When we think about industry ‘disruptors’, our brains typically go straight to thinking about the tech giants.
It’s the sector where change is constant, and the pursuit of innovation is rife.
You certainly wouldn’t immediately associate disruption with the financial services industry - after all, how disruptive can finance be? Well, you might be surprised.
Just as the tech industry has undergone many transformations, so too has the advice profession.
As this continues, it presents an opportunity for us to learn from the success of those giants, and implement some of that thinking into our own business models.
So, let’s take a look at three of the world's greatest disruptors - and see what the world of advice can learn from them.
I’ll start with perhaps the most obvious choice - but it’s obvious for a reason.
Dubbed the ‘disruptors of innovation’, Apple (with Steve Jobs at the helm) totally transformed the music industry with the launch of the iPod back in the early 2000s.
It was initially marketed as ‘1000 songs in your pocket’. This in itself was disruptive.
It didn’t state the memory capacity, the spec, or the size of the product - instead, it homed straight in on the end result, therefore tapping into what consumers really wanted.
Apple realised that selling the benefits was a more effective way of marketing than simply selling the features, because it forged an emotive connection.
Secondly, the iPod was transformative in that it was inherently simple.
Apple took something that was always thought to be complex (and somewhat inaccessible for the less tech savvy among us) and turned it into something everyone could understand, use and enjoy.
The same goes for their marketing - no flowery language or difficult concepts, just simple, impactful messaging that cut through the noise.
And this simplicity is what made them so desirable. Apple became all about the experience - not necessarily the best products on the market, but certainly the most enjoyable to interact with.
What can we learn?
1. Simplicity is key. Financial services firms are often guilty of over-complicating the way they sell themselves, complete with confusing industry jargon that puts people off.
The more simple and refined your offering, the more people will be likely to engage with it.
2. Focus on people, not products. The most successful businesses sell by highlighting the impact their product or service will have people’s lives - something that’s far more effective than just listing product features.
Following its launch in 2008, this online rental giant totally transformed the way people arrange accommodation, and the way people travel.
They opened up normal people’s homes to the marketplace and gave travellers the opportunity to experience new places like a true local. So what was it that made AirBnB so successful?
Aside from having an incredibly user-friendly website (one that’s far easier to navigate than the majority of booking sites), AirBnB is all about the personal, human touch.
Rather than a faceless company with impersonal lodgings, it promises a real life host and proper residential-style accommodation.
You can message hosts directly and really tailor your stay to suit your needs. It does what the hotel industry struggles to do: it makes people feel at home.
Another reason for AirBnB’s success is how easily they’ve been able to build up trust with their audience - and that’s all down to an abundance of social proof.
Every accommodation listing comes with a section for reviews (similar to how Google reviews work), so users can read about other guests’ experiences.
A listing with a high number of positive reviews helps to alleviate any concerns future guests may have, and will probably receive more bookings as a result.
What can we learn?
1. The personal touch matters. Everyone (almost without exception) is more responsive to a business that takes their wants and needs into consideration.
Get to know your target clients and understand what their unique triggers are, and then tailor your service to them.
2. Social proof is essential. Gathering reviews and testimonials is an excellent way of building trust with potential clients, as well as setting you apart from the competition.
Having already destroyed physical video shops, streaming services have long threatened to overshadow the traditional cinema industry as well.
Now, what with the news of Cineworld screens closing down across the UK, it seems the streaming takeover is all but complete. And none of these streaming services have been quite so dominant and disruptive as Netflix.
Something Netflix has always gotten right is it listens to its customers.
It regularly gathers data in order to deliver what customers want - be it through recommending other shows they might like, or personalising the home screen based on their viewing preferences.
This way, customers get more of what they want, and less of what they don’t.
A large amount of Netflix’s success can be also attributed to its original content.
It’s invested a huge amount over the years in developing original movies and series, which sets them apart from competitors and makes sure customers keep coming back. They’re delivering something no one else can.
What can we learn?
1. The customer (or client) is key. Tap into what they want, on a regular basis, and it can go a long way to securing their loyalty in the long-term.
Client surveys are a great way to get this kind of insight, as is simply regularly requesting feedback.
2. Cliche as it may be, content is king - there will always be a demand for it, so it’s imperative that you (or someone you can outsource to) is creating it.
This can be newsletters, blogs, or even social media posts; whatever format you choose, regular and tailored content will keep people interested.