you? You’re talking to a prospect who you know you have the expertise to help. You’re an excellent fit to help them hit what they want to accomplish. But, at the end of the day, the client went with one of your competitors. Why? It’s possible they felt the other advisor was more empathetic.

We all want to believe that our primary goal is understanding our clients’ needs and providing solutions. And, while that is what we are in business to do, in reality, we often focus on ourselves and the value we provide. And focusing on our own value means we’re not putting ourselves in our clients’ shoes.

There are two different things that you need to be aware of when you’re trying to position yourself as the right advisor to shape your clients’ financial story. The first is empathy. The second is authority. And it is possible to use them both together to achieve the best result for our clients and for our business.  

Empathy Is Tough

In this industry, we’re good at making authoritative statements. We all have years of experience. We have credentials. We have assets under management. We have a team of people. We have proprietary technology. But even with all of that, it comes down to empathy.

And empathy is tough because what our clients are feeling changes daily. Think about what we were feeling Feb. 1 verses what we’re thinking now. Of course, in our current situation, the pandemic is the largest impetus for change. But it’s not the only factor. This isn’t the first time we’ve experienced economic uncertainty and it won’t be the last.

And when we experience times like this, our clients’ needs and concerns change. We need to stay in tune with what they are feeling to be able to show them we are empathetic. It’s even harder if they don’t express their concerns. But taking the time to reach out and reassure can help them understand where they’re headed in the future.

By adding empathy to your value proposition, you reinforce your value to your clients. Everyone wants to work with someone who understands them. And that’s where you have a chance to stand out.


Transformational Tactic

Empathy is vital for success. Readjust your thinking to keep up with your clients changing needs and concerns through every step of their financial journey.


Staying Focused on the End Goal


Whatever the case, with everything going on, it’s hard to stay focused on your path of success. But instead of getting caught up with distractions, it’s important to stay focused on what you CAN control. And one of the main things you have control of is your attention.

Louder Doesn’t Equal Smarter
I was reading recent posts from Seth Godin, and he made a great analogy about today’s news and the pandemic. Financially speaking, the topic of the day is market volatility. It’s being talked about so often it’s almost as if we handed the news stations a megaphone. But, as Seth Godin points out, just because a megaphone makes a lot of people louder, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re smarter.

The true definition of success is keeping the long-term in view and concentrating on doing the little things today that are necessary to reach your long-term goals. All that shouting from the megaphone? Consider if it’s important or if it’s just a distraction.

Finding the Silver Lining
Although our situation in no way compares to the horrors of World War II, I want to share a story that spoke to me—and one that can remind us all to find the silver lining in even the most trying situations. I recently read the novel The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom, in which the author shares her experiences as a prisoner in a concentration camp in Nazi Germany. Among other hardships, Corrie and the others in her barracks contracted fleas. It took a while to realize it, but those fleas actually protected the prisoners from the guards’ brutality and might even have saved their lives. If they had fleas, the guards avoided them. Corey survived the concentration camp.

In the face of Corrie’s struggles, the fleas seemed at first like the least of her worries. It was only later that she realized they were a positive. They were her silver lining.

When you consider all the distractions we are dealing with, think about what we can turn into a positive. Can we use the noise from the market volatility megaphone as an opportunity to reassure our clients? Can we leverage it as an opportunity to encourage them to focus on the long-term as well? Find your silver lining, and use it to reach your goals.

If you have aspects of your business plan that need attention, we’re here to help. We can take a look at strategies to build your business and make sure that you — and your clients — receive the attention you deserve.

Transformational Tactic

You don’t need a megaphone to focus your clients’ attention. You just need to keep the end goal in view.

Value Does Not Equal Price


This blog post originally appeared on the High Performing Practice website. If you want to choose to improve your financial services practice, visit their blog for more ideas.


Last week I introduced the idea of providing value as the one thing to focus on for growth, and I broke down five different areas to study to determine if you are providing value. And in past weeks, I’ve talked about how value is measured.

