Speak to Client Needs
When you see advertisements for professionals or firms, do you ever wonder how anyone can be an expert in all of the niche areas the firm lists in their ad or on their website? I saw a website recently that listed 20 or more industries in which four people work. Can each of the partners really be experts in five different industries?
The error in this kind of advertising is that the days of the generalist are gone. We live in the age of specialists. When people make choices about professional services firms, they choose the firm with the expert in the specific service they need. There are certainly services that do not require specialization in every profession, but when it comes to running their business, people increasingly want the attorney or the accountant who has knowledge and experience with their business type and with the industries in which they work.
One of the most important factors determining how your clients and prospective clients view you, your knowledge, competence, experience and expertise is your mindset. Just as a negative attitude can deep-six your hope of succeeding at a task, your mindset can help you build a business on your expertise or it can undermine your efforts.
When you build and promote a micro-niche based on your expertise, your success depends upon your ability to present yourself as a credible expert. There are two parts of this communication: your mindset and the client’s/prospect’s perception of you. The two are intrinsically related.
Would you send a proposal to an important prospective client printed on wrinkled paper with your children’s drawings on the back of the pages? Of course you wouldn’t. You would go to great lengths to ensure a beautiful presentation of the proposal.
If you were called into the prospective client’s offices to make an oral presentation about your company, would you wear jeans or khakis and a golf shirt? Don’t laugh. People have done this.
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).
Yesterday, I went to a new dentist for the first time. They have very high-tech equipment. They discovered that I needed a more extensive cleaning than normal. It was a very easy sale because they showed me the problem. They checked with my insurance company and came back with a piece of paper. They said, “Here’s the cost, here’s what your insurance will pay, and here is your cost. We ask that you pay half of your responsibility when you schedule.”
Every content development strategy to promote your expertise should have at least three primary goals:
- Bring in premium business
- To educate the client/customer or prospective client/customer
- To build trust with the client/customer or prospect
By keeping in mind that more than 85% of people research professionals online before making contact with them, you can begin to anticipate the kinds of information they want you to provide.