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Niche marketing: Gain a competitive edge by going narrow

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Conventional wisdom suggests that when you cast a wide net you catch more fish, but in today’s highly competitive marketplace — made even more uncertain by the ongoing pandemic — that kind of thinking is no longer the rule. These most unconventional times call for narrowing your focus to one or two areas of specialization within the accounting field and exploiting those to the max. This is known as “niche marketing.”

Now, you might be thinking, “Wait a minute, if we offer more services to more people, we’ll stay busier, experience better cash flow, and find security in diversity, right?” Not necessarily. Instead, you may find yourself chasing more business that’s less profitable while you disappear into a crowded field of “me-too” accounting firms that all look alike and sell the same services to the same group of clients and prospects. You set yourself up to become a firm that is a jack of all trades and a master of none.

By concentrating your efforts on one or two profitable niches, you can boost your visibility and value by promoting your expertise in those particular service areas — for example, corporate tax strategy or regulatory compliance consulting. Firms that niche market are more likely to:

  • Spend less on marketing because they’re targeting a specific audience or industry;
  • Enjoy greater margins because clients are willing to pay more to work with a specialization expert; and,
  • Have a greater competitive advantage because specialization allows your firm to stand out as uniquely qualified in a particular area and not just be one of many in a pack of indistinguishable, competing firms.

Of course, niche marketing will not address all of your challenges. You need to have the time and resources to develop the visibility and recognition it takes to be viewed as an expert in your area of specialization. This takes a concerted effort to create and distribute targeted marketing content through the channels preferred by your target audience. That could include social media, webinars, e-books, email — even traditional media and opportunities such as hosted events and presentations.

If your current marketing department does not have the skills or resources to develop and implement a consistent, effective campaign to carry out your niche marketing strategy, you’ll need to decide whether to build up your internal capabilities or partner with an outside marketing firm to manage and monitor your efforts.

Whatever the channels and the topic or topics you select, it’s vital that your content has value for your target audience. That means doing research to understand their “pains” — what issues they face and what problems keep them up at night. Your content should address those in an objective, problem-solving way that demonstrates your expertise — it should not be self-serving promotional content touting your firm.

Whatever accounting services niche you choose to focus on and whatever internal or external resources you utilize to implement your strategy, you’ll be happy to know that you’ll be in good company. Our annual Hinge Institute High Growth Study has found firms that experience at least 20 percent sustained growth are more likely to embrace niche marketing than their less-successful peers. The new conventional wisdom is now “go narrow.”

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