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Episode 15: 
Surprise & Delight - Differentiation
Show Notes:
In this episode of The Ultimate Advisor Podcast, We focus on how you can set your firm apart through differentiation to create something unique that your team and clients won’t get elsewhere. We discuss how implementing this gifting strategy through tools such as referability can greatly set you apart from the others. So, push PLAY and join us as we delve into how to use the power of surprise and delight through differentiation to stand out , and grow your business!

Read The Transcript Of The Episode:

Brittany A.: Welcome to the Ultimate Advisor Podcast. This is Brittany Anderson. Today we are talking on the concept of surprise and delight as it relates to differentiation. In the last episode we talked on how reviews, whether they're positive or negative, can definitely influence your reputation. We touched a little bit on the whole concept of making sure that you're taking really good care of your clientele, that you are servicing the heck out of them so that you can truly differentiate yourself and try to mitigate the vulnerability you may have in getting a bad review that you may not even know about. To go deeper on that topic, listen to the last episode, but today we're gonna talk about how differentiation in regards to basically loving on your clients, loving on your team members, how that can really set you aside as a unique firm who provides something that they're just not getting elsewhere.

 To start this off I'm going to share with you a few statistics that I thought were interesting when it comes to referability. Now, a lot of the Ultimate Advisor coaching members, they are definitely more so a referral-based firm, so that's how they've grown. They have grown through their referability. Now, these statistics for those people are not going to be very surprising. It showed that 58% of wealthy investors found their financial advisor via a referral, 70% of loyal millionaires are likely to refer people to their primary advisor. Yet, only 10.7% of advisors actually ask for referrals. That's crazy. So you've got 70% of loyal millionaires who are like, "Yes, I want to tell more people about my advisor." Sometimes they just need that little reminder that, "Hey, yeah, we want more people like you." Only just shy of 11% of advisors are actually capitalizing on that. So that's a little alarming.

 The next statistic that I'm going to share is that the lifetime value of a referred customer is 16% higher than a nonreferred customer. So when you look at lifetime value, when you look at the stickiness, essentially, of somebody who's referred to you by somebody that they trust, that increases the lifetime value that you're going to have with that particular client or customer. People are 400% more likely to become a client when referred by a friend.
 So, you might be thinking, "Brittany, you said that we were going to talk about surprise and delight and differentiation. What the heck does that have to do with referrals?" Well, let me tell you, it has everything to do with referrals. It has everything to do with referability. When you look at ... When you talk about stickiness, when you talk about lifetime value with your clients, you absolutely want to do the things that make you referable but without even having to ask every time, because we all like those whoopsie referrals, those things that you're like, "Oh whoops, I got an indirect referral and I didn't even ask for it."

 Some people actually set their business up that way where they don't allow ... I know multiple advisers don't allow their team to even ask for referrals because they believe that if they're doing the right things, always staying in the best interest of the client, going above and beyond and really servicing the heck out of them, they believe that those referrals are going to come. There's a couple of different ways that you can approach that as far as mentality goes, but for our purpose today we're going to look at how some of these activities, how increasing your referability can be enhanced through differentiation using surprise and delight. The topic that I'm really going to hone in on today, it comes from the Giftology concept from John Ruhlin. Definitely encourage you to check out his book. It's a great one. It's on Amazon, something that we've implemented at Sweet Financial Services that's just a really great concept and a good way to surprise and delight, good way to differentiate yourself and to really stand out and show that you care.

 When we look at gifting, it's great ... If you already have a system where you're gifting on birthdays, you're gifting on Christmas, Christmas is a big one, that's great that you've got those steps in place and that you're doing something outside of just the basic "We're managing your investments. We're your wealth advisor." If you're doing the things that are outside of just the work, basically, you are definitely taking a step in the right direction. But what I want to talk to you about is the fact that you can actually take that a step further by completely adhering to the surprise and delight idea.

 When you look at your gifting process overall ... Let's just take Christmas for example. You look at Christmas time. Is it really truly surprising when you get a gift for Christmas? Probably not. Even if it's from somebody that maybe you didn't expect something from you still kind of are in that mentality of 'tis the season, so it's not completely surprising. It's not completely shocking when you get something for Christmas. Now, let's say that that you're in the middle of January and the holidays have passed. You're kind of in that post-holiday blues and all of a sudden in the mail from your, let's say your doctor's office, you get this beautiful, a nice bottle of wine. You got a cheese tray delivered to your team. You got an awesome Coffee Cup with your name on it. That would stand out. You'd be like, "Wow, I did not expect this. I didn't see this coming. That's different and now I'm going to remember that."
 So that is the concept when you look at, again, surprise and delight. When you look at implementing a gifting strategy to truly differentiate yourself that is something that you can absolutely capitalize on by doing things that are at unexpected times. At Sweet Financial we've actually shifted away from doing the traditional Christmas gifts, from doing the bulk order, you send everybody something with maybe your logo on it, you make it as simple as possible just because you're mass producing here, you're mass sending out to all of your clientele. We've actually shifted away from that in the last year or so just to be able to really stand out and be different. Be Different. Stand out from their other advisors, from the other professionals in their life that they deal with so that we don't send them something and then they just kind of push it aside. It gets lost in the shuffle.

