Build an online advisory firm in three steps, part one

by | Jun 9, 2021 | Strategy, Content

Part one: Create and price your advisory services

In May, our Business of Marketing webinar explored the first stages of building an online advisory firm in three steps.

Here’s a brief summary of what our head of content Ray Newman and I discussed. If you attended I hope it serves as a useful summary, and you may also find it helpful for sharing with colleagues.

On the day we covered four areas

  1. How business owners buy advisory services
  2. The value of advice
  3. How to package your advisory services
  4. How to position your pricing online

How business owners buy advisory services

To help you understand the advisory market we shared findings from our in-depth research report: Why SMEs won’t pay for advice – and how to change their minds.

The report covered a range of issues, but showed strong evidence that there was a market need for more advice from accountancy firms.

For instance, about 40% of business owners get accounting advice from somewhere other than their accountant. And 63% of respondents regretted having made business decisions without speaking to an accountant first.

The research also found a number of headwinds with which to contend. These included almost half of people stating they’d felt let down by poor advice from an accountant, and a prevalent reluctance to pay for business advice. Education and marketing can help with this.

The value of advice

To overcome these headwinds we looked at ways to demonstrate your value; something which can be achieved by giving clarity on what you offer by creating packages. These allow you to appeal to different budgets and focus on value rather than cost. Packages simplify the information your clients need to process as well as their ultimate buying decision.

We did a piece on the psychology of pricing, drawing on fascinating MIT research into subscriptions for The Economist. It showed how throwing in a dummy package which is deliberately unappealing alongside your prime packages actually helps people figure out what offers value to them.

How to package your advisory services

Much thought needs to go into designing your advisory packages and we talked through what you need to consider. From your clients’ perspectives you should: make your packages easy to digest, be specific, remove uncertainty, use simple language, and not make the assumption that they know as much as you do.

The clever bit, if you will, is to build your packages around the problems you solve for clients, not just the services you sell.

But you also need to consider how the packages will work within your firm. How will they be delivered? Will they replace existing offerings? Will they be standalone services?

How to position your pricing online

We shared a few examples of how some accountancy firms are already promoting advisory packages, partly to show that there is no one-size-fits-all approach. One firm offered packages based on the lifecycle of the business: start-up, accelerate, grow. While another designed their offerings by the number of business owners in a client company. Both approaches are client-centric which is good to see.

We have already mentioned unappealing dummy packages, but your winning package must address client problems and sell your services – at an ideal price for both you and the client. Those dummy packages then just reinforce the value that is offered in your ideal package.

Where to start?

We concluded the webinar by touching on the importance of market research to define and research target clients, understand the market and know your competition. This will allow you to make research-informed decisions when creating your packages.

This was part one of a three-part series, and we hope we will see you again for part two. If you want to get started creating online advisory packages and would like our expert help, please get in touch.

You can catch up on this session on building an online advisory firm in three steps (part 1) here.

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