When it comes to marketing and sales, every business is looking for a point of difference. Some call it having a unique selling point (USP), and others have value propositions.

 The trouble is that finding what’s exceptional about your financial services business isn’t a simple process.

Owning your IP

Chances are the services you offer are similar to other financial planners. So how do you stand out from the pack? Many will spruik their level of customer service, but this isn’t a strong differentiator.

One way to set your business apart is to develop your own methodology – in other words, your unique processes that showcase your approach to delivering financial planning advice. For example, you might be offering superannuation and retirement services. This isn’t exactly a point of difference.  However, the process or steps you take with your clients to tailor this advice might be distinctive. This is your methodology – your intellectual property (IP). It’s something you can use to describe the way you work with clients and it should distinguish you from the competition.

Think about it in steps

 Your IP should embrace a specific model you’ve built to create bespoke advice. That said, it must uniquely reflect the way you offer advice.

It usually will involve a series of clearly defined steps on the client journey, which you should document. My advice is to marshal the key people in your business to workshop the steps. Simply write the steps down on a whiteboard, and you’ll identify a process that defines the unique way your business provides financial advice. And these steps can be fashioned into your own IP.

 Does having a methodology work?

Many industries have used a methodology successfully. Think about McDonald’s special sauce recipe or KFC’s secret 11 herbs and spices as well-known examples of a successful methodology.

The reason that a unique methodology works so well is that it makes your offering tangible, whether it’s financial planning or drumsticks. For example, clients are aware they need some help to make important financial decisions. However, the biggest challenge is how to separate the financial planning wheat from the chaff. They may identify that your firm’s experience is worthy. However, they also know that you don’t have a mortgage on experience. Therefore, building a methodology makes your experience tangible. It demonstrates the journey you’re going to take a client on, before they sign on the dotted line with you.

My advice is to try to develop a unique methodology, and that this IP might just be the point of difference you’re looking for.

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