When everyone is more or less offering the same thing the same way, then how you execute is critical. When your offices look the same, when your language sounds the same, when your services and products are the same (the very same) and even your promises are interchangeable, then customers care about the finishing touches. They care about how you do your work.
In the Experience Economy, how you do your work still matters. But more and more, people care about why you do your work too. There has been a disruption in the financial services industry brought about by the web, ETFs, robo-advisors and the other challenges of operating a service business in the DIY (do it yourself) world. All of these factors have resulted in significant fee compression and commoditization. What this means is that no matter how fantastic your business model was before, if you keep playing by the same rules as before you’re going to lose. This is a certainty.
Everything has to change. Yesterday.
Sam Walton was a huge success because he figured out a new retail strategy, not because he was better at running a store. Today, retail is on the ropes. Stores like Macy’s are in trouble when only a few years ago they would be enough of a draw to bring customers into shopping malls. Now you can find anything you want online in moments and have it delivered to you by tomorrow morning, and let’s be honest – most stores are not that interesting.
Record stores are in trouble because of iTunes. Everything else is in trouble because of Amazon.
Believe it or not, you can operate semi-successfully with a bad strategy but it’s not easy and it won’t be very rewarding. You’ll make a living, but you’ll never feel like things are getting easier. When you are not interesting or compelling, you have to do a lot of convincing. The smarter move is to think very hard about the relevance of your model and the experience you stage for your clients.
Has your strategy had its day, Lennie? Do you need me to take you outside?
You could change from selling goods and services to staging experiences. You could move from selling at discount prices to higher end products. You could close your store and move it all online. You could stop prospecting and shift to mattering more to your existing clients. You could move from commoditization to customization. You could consider focusing on creating time well spent for your clients vs saving them time and money. You could stop trying to be all things to all people and matter more to a select group of people.
Whatever you do, let’s agree that not changing your strategy because you are comfortable with the one you have now is a lousy strategy.