From May 20-23, the Association for Accounting Marketing (AAM) held its annual conference. Frequent contributor Sally Glick picked up some ideas that she will be sharing with us in the coming days, as she has done in previous years. Comments from those who attended—as well as from those who find these articles intriguing—are welcome in the comment section, below. Read more articles by Sally Glick here.
For the second item in this series, I would like to share an idea that was raised by Andrew Rose in his session on how to build, dominate, and defend a niche practice.
Andrew's key point was that if you want to earn a commanding presence in a target market, the clients need to know that you understand their unique concerns and that you are experts in their sector. In order for the firm to build this high level of credibility, Andrew suggested an integrated approach bringing together many different facets, all designed to highlight industry knowledge and experience.
He began with the suggestion that firms purchase lists of companies in the industry they are targeting. This can form the basis of a focused and disciplined approach to attracting new clients within the sector. Using a variety of initiatives, including web content, social media, speaking engagements, emails and newsletters and published articles, the firm can establish its credentials within the selected niche.
Beyond the typical marketing activities, though, Andrew also brought up a little out-of-the-box thinking, suggesting that firms collaborate with others who serve the same niche but are located outside their geographic range. In other words, if the firm has a specialty serving physicians, it can create alliances with other firms also working in the medical practice area that do not compete against each other. The group would be careful to allow entry only to the firms with the best reputations, which would help build prestige for all the member firms that are involved.
In addition, they would become a resource for each other, sharing best practices, ideas and challenges, enabling each firm to strengthen its local brand because of the collective skills and talents. Firms connected to this type of industry association gain a competitive edge when measured up to other firms in their community that cannot boast of such a strategic alliance. It serves to demonstrate the serious commitment the firm has to serving clients in the niche.
Andrew had other suggestions for firms that really want to command attention for their niche expertise, such as hosting an invitation-only program on the "state of the industry," bringing accomplished and well-known speakers to present their views on the topic. This private event would have the panache that accompanies exclusivity and could help to position the firm as the leader in the niche.
The "niche expert" concept is not a new one but it is one that is often overlooked because it takes hard work and effort to build a strong, well-regarded presence as a niche leader. But those firms that have accomplished this know that it is very profitable and well worth their investment.
About the author:
Sally Glick is CMO and principal of Sobel & Co. LLC. She was named Accounting Marketer of the Year for 2003 and was voted into the AAM Hall of Fame in 2007. She can be reached at [email protected].