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The REAL meaning of value

good value offer reliefIf I had a dollar for every time I see the phrase “added value” used in our industry alone, I would be very rich! But adding value is not about being better than your competitors; it’s actually convincing your clients and potential clients that you can give them what they really want.

Therein lies the golden question – what do your clients and potential clients really want from you?

Here are two fine examples of what the term “value” really means.

1. Why should we pay?

My best friend Kate and her husband finally listened to my nagging and made an appointment to see a financial planner to review their personal insurance cover. Kate has a real phobia about money management believing there will always be enough and the thought of planning for an injury or death in advance horrifies her; hence their delay in getting life cover. Both are aged in their 40s and Kate’s husband, Jake, had an old insurance policy he’d taken out when he was in his late 20s but hadn’t looked at in years. The premiums just disappeared from his account every month. He didn’t even know what the value of the policy was should he die. Sound familiar?

At the end of the meeting with the adviser, Kate and Jake were told that there would be a fee charged to put together a quote for their insurance cover. From Kate’s voice on the phone when she called me afterwards, they were both very shocked. They believed the adviser would get paid via a commission from the insurance provider. Her voice got higher and louder when she told me they’d been quoted over $700 each. Jake had abruptly ended the meeting with a “we’ll get back to you” response – obviously with no intention of doing any such thing.

Any way they looked at it, Kate and Jake couldn’t comprehend why they had to pay for a quote. Even though the adviser had told them he wouldn’t be taking a commission on the policies, they couldn’t understand the work involved in providing the quote then implementing the correct policies for them.

In other words, “what value were they getting for their money?”.

EPIPHANY! Listening to Kate rant I suddenly saw it all from an entirely different perspective and it became so clear! You can’t TELL another person what is valuable to them. That individual must FEEL the value. To do that you have to use emotion to make the buyer feel something – usually pain.

2.  John Grisham explains it best

A few days later I was relaxing on a Sunday afternoon (work furthest from my mind) reading a John Grisham novel. And there it was again... the question of value.

Long story short... a multi-billionaire is at risk of losing everything. He is offered a service that will help him keep his international conglomerate AND his billions. When he is quoted $8 million for this service his hackles rise so he requests a business plan to show what he’s getting for his multi-million-dollar investment. The response is priceless (and valuable!). He is smugly told that it’s not important how the money is spent; it’s what he will get in return – he will keep his billions in return for “just” $8 million. He suddenly gets it.

He could probably try to do it himself, but he knows he doesn’t have the time, skills or contacts – and there’s a helluva lot at stake here. It’s VERY valuable to him – far more than $8 million, so really, the “price” is very low in comparison.

Applying this to real life...

My friends didn’t understand why they should pay anything when they believed the service was “free” elsewhere (or if they called one of those numbers on the TV advertisements) – which is the value they had placed on it and nobody could tell them otherwise (not even me!). The “value proposition” that was put to this couple didn’t focus on their pain. It didn’t make them say “Yes, we really need this service from this person because...”.

The value is in the pain

The pain for Jake and Kate in this scenario is that they are busy raising a family and both working full time. Every hour is precious. Therefore a good value proposition would have been how many hours they would have saved themselves ploughing through all of the various offers and options and then be assured they had cover that would be perfect for them.

Explaining it that way would have made them relate to their own pain and potentially help them to understand the real value in providing this service. In feeling the relief of someone doing all the hard work for them, the adviser would now have a new and respectful client (and I would be relieved that my friends' lives were insured).

However, no two clients will be the same – everyone has different pain points – and it’s your job to find out what specific pain needs healing for each potential client.

Sure, you’re a qualified financial expert, but so are many others - that doesn’t add value.

You can use this for your business

I hope my epiphany has helped you as much as it has already helped our business. We automatically thought that we “added value” because we have an unequalled resource of great, copyright-free financial articles available. That’s great – for some people – but a lot of advisers are also good writers, so they won’t feel the value in that offer. Their problem could be that they don’t have the time to do it themselves, and their pain is watching clients go elsewhere because they rarely hear from their adviser.

That's the pain - losing clients and revenue. And when we show them they can rely on us to reduce that pain, they FEEL the value! We don’t need to convince them.

And that’s why we can charge $8 million to access the Financial Articles Library! (I wish!!)

Best wishes,


Julianne Bell, Financial Writers Australia

Editor note: names have been changed to protect my friends – and me!

PS.  To find out how we can give you more time to spend servicing your clients and growing your business, have a look around the Financial Articles Library while you're here. You are most welcome to linger longer or start saving time right now and join up!

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