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Jack of all trades is master of none

Apr 2, 2018

Jack of all trades is master of none

We know this in principle, but we don’t practice it. We’re all Jack, telling ourselves that it’s good to have variety. That it would be boring to work with only one target audience, and potential clients appreciate the wealth of expertise we offer by serving all the businesses.

The truth is, if you would master profitability, and master your marketing, you must have focus.

I used to run a wedding photography business alongside this creative agency I own. I loved it. I was good at it. People flew me all over the world to shoot their wedding, and I made people happy and enjoyed the work. I was stretched thin, but loving life. I was using my creative skills for photography, and my business skills in the agency. It was perfect.

Except that it wasn’t.

You can only stretch so much until you begin to pull apart. Photo shoot opportunities began to clash with agency opportunities. International travel pulled me away from serving accountants, and sapped my energy and time. Profitability in both businesses struggled to get off the ground.

At one point, my dad pointed out that eventually i would have to choose. “I can’t do that,” I said. “This is what keeps me alive creatively! It uses my creative skills and it would be too boring without it!” Dad very wisely said no more, but after a year or so I realised he was right. I couldn’t serve both audiences well. My brain was divided, my energies were limited, and something had to give.

After some analysis, I recognised that although I loved the wedding photography, it had a greater cost in connection with my health, and a lower profitability financially. The sheer number of hours required for one wedding (upwards of 90), if used in the creative agency, would have significantly faster results, and higher profits.

And here’s what I discovered: I didn’t lose any of my creative opportunities. They were all there, in different forms, in the marketing agency. My artistic skills naturally shifted direction and began to flow into sketchnoting, and video, and more writing. And because my efforts were focused in only one area, with one target market, everything began to integrate. This blog post related to that speaking engagement. That webinar resulted in those videos. This website led to those new business opportunities.

When I was still working as a photographer, I attended a workshop on location in Tuscany, run by a wedding photographer from California. Mike specialised exclusively and only in shooting weddings for couples who got married in vineyards and wineries.

That’s it. Vineyards, wineries. You get married anywhere else, you get someone else to shoot your wedding.

He was becoming the master of vineyard and winery weddings. He knew how to talk to the event planners, knew what to suggest about setup. He knew the best times for lighting, and when to ask the couple if they wouldn’t mind stepping away for a moment to capture the perfect moment. He knew how to share the final photographs so it was an experience with friends and family.

If you are going to be the master of your accountancy firm marketing, this Jack-of-all-trades notion has to go.

It’s time to get to know one group of people really, really well. (You could also do this with tech – I’ve seen some accountants specialise in Xero training, or bookkeeping, or payroll – but it’s more rare, and harder to stand out.)

When I and my team are working with an accountancy firm to help build their website, we start with brand. Who are you? What do you stand for, and what makes you stand out? What are the messages about you and your audience which will help us build a website that will connect with your desired audience?

Often, the accountancy firm tells us that they are:

  • Modern
  • Forward thinking
  • Friendly
  • Professional
  • Helpful
  • Cloud accounting experts
  • Experienced
  • Supportive
  • Trusted
  • Knowledgeable
  • Reliable
  • Capable
  • Specialist

Do any of those apply to you?

They also say that their target audience is small to medium sized businesses with 500k – 5m turnover, with growth aspirations and a willingness to invest and build an advisory relationship with their accountant.

Does that sound familiar to you as well?

You might change the sales number – go up or down a little depending on the size of your team and your capability to deliver for a larger business.

But in the main, I’m guessing almost all of this is the same for your firm.

Therefore it’s not enough.

If you use these to define how you’re different, then you’re not. You’re a jack of all trades, mastering none.

So how do you differentiate? What’s going to set you apart, and help you get more clients than ever before?

The secret of getting more is to focus on less: and that’s what a niche helps you do.