When you enter a poker room usually there are many different choices of tables that you can sit down at. Each table has different stakes, different players and different dynamics that change as the players come and go, and as players get excited, upset or tired.
In poker, people spend a lot of time learning the best strategy to play once you’re sitting down at a table. It’s like the financial planning business. Financial plannners spend a lot of time to get better when they’re in the business.
They think the game starts when they are at the job.
They think the game starts when sitting at the poker-table.
But does it?
As a poker player, the most important decision you can make is which table to sit at. This includes knowing when to change tables. An experienced player can make 10 times as much money sitting at a table with 9 mediocre players who are tired and have a lot of chips compared to sitting at a table with 9 really good players who are focused and don’t have that many chips in front of them.
In financial planning, one of the most important decisions you’ll make is what business to be in. It doesn’t matter how flawlessly you execute your business if you’re in the wrong business or you’re playing in a small market.
You could be the most efficient financial planner of the President of the United States and offer the best selection, the best service, and the best prices for the President. But if there isn’t a big enough market for your service, you’re not going to get very far.
Or, if you decide to start a business that competes directly against really experienced competitors by playing the same game they play (for example, trying to sell the same service at lower prices), then chances are that you will go out of business.
In a poker room, you can only choose which table you want to sit at.
But in the financial planning business, you don’t have to sit at an existing table. You can define your own, or make the one you’re already at even bigger.
Or, just like in a poker room, you can always choose to change tables.
Whatever vision you have for your financial planning business, there is a bigger vision that makes the table bigger.
What you can learn from Southwest Airlines
When Southwest Airlines first started, they didn’t see their target market as limited to just existing airline travellers, which is what all the other airlines did. Instead, they imagined their service as something that could potentially serve all the people that travelled by bus or by train.
They decided to sit at another table by designing their business around that.
They offered short flights at cheap prices, instead of going with the more prevalent “hub and spoke” model that other airlines were using. They made it easy for customers to change flights without paying huge penalties. And they turned their planes around at airports as fast as possible.
For most financial planners, the original vision is about more assets under management, more products, more commissions or more market share.
Because more is better in that vision.
When more is better, we struggle to obtain focus. Our instinct nudges us to a scattershot approach, because we fear missing an untried path.
More can lead to failure
In 2004, three years before the launch of the first iPhone, BlackBerry, who pioneered the smartphone had a market share of 47%. Four years ago Blackberry was the fastest growing company in the world.
Today it’s market share is just 2% and BlackBerry is facing obsolescence. The company had identified, occupied and dominated a product niche by developing a phone that could email. It was perfectly positioned to win more marketshare.
It turns out that a good (or even the best) product or service now is not enough to win the game in the future.
Should you change tables?
What if Blackberry realized they couldn’t keep up with the revolution of the smartphone and would have changed tables?
Would that have made a difference?
No one knows.
What has happened to Blackberry is now happening in our business. This week I saw this tweet passing by:
Wealthfront is a software-based online financial advisor. No financial planner needed.
Do you see paralells with Blackberry vs. Apple?
Do you understand now that it could be in your interest to change tables?
Change tables or make your table bigger?
Brands big and small connect people through a culture that’s bigger than themselves.
At Zappos.com, the original vision was to just to try to sell more shoes online. But after a few years, they realized that they wanted and needed a bigger vision. So they made their table bigger.
Zappos envisioned the Zappos brand to be about the very best customer service and the very best customer experience.
The customer service vision enabled them to expand beyond just selling shoes. In fact, today they also sell clothing, bags, housewares, electronics, and even kitchenware.
Because the vision of Zappos is about building a brand around the best customer service, the future of the company isn’t even limited to just e-commerce. They can even start an airline.
Why? Because they can launch Zappos Airlines that’s just about delivering the very best customer service.
For your financial plannning business, have you thought about what you can do to make your table bigger?
What to do to make your table bigger
Zappos delivers “WOW” through excellent customer service. They make their customers feel special.
Zappos is the living proof of the fact that a prototype commodity-business can stand out by making their table bigger.
The brands that we care about make us feel like better versions of ourselves. They take account of what we believe, how we act and who we might want to become
Before you can make your table bigger, answer these questions:
What business are you in?
For example: are you selling financial planning or are you selling status?
When selling status, you sell something that flies in the face of the non-scarcity of the internet: a feeling of being important. Status is based on beauty plus scarcity plus expense. The fact that others believe your financial planning service is overpriced is precisely why a certain segment of the market chooses to purchase it.
What do your clients want from you?
Would they like a financial plan or knowing what to do?
Do they want wealth management or more time to do the things they love?
How do your clients want to feel?
Reassured, excited, happy, meaningful, responsible?
Whether in poker, in financial planning, or even in life, it’s easy to be so engrossed in what you’re doing right now that you forget that you always have a better option.
Psychologically, it’s hard because there’s a lot of inertia to overcome.
If your financial planning business isn’t growing, don’t be afraid to ask yourself these two questions:
Do I Need to Change Tables or Can I Make My Table Bigger?
If you want 30 Tips from Zappos To Help You Make Your Table Bigger, I’ll send you the PDF. All you have to do is to answer this question:
What is your opinion about making your table bigger?
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