Whether you’ve joined the trend or not, it’s no secret that the tax and accounting industry is continuing to move more and more into the online marketplace. This shift is across the board—from E-sign tools to instant pricing quotes to the ever-important online reviews—and it shows no signs of slowing down.While most people see the benefits of this move toward the digital age, there is one fear we continue to hear from those professionals resisting the shift: “I don’t want my services to become a commodity.” Let’s start by saying that this is a completely fair concern — but not something you should allow to hold you back. In reality, we know as well as you that not all accountants, tax pros, CPAs, EAs, and others in this field are alike. The services, advice, and value they provide varies from person to person and practice to practice. While there are surely big box providers and others who have “commoditized” their own set of services, the industry overall is full of unique professionals and practices who provide a true value-add to business owners. Participating in the online marketplace doesn’t take that away.If you want to join the movement but ensure your accounting and tax offerings won’t become commodities, these three ideas can help:
1) Focus on verticals
It’s a well-known fact within the marketing world that narrowing your target audience into specific niches will work out better in the long run. Building your reputation as a specialist versus a generalist is a much easier process. It is nearly impossible to rank for generic terms like “bookkeeping,” whereas ranking for “bookkeeping services in Newport Beach” or as a “dental practice bookkeeper” is definitely realistic. There is much less competition, and it is easier to attract qualified prospects. While being more generalized may seem like a good way to “cast a wide net” and reach more prospects — especially for newer practices — it is not a wise approach if you want to be seen as an authority in your market. When you build an authoritative reputation, you are better able to sell your services as the true value-adds they are. No commodities here.
2) Package your services
Once you’ve defined the verticals you want to target, you can create packages that speak directly to the pain points felt by prospective clients in those niches. Let’s consider an example. Accountant XYZ has decided to target medical professionals in their market of Richmond, Virginia. How can we craft a package that will speak directly to this vertical?
Medical professionals face huge problems with collecting and billing on a daily basis. Most doctors get into business to heal, not chase after uncollected accounts receivable. Because of this, many allow their uncollected A/R to disappear forever.
This inability to collect what they are owed places many medical practices under severe financial stress. To reach them, Accountant XYZ can create package programs that include taking this pain point out of the medical professional's task list.
Packages that speak directly to pain points and solutions resonate with people. In the example above, we created a pitch that has nothing to do with accounting in the mind of the prospect. It discusses the difficulties they face every day and the value Accountant XYZ can bring, versus just being seen as another cost center.Other examples of vertical service packages:
- A program for new dental practices, whose needs are different from established practices
- A package for expatriate tax preparation that helps them navigate filing taxes in multiple countries
- A starter package for freelancers or solopreneurs, who may not be familiar with accounting principles for the self-employed yet
The list could go on and on. Whatever your niche may be, talk to some clients you trust and start using their feedback to build packages around the most common pain points. When you set yourself apart from the more generalized competition in this way, you can assure no prospect will view your services as a commodity. Nothing is stopping you from using premium pricing in your packages.
3) Define your value — and promote it
It’s not enough to just believe that you have value to offer. It’s great that you do, and confidence is a major key to success — but you need to be able to dictate a concise message about the value you deliver to your clients. Spend some time defining your value proposition in clear, relatable terms. Ask a few clients if they agree with your summary of the value-add you provide. Once you’re happy with it, make it the center of your messaging — from the way you speak to prospects on the phone to your online presence to your in-person or virtual appointments. You know you have value to offer, so make sure your prospects know exactly who you are and what value-adding solutions you bring to the table. Whether you’re a tax preparer, accountant, bookkeeper, CPA, EA, virtual CFO, or any other role in this space, the value you bring to your clients is not (and never will be) a commodity. Participating in the online space doesn’t change that. As long as you take the right approach to setting yourself apart from the competition, your practice can thrive in the digital age.
If you have questions about verticals, packages, value propositions, or avoiding commoditization, we’re here to help! Contact us today at 1-800-442-2477 x3 or set up some time to speak with one of our digital marketing experts.
See the main points of this article summarized in a Quick Hit video with CEO Lee Reams II: