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Over the last few years I’ve looked at hundreds of financial advisor websites. Except for a select, thoughtful few, most of these sites are swimming in the sea of sameness.
 
Almost everyone says they provide sound advice and some degree of planning and great service and all the usual products.
 

[For some website essentials and best practices, be sure to check out this 10-minute webinar.]

 
Based upon their websites alone, you can rarely tell a great, experienced, caring Advisor from a stock broker pretending to be a wealth manager. Everyone looks and sounds the same.
 
And that leads to the classic marketing problem of differentiation—finding and articulating your unique value.
 
The simplest way to figure this out is to ask yourself: What business am I really in?
 
Financial services? Or relationships?
 
Financial services are absolutely necessary, even vital. But to the extent you place your main value there, you may run the risk of being perceived as a commodity. On the other hand, relationships are almost impossible to commoditize.
 
Consider Starbucks and Peet’s Coffee. Peet’s makes better coffee than Starbucks. The baristas tend to be friendlier and the stores cleaner. But look at the two firms’ websites just before Valentine’s Day.
 
As you can see from the screenshot below, Peet’s is just selling coffee. Delicious coffee, but coffee still the same.
 
coffee_peets_blog
 
But Starbucks (see below) is focusing on something much more powerful and unexpected—relationships.
 
coffee_starbucks_blog
 
If you dig deeper on their site, there is plenty of information about coffee and how they brew it. But it is not what they lead with.
 
Starbucks knows that coffee is ultimately peripheral to who they are and what they do. No wonder they actually dropped “Coffee” from their name a few years ago.
 
There are powerful parallels here to what you do as an Advisor and your true value. Sure you make “coffee”—you build and manage portfolios, put together plans, work with Centers of Influence. But is this your greatest, highest value to your clients?
 
If this truly is a “relationship” business, shouldn’t your website and your messaging be more Starbucks than Peet’s?
 

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