You are currently viewing How to Differentiate Your Accountancy Practice

How to Differentiate Your Accountancy Practice

How to Differentiate Your Accountancy Practice from Your Competitors

The simple fact is in the absence of any other obvious differentiator, people will always choose the cheapest option.  If the only thing that appears to separate you from other accountancy practices is your price, then this is the only thing people can choose on.

You must differentiate yourself from other accountants.  This gives you a competitive edge and allows you to avoid the race to the bottom.

There are many ways to do this. In this article, we’ll focus on developing your Unique Selling Proposition (USP).  

The USP is a powerful but misunderstood concept.  Many people think the P stands for Point rather than Proposition.  We will discuss why there is an important distinction shortly.

A well-defined USP can make a major difference to your marketing.  

Many accountants claim that their USP is “we offer a professional and friendly service”. This is clearly not unique.  Even worse, this is the minimum that you would expect from any business. You don’t expect to have to work with incompetent and openly hostile suppliers, whether they are accountants, builders, gardeners, vets, cleaners, graphic designers, retailers, architects or otherwise.

So, why is the USP concept so misunderstood? There are several reasons for this but let’s go back to where it all started and see if we can unravel this.

Rosser Reeves developed the concept of the USP and it was first outlined in his 1961 book Reality in Advertising.  He defined a Unique Selling Proposition as having three attributes:

  1. Each advertisement must make a proposition to the consumer.  Not just words, not just product puffery, not just show-window advertising.  Each advertisement must say to each reader: “Buy this product, and you will get this specific benefit.”
  2. The proposition must be one that the competition either cannot, or does not, offer. It must be unique—either a uniqueness of the brand or a claim not otherwise made in that particular field of advertising.
  3. The proposition must be so strong that it can move the mass millions, i.e., pull over new customers to your product.

The first thing to note is the word “proposition” rather than point.  It is hard to imagine how a single point could maintain a uniqueness but a longer proposition that promises a specific benefit stands a much better chance. 

Consider the difference between “We are the accountants who are available when you need us.”  This is a point.  A proposition would be: “Our unique growth process helps business owners to cut costs, increase turnover and enjoy more free time.”.  In this second example, the specific benefits are clear.

Secondly, Rosser Reeves worked for an agency (Ted Bates) which advertised big brands (such as M&Ms, Bic pens, Colgate etc) to the mass market.  This explains the “mass millions” mentioned in attribute (3). Remember this concept was developed for major companies with large pockets, not for small businesses.

So where does that leave the USP in respect to non-corporate accountancy firms? Simple, you must have a USP that will attract your target market/ ideal clients.  This starts with you defining your target market (link to article).

USPs can be an effective way to differentiate you from your competitors.  Given that accountants offer similar services, this is an important point. 

Why should someone deal with you when they could continue with their existing accountant, use a cheaper accountant or one that has offices closer to them etc.?  Your USP is the reason they should choose you over every other option. 

USPs are usually focused around one of 9 things:

  1. Quality
  2. Results
  3. Price
  4. Service
  5. Delivery
  6. Speed
  7. Convenience
  8. Buying experience
  9. Client experience

If one of these does not have obvious potential, then look at developing a unique client experience. This is something that any accountant can do.

As a final comment, you may need to alter your service to create your USP.  If it is something that will get your target market excited, then this is definitely worth doing.

If you would like some support in developing your USP, then please contact Nikolai today  who will be happy to help.