Marketing Your Practice
The center of many client or customer acquisition strategies today is not a strategic communication plan. It should be. The goal of communication plans is to convey to your “ideal customers/clients” that you understand their questions and needs and you have the expertise to provide the answers. Your strategic communication with prospective clients/customers might be to say repeatedly, “your next question answered.”
December is a very busy time. People are getting ready for or celebrating Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and the New Year. Professional and financial services firms should also be getting ready for the Busy Season of W-2s, annual reports, taxes, earnings statements, and all of the other kinds of reporting they must do during the first few months of the year.
If you are willing to build a micro-niche boutique within the business of your firm, you will quickly discover that the benefits – especially the impact of the benefits – far outweighs the effort or time you will invest in the future of your practice. Micro-niche building allows you overcome one of the challenges faced by most small and mid-sized firms: how to compete with large firms on price.
Consider an accounting firm that is considered a generalist practice. They focus on business accounting, taxes and audits. Within this firm is a partner who does about $750,000 each year. This partner has 5 clients in the health care industry. This partner has carefully monitored all of the recent legislation related to healthcare, including Obama’s new Health Care Bill. The partner is very knowledgeable with regard to forensic accounting and Medicare laws. This partner is more knowledgeable than anyone else in the region on regulations, standards and new laws affecting the health care industry.
Building a professional or financial services firm today requires a balance of multiple strategic activities. The first step in building your firm is to develop a strategic growth plan. Your plan will reflect your hopes and dreams for your company in both the short term and the long term. You will set measurable and achievable goals. You will involve the leadership of your company in your business growth. Finally, your growth plan will incorporate an appropriate blend of the five key business growth strategies – what we might call the five pillars of practice growth.
When you think about building a micro-niche boutique within your firm, one of the things you will do is assess the size of the market and the expected revenue from the special clients who will come to you for the expertise you offer. There are several huge bonuses to keep in mind as you do the analysis.
If your firm has been in existence for more than a couple years, you probably have a sense of which clients are most profitable for your business. Whether you have actually analyzed the details or not you know. This knowledge can become the basis of establishing client standards for your firm that will allow you to qualify new clients before you agree to take them on.
Many small firms believe they need to accept every potential client who crosses the threshold. This might not be a good idea. Remember that the 80/20 rule applies to your practice as much as to any other business. If you can isolate the characteristics of the 20% of your clients who provide 80% of your revenue, you will have the criteria for client standards.
Many of the lessons of business start-up and management that were critical when you started the firm are also critical when you build and reveal a new micro-niche to your clients. Here are ten that cannot be overlooked when building a micro-niche.
1. Your micro-niche must be built according to a good plan. Everything you do must be micro-focused on making the niche fit the need.
I have written a good bit lately about the importance of niche building in growing a professional or financial services firm. I have also written about the value of building micro-niches in adding products and/or services that bring in premium pricing. Today, I want to be certain you understand that building one niche is not enough. So please consider this your invitation to join the niche of the month club – or the niche of the quarter, or the niche of the year club.
The firm that will be poised for the largest growth and the greatest increase in profitability will be the firm that has developed a growth strategy that includes regular “launches” of new niches within their business competencies. And, within each niche, there should be opportunity to also shine a spotlight on a boutique business within both the niche and the firm.
I was in a discount club store the other day. I was trying to find the specific bag of chicken parts on my list. I couldn’t believe the number of ways these guys have come up with to sell a chicken! You can buy a cut up frozen chicken. But you can also buy a big bag of frozen parts – breasts, legs, thighs, wings. Then you find boneless parts and tenderloin strips of parts – it’s really perfect for young kids who can’t eat a whole breast. Think about it – this is smart packaging!
Now, if you keep looking, you discover that this guy who actually has just one product – a chicken – has started pre-breading it or pre-basting it with barbecue or hot sauce. And once the chicken starts being sold by the piece, with the same pieces from other chickens, or they start preparing it for you, the price goes up – significantly.