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6 Ways to Show Clients Appreciation

Building a Brand

Gratitude. It may be in short supply in your life, or you may wake up each day with a thankful heart. Nevertheless, showing appreciation for others is a rare but powerful opportunity to build a relationship…and a brand.

Here are six creative ways to show your clients a little love and gratitude. The idea is to plant a seed that communicates how much you value them. The harvest might come later with new work or a referral.

1. Handwritten notes

Handwritten notes and letters experienced a positive rebound during 2020 when people had time to reflect on the relationships that matter most to them. If you were one of the lucky recipients, you know the warm fuzzies that it delivers. Someone took time to write about their appreciation, send their greetings or just say “hi, how are you doing?”

Don’t let this art die. Be the rare person who reaches out with a branded card and personalized note. For an extra gesture, include a coffee gift card.

A handwritten thank you note next to a cup of coffee.

2. Active Listening

Short attention spans are rampant, but active listening is an art. Can you keep your mind quiet and focus on the words of the other person without judgment or thinking of what you want to add? Can you then paraphrase and repeat back what you just heard?

One of the best ways to build a relationship is to hear someone out; share and acknowledge their excitement or their upset. Practice active listening with your clients to hear their words, but also the meaning behind them.

3. Introductions

Within your network, are there people who should meet each other? You probably have clients right now who could refer business to each other or be strategic partners. Being a matchmaker can be fun, and it’s as easy as emailing your contacts for a virtual introduction or drawing them into conversation at an event.

It goes beyond professional. Perhaps you can refer a professional musician to a client whose child is getting married. Maybe you know of a volleyball league looking for new players. Show interest in your clients’ lives and hobbies, and then listen for opportunities.

4. Go the ‘extra mile’

Going the extra mile matters — even when the client doesn’t notice. Handling panicked client requests is an easy way to show that you care. Just as important, though, are the ways you deliver a high quality product day in and day out because it’s the right thing to do. When you consistently dot the “i,” and cross the “t,” you build a reliable and trustworthy reputation that reflects highly on your firm’s brand positioning.

Bring your best self to the work, and you will sleep well at night while also demonstrating client appreciation.

5. Small gifts

It’s always fun to receive a gift. It should not be extravagant, as some clients may not be able to accept large gifts. But gifts such as gourmet food, wine, a gift card or tech gadget are often appreciated.

As a special touch, you can sometimes personalize these gifts with the client’s brand colors, logo or an individual leader’s name.

Two wine bottles sitting on a desk with a card that says "Cheers"

6. Compassion, pass it on.

If your clients are showing signs of stress or not responding in a way that is familiar, do not shy away from asking how they are doing. Some of us have been taught to separate our business lives from our personal lives, but more often it’s better to ask after a client’s welfare than to stay silent.

Compassion is showing concern without assuming that you know what the client is going through. Offer encouraging words or genuinely say, “thank you,” to help strengthen your relationships. Asking how you can help is another way to show your support.

In this season of giving, take time to appreciate your clients as much as your loved ones. After all, your clients help you make a living, which supports your loved ones!

More Insights: Four ways to enhance client service

 

Someone laying bricks

AEC Marketing Basics

There’s no question that your AEC firm is busy! The marketing department may be creating proposals left and right to take advantage of all the new business opportunities. When new business can be quickly earned through proposals, the firm’s marketing basics can be left out to dry. While proposals certainly position your firm to win new business in the present, these marketing basics will continue to position your firm for success long into the future.

Be Present Online

According to Intergrowth, 80% of major purchases start with online research. As people go online to learn about the AEC industry and your services, it’s critical that your firm can be found through an internet search. Here are some ways to make sure your firm shows up as a search result and that your brand is accurately represented online.

    • Add content to your website. When was the last time you updated information on your site? Add information about completed projects, industry trends and anything else that sets your firm apart from the competition. Write a blog about the new drone technology your firm has invested in or highlight a presentation that an employee gave at a recent conference. By creating valuable, educational content, you educate your potential clients and become a trusted thought leader within your industry.

Here are a few content ideas to incorporate into your marketing strategy:

    1. Blog posts
    2. eBooks, worksheets and templates
    3. Project photos and videos

SEO Tip: Adding information to your website helps your firm stand out on search engines like Google. Search engines are more likely to highlight websites that are maintained and updated regularly.

