The 6 Degrees of Niching for Accountants and Advisors

By Posted in - Public Blog on February 19th, 2017 2 Comments

6 degrees of niching for accountants and advisors

Niching is a strategy that, for many accountants and advisors, sends shivers down the spine. It takes courage. And upstream from that, it takes clarity.

But before you can get to a point of clarity on your niching strategy, you need to understand that it’s not a binary decision: it’s not a black-and-white choice, “to niche, or not to niche”.

Thankfully, there are degrees of niching.

Why is this degrees-of-niching concept so important to understand?

When you view niching strategy to be an “either/or” choice, it’s like standing on the edge of a cliff and having to decide whether to jump or not to jump. It’s an extreme—and scary—decision.

We’ve been advising accounting and advisory firms on their marketing strategies and technology for almost 8 years now. Many of the fastest growing, highest profile and most awarded accounting and advisory firms have had their marketing strategy guided and focused by PARADOX, including four of the past five Xero Partners of the Year in Australia, like Consolid8.

In Module 1 of our Modern Marketing Academy online education program we explain there are four different elements that can be combined in various ways to formulate your niching strategy.

This means we don’t provide one-size-fits-all cookie cutter advice—there are lots of options—and that’s great because it allows firms to take a unique position in the market… which is the whole objective of niching.

Let’s face it, there has never been a Hall of Fame built for generalists. Focus and stand out, or fade into the background noise. It’s your choice.

In addition to the concepts of vertical niching—where you focus your strategy based on industry or occupation— and horizontal niching—where you specialise narrowly in the services you provide but work across multiple industries or occupations, there are six degrees of niching I have noticed in consulting to hundreds of accounting firms over the years. Let’s look at each in turn…

The Six Degrees of Niching

  1. Super Niching
  • Focus is solely on one niche, often a vertical niche. For example, an accounting and financial advisory firm that works exclusively with medical professionals — e.g. MEDIQ Financial Services
  • Brand name mentions, alludes to, or is designed to appeal directly to the niche market/vertical.
  • Logo and colours designed to appeal directly to the niche market/vertical.
  • Website domain name mentions, alludes to or is designed to appeal directly to the niche market/vertical.
  • Website’s homepage headline includes mention of the niche.
  • Website homepage images show people in the niche.
  • Website’s static pages speak directly to people in the niche.
  • The service and service package names mention, allude to or are designed to appeal directly to the niche market/vertical.
  • Website’s blog posts speak directly to people in the niche.
  • Social media posts speak directly to people in the niche.
  • The firm does not accept clients outside of the niche.
  • The firm understands incredibly deeply the fears, frustrations, aspirations, issues, strategies, solutions, culture and jargon of the niche.
  1. Strong Niching
  • Focus is solely on one niche BUT…
  • Brand name does not mention or allude to the niche market/vertical — they have left their options open to focus on other niches in the future.
  • Logo and colours not designed to appeal directly to the niche market/vertical — again, leaving their future options open.
  • Website domain name does not mention or allude to the niche market/vertical.
  • Website’s homepage headline includes mention of the niche.
  • Website homepage images show people in the niche.
  • Website’s static pages speak directly to people in the niche.
  • The service and service package names mention, allude to or are designed to appeal directly to the niche market/vertical.
  • Website’s blog posts speak directly to people in the niche.
  • Social media posts speak directly to people in the niche.
  • The firm does not accept clients outside of the niche.
  • The firm understands to a great extent the fears, frustrations, aspirations, issues, strategies, solutions, culture and jargon of the chosen niches.
  1. Multi-Niching
  • Focus on named multiple niches. For example, an accounting firm that focuses on attracting dental practices, veterinary clinics and startups — e.g. McGaunn Schwadron
  • Brand name does not mention or allude to the niche markets/verticals.
  • Logo and colours not designed to appeal directly to the niche markets/verticals.
  • Website domain does not mention or allude to the niche markets/verticals.
  • Website’s homepage headline includes mention of the niches.
  • Website’s homepage images show people in the niches.
  • Website’s static pages speak to people in the niches.
  • The service and service package names mention, allude to or are designed to appeal directly to the niche market/vertical.
  • Website’s blog posts speak to people in the niches.
  • Social media posts speak to people in the niches.
  • The firm does not accept clients outside of the chosen niches.
  • The firm understands to a great extent the fears, frustrations, aspirations, issues, strategies, solutions, culture and jargon of the niches.
  1. Medium Niching
  • Focus is solely on once niche BUT…
  • Brand name does not mention or allude to the niche market/vertical.
  • Logo and colours not designed to appeal directly to the niche market/vertical.
  • Website domain does not mention or allude to the niche market/vertical.
  • Website’s homepage headline does not include mention of the niche.
  • Website’s homepage images do not show people in the niche.
  • Website’s static pages speak to people in the niche.
  • The service and service package names do not mention or allude to the niche and have not been designed to appeal directly to the niche market/vertical
  • Website’s blogs sometimes speak to people in the niche.
  • Social media posts sometimes speak to people in the niche.
  • The firm generally does not accept clients outside of the niche.
  • You understand to some extent the fears, frustrations, aspirations, issues, strategies, solutions, culture and jargon of the niche
  1. Weak Niching
  • The firm’s stated strategy is to focus on a particular niche but there is very little evidence of this on the firm’s website, in their social media content, digital presence and offline marketing collateral.
  • Brand name does not mention or allude to the niche market/vertical
  • Logo and colours not designed to appeal directly to the niche market/vertical
  • Website domain does not mention or allude to the niche market/vertical
  • Website’s homepage headline does not include mention of the niche.
  • Website’s homepage images do not show people in the niche.
  • Website’s static pages do not speak to people in the niche.
  • The service and service package names do not mention or allude to the niche and have not been designed to appeal directly to the niche market/vertical
  • Website’s blogs do not speak to people in the niche.
  • Social media posts do not speak to people in the niche.
  • The firm often accepts clients outside of the niche.
  • The firm’s understanding of the fears, frustrations, aspirations, issues, strategies, solutions, culture and jargon of the niche is no deeper than their understanding of other types of clients.
  1. No Niching
  • The firm has no intention to niche and no specific marketing positioning.
  • The firm is a generalist competing with the many other generalists firms.
  • The firm, most likely, is average.

So, what’s the point of The 6 Degrees of Niching list? Am I saying that Super Niching is the way to go, because it’s listed as Number 1?

No, I’m not saying that.

Super Niching is simply an available strategic option and it’s listed first simply because it is the most extreme form of niching. It’s a 100% “let’s bet the farm on it” commitment to the chosen niche. When it’s executed well, it’s phenomenally effective, efficient and scalable. But it takes relentless execution and an unwavering vision. This is a commitment to develop ‘inch-wide, mile-deep’ focus and expertise in the niche.

But Super Niching is not your only option.

Strong Niching and Multi-Niching are also good strategies. We’ve helped many firms succeed based on these approaches.

Just avoid fence sitting. That applies to Medium Niching and Weak Niching. Don’t be merely ‘interested’ in your stated strategy — focus and follow-through on it. Make it visible.

And as for No Niching… well, as a ‘strategy’ that’s a recipe for a lack of differentiation, increasing margin squeeze and professional mediocrity.

So where is your firm currently sitting?

If you’d like to discuss how PARADOX can help you formulate a focused marketing strategy for your firm, get in touch for an initial chat here.

(2) awesome folk have had something to say...

  • Kirsten Barrie - Reply

    February 21, 2017 at 4:39 am

    The specific comparisons are very helpful!

    • MC Carter - Reply

      February 28, 2017 at 10:09 am

      Thanks for the feedback Kirsten!

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