“What Do You Do?”
Have you ever met someone so excited about what they do that it’s contagious? They’re animated, leaning in, and inspiring you with their passion. If you haven’t met that person, you’ve probably listened to their Ted talk or heard them at a conference as a keynote speaker. Now, turn that thought process around: have you ever been the person to light that contagious inspiration in others?
An industry veteran recently told me, “There is no faster way to end an airplane conversation than answering the question, ‘What do you do?’ with, ‘I’m a financial advisor.’ People still assume we’re all insurance salesman.”
The financial planning profession has a long way to go in helping the public understand our plethora of titles. This comment emphasizes our need to clarify for ourselves and prospective clients: what do we do, and more importantly, why do we do it?
Whether you’re new to the profession or have been here for decades, knowing your unique answer to these questions can do more than deepen casual dialogue. Finding your ‘why’ can catalyze the business development you’ve been working on by helping you:
- Define your niche
- Hone your marketing angle
- Attract the type of clients that you enjoy the most
If prospective clients can see that you have clarity around your purpose and passion, they can trust that you’re the person to help them understand and explore theirs. Your ‘why’ is the foundation upon which to build and expand your practice and the impact it can make.
“Before we can stand out, we must first get clear on what we stand for.”
Mapping Out Your Mission
Whether delivered on your website or an airplane, a great answer to this question, “what do you do,” should be concise and engaging. Jim Armstrong’s book, Beyond the Mission Statement: Why Cause-Based Communications Lead to True Success, guides readers through his 10-question process to uncover an authentic, truthful voice:
“Too often, a marketing communication campaign begins with the words, ‘we need a new brochure, logo or website.’ Such campaigns should begin instead with unearthing, capturing, and communicating the ‘cause’ of a business - the ‘why’ it exists versus simply what it does.”
If you’re reading this blog, and almost certainly if you’re an MQ Partner, you are deeply invested in your clients’ well-being. You serve them as a thinking partner. You foster relationships with them and with their families. You strive to help your clients use their money to make a life, rather than using their lives to make money. But how do you summarize all of that into answering a question as simple as, “What do you do?”
Armstrong’s book encourages readers to ask themselves questions around their unique “who, what and why,” to uncover beliefs or assumptions they have about clients and prospective clients. What do we think we know about them? What are our clients’ beliefs about us?
At Money Quotient, we have a resource to help guide advisors through the thought process piece by piece, honing in on what makes those ideal clients such a joy to serve. We then encourage them to think about what makes their firm, process, and philosophy unique and assess how their approach positively impacts their clients. This can be an effective exercise for advisors who want to set an intention for their practice or rediscover one that was set long ago.
“All organizations start with WHY, but only the great ones keep their WHY clear year after year. Those who forget WHY they were founded show up to the race every day to outdo someone else instead of to outdo themselves.”
Those in the advice business have an inherent challenge: prospective clients have to take a leap of faith. The value you add isn’t tangible. It’s trust. Understanding and sharing why you do what you do is the foundation on which to build that trust and help you create a practice that naturally attracts your ideal client.
It is human nature to find yourself drawn to people who are passionate about what they do. Their enthusiasm is contagious. The same is true for your prospective clients.
“Charisma has nothing to do with energy; it comes from a clarity of WHY. It comes from absolute conviction in an ideal bigger than oneself. Energy, in contrast, comes from a good night’s sleep or lots of caffeine. Energy can excite. But only charisma can inspire. Charisma commands loyalty. Energy does not.”
If you’re looking to nap on the airplane, go ahead and tell your seat-mate that you’re a financial advisor. When you’re looking to explore more profound, meaningful conversation, try sharing your contagious inspiration.
- Brenna Baucum, CFP® | Director of Education & Communications at Money Quotient