    • Regularly post to social media. Social media is an extension of your website. Use these platforms to engage with partners, clients and to showcase your work. Social media can also be a great tool to retain and attract talent to your firm by highlighting firm news and culture events.

SEO Tip: An active social media account that links to your website also improves your chances of being a top search result on Google or any other search engine. We recommending posting to social media at least 1-2 times a week.

DOWNLOAD: Check out these easy tips to improve your website’s SEO

Email Marketing

Email marketing continues to be one of the most powerful ways to reach warm leads and convert them into clients. By emailing your contact list consistently, your firm stays top of mind. Find an e-newsletter schedule that works best for you and stick to it. We recommend sending an email at least once a month to communicate with your contact list.

Topics to include within your future newsletters:

    • Award Recognition – Highlight recent awards your firm has received, or projects you’ve completed. This showcases your firm’s experience and instills trust in your brand.
    • Webinar Invitations – Whether you’re hosting a webinar or one of the firm’s employees is participating as a speaker in one, promote it via email. This positions your firm as a thought leader within the industry. Webinars are a great lead generation tool!
    • Content Updates – Highlight the new content you’ve added to the website. New blogs, video or resources are always popular to share and will drive traffic back to your website to learn more about the firm.

VIDEO: 5 Email Marketing Tips for Lead Generation

Tell Your Story

Your firm exists to help clients reach their goals. Case studies are a powerful tool to help others understand the work you do and highlights successes. Rather than tell prospective clients how you can help them reach their goals, show them. Tell the story from start to finish, but highlight the client as the focal point. Your case studies should answer the following questions:

    • Who is the client and what do they do?
    • What were the client’s goals?
    • What were their needs?
    • How did you satisfy those needs and help meet the client’s goals?

But don’t stop there! Follow up with this client to ask them how your firm’s work benefited them. What solutions do they feel like your firm provided? 

Testimonials

This leads us to our last point. When discussing previous work with clients, collect a testimonial about your relationship. Share these testimonials far and wide. Share on your website, via social media, in newsletters and in case studies. Testimonials connect with future clients in a meaningful, personal way. Others can relate to a testimonial and will work with your firm to have a similar experience. 

Your AEC firm is busy, but don’t push these marketing essentials to the side any longer. They continue to be the foundation of your firm’s success and support future growth opportunities. Proposals are the sprinkle on top. Position your firm for longevity by investing time and energy into the marketing basics that will continuously position your firm as a leader and innovator within your industry. 

Looking for more guidance on marketing basics? Contact us at Ingenuity.

DOWNLOAD: THIS AEC DEBRIEF CHECKLIST HELPS BUILD LONG-LASTING RELATIONSHIPS. HERE’S HOW.


 

Hand holding phone with social icons around it.

What’s a Social Media Brand Ambassador Program?

Your long-term clients know the ins and outs of your services, and they may serve as referral sources. But have you thought about how your dedicated clients can support your brand on social media?

Social media is a powerful tool that can help your firm generate quality leads, and it should be part of your business development strategy moving forward. One way to have social media support your firm’s branding process is to incorporate brand ambassadors to further your social reach. Ambassadors speak highly of your brand, services and events on their own social media channels. They can provide quick shout-outs to your firm or association, highlight upcoming events or timely services, and recommend your brand to their social media followers.

Here are three key elements to start building your own brand ambassador network to generate quality leads.

Who ‘Likes’ you?

On your social media channels, you may notice certain individuals who are consistently ‘liking’ or sharing your posts. This is one easy way to identify who is naturally falling into a brand ambassador role for your firm or association.

Check out your @mentions, post likes and comments to see who is already promoting your brand. You can also see who is using any of your company or industry-related #hashtags. If there is a particular client that you routinely recognize on your social media channels, chances are they would be a good candidate to become a brand ambassador.

Maybe you’ve noticed that people who ‘like’ you on social media and share your content are mostly employees of your company. Some of your employees should be brand ambassadors based on their public reputation or status. While you will have employees that you encourage to share information about your brand on social media, it’s also important to have a dedicated client serve as a social media brand ambassador to give a unique perspective to your services and products. Having a mix of perspectives allows you to speak to different audiences, which can help gain new referrals.

