There’s a classic idiom which states, “You can’t be all things to all people.” With respect to the accounting profession, the age of the generalist is certainly over, with clients demanding their trusted advisors to have a deep understanding of their industry as well as their business. Five years ago, we embraced this concept fully, turning our practice into one that is niche-focused. We have found this encourages us to be more strategic in our marketing efforts, helping us gain a competitive edge by demonstrating our expertise and putting our strongest people – our Niche Practice and Team Leaders – out to the forefront when pitching prospects for new business.
We also demonstrate our expertise through our powerful website and content marketing strategy, our enhanced proposals, and our presence within industry associations as exhibitors at tradeshows, presenters at conferences and authors in their publications. And it has been working. We have seen our proposal win rates increase from 40% five years ago to currently over 70%.
Why get involved in a niche? There are many benefits:
- For career growth – not only do you become more valuable to your clients when you develop an industry and/or service expertise, but activity within the niche development initiative is weighed heavily in the promotion process, helping you move up the Withum ladder faster.
- For external networking – building your network of referral sources and contacts is critical in developing new business opportunities. And the earlier in your career you begin, the better, as it will pay off in spades later on. Most every niche has a calendar of external events for you to attend to meet people… or even just to go to practice your networking skills.
- For internal networking – the niche development initiative is most successful when offices work together to build strategies and leverage the strength of each office’s staff. Niche activity encourages cross-office relationship building, promoting the ‘one-firm’ philosophy when working as teams. It’s a great way to get to know your colleagues from other offices.
- Hey, it’s kind of fun – not only is it intellectually stimulating to develop an expertise, but part of the niche development process involves fun and creative opportunities to engage with prospects and referral sources. The Technology niche held a surf clinic with a bank this past summer; the Construction niche holds an annual fishing trip; the Consumer Products niche attends the annual Fancy Food Show in NYC every year; the Financial Services niche attends conferences in San Francisco or the Cayman Islands. These are only a few examples. Good stuff!
We encourage Manager-level professionals and above to get involved with one or two of our 24 Industry and Service niches. Lower-level staff are also encouraged to get involved, even if just to observe niche member activity, or to learn about a specific industry or service line to see if you have an interest in that particular area. If you are interested in becoming active within a specific industry or service, feel free to contact the appropriate Niche Practice Leader or anyone in the Marketing Department; see attached for names and contact info. They will be more than happy to invite you to the next niche meeting or mixer.