Here’s A Method To Create An Engaging Value Proposition With 6 Simple Questions


Few financial planners enjoy the services of a full team of social scientists to create a great value proposition for their services. So what do you have to do to create one by yourself?

Every financial planner who’s examining his business can sketch profiles of the customer segments adressed therein.

A good way to start is by using the Empathy Map, a tool developed by visual thinking company XPLANE. This tool, which is also called the “really simple client profiler”, helps you go beyond a client’s demographic characteristics and develop a better understanding of environment, behaviour, concerns, and aspirations.

Doing so allows you to devise a stronger business model, because a customer profile guides the design of better value propositions, more convenient ways to reach clients, and more appropriate customer relationships.

Ultimately it allows you to better understand what a client is truly willing to pay for.

How to use the Empathy Map

Here’s how it works. First, brainstorm to come up with all the possible customer segments that you might want to serve. Choose three promising candidates, and select one for your first profiling exercise.

Start by giving this customer a name and some demographic characteristics, such as income, marital status, and so forth.

Then, referring to the diagram used at the top of this page, use a flipchart or whiteboard to build a profile for your newly-named customer by asking and answering the following six questions:


Describe what the customer sees in her environment.

  • What does it look like?
  • Who surrounds her?
  • Who are her friends?
  • What type of offers is she exposed daily (as opposed to all market offers)?
  • What problems does she encounter?


Describe how the environment influences the customer

  • What do her friends say? Her spouse?
  • Who really influences her, and how?
  • Which media channels are influential?


Try to sketch out what goes on in your customer’s mind

  • What is really important to her (which she might not say publicly)?
  • Imagine her emotions. What moves her?
  • What might keep her up at night?
  • Try describing her dreams and aspirations


Imagine what the customer might say, or how she might behave in public

  • What is her attitude?
  • What could she be telling others?
  • Pay particular attention to potential conflicts between what a customer might say and what she may truly think or feel


  • What are her biggest frustrations?
  • What obstacles stand between her and what she wants or needs to achieve?
  • Which risks might she fear taking?


  • What does she truly want or need to achieve?
  • How does she measure success?
  • Think of some strategies she might use to achieve her goals

The goal of the Empathy Map is to create a customer viewpoint for continuously questioning your business (model) assumptions. Customer profiling enables you to generate better answers to questions such as:

Does this Value Proposition solve real customer problems?

Would she really be willing to pay for this?

How would she liked to be reached?

If you have a great value proposition, please don’t hesitate to share it. Please answer this question:

What is your value proposition?

Please, leave your answer here below in the comment field. Thank you very much.

Together we can make financial planning matter.

To your success,

Ronald Sier

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Leave a Reply 5 comments

Shawn Schuyler Reply

Hi Ronald. Quickly and clearly articulation our value prop. has always been challenging. This past year we tried to boil it down to Planning (us) vs Selling (the majority of bank/brokerage/insurance reps our prospects talk to). This is a start, but I\’m not sure if the \”vs.\” isn\’t a little too adversarial and a bit of a turn off. Unless the prospect\’s \”empathy map\” contains items like Angry at Financial Svcs Industry, Notices Current Advisor is Not Working in their Best Interest, Sees Commissioned Salespeople as Inferior Advisors. . . then turning the value prop moment into a critical attack on current advisors or the marketplace just makes us look suspicious. In those rare cases where the prospect is already unhappy with the lack of planning and predominance of selling with their current advisor, this has worked quite well to convert them. Far more often though, the prospect really has no idea how inappropriate their current portfolio is, nor understands the expenses and sales charges that drag it down, nor recognizes that it is not a plan at all but just a mish-mash of past sales that were made to them. For these people our \”vs.\” has cost us some conversions, we think, because they were not coming to us to hear how bad things are with their current planning. This presents a real conundrum for us: how do we present the value of what we do–when it is about improving on what they already have–without making the prospect feel we are attacking their past choices or current advisors? How do I tell you \”I can fix this,\” without on some level identifying that it is broken to begin with?

Your thoughts and advice on this would be appreciated!

    David Iverson Reply

    Shawn – I worked at Citi, UBS and JP Morgan so I know exactly what you\’re talking about (I even remember brokerage sales scripts verbatim). I think you approach it as follows:
    1. Invite them for a cup of coffee and a second opinion.
    2. Gently let me know their portfolio/plan has \”cancer.\”
    3. Introduce your value proposition. The majority of investors already have a financial advisor. For you to be successful, you must disrupt that current relationship. Your prospect may or may not be happy with their current advisor but it’s a known. Working with you is an unknown. Shoot me an email and I\’d be happy to send more information and templates over ([email protected]).

    Ronald – great article. I think creating a value proposition from the prospect\’s point-of-view along with a reason why (using emotion vs. logic) you do what you do is extremely powerful stuff!!!

Rutvik Pathak Reply

Ronald , Financial planner does nothing for free then Y free tips ?

    Ronald Sier Reply

    Rutvik, how about making the world a little bit better and personal development?

karl daly Reply

very interesting piece Ronald…I believe we do not ask enough of these type of questions…we do not place ourselves in the \”world\” of our clients and if we did we would have more to offer….very clever approach…thank you .

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