VIDEO: WHY YOUR NEW LEADERS SHOULD GET BRAND TRAINING

Remember, when your employees are active on social media, touch base with them to make sure their personal channels are professional representations of your brand with up-to-date competitive messaging. Review your social media policy with them

Criteria for Brand Ambassadors

You don’t want just anyone, even if they do engage with your content, to become your brand ambassador. Think about these key factors when determining who you want to represent your brand on social media.

  • Current Social Media Following Are their followers your target audience? If not, they are not a good brand ambassador for your firm. Also look at the size of their social media following, how their audience engages with their posts and if they naturally use a tone that you think fits your brand.
  • Dedicated Client or Referral Source Can they speak specifically to your service experience? Make sure an ambassador you select knows all the ins and outs. It’s much easier for you and your future ambassador to already be familiar with your brand instead of teaching or training them. This also makes their promotional efforts more authentic.
  • Networking Opportunities ­­– Make sure your brand ambassadors have networking opportunities on social media. Chat with your brand ambassadors about what social media networking groups they participate in and how your brand or service could be shared amongst those groups.

Guidelines to Move Forward

Since the brand ambassadors you’ve identified already understand your firm or association, you may not feel like you have to tailor specific messages for them. But being clear about how you can work with each other will help you avoid misrepresenting your messages or brand on social. Here are a few tips for professional service firms and associations to build long-term relationships with brand ambassadors.

  • Regularly discuss topics or upcoming events that you would like to see brand ambassadors promote. Here are a few examples of how your services or events could be shared on their personal social pages:

“If you missed ABC Construction’s webinar today on land surveying, you definitely want to watch the recording! I learned so much about the process and plan to share many take-aways with my own team. Here’s the link: [insert link to recording]”

“Planning for my individual and small business tax returns was made easy this year because of the counsel I received from 123 Accounting. Check them out for expert advice! [insert link to company homepage]”

  • Clearly identify how often you would like your brand ambassadors to be promoting your brand. Maybe set a standard of two posts a month.
  • Give back to your brand ambassadors! Offer a free service, conference registration or webinar to thank them for promoting your brand on their personal social media channels.
  • Create a ‘thank you’ post from the firm’s social media account to publicly recognize them. This is an easy way to boost brand loyalty for your firm and the individual promoting your work.

Social media is a powerful way for potential clients or members to learn about your brand and services. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to share what’s going new at your firm or association. Learn more about how you can with your target audience through social media.


 

4 Ideas for Association Marketing Video Header

4 Ideas for your Association Marketing

Build your digital presence as a professional association by being a member resource as well as strategic with your marketing visibility. In this video for association marketing, Principal Dawn Wagenaar talks about four ways that professional association leaders and marketers can ramp up their outreach to existing and potential members.

It’s more important than ever to be visible to your audience online. Learn how.

Sign up for Ingenuity’s monthly newsletter to stay up-to-date on marketing trends.


Read the video transcript:

Association marketing is an exciting and challenging place to be, whether you are new to associations or a longtime leader.

The race to attract and retain members has ramped up. Many associations have also had significant leadership changes. The technology for marketing has also changed.

This presents an opportunity. And I want to introduce four ideas for you to consider in your association marketing. 

The first is a digital ad campaign. You have to approach it a little bit differently compared to print ads, but digital ads can work really well for attracting members.

For example, consider a LinkedIn ad campaign where you offer a valuable article or white paper when they click your ad. You can capture emails when the downloadable content is really enticing.

The second idea is DIY toolkits. Send an email that introduces a valuable toolkit to prospective and current members. The toolkit should help them navigate a common need or issue in their industry.

Here are two other ideas that kind of link together. It’s about going virtual.

You can set up virtual coffee meetings with potential members, and send them a coffee card to sweeten the deal. Or, expand your reach from a traditional conference or tradeshow and optimize virtual events. Take questions prior to the event to ensure livelier engagement. Book virtual “rooms” for small group discussion.

These are just a few ways to get creative with your association marketing. Call me at Ingenuity if you have questions or need help. 

See this related blog post about fostering brand loyalty. Don’t miss the link at the end!


A dial marked with the word "Trust" and turned to high.

Fostering Brand Loyalty

A dial marked with the word "Trust" and turned to high.

