Why a niche is critical for accounting firm marketing

It is no longer enough to simply market your accountancy firm.  

Customer, niche, target

First, digital marketing has changed the game.  The buyer is in more control than ever, the search capabilities have expanded far beyond their original bounds, and there is an increased ability for the buyer to truly get a sense of a business before ever meeting anyone in it.

For accountants, cloud accounting has changed the game, too.  The standard services of accounting, tax, payroll, and bookkeeping are being shifted to the side, in the sense that your potential buyer wants a relationship with their accountant in a new way.  It’s help with the whole business.

As some firms have said in the past, it’s “not just the numbers”.  The numbers display, track, guide, and lead the business – and your buyer is aware of this. (Read Karen’s blog on how ‘business advisory’ is more important than ever.)

So when you combine the change that digital marketing (and technology) have brought to the table, with the changing needs of the buyer, the accounting firm of today needs to stand out. Be yourself. Showcase something that sets it apart. Help your buyer to see who you truly are – and let the buyer decide on their own terms.

Enter the power of the niche.

What is a niche?  

It’s not about having something no other accountancy firm in the whole world has.

That’s not a niche, that’s a USP (unique selling point).

Your USP incorporates your personality, your approach to business, your culture, your systems, and your team.  It’s hard to define because some elements of it are fairly woolly (and also because it can be hard to see your own USP).

The niche is your opportunity to show the potential buyer your expertise in a particular area, so that they can make a more informed decision, and choose the best fit for their business.

Today’s marketing tip is the second one in a series of tips related to content marketing for accountants, based around our new Content Marketer programme. (Register here to hear more.)

We’ve looked first at how your buyers buy – what sets them apart.

Now that we know who your buyer is, what they’re actually buying, and how they make the decision to buy, we move on to why having a niche is critical for your accountancy firm marketing.

“But I don’t have an industry focus!” 

The first and most important point is that everyone has a niche or a specialty area.

You just have to re-discover it.

One of the questions I’m regularly asked by accountants is, “But I don’t have an industry that I work with more than others.”  Perhaps you have a few solicitors, one or two creative agencies, and a few freelancers. But when you review your existing client list, there’s so much variety that it feels impossible to choose a niche.

The good news is, you can still use the power of niche marketing even if you don’t have an industry focus (yet, or at all).

Niche marketing is both for you, and for your buyer.

It helps you to be crystal clear about who you’re working with, what their needs are, and your approach to help them.

Here are some examples of a niche:

  • Property developers
  • Wealthy owners of multiple businesses
  • Digital creative agencies
  • Female business owners
  • Startups and freelancers
  • Bookkeeping

You see? Some of these are industries, some are people types, some are services.

It’s an area that you have a great deal of expertise in. It’s a reason your potential buyer will not only get in touch with you, but will also give more consideration to your services than to the other providers they are considering.

You can also expand a niche to be more specific, such as:

  • Property developers in the London area
  • Owners of more than 3 businesses whose personal wealth is over £1m
  • Digital creative agencies in Manchester
  • Female CEO’s of IT businesses
  • Contractors and freelancers who have been in business less than a year
  • Established businesses who do not have a bookkeeper

Think about it from your buyer’s perspective.  First, they can see that you provide bookkeeping services.  But if they’re presented with the fact that you help established businesses (with a certain value or turnover) by providing outsourced bookkeeping services that frees them up to make more profit, they are seeing a benefit far beyond “finding an accountant”.

Having a niche brings the right kind of buyer to you. 

If you’re a digital creative agency, and your options are an accountancy firm who helps hundreds of businesses of different types, and an accountancy firm who specialises in digital creative, understands them, and has tips and support relevant to you….which one would you choose?

Your buyer, as we looked at in a previous tip, wants an expert.

When you identify a niche and use it for your marketing, they’re getting their answer immediately.

Because as we’ve seen, your buyer is confused. Swamped with options. Unsure of where to turn. And without seeing a niche that fits them, they end up making a decision based on money, or frustration, or location.

However, when they see that what you do is a perfect fit with what they need (far beyond just accounting services), they’re far more likely not only to get in touch, but to make their buying decision quickly, and to continue working with you for many years.

And to be the right kind of client for you.

If you’re like most accountancy firms I speak to, you don’t actually want every single prospect to sign up with you as a client.

You joke about it, and there’s the old-school joke about taking anyone who’s ready to sign a cheque, but when it comes down to it you want the right kind of client. A fit with you. A fit with the firm.  The right kind of person with the right attitude and focus.

We’ve all gone through the exhaustion and difficulty of a client who seemed brilliant at the start because they were ready to pay, only to discover that they make your life and your business nearly impossible to run – and you wish you’d steered far clear.

So when you are clear as to your niche (or specialty, or focus area), your buyer is clear, too.

And that means easier marketing.

Having a niche makes your marketing easy. 

Many of the accountancy firms who come to us are tired. Jaded. A bit frustrated with how complicated (or expensive) marketing seems to be.

“It can’t be that difficult to get a few new clients,” you think.  “I just need three or four more new leads a month – once I get them in the door, I can sign them up!”

But where do you start? Is SEO the answer? What about social media? Do you have to give in and set up Facebook?  Will having a new website suddenly bring in those new leads?

Marketing questions abound, and the answers are slow in coming.  Marketing experts are a dime a dozen, and every one of them is telling you something different.  You feel sold to. Pressured. Lied to, even. And your marketing continues to suffer – so you don’t do any marketing. You just keep hoping that one day it will all come together somehow, and you go slowly insane (or broke).

But with a niche, all those questions can be answered. Simply.

Is social media the answer?

Well, what’s your niche? Who within that niche is your audience? What do they care about? What do they want to actually do? What social media engines are they using? Which one do they prefer? What types of social media posts do they click on?

You still need to go through a process of asking those key questions, but the answers come faster. You can even find an expert of your own: someone who knows exactly how to help you use targeted Facebook ads for startup businesses, for example.

And that makes your marketing easy.

You can make marketing decisions faster, and change or pivot more quickly.  Run a few tester ads on Facebook.  Not working? Why not? Make a few changes, try again.  Test out another social media engine.  Combine it with an email campaign. But all focused on your buyer, their issues, what they care about, and what they want.

So, what’s your niche? 

We’ll explore all this in the Content Marketer programme I mentioned earlier, and help you walk through it step by step.

The good news is, everyone has a niche (or a focus, or a specialty area).

You just have to find it.