Accountants and financial professionals know the danger of competing on price. The “race to the bottom” is a perilous road. Lower profit means less cash on hand, so your business is more vulnerable to any externality. Having been through just about the most disruptive externality in recent memory – a global pandemic – accounting firms are now thinking with urgency about ways to differentiate and compete to win (and retain) clients.
Where does one turn next? Inside. Professional services firms such as those in accounting rely on their experts to successfully serve clients. However, to have them focused on solely serving clients overlooks an opportunity – to tap their talent integral levers in their marketing and growth strategies.
Whether you call it executive visibility communications or thought leadership marketing, it is a proven approach to unleashing your firm’s unique inner strengths: your people.
Here are three ideas to help you break out in an increasingly crowded and noisy market:
- Make the most of media. Your resident experts are staying closely abreast of changes in the industry – and so is the media. Accounting firms should develop relationships with target media and position their experts as sources that can help provide context, commentary, and analysis on changes in the industry. There are myriad ways to develop relationships with media but always remember to lead with your most provocative, counterintuitive, and/or controversial ideas.
- Be in the room where it happens. You want to win clients that value your expertise and like working with you. That requires a personal touch and, what’s a better way to have a personal touch than to be with a potential client in person. Accounting firms can win business and differentiate by speaking at targeted events and conferences that gather their target audience – whether it be a gathering of CFOs or an accounting industry event. The value of being invited as an expert to speak to a group of potential clients is hard to understate.
- Write what your clients need to hear. Any firm can create content for the accounting industry. Tax 101s and other high-level pieces are nice and perhaps necessary. But they are not enough to get a prospective client to sign on the dotted line. To really showcase your expertise, deep, well-researched and unique content is needed. As a marketing professional, you can help your partners shape and research their point of views, package them in accordance with their intended purpose, and push them out via any number of channels. Keystone pieces of content like this are also critical for building your new business pipeline via lead capture mechanisms.
These ideas are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg, but taking these initial few steps will position you to begin breaking away from your competition in today’s commoditized market. Building your bench of recognized experts will help you justify your value and win more clients.
And the best part? You’re not starting from scratch. You’re simply leveraging your inner strengths – your people – to show the world, and most importantly your clients and prospects, how valuable you really are.