What can you do if you want to attract a better type of client?

Sep 7, 2021 | Business messaging and branding, Marketing and promotion, Networking, Referrals, Reputation, Sole practitioners

When I ask accountants what they would like to be different in their practice, one theme is more common than any others. They frequently express the desire to have better quality clients, to increase their average fees and to be doing more interesting work.

One sole practitioner accountant I was mentoring expressed this quite succinctly. He said he wanted to attract ‘bigger fish’.

In effect he wanted to know how he could start to attract and win clients who would be prepared to pay bigger fees. He told me his dream was to more than treble his average fee – moving his average fee up  from around £600 per client per year to at least £2,000 per client per year.  Exactly the same points would apply if you are more ambitious and want more clients who pay hundreds of pounds (or more) each month.

When I asked what was behind this dream he gave me two very different explanations:

  • Firstly, he referenced the times he had heard about how other accountants generated such fees. He wanted to do the same although he seemed uncertain as to the differences between the services he offered and those being provided by those accountants claiming to generate higher average fees.
  • The second reason was because he wanted to be doing more than simply completing accounts and tax returns – which was, at the time, the main focus of his practice.

In my initial reply I explained that if he wanted to attract bigger fish he would need to use a different rod and different bait. (Quite why I used a fishing metaphor I couldn’t tell you as I’ve never been fishing in my life).

Another way of expressing this is the adage that ‘what got you here, won’t get you there’. In other words, it is not enough to do more of the same. If you want different results and outcomes from your marketing efforts, you need to do different things.

Here are some of the questions we later explored:

  • What services do the ‘bigger fish’ look for and that you can provide? Are you looking to attract prospects with more complex affairs or those with more messy records?
  • What services would anyone want and be prepared to pay £2k for each year, that you have the interest and ability to provide.
  • What type of business owner or client is prepared to pay at least £2k a year and what services do they expect for this?
  • When you are out networking, can you share stories and reference your experiences dealing with your bigger clients or are you always talking about your smaller and simpler clients? We need to collate the stories you can tell that will better evidence your ability, style and approach to deliver a great service that is appreciated by those clients paying you £2k a year. And if you don’t have any then we need to adapt this approach to avoid telling lies but to still help ensure that you are the obvious choice for such clients.
  • Do the messages on your website, on your online profiles and in your marketing materials represent the right sort of bait for the work you want to attract?

When I provide strategic support to accountants we often work on these issues.

Hoping, dreaming and fantasising about having bigger clients is not enough. It’s like waving a magic wand and expecting a miracle to happen.

If you want things to be different YOU need to do things differently. I suggest that a good place to start would be to consider your answers to the 5 questions above and then to start making any necessary changes.

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