Accountancy Marketing: Defeating Fee Pressure

Accountancy Marketing: Defeating Fee Pressure

By Patrick McLoughlin

High growth accountancy practices tend to have a number of traits in common. Most focus their attention on attracting a certain kind of client: the organisations they offer greatest value to.   If they can deliver something of value to their clients, that their competitors can't, fees become a secondary issue.     

To achieve this they need a clear understanding of their ideal clients. An understanding built on the knowledge of what makes them different from their local competitors. Ask the vast majority of partners what's different about their practice and you'll hear the same answers: personal service, client focused, high quality technical work etc.  

Now put yourself in your prospects' shoes: is any practice going to tell you they don't offer a client focused or personal service. Equally clients assume that any firm of qualified accountants are capable of producing a set of accounts. There's no virtue in being competent.

Accountancy marketing diagram

Good Accountancy Marketing makes Your Fees a Secondary Consideration

The vast majority of accountants' conversations and promotional material focus on benefits available from working with any accountant.  And if your prospects can't differentiate you by your service they will by your fees: lowest fee always wins. If you want to find out what's really different about your firm get out the flip chart and ask your people what makes you special.  Scribble every suggestion down, then go over the list in detail.  

Naturally, you'll find that 90% of the points apply to every firm of accountants, or at least they do in your prospects' eyes.  If you get 3 or 4 pages of bullet points together you'll be lucky to be left with half a page of benefits different to your competitors. 

The Venn Diagram above highlights the area your promotional material and conversations with potential clients should take place to avoid 'lowest quote wins.'  

Circle A:  Represents everything  your prospect wants or needs.

Circle B:  Represents every service your practice could offer.

Circle C:  Represents every service your competitors offer. 

Once you have identified your special benefits: the problems your service addresses or opportunities you can deliver, redesign your message.  In the book 'Conversations that win the complex sale', Erik Peterson & Tim Riesterer use Volvo Trucks as an example. 

Volvo stopped emphasising their tractor cabs features, an area they felt they held an advantage over their competitors.  Instead they focused on finding a reason buyers should care about their cabs' features.   Their research highlighted a link between fleet productivity and driver turnover. So they presented Volvo Trucks as the answer to a previously unrecognised problem: 

Driver turnover reduces your fleet's productivity.  

A major reason for driver turnover is the driver's environment.  

Driver's prefer Volvo cabs.  

Volvo cabs will reduce driver turnover and increase fleet productivity.   

 As you can see from Volvo's experience this isn't a quick fix.  But if you put the time and effort in the rewards are there for you. 

If you have enjoyed this blog, try some of the related posts by clicking the following links: 

This is How to find your Ideal Clients: Marketing for Accountants

Accountants Marketing: Clients 7 Major Moans

7 Secrets of Converting Prospect Meetings: Accountancy Marketing