 Even think about, again, using Christmas as an example, think about the Christmas cards you receive. It is really, really rare that you ever remember exactly who sent you a Christmas card and who didn't. You end up getting so many of them. You get pretty inundated with all the cards. They're awesome, you see pictures of families, you see people that maybe you haven't seen in a while, and these beautiful pictures, but the bottom line is they just kind of get lost in the shuffle. When you look at truly focusing on surprising and delighting your clientele, look at shifting your gifting schedule. What we do at Sweet Financial is we've actually completely migrated over to gifting in the months of January and July. No strategic date, it's just kind of in general within that approximate time range. Our thought is let's kick off their year right. Let's give them something that's meaningful, that's impactful, and then let's do something middle of the year as kind of that mid summer boost.
 Oftentimes in summer, even for some of our retired clientele, that's when they might be doing trips with family, doing things that maybe they don't do at other points during the year. Maybe they're back in our area. We are up in the Arctic Tundra of Minnesota, so we get people that actually come back to our area around this time rather than our winter birds who go, south. So, you might get people that are engaging locally, they are enjoying time with family, with friends, and we're able to give them a little surprise mid year. Totally unexpected. And that is definitely a surprise and delight.

 Now, you've heard us talk about differentiation. You've heard us talk ... If you've listened to our previous podcast episodes, you've heard us talk on just the whole idea of not being like everybody else, of really trying to stand out. You've heard us talk about how on your website, on your promotional, on your marketing pieces how it's important to make it about the client, about the prospect and not about you. Well, that completely transfers over to your surprise and delight process when it comes to gifting to your clientele, when it comes to gifting to your prospect. Let's face it, let's say that you get ... Let's just use a coffee cup as an example ... a coffee cup from your family attorney with their company logo on it.

 Now, again, the thought is really nice, but is that really going to be something that you're going to set out on your beautiful little end table in your living room with that lovely logo on it thinking, "Gosh, I'm just gonna think of my attorney every single time that I drink out of it." Probably not. So, what you want to look at here is, again, how can you stand out but make it impactful for the person receiving the gift? So, something that we have done is we have completely stopped putting our logo on anything that we're gifting out. Now, I'm going to preface that by saying, if there's a gift basket, if there's something with multiple items in it we might throw in one of our Sweet Financial koozies, or our Sweet Financial coffee mugs. They're kind of cool mugs, they're a little bit bigger, they're a little bit unique. We've had people, or our clients, actually comment that, "Oh gosh, I'd love to have one of those." In those situations, we might throw something in there, but if it's a singular gift we took our name off of it and we put their name on.

 So, that is where you're going to hit home with them. That's where they're going to look at it and be like, "Wow, that's really thoughtful. They took the time to have my name put on something." Think about this for a minute. For some of my travelers out there, for some of you who you go to conferences, you're on airplanes, you're in airports, whatever the case is, you travel for luxury with family, whatever. Think about the times that you're in the airport and you're walking by some of those little kind of gifty shops. Doesn't matter what state you're in. Every place has key chains or magnets with names on them, and I would be willing to bet that at least half of you stop and browse just to see if you can see your name, just to see if they have your name.

 There is something about the human psyche that enjoys seeing their name in print, and it doesn't matter the age, it doesn't matter what span of life they're in, it's just a thing that we like. We like to see our name on paper, we like to see it in print, we like to see it in front of us. That's something to think about when you're gifting things out. If it's something where you would normally put your logo on it, stop, do a quick self check and see if it's something that you could put their name on. Again, you're looking at differentiation. Let's just take for example, you do a nice tumbler, a tumbler or something that people could take if they're golfers. They would take it out with them on their boat. They would take it out. You're going to meet some of your friends for a cup of coffee and then you're gonna go do something together outside, you might have a cup with you. People carry cups with them all the time.

 Now, if you have a really unique tumbler, it's got your name on it, you're going to be more inclined to be like, "Hey, did you see this cool cup? My financial advisor got it for me. Isn't that weird? Isn't that's bizarre? I can't believe they thought of me. That's so nice. That's so unique." That's more of a conversation starter then if you were carrying something with a logo on it. People aren't even going to look twice at that. They're not going to be like, "Wow, where'd you get that really neat cup with that company logo?" It's just not going to happen. Again, when you're looking at differentiation, when you're looking at surprising and delighting, and trying to really stand out to your clientele and show that you see them, you care about them as individuals, and it's not all about you and your company, that's when that referability increases. It's the little things that make a huge difference.

