In an age of steep competition, many accounting firms are deploying a valuable, ‘tried-and-true’ strategy: nicheing. Specializing into a submarket can help firms to differentiate by refining messaging and product offerings. Capitalizing on demand and finding a foothold in a target market as a result. Content marketing is the most successful kind of marketing, and targeting messages to a distinct, specific audience can yield impressive returns. Done right, niche marketing is a powerful and profitable move. However, there are a few things you need to understand to be successful at it.
Generalization Versus Specialization
Being a generalist means you serve pretty much anyone, anywhere. Generalist accountants or CPAs work with numerous types of businesses and clients. It may be advantageous to take this approach if you are located in a small market. Larger firms tend to have specialties within their business, with certain accountants dealing primarily with specific industries, such as healthcare or real estate.
Being a specialist signifies that your firm brands itself to specifically appeal to a target market. This may mean that you self-describe as “CPAs for real estate” or “Accounting leaders in healthcare”. The possibilities are endless, and specialization has some advantages.
Rather than trying to compete against every other general accounting firm in the world, you leverage niche marketing to target specific industries, focusing all of your messaging on how you add benefit in those areas. The world is competitive: niche marketing is a firm strategy that can make your team stand out from the crowd.
Niche Marketing: Pros and Cons
As with most business decisions, the question of whether to deploy general or specialized marketing should be subject to analysis.
Niche Marketing Pros
A few of the pros of niche marketing for your accounting firm are:
- It is a differentiator. Most firms offer the same services, described in the same way. When you target say, just the healthcare industry or just real estate, you distinguish your firm.
- Niche marketing gives you higher profit margins. You don’t have to come down on cost to compete, because you are a specialist.
- It allows you to productize. When you turn all of your services into products, it means that you have a rinse and repeat method for delivering them. This makes your entire team more productive and efficient.
- It’s easier to advertise. Online or print advertising both have sets of identifiable metrics based on demographic data. The more specialized you are, the more focused your marketing dollars can be to attract the people who are most likely to buy from you.
Niche Marketing Cons
A few of the cons of niche marketing for your accounting firm are:
- You could lose opportunities. Of course, opportunity cost is part of any benefit analysis, and as long as what you stand to gain is higher, you’re in the clear.
- It may take time. Especially if shifting into a niche is a pivot, it will take time to assess how it impacts your current and future clients.
- You have to do more research. Niche marketing is a tactical exercise, based on a lot of data and with a lot of potential return. But it has to be done right. Of course, the team at Winding River Consulting is led by accounting marketing experts. That’s right: we function in a niche, and it works great for us.
What Does it Look Like to Engage in Niche Marketing?
Marketing is a multi-headed beast, and there are a lot of channels and a lot of strategies that evolve over time. Niche marketing catalyzes the same elements as any other kind of marketing. However, there are additional decisions to make along the way.
SEO — Search Engine Optimization for your website is an exercise that ensures you show up in relevant searches made by your ideal customer. If you have a general accounting practice, you will try to compete on terms like “accounting firm,” which, incidentally, about 2,100 people search for a month.
The person making that search could be looking for any number of accounting services, and be searching from almost any location. Investing in SEO is valuable in that instance, but imagine the superiority of the leads you could generate if people were searching for “real estate accountant” or “accountant for hospitality businesses.” They know what they’re looking for, and you would be a top result.
Emails — Email marketing continues to be one of the best ways to get your content in front of high-value leads. Regular email marketing can (and should) be segmented, but even then you are typically categorizing people by key defining traits or characteristics which include income, level of education, or identified groups within your current audience.
Imagine how much more effective it could be to send emails to people who are registered real estate investors, or who have inquired about franchise ownership in a specific vertical. Your services would be the obvious first choice for them, because your specialty matches their field.
Social Media — Engaging on social media platforms, like LinkedIn, or running ads can feel like a gamble. Niche marketing makes it far less of a shot in the dark. Because social media platforms are data-gathering machines, you can easily create tailor-made messaging, and send targeted ads, to the right people at the right time. Specialized services whittle the list of your audience down further, clarifying that you offer something specific, and ensuring you encourage engagement with those groups.
Finding Untapped Niche Markets
A niche marketing strategy needs to be enacted at the beginning. Market analysis can uncover the untapped niche markets your firm may thrive in. Assess your own team: who has strengths and experience that would support high-performance in a specific niche? These are important preliminary considerations that can pay off big time, if you find a market niche to occupy.