According to recent research, the number of accounting firms is declining, as is the number of accountants in public practice. At the same time, the profession is increasingly competitive. Most firms are ramping up their marketing efforts. Many of these firms will see some success. For others, little will change. Building a micro-niche, however, could change the prospects for all of these firms.
Increasing profitability is a perennial need of most CPAs. One of the most effective ways to increase profitability is to charge premium prices for at least some of the work you do for some or all of your clients. Until they decide to build a micro-niche practice area, most CPAs do not think about premium pricing. Yet virtually all CPAs should be charging premium pricing for some of their work. The challenge for most of these CPAs is how to have a premium pricing mindset.
When building a micro-niche, it is important to understand the difference between small and boutique. Your micro-niche might be either or both. If it is both, it should be by choice rather than accident.
By definition, a micro-niche is likely to be relatively small. The micro-niche serves the specific and unique needs of a narrowly defined clientele. The firm is small intentionally. It focuses on one thing. The CPA (s) involved in serving the clients of a micro-niche is an expert at what he or she does. The expert services provided to this narrowly defined clientele are not cheap.
Most firms work hard to craft the perfect marketing message. Then they build elaborate marketing strategies designed to get the message to the right people. Sometimes, however, the message is not in alignment with the total picture.
When you are trying to build a micro-niche business around your unique expertise in a specialized area of practice, everything you do and say should present a consistent and aligned picture of you and your expertise. You might ask, “If my business is built around me and my micro-niche expertise, how could it not be in alignment?”
Do you stand apart from the competition, or are you part of the pack? Do you see yourself as an expert with a specific and loyal clientele? Is this how your clients perceive you? More important, is this how potential clients see you? Have you successfully differentiated your practice specialty from all of the other CPAs in town?
The arena for the business development race has changed in recent years. It is no longer about winning the race to place your advertisement on page 3 of the leading magazine or journal of your profession. Today, the race is to provide the content that offers the best answers to the questions of potential clients and demonstrates not only that you understand their needs, but also that you have anticipated their needs.
CPAs already know the difficulty of differentiating your firm from your competitors. Chances are very good that if you listed all of your local competitors, you would discover that all of the firms (including yours) offer essentially the same services. What is more, you all list specialization in many of the same niches (tax and audit, small business, estates and trusts).