How can I find a competitive advantage as an accountant?
How can you find a competitive advantage as an accountant?
James, it's a perennial question and never easy to find the right answer. For me, it's an integral part of the greater issue of positioning.
Traditionally, there are two main areas you can look at within your business to find competitive advantage.
While doing so, you have to bear in mind the competitive landscape–where your closest rivals are positioned; and the expectations of your prospects–what they get for their fees.
Area 1 is your approach. Do you have a particular process or way of dealing with clients that separates you from others?
Area 2 is your industry sector. Do you have particular expertise in an industry vertical that makes you attractive to clients within that sector?
Alternately, you can discard the traditional methodology and instead concentrate on making your firm distinctive. Note, not necessarily differentiated.
Differentiation in accounting is extremely difficult to achieve. Especially if your firm is viewed as much the same as others. You can tie yourself in knots trying to find a unique benefit and often end up with a weak value proposition as a result. More often than not, a USP simply doesn't exist. Or if it does, it may mean nothing or have no value for your prospect.
Therefore, making yourself distinctive is a more achievable goal.
This can be done by combining two relatively simple concepts. The first is to ensure your reputation is as you desire. In the main, that comes down to conducting your business in an exemplary fashion and concentrating on the things you do best. And it's a long game, not something that can achieved with a new lick of paint.
The second is to ensure visibility. This is the combination of visual image, outbound communication and consistent presentation. Again, it's a long game but the outcome is to build a position no-one else can duplicate.
Reputation + Visibility = Distinctiveness
For me, achieving that end is the Holy Grail of positioning. Simple to say, not so easy to do.
After you have solved 1 and 2, if you send me your location, I can provide a list of all businesses within your postcode, as well as a map of the postcode showing estimated wealth and SMSF, with a complete list of household addresses. These will provide some opportunities for cold calling, or cold writing which is a tough way to start, but can be rewarding.
You may also approach other professionals - real estate agents, financial advisers, mortgage brokers and initiate a two way referral process.
Hi James, you might consider positioning yourself as an expert in a particular niche. For example, you might specialize in accounting for divorced women, or children as they graduate college, or for self employed individuals. That would allow you to target to your ideal market as well. Your differentiation and competitive advantage would be your specialization. For example, I work with moms to help them create functional stress free homes. But my SPECIALTY could be that I work with entrepeneurial moms........mompreneurs. So my competitive advantage is entrepreneurial moms and my messaging speaks to my competitive advantage. I work with moms to help them create functional stress free homes so they can focus their time, energy and attention on building the business they love and making more money. I hope that's helpful.
Hi, James. Here are three ways to set your brand apart from others.
1. Employ a customer-driven approach -- instead of a money-driven approach -- to all aspects of your business, including problem-solving. Understand that you're in business to enhance customers' lives in order for them to assist others. The money will come.
2. Know that an editorial team should intensify your product's visual appeal. Not worsen it.
A product may have all the features that your prospective customers desire. But, misspellings, poor grammar and punctuation accompanying its packaging, advertisements, websites and social media pages may cause customers to question what your company values. Does the company spend equal time developing all of its products' components? If not, will the product last?
3. Ensure your teams understand how and why they link. Encourage them to guide each other.
When I wrote for a syndicated radio show, a producer talked to me about a word I'd used in a script: abovementioned. My print media background had appeared at the wrong time.
He reminded me that I was writing for the ear, not the eyes. His advice sharpened my writing and logic. He kept the show's brand identity intact.
Abovementioned could have cost us listeners, radio stations and advertisers.
James, we hope this helps.