Although returns against a benchmark are one indicator, value includes so much more than price. Price is a commodity; value is not. And it’s up to us to make sure our clients understand the difference.

Build Value By Changing Perception

To grow, even when the market isn’t doing as well as we’d like, you need to pay attention to how to build value in your business. This will allow you to retain clients, recruit new clients and to remain relevant in the greatest shift from the workforce to retirement that we’ve seen in the United States.

The first hurdle is to change client perception. This can be tricky, but it’s an essential part of driving value. First, we need to help them understand the difference between price and value. Price is how much your clients pay for a financial plan. Price is measured by how much greater return your client receives versus what they paid. That value is the relative worth of your overall relationship.

Defining Excellence

Of the five components of value we will be looking at, the first one to discuss is excellence. So, how do you define excellence? I believe it’s the art of paying attention to the client. Of making it a priority to understand the client’s entire need—their goal for their financial future. It’s not just asset management or insurance. It is the entire breadth of a relationship. Excellence means a willingness to collaborate with others on areas that aren’t your expertise. It’s taking the time to look under every rock, leaving no stone unturned.

Driving Consistency

I’d also like to discuss the second component that drives value, and that’s consistency. As a student basketball manager at Indiana, I was around Coach Knight for four years. His game preparation was legendary. And his game preparation was consistent. Just as Coach Knight followed the same process for each game, you need to follow the same process for each of your clients.

Consistency is important not only from a regulatory standpoint but, most importantly, it’s important from a referral standpoint. If your clients understand what their referral will experience, they’re more likely to refer you to people who they know, like and trust. It allows them to set the expectation for their friend or family member.

Consistency gives your client confidence. It gives your staff confidence. And it increases your chances of success while decreasing the chances that anything important will be overlooked.

When our clients are confident in our ability to drive value, they will find it easier to make the decision to stick with you.

Transformational Tactic

Develop a repeatable process focused on excellence and consistency.

What to Focus on for Growth


You want to grow your business, but you’re not sure where to start. For many, it can be hard to focus in on a course of action. And, once an action has been set in motion, even harder to have the endurance to see it through.

Does any of this sound familiar? You have clear ideas of what you want to achieve. And you have not-so-clear ideas of how to get there. So you try one marketing plan for a couple of months, second guess yourself, switch gears and start something new. And then repeat. Before you know, time has passed with no real growth to show for it.

The real question to ask yourself is: What’s the one thing that can really be meaningful to clients and that they can grasp onto?

When trying to answer that question, there’s a temptation to make a list. But there’s really just one simple thing that you need to focus in on to grow your business, and it’s not a magic wand. It’s also not something that’s easily measured, so I don’t have a lot of analytics to share. The answer? Focus on adding value.

With a strong focus on providing value, it is possible to grow your business, attract quality people and remain relevant in the greatest shift from the workforce to retirement that we’ve ever seen.

According to Bob Burg and John David Man’s book The Go-Giver, value is defined by making sure that you give more value than you take payment. And it doesn’t matter how that value is delivered. It can be delivered virtually, face-to-face
or through written communication.

Delivering value makes a difference at any time, but even more so now, while we are challenged with a global pandemic.

You might be wondering about measuring value. How do you quantify it? Use these five areas to determine if you are providing value:

  1. Do you have excellence in your process?
  2. Is your process repeatable and consistent?
  3. Can you pay attention to certain areas of that process?
  4. Are you delivering empathy? And then,
  5. Are you going above and beyond and showing appreciation to your clients?

By focusing on those five things, the fifth one in particular, you can develop significant metrics to determine your success. And stay with us. Over the next few weeks, we’ll provide an in-depth look at each of these five areas.

But you don’t have to wait. If you’d like more information about how we can help you grow your business, click below to schedule a transformational call. We’ll help you learn how to remain relevant in this great shift from the workforce to retirement.