 I think I've shared this story in a previous episode, but I'm gonna share it again just because it's so relevant to today's topic. We actually had a client, very wealthy investor. We had done some strategic planning. Our wealth services department partnered with the reps, came up with some great tax saving strategies, like thousands upon thousands upon thousands of dollars saved for this couple. The clients come in, they sit down, we do this great presentation and they see that they've saved over $30,000 this year alone in taxes. We're just excited. We're like, "Oh my gosh." We are so eager to present this to them. We are really excited to see their reaction. We are just ... We love these people, we love dealing with them. It is so great to be able to show them the value that we can actually provide in print in numbers. Clients are in, definitely were appreciative. They're like, "Wow, that's great," kind of onto the next topic. We definitely made an impact. They definitely appreciate the service we provide, but it wasn't a huge hurrah, jump up and down, clap their hands moment.
 So the meeting wraps up, the clients are walking out and our gal on our team who is designated to gifting, that is one of her sole roles is to create really unique experiences for our clients ... Again, this doesn't have to cost. We understand we have to stay within compliance standards when it comes to the cost of gifting. ... but she just has this wonderful touch. So she puts together this just cute little bag with some of her homemade cookies in it, because she knows that this particular client, that these clients, love her cookies. She puts it together, hands it to him, he peeks inside. The gentleman out of the couple absolutely falls all over himself. He's like, "Oh my gosh, I can't believe that you guys thought to bring me cookies. This is just wonderful." The wife was equally excited. They were just over the moon for the fact that we gave them homemade chocolate chip cookies.

 Now think about this. Put this in perspective for a minute. We just saved them, in one single solitary year, over $30,000 in tax savings by being strategic, by doing our job, by being creative, and by really digging deep. That's one of the things we pride ourselves on, details, excellence. That's what we're going for, but it wasn't that that made him a raving fan. What makes him a raving fan is the fact that we spent probably $3 on ingredients for these cookies, these cookies that he is going to bring home and he's going to eat, and then he went and told people about. It's the little things that matter, and to some, ... I know that not all financial offices have embraced this concept yet, but I can tell you it is a differentiator. It is the little things. It's showing that you pay attention.

 It wasn't necessarily even the cookies that this couple was so excited about, it was the fact that we remembered that the comment was made, because every time a client comes in we have fresh cookies made, that they thought they were just the most delicious things they'd ever tasted. The fact that we remembered that and we did something special for them, that was different in their mind. That made us stand out and that increased our referability. That increased how different we are in their minds. When you have high net worth investors, you know that there are financial advisors knocking on their door on a fairly consistent basis. There are people out there that are trying to either get additional assets from them, trying to get their overall assets, they are a sought after being. When you take care of them and you show that you care, you show that you are seeing them, that you're hearing them, that you're viewing them as human beings, as relationships that you care about versus a transaction, that's where your differentiation comes into play.

 Today I'm honing in on the gifting strategy just because I think this is a really, it's a simple concept to embrace. It's something that I haven't seen enough in the financial practices that we have dealt with, but when it is implemented, when they do put into play ... When you go and you implement a gifting strategy within your firm that is unique, that is different, that stands out from the masses, that's when you start seeing relationships grow. That's when you start seeing that stickiness enhance because, again, your goal is to have a higher lifetime value, not just for monetary sake but for the turnover involved. You know how much time it costs, how much time is put into onboarding new clients, how much time is put into closing client accounts if they choose to ACAT out, if they choose to leave you. That's a ton of time, a ton of energy, and it feels wasted when you spend all this time with people coming in and then you spend a bunch of time because they're jumping to the next thing.
 Create a relationship-based business and that is going to help you differentiate. Within Sweet Financial we actually have our advisors on their prospect list ... You don't have them saying, "You know, our target 20, our next bus, or whatever, all those fun quirky words for labeling your prospect list. We actually have them put at the top, "Who can I help next?" That's a totally different mindset. Then you're not after their investments. You're not after the monetary stuff. You're truly looking at who can I build a relationship with, who can I truly provide value to? All of a sudden it turns into seeking out a relationship. It turns into seeking out somebody that you want to invest your time and energy with longterm versus a transactional relationship. Again, when you look at differentiation, that's what you want to articulate.
 Draye has talked multiple times about how so many financial advisor websites are so similar, how so many websites have the terms like financial services, financial this, financial planning, your financial future. It's all over the place. We see it all the time. You want to make sure that you are showing that you're a relationship-based business. You want them to see that you are truly after them as a relationship versus them as a transaction. I can't stress that enough. I know I've said that a few times, but I want that to be ingrained in your head because that's what helps you stand out from the masses. Again, when you're looking at differentiating, you want to do things that are different from your competition. You want to do things that are going to help you enhance a relationship, to go deeper with your clients.
 But then I want to take this one step further and where we're going to go with this is that all this stuff with your clients is great. This stuff with your prospects is great. When you're looking at surprising and delighting, especially from a prospect perspective, you have somebody that you're building a relationship with and you're doing these things that no other financial advisory firm is doing for them, you're catching their attention. So you're going to potentially shorten that time span where they go from cold to warm, warm to hot and hot to onboard with you. So those are the kind of things that you want to implement. That gifting strategy, the uniqueness, the differentiation in order to bring prospects closer and in order to increase your referability within your clientele.

