Most accountants have a fair idea of what percentage of their fees are generated by what type of services they are providing. Most know how much money is earned from tax work, write-up services, etc. But very few practitioners can tell you their total annual fees from different business segments. How much comes from retail businesses, or manufacturing, or from real estate offices?
Spend some time analyzing your files to determine where you might already have a well- established niche. This will be an area of practice where you already have the expertise, experience, and client base to expand your services to this select segment of clients. Is this the type of client you enjoy working with? Are you and your staff good at dealing with this client base? Is there a large enough market in your practice area to make it worthwhile to pursue more clients like these?
If you are already serving the bulk of these businesses in your market area, perhaps you will need to explore a second niche to create any real growth. It might be prudent to select a niche that has some common ground with your number one group. For example, if you have most of the local real estate offices as clients, perhaps a second target group might be home builders. Consider asking your real estate clients for referrals of home builders since many of them work closely with the building trades.
To maximize your marketing efforts, spend your time and money on one specific group. Make your promotional efforts as selective as possible. For example, if you are running a newspaper column, place it in the local weekly publications in the geographic area you serve. If you pay for space in a large daily paper, you will be paying to reach many readers well outside the distance your office is now serving.
If you're trying to add home builders as clients, make yourself available to speak to the home builders association meetings. Subscribe to all the publications these prospective clients read on a regular basis. These publications will help you learn about their industry. Keep these publications in your waiting room.
Compile a list of potential clients. The yellow pages are current (within a year) and provide a good place to start. If the name of the business manager or owner is not in the ad, call and ask who runs the business. This will allow you to address your mail pieces to an individual- very important for the success of your direct mailing. You will also want to confirm the current mailing address. Conduct direct mailings to your prospect list on a monthly basis. This could be a copy of your client newsletter, a brochure on current tax law, or a notice about accounting changes of interest to them. Address problems in their industry that you are aware of. What are the problems, and what are some of the solutions?
What does your firm have to offer to this niche group that other accountants do not? Your best sales tool is having more to offer than the average accountant in the area.
Your Web site should have information of interest to your niche group. You can write Web page content of interest to them, provide links to needed sources, and perhaps list calculators they will find useful. Keep your Web site current, and add new material regularly to keep your prospects coming back.
As you gain visibility in your niche market, your firm will become known as the firm to go to for accounting, tax, and business advice in that industry. Niche marketing will pay off nicely in the long run. You will develop a stronger client base, a more loyal following, and command higher fees for your expertise.
Be patient; marketing professional services will not necessarily yield short-term results.
Written by Arvid Mostad, Mostad & Christensen Inc., Marketing Solutions for Accountants. Visit them at www.mostad.com.