Five ways general practice accountants can choose a niche

It is generally accepted these days that you will benefit more from advertising, marketing, networking and referrals if you focus on a recognisable niche.  Let everyone else continue trying to be all things to all people.

But, if you are like most accountants in practice you don’t think you have a specialist focus. You have dozens or even hundreds of clients spread across various industries. You don’t want to limit the type of new client you target. You can sort out the tax and accounting needs of most people, most of the time.

I’ve included links below to previous posts where I have explained why this approach will be less successful than one whereby you focus and niche – or even, micro-niche, your targetted new prospects.

Here are five ways you can choose a niche:

  1. Identify the clients who already pay you the highest fees. Want some more like that?
  2. Focus on those clients who have been with you the longest and who are now paying you more than when they first came on board. These are the ones you know how to grow and support.
  3. Think about which group of clients you most enjoy working with, advising and helping? Enjoyment is infectious.
  4. Do you have any clients who have written unsolicited testimonials or recommended you to other people who are in the same field? They already think you have a niche!
  5. On balance which would you say are your best or favourite clients? Use whatever criteria you want – it doesn’t have to be about fees.

Find some similarities between the clients you identify through this process. Tidy up the definition so that it becomes something you can say and that people can remember. That will then be your niche and you will win more new clients faster than if you persist with being the same as every other generalist accountant.

About the Author:

Mark Lee FCA is an accountancy focused futurist, influencer, speaker, mentor, author and debunker.

2 Comments

  1. Nick Stewart 15th September 2012 at 2:47 pm - Reply

    Our niche is the dental profession. Our services include accounting, taxation, bookkeeping, strategy, buying and selling practices, payroll and benchmarking. All our clients are in this niche.

  2. Paul Simister 10th October 2012 at 9:34 am - Reply

    Mark, I’m always interested in decisions to niche and I certainly agree that there is a tendency for accountants to try to be all things financial to all people.

    Of course, the traditional accountants’ way of setting up practices mean that some firms automatically (and accidentally) niche.

    That’s because they use the “where dimension” for differentiation and they are the only firm in town. That’s great until a disgruntled partner or an ambitious employee leaves and sets up a rival firm in the same geography.

    An alternative way to niche is the “who dimension”. Traditionally that’s based on business demographics like Nicky above focusing on dentists.

    Your own blog and your five ways to choose a niche also focus on the “who” but in a different way. In my opinion, this is much more about psychographics and how particular clients think and behave. When I was looking to join a firm, (is it really over 30 years ago?) Stoy Hayward appeared to me to be doing a great job at focusing on clients with strong entrepreneurial streaks who wanted to grow big and fast.

    Of course, that example points to a problem with niching. At some stage, the strategic position you take which has accelerated your growth can start limiting it.

    A big advantage of niching on demographics is that it’s easier for a firm to target potential clients in that niche and for prospective clients to immediately know they are in the right place.

    It’s more difficult to do based on psychographic principles but it may be much more fun. I’ve always loved variety and shied away from the industry niche approach.

    Other ways to think about how you can differentiate your accountancy practice can be based around the other four big questions – how, why, what and when.

    My advice is to get creative and then start innovating your internal procedures to deliver great value whilst being very hard to imitate.

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