 But, we're forgetting about one group of people, a really important group, and that's your team. So when you're looking at employing all of these strategies with your clientele and with your prospects, you want to look at what you can do for your team, as well. There's saying after saying out there about how taking care of your team helps them to take care of your clients. I truly believe that. I truly believe that a well taken care of team, a positive work culture, a team of people who have each other's backs, who have your back as an employer, and who truly want the best for your client base, those are the people that are going to help you differentiate yourself because without that team it's going to be a lot harder to create that differentiation on your own. When you look at these strategies, when you look at gifting, when you look at truly helping people be seen, helping people feel like they're heard, do the same darn thing for your team.
 Do those things for your team members, because the way for them to be able to replicate that to your clientele, for them to be able to come to your clientele and deliver that same different experience ... Same different, is that an oxymoron there? ... to deliver the experience that you want them to deliver, to really be unique, to be different they have to experience it. You want them to know first hand how it feels to be surprised and delighted. You want them to be able to take that experience, they feel so warm about it, feel so great about it that they are just so anxious to replicate that with your client base. So, do those little things for your team as well.
 Anytime you're thinking about doing a unique gifting strategy, lump your team members in there like they are your very best clients. It is so important to take care of them and make them feel that same differentiation, because what I just mentioned the turnover cost when you look at a client who comes on board and then that same client who leaves you, how much time and energy, money, everything across the board is wasted, it's even worse with a team member because anytime you have turnover, you're having to get a new person completely up to speed on your processes. They have to get ingrained into your culture. They go through that huge learning curve. For many of the wealth advisory firms that we work with it is a big learning curve because there's just so many moving parts.
 Again, when you look at stickiness, and you look at where you really want people to stick, try focusing on your team members first. Try focusing on deepening the relationship with them so that they feel like they're part of something that's bigger than themselves, so that they feel like they're truly part of a team, part of a family, so that you stick together, you work together, you have each other's back, and you're on a mission to take care of your clients in the best way possible.
 So, that is, in a nutshell, what we wanted to talk about today when we look at surprise and delight as it relates to differentiation. So don't get sucked into the status quo of what everybody does because it works. Just because it works doesn't mean it's impactful, it doesn't mean that it's going to differentiate you. If you want to stand out from the masses, if you want to truly be different to your clients, truly look different to your prospects, to be able to minimize and mitigate the chance for anyone to say anything bad about you because you're consistently delivering above anybody's expectations, you want to employ these strategies. Thank you for being with me here today as we talked about surprise and delight, as we talked about differentiation. We will see you next time on the Ultimate Advisor podcast.

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About The Ultimate Advisor Podcast:
The Ultimate Advisor podcast is a business podcast for financial advisors who are looking to grow their advising practices with greater ease and effectiveness. Ultimate Advisor was developed to help financial advisors master their marketing, sell their services with greater authority, generate repeat clients, and additional revenue in their business.
Each week, your hosts Draye Redfern, Bryan Sweet, and Brittany Anderson will share some of the closest guarded secrets from successful financial advising practices across the U.S.  

Draye Redfern

Draye is also the founder of which helps Attorneys go from “Surviving” to “Thriving” in their business.  In addition, Draye helps to provide insurance solutions to more than 8,600 law firms across the United States annually.

Bryan Sweet

Founder of Sweet Financial, CEO, Wealth Advisor, RJFS
Creator of The Dream Architect™
Co-founder of Dare to Dream Enterprises
Creator of Elite Wealth Advisor Symposium
Author of 3 books – Dare to Dream: Design the Retirement You Can’t Wait to Wake Up To, Imagine. Act. Inspire. A Daily Journal and Give & Grow: Proven Strategies for Starting an Running and Effective Study Group

Brittany Anderson

Director of Operations at Sweet Financial, Office Manager, RJFS
Co-founder of Dare to Dream Enterprises
Author of 2 books – Imagine. Act. Inspire. A Daily Journal & Dare to Dream: Design the Retirement You Can’t Wait to Wake Up To
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