One of the biggest challenges accounting firms face today is differentiating their services from the competition in a way that is meaningful to clients and prospects. For years, firms have added practices based on a conventional line of thinking that the best way to bring in more new business was to appeal to every audience.
Unfortunately, this thinking typically had the opposite effect. Diluting your brand and making your firm less distinctive from your competitors often leaves audiences confused. They don’t know how your firm’s particular expertise applies to their specific needs and they aren’t always willing to stick around to figure it out. Without a clear definition of your focus, you firm will miss out on the advantages of appealing to a niche audience.
Our research shows that firms with a focused expertise or specialized niche achieve higher growth faster than firms that attempt to be a “one-stop-shop.” By adopting marketing and business development strategies that are deep instead of broad, these firms are seeing more success and attracting more of the right prospects for their services.
Not convinced? Here are five reasons your firm shouldn’t try to be everything to everybody:
Stand out amongst your competitors
Branding a professional services firm is different from branding an individual product. New leads and prospects will come to you expecting to get an answer to the question, “what do you do?” The answer to this question is complicated for most professional services firms because they essentially are selling intangibles—like their expertise or advice.
This is why it is vital to clearly communicate your brand position and specific differentiators to help your firm not only more effectively answer the question of what you do, but also answer it better than any of your competitors.
Experts have an advantage
In general, accounting firms tend to have one of two types of a good reputation: 1) that of a standard “good” firm, or 2) that of a specific expertise. By building your reputation as a firm that is able to solve a specific challenge, you gain the advantage of increasing the frequency of your visibility. The audiences you’re catering to will be able to seek out your services more directly and efficiently.
Know what makes your audience tick
In order to become a differentiated firm, you need to first start with thorough research on your clients, prospects and influencers. By taking the time to understand their concerns and priorities, your firm will be able to better create content and messaging that speaks to their biggest concerns. When your firm is able to educate and inform your audience through multiple channels, you can earn their business by building trust and credibility.
Attract more qualified, higher value leads
By narrowing your focus to specialized services, your firm’s marketing will attract an audience that is already looking for what you offer. You won’t have to weed through a long list of unqualified leads; instead, you’ll know that the leads you attract are already compatible with your specific offerings. Plus, clients expect and are willing to pay a higher premium to work with a specialist. By asserting your expertise, you can charge higher rates and get more value from each new client.
Flexibility to adapt to market changes
While understanding your clients allows you to market to their needs, having a deep understanding gives you the ability to foresee changes on the horizon and adapt accordingly. This allows your firm to stay on the cusp of market changes and continuously develop your relevancy. You’ll be able to add value through additional related services or technology that your research tells you will be of interest to your audience. Having a firm with a specific focus and specialty can make it easier to bring about these types of changes once they become necessary.
It may seem like appealing to a broader audience will bring in more business, but it can actually have the opposite effect. By specializing your accounting services, your firm can better appeal to the right audience at the right time. Not only will your firm bring in more business at a higher rate, but you can also fine tune your messaging and offerings to be more effective, streamlined, and successful.
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