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Marketing / finding new work

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I have gradually built up my accounting business and now have some lovely clients, a few I would like to weed out (but don't have the luxury of that option yet) and two bookkeepers helping me - one part time / one full time.

I started off in a niche which has worked really well and that is the direction I would prefer to continue with.  However, one of the assistants was keen to get some all round experience so we side tracked into general accounts work.  I was surprised to pick up two quite sizeable clients.  These now account for 34% of our gross income.  However, they are a lot more involved and time consuming to deal with and my gut feeling is to keep looking in my original niche area.  However, the 34% concerns me.  This is from just two clients whereas my niche clients are smaller value but more of them and a lot less hassle to me.

I want to build the business so have some marketing questions

1. Should I continue looking into general areas or stick to what I know.? I could have six niche clients bringing in the same income as the two general ones with way less hassle and not so much of a headache.  However, to pick up six niche clients is a lot more difficult to do, from experience.  Getting the two general clients was relatively simple and I find it easier to pick up the general type of client.  The money is tempting but the hassle is not.  Plus I like and know my niche.  

2. I've tried various ways to get these niche clients and we have picked them up slowly by various routes, referral , adverts, etc.  No one method seems to be a success.  It is hard work and can get me down but I always stick at it.  I've had a lot of enquiries via adwords which I use on occasion but only a small proportion convert to clients.  However adwords gets the most enquries.  I am wondering whether to get someone in on a part time basis to do all our marketing and get us in front of people, maybe just one day a week as a starting point.   This would let us concentrate on the accounts instead of dabbling in advertising which we know nothing about.  My only concern is the success of this.  Not long ago we paid quite a lot for an advert with one response that did not convert.  Adwords I can pay a much smaller fee to get a lot more enquiries and occasionally one coverts.  Has anyone else employed someone part time to do their advertising, and get them in front of clients, and was this successful.

Nothing is easy ! 

 

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By bernard michael
28th May 2019 13:49

Surely the answer lies in your personal requirements for money v hassle. If money wins go general and employ more people. If you can't stand the hassle ( which we all get from time to time) then go the niche route. However this brings the problem of whether the prospective client availability within the niche is enough to satisfy your growth requirements.

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By paul.benny
28th May 2019 14:00

What’s your niche and why are you succeeding there? (A question for you to think about rather than answer here). How are those clients coming to you? Do you have something particular to offer in that area? This may be as simple as that you understand that particular niche which in turn gives your clients confidence. Often clients come by word of mouth. Have you thought of asking your clients to recommend you – or for friends you could approach? If it’s appropriate, you could offer a referral incentive.

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By marks
01st Jun 2019 03:14

It is easier to market if you pick a niche rather than be a generalist.

If you pick a niche and market purely to that niche then you are more likely to get enquiries from that niche as the advertising you do will talk to that niche and their problems and what you can do to overcome them.

Marketing as a generalist you are just throwing money at a wall and hope some of it will stick. You are also competing against all the other generalist accountants so what will make someone pick up the phone and speak to you over someone else. If you dont have a differential factor then all someone will have to compare you on with another accountant is price and you dont want to compete on price.

If your niche is say tradesmen and you do all your marketing to tradesmen then you will get enquiries from tradesmen. Ok you wont get enquiries from other sectors as they will say "you deal with tradesmen and not my sector" however you arent out to win every prospect in the world.

What you need to be clear on is where you will be when your practice is complete. Do you know the following

1. How many clients you will have
2. How much on average a client will pay you
3. What services will you be supplying to your clients eg compliance only or something else eg advisory
4. How many staff will you have
5. How many hours per week will you be working.
6. When do you want to reach your target

if you know the above and when you will get there you can work your way back and say this is where i am now, this is where I will be when business is complete eg 10 years time then break it down into chunks to show on a 3 monthly basis how many new clients and what fees you should be generating so you stay on track.

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By Tom 7000
04th Jun 2019 12:15

The more clients you have the more you diversify your risk. If those big ones were audits you would need to check you had independence for example

My approach was to get a lot of little ones. I have nearly 2500 now.

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