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Dec
16

Do you have a “Top 1″ list?

Fifteen days left in 2010 (if my math is right.)  Where does the time go?

Actually, one of the things I rather enjoy about the end of the year are all those “Top (fill in the number) of the Year” lists.

Top ten best bank stocks, the top 15 new tech gizmos, Top 20 feet in their owners mouths…

Getting started a little early this year. I was skimming through the “Top 10 Tweets of 2010″ when I got to thinking.

What makes number 1 better than the other nine?  Maybe comments or views or retweets, in this case.  But by and large, I’m guessing it’s a pretty subjective.

Got me thinking some more.  If we could pick only one thing, what would it be?

That’s when I came across an article in the Wall Street Journal about just such a topic.

It asked the question, what’s the number one thing you wish your clients would remember?

Four advisers answered ranging from “pay yourself first” to “know how much you’re spending on what.”  Solid advice.  Not necessarily remarkable.

So I want to ask you, what would be the number one piece of advice you’d want your clients to remember at all costs?  What would you tell them that would be most beneficial for them and their futures?

That made me think about something else

What’s the number one thing, you’d want a prospect or client to remember about you?

That’s a bit of information is called your USP – your Unique Selling Proposition.

A term coined by the late advertising legend Rosser Reeves in his book “Reality in Advertising” back in 1961, there were three elements that comprised a USP.

1. “Each advertisement must make a proposition to the consumer. Each must say, ‘Buy this product, and you will get this specific benefit.’”

2. “The proposition must be one that the competition either cannot, or does not offer

3. “The proposition must be so strong that it can move the mass millions i.e., pull over new customers to your product.”

The USP as Reeves created it was designed to sell stuff on television. He worked in commercials where you only had 30 seconds to get your message across to your prospects.  He did it during a time when people’s attention spans weren’t so stretched by a flood of media and message options.

But that probably makes the idea of a USP even more important today.

Today, setting yourself apart from the crowd is essential.

What’s your USP?

The USP, as Reeves defined it, was strictly a sales message.  So let’s restate it just a bit for your marketing today.

1. “Each advertisement must make a proposition to the consumer. Each must say, ‘Buy this product, and you will get this specific benefit.’”

What is your proposition to your prospect? What specific benefit do you offer to them?  What specific need do you fill?  To answer this properly, you need to know as much about your prospect pool as you do about the services you offer.  Remember, where perceptions are concerned, everyone has their own biases.  Demographics can be segmented 15 ways from Sunday, and your proposition must be specific to them.

2. “The proposition must be one that the competition either cannot, or does not offer”

What is it that makes you unique? What is it that makes you the go-to professional in your business?  What would make a prospect choose you above any other adviser or — and this is important — NOT choosing.  What makes your prospect not only see the need for the services a financial professional provides, but what makes you THE person to deliver them?

3. “The proposition must be so strong that it can move the mass millions i.e., pull over new customers to your product.”

I’m in just a little disagreement with this last one.  Moving the masses may be fine for TV, but not for your business.  I’ve used the word “specific” repeatedly here.  That’s because your message must be tailored to the market you’re targeting.  A message to the “masses” doesn’t resonate anymore these days.  It will disappear into a sea of marketing noise.

Marketing guru Zig Ziglar once said (and I’m paraphrasing)

“If you try to be everything to everybody, you’ll be nothing to nobody.”

So let’s put it slightly differently.   Your USP should be strong enough to move your specific prospect market.

A resolution for 2011

It’s no small job to craft a USP.  But believe me, it’s something you have to do.

Today to make yourself, your personal brand, your practice stand out, you must attach a compelling USP to it.

So here’s a new year’s resolution for you.  Create a powerful, compelling USP for yourself and your practice — the number one thing you want your prospects to remember in 2011.