Got a Niche? Here's Why You Should
Many accountants start their own firms ready to help local business owners and individual taxpayers, but have never considered narrowing their approach. When you develop an area of concentration and position yourself as an expert in a particular industry or service, your firm can generate higher fees and work with the type of clients you like best.
This is why the first time I sit down to meet with an accounting client, I ask them about their background and what types of clients they enjoy working with: Beyond accounting and tax preparation, what unique services do you provide? What industries do you have experience with? Is there a pattern to the types of clients that work well with your staff (and vice versa)?
Establishing a niche has been both financially and personally rewarding for many accountants. Let's look at one success story.
The Story of a Successful Niche Accountant
For San Diego CPA Mark Orlando, this conversation came easily. Mark has been in the medical business since he was a kid. His parents owned an ambulance company where he did everything from driving the ambulance and serving as an EMT to handling the company balance sheet as the controller. When he began his CPA firm, finding a niche to offer his services was a no brainer. You guessed it - the medical profession.
"When I get a lead from the [niche] website, I am more likely to close the deal than if the prospect had found me through any other means."
Mark started marketing to the medical industry directly by opening up a website offering accounting services for doctors and medical businesses called cpa4doctors.com. "The doctors' website started to bring in the quality leads I wanted," said Mark. "When I get a lead from the website, I am more likely to close the deal than if the prospect had found me through any other means." Now, 80 percent of Mark's new clients are from the medical industry.
You may be surprised to learn that Mark's results are typical for CPAs who have targeted an accounting niche. Why? Because a niche allows you to:
- Fine-tune your marketing efforts
- Differentiate your practice from the competition
- Demand higher accounting fees (and get them!)
- Become better at processing the same type of clients with repetition
- Generate more referrals
How to Choose a Niche for Your Accounting Firm
If you weren't born into a niche business like Mark Orlando was, you might have a hard time determining where to focus your efforts and what niche to create. Making the decision could occur through fate; a client in a specific industry may just provide you with the learning opportunity you need to begin a niche. Still, it doesn't happen this way for everyone.
Industry Niches for Accountants
Another way to carve out a niche for your firm is to look at the type of businesses in your local market to see if there is a concentration of a particular industry. Most likely, you'll know this instinctively, such as technology in the Silicon Valley, defense contractors in Washington, D.C., entertainment in Los Angeles, or even hospitality in certain vacation areas.
Some niche industries for accountants include:
- Construction Contractors
- Real Estate
- Interior Design
- Medical Practices
- Dental Practices
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Even if an industry doesn't require any unique accounting services, can become your niche. What small business owners in every industry want is an accountant who understands them and has worked with other businesses like theirs.
What small business owners in every industry want is an accountant who understands them and has worked with other businesses like theirs.
Service Niches for Accountants
The key is to differentiate your firm from your competitors, so once you have a niche, your practice becomes the "go to" place for that type of accounting service and word of mouth spreads. Service-based accounting niches can include anything from classic accounting services like CFO services to relatively newer offerings like ecommerce accounting and cryptocurrency tax services.
Some niche services for accountants include:
- Cryptocurrency tax
- IRS Tax Problem Resolution
- Outsourced CFO
- Wealth Management
- Estate and Trust Tax Planning
- International Tax
- Cloud Accounting
- Divorce Accounting
- Forensic Accounting
In addition to the services above, you can also carve out a niche on any number of tax specialties like 1031 exchanges or exit strategies or even services like employee benefit plan audits.
Marketing Your Accounting Niche
The starting point for developing a niche is building a website that is dedicated to your niche set of services. This new website should be totally separate from your regular accounting firm website. Creating a second website will make all of the difference in how your firm is perceived by potential clients. Consider this scenario:
A medical practitioner searches for an accountant online and finds several generalist firms that may briefly mention working with doctors on their websites. They also see one firm with a long history of helping clients in the healthcare sector and an entire website devoted to these services. Which firm do you think a doctor will choose as his or her accounting firm? The answer is clear.
In marketing your niche you may also consider:
- Sending an automated email newsletter out once a month to stay top of mind with prospects and communicate with existing clients.
- Social media marketing including posting engaging content on Facebook
- Pay per click advertising to get the ball rolling on new leads (may not work well with every niche)
- Or even direct mail campaigns to get the word out about your specialty
Should I Take a Chance on a Niche?
One of the biggest objections I get regarding developing a niche is, "Isn't it a mistake to put all of my eggs in one basket?" or "I work with all types of small businesses and worry that developing a niche will alienate my current clients."
We advocate that accountants continue to be a local generalist while at the same time, develop an area of expertise which can evolve into a niche.
Both of these points have some validity. That’s why we advocate that accountants do both, continue to be a local generalist while at the same time, develop an area of expertise which can evolve into a niche. You can have the best of both worlds. If you market both avenues of your practice, your existing clients will maintain confidence in your firm but you’ll still be free to develop your niche and take it as far as it can go. Some accountants have eventually sold off the generalist side of their practice in order to work exclusively with their thriving niche.
If you’d like some help getting started accounting marketing for your niche, Build Your Firm is ready to help. We offer a wide range of niche websites for accountants and can develop a customized website for your firm around any niche.