Should you become a specialist firm with a niche focus?

by | Sep 22, 2021 | Strategy, Branding

Our podcast series in partnership with ACCA looks at how to grow your practice through data driven marketing.

We dive into five podcasts on how to use marketing to win the business you want, whether you should become a specialist firm with a niche focus, how to create a marketing strategy and plan for your practice, how marketing can help overcome the price objection, and how to market your firm on a budget.

This week we look at reasons for becoming a specialist firm with a niche focus, listen to the podcast here.

At PracticeWeb, we work exclusively with accountants to help them with their marketing. In other words, we’re a specialist firm with a niche focus.

You might have considered doing something similar for your accountancy firm, but are worried about what some of the consequences could be.

After all, if clients from another industry come looking for our services at PracticeWeb, we usually end up referring them elsewhere. Unless they’re accountants, they’re not our focus, not our ideal client.

But isn’t that lost business, hampering our chances for growth? Wouldn’t a generalised approach be better, such as providing content for estate agents or solicitors, for example?

In our case, we would say no. In the case of you and your accounting firm, we would also say a niche could go a long way to help you secure your ideal clients.

But how specifically can a specialisation help your accountancy firm? What are some of the things you could focus on? And what can you do to help your nicheing efforts?

How nicheing can help your firm

There are a number of benefits that a specialist focus can have for your accounting firm.

First and foremost, nicheing gives you the opportunity to be perceived as the owner of the area of the market you’re in. After all, you’ll be the expert in the field, building your reputation as the go-to firm for a specific area or problem.

It also allows you to instantly stand out from the crowd as a unique firm with genuine expertise.

From our experience, generalist firms have a tougher time than specialists answering the questions that are key to building a marketing strategy, such as ‘what makes you unique?’ and ‘why should a client choose you over someone else?’

But with a focus, clarity on these sorts of issues follows, along with a proper understanding of your firm’s direction and the ability to onboard other productive specialists.

Yes, you might see less clients walking through your doors, but the value of your services as one of a few specialists in your area can make up for that.

Alternatively, you could get a lot of clients, a proportion of whom don’t match your niche services, which can often be the case for firms that are pivoting into a new specialisation.

It can be tough to say no to new clients and business they bring, especially when times are tough and you can’t afford to turn away new business.

Just know, however, that if you take on an extra workload that no longer matches who you present yourself to be as a business owner, then you’re not niche, nor generalised – just confused. That will hurt the way potential clients see your firm.

Specialisations for accountants

We know what nicheing is and what it can do for you, but what does it actually look like for accounting firms in reality?

Working with businesses within a certain industry is a common way for accountants looking to specialise their firm. Hospitality, construction, healthcare, you name it – some even offer services specifically to accountants who are looking to outsource their work.

Some focus on the services they provide; they could become a heavyweight in routine tasks like bookkeeping and tax returns, or an expert business adviser and planner.

You could also work with businesses at a certain stage of their journey, whether that’s in their startup phase or in their later and more established life when they’re seeking to grow.

Closely linked to that is quality of services: being a luxury firm for the top-end firms could go a long way, but so too could a smaller focus by serving Joe Public.

Others will work with businesses that they share a special interest with, like ones that are socially or environmentally conscious.

And consider focusing on clients in your geographical location. This is a great way to present yourself as an entirely different expert – one of the local area and local economy.


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How to decide on an accounting niche

If you’re excited about the prospect of pivoting your generalist firm into a specialist one, you might need some help to work out what direction you should go in.

Our advice: go with what you already know.

Look at who you work with, and use that as a starting point to work out what specialisation(s) could work for you and your firm.

Pay particular attention to:

  • which type of client you do business with the most
  • which clients are most profitable
  • which ones you like working with the most.

If you’re just starting out in the accounting sector, you can still find your niche. Use your past experience at previous firms and conduct research to identify the gaps in the market you think you could lead a team to fill.

At the same time, whether you’re pivoting or just starting out, don’t be afraid to choose something that you personally might need to do some reading up on to offer clients the best service.

What then?

The job is only part done once you have settled on your niche. Next, you have to reflect it in your branding and marketing.

That could mean an overhaul of your website, copy and logo, perhaps even your mission statement.

That’s not to mention content, from blogs and videos to podcasts and social media, to communicate your expertise to your website’s visitors by answering some of the niche questions they may have.

A holistic approach is essential to ensure every digital aspect of your firm matches the customer experience clients will have when they interact with you in person.

We have a wealth of material that could help you market your niche on our blog and insight pages. Alternatively, reach out to us on 0117 915 0420 for a chat about how we can help.

Listen to the podcast here.

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