So many accountants say “we’re different”.
Many of them actually state it categorically on their website, or in their marketing.
It generally includes a statement like this: “We’re different because we…”
- Are not like other accountants
- Use cloud accounting
- Are modern and forward thinking
- Provide unlimited support
- Give the highest level of service
- Help you grow your business
- Are friendly and dynamic
- Deliver an end to end solution (whatever that means)
- Are trusted advisors
….and on and on it goes.
Most of these were off the top of my head. I’ve heard them over, and over, and over. I look at more accountancy firm websites than any prospect you’ve ever had, and I’ve read these words more times than I care to count.
If you’re saying that you are different because of things like those on the list, then here’s the deal.
You are different, and you’re not different.
You ARE different, because there are still a lot of accountants out there who use paper, charge by the hour, simply do the accounts and tax returns, and aren’t very friendly or helpful.
But you’re NOT different, because there are even more accountants who do all of these things listed….and a whole lot more.
The question is, WHO are you different to?
One of my clients told me the other day:
“My clients tell me ‘You’re different’, but I know that I’m not.”
“I know there are hundreds and thousands of accountants all over the world who run their accounting business in a similar way to me. You’ll know them, Karen – you work with the very best accountants, the ones who go above and beyond, who are genuinely disruptive, who are more than simply friendly but provide an amazing client experience. So I’m not different to them.
But for my clients, I am different…from what they expect.
For clients coming from an accountant who is not very helpful and won’t let them use the apps they want to use and only sends them their accounts in the post once a year…for them, I’m different. They expected me to be one way, and I’m another.
They don’t know there are thousands of other accountants doing business this way. They don’t know I’m not different.
Soon, I will actually be different. I’ll figure out my niche, and finalise my brand, and I’ll be working on being truly, truly different.
But for now, I’m not that different, and I know it.”
This is an incredibly wise and humble statement to make. This accountant isn’t pretending that it’s so incredible that he cares. That he uses the accounting software that most of the world uses now. That he helps his clients to lift their heads up and see the big picture and get inspired and encouraged and use their numbers to make changes in their business for good.
He knows that’s not enough to stand out.
If you’re going to be truly different, look at these things:
1. Does your website say “we’re different because…”? If so, get rid of those statements.
Instead: Change the wording and imagery so that you PROVE your difference by what you say and show.
2. Can every team member in your firm rattle off the 3-5 things that your firm stands for? Your values, your brand?
If not: Hold (or attend) a branding workshop to clarify what those things are, and begin building all your marketing around them.
3. What’s your “only we”?
Mark Schaefer wrote about this and I LOVE the concept. I love it better than the tired ‘why’ concept which is a bit overused (and misused). Can you finish this sentence: “Only we…?”
To do: Talk with your team about what ONLY YOU can do as accountants. Everything on the list above is out. Anything you find on even one other accountancy firm’s website is out. Figure out your ‘only we’.
4. Do you (or can you) have a niche?
Niche is more important than ever. If it’s an exclusive niche, it gives you an easy ‘only we’. But even having a niche area in addition to the various types of businesses you work with, is a way to stand out.
Figure it out: Check out all my niche videos here, or join the 12 week Accelerator course which will help you determine whether you have a potential niche. Many of our members have confirmed a niche by going through this programme.