Have you ever thought about why your clients chose your firm or what keeps them from leaving for a competitor? In working with public accounting firms, we hear various responses to these questions. Some can easily identify the value they provide to their clients, but most struggle to articulate it. Effectively communicating your differentiators to your target market and highlighting the unique benefits that set your firm apart is critical to your branding health. Firms that have carved out space among their competitors in a desired target market go beyond overused buzz words like “specialized expertise” and “years of experience,” and drill down into what their clients are buying and why. With three simple steps, you can both identify the value you and your firm provides and articulate it in a meaningful way.
- Identify the value you provide
It sounds easy, the concept of identifying the value you provide to your clients but articulating it can be more challenging than you think. When you’re entrenched in the business of serving clients, you can either lose sight of why they chose you, or forget to ask. In these instances, we recommend doing just that. Survey your clients, or better yet, have a personal conversation with your best clients (segmented by service offering and industry group) with the following goals in mind:
- Deepening the relationship
- Identifying potential service needs
- Creating an opportunity to address areas of improvement
- Capturing why they chose/choose to do business with your people and your firm
This approach allows the interaction to be client-focused, but will ultimately achieve your goal. If the idea of having this conversation feels uncomfortable or you worry clients won’t open up to you, their service provider, consider outsourcing the process. Marketing professionals are a great option for gathering this feedback as a neutral party.
- Craft your firm’s value propositions
Once you’ve gathered a list of reasons why your clients chose you, go ahead and pat yourself on the back, then get to work crafting your value propositions. These elements will filter down into every part of your firm’s culture and message. Start by compiling the feedback you receive, identify trends and dig into the heart of the responses. If you heard that your clients appreciate having multiple contact points, build a value proposition around that. The true value of this comment is the access they have to various experts and the ease of communication with your team.
By segmenting your clients by industry and service specializations, you can formulate value propositions around those specific areas. Explain to your target market what differentiates your firm from others serving the same types of clients. For example, you may specialize in the construction industry, but so do your regional and national competitors. What differentiates your firm in this industry? Your years of experience don’t set you apart if your competitors have the same experience. If you are the only provider that produces content that addresses industry trends or regularly speaks at industry-related conferences, this is where you have the edge. These examples tell potential clients that you understand their industry, have committed to staying abreast of changes that may affect them, and are considered an expert in industry associations.
- Shout your value from the rooftops!
It’s time to put your hard work to good use. Now that you’ve crafted your value propositions, you can begin integrating the messages into all aspects of your brand (website, social media accounts, proposals and marketing materials). During your survey or conversations with clients, you probably heard examples of the firm’s value, but also the specific value you provide. Filter these examples into your elevator speech. Ultimately, people choose people. Understand why your clients like working with you and promote yourself!
In a follow-up article, we’ll discuss translating your value propositions to benefit statements that help your target market to answer the question of “What’s in it for me?”
We work with firms to conduct client interviews, gather their feedback and help to formulate your firm’s value proposition. Contact us today; we’d love to help your firm!