Brand loyalty is up for grabs. It’s rare these days to do business with a client for a lifetime, but there are things you can do to inspire your clients to work with you for a long time. It is not enough to do everything right or to simply not make them want to leave. You need to take your communication and connection to the next level.

It probably goes without saying but providing the highest quality customer service and making your clients feel valued is one of the best things you can do to create brand loyalty. This is a great foundational start but now you want to see that loyalty expand to create a community of raving fans for your brand who refer others. Here are a few ways to help you do that.

Provide timely updates about changes that affect your clients and prospects. If you have a robust CRM, you can segment your contacts based on their industry or niches, their role in their organization and what you know they are interested in. You wouldn’t send a manufacturing tax update to a prospect in healthcare. By segmenting your lists to provide relevant information, you show your audience that you care about what interests them. This can make the information appear personalized to them and foster their loyalty to your brand.

Create opportunities for individual connection and make it personal. If you are keeping notes about your clients and top prospects, you likely know a few personal facts about them. Perhaps you know they just took a family vacation or that one of their children graduated from high school. Asking about these events during the beginning of a call or email is a great way to get the conversation going. You can then bridge into the business at hand, but remember to always show an interest in them personally.

READ: THE ART OF VIRTUAL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT

Thank your clients for working with you. You may be thinking that this is an obvious one and, yes, most everyone is good at thanking their clients for their business around the holidays. However, when was the last time you sent a client a thank you card at a random time of the year or a gift card to a coffee shop? Perhaps they just got through a challenging audit or completed a coveted development project. Sending a gift when one is not expected is when you will stand out and, even more importantly, it will make them feel special. We aren’t saying you should forgo the holiday gifts but sending a thank you at an unexpected time will stand out.

Fostering brand loyalty is something that begins with a prospect and continues throughout the client relationship. Once someone becomes a client, it doesn’t mean the work ends. This is when the relationship can truly grow and thrive.

You may also be interested in four ways you can enhance client service in your professional services firm or association.


A person with grey mittens holding a warm cup of coffee.

Marketing to Real People in a Digital World

A person with grey mittens holding a warm cup of coffee.

One word you might see a lot today regarding business culture and marketing is authenticity – defined as something or someone “entitled to acceptance as authoritative, genuine, true or correct.”

You may also hear a lot about the term personalization — defined as “to render personal rather than impersonal or purely professional, to make or alter so as to meet individual needs, inclinations or specifications.”

This is the preferred approach to service delivery. Be a professional who is authentic and who personalizes the experience for every client. Perhaps it always has been this way, which is why professionals are in a great position to deliver what today’s clients expect.

Here is the challenge: with limited time, how do you create that personal and authentic experience for every client — and, just as importantly, every potential client whom you haven’t met yet?

In reality, it’s a people challenge and a technology challenge. 

Why Digital Marketing Matters

Qualified potential clients usually want to interact with your firm or organization online first. They will gather a sense of what your firm cares about and represents through your website, bios, social media profiles and your public relations. It’s not just about the messaging. It’s also about how easy they can navigate your site and find up-to-date social posts about issues they care about.

On social media, people respond much more frequently and positively to a post about someone winning an award or working a booth at a tradeshow (with a photo or video!) than they do to a news item or a link to the firm’s services.

Examples of Ingenuity Marketing Group Facebook posts.

Also, if your posts include real people, then real people will respond to it! See the difference in these two posts — one about a new employee and one linking to a blog post.

If your articles include real stories about how other clients navigated a common problem, then your key points will hit home much faster than if you simply state the problem and the solution.

For example, we were working with a client that wanted to reach out more personally to prospects, but didn’t have time to meet with each prospect in person right away. To get more responses, we suggested using the personal touch of “virtual coffee” by sending a coffee gift card by mail. The invitation to prospects — using their first name and personalizing the message — was much warmer than a generic email or postcard, and our client actually heard back from people!  

EXPLORE OUTSOURCED MARKETING

How to Create Personal Client Experiences

In the same way, your firm’s online presence has to be deeply personal and rooted in what your firm is at its core. When prospects see consistent messages from your firm that reflect a set of values resonant through all levels of what you actually deliver, it builds trust and makes them want to work with you.

What are your values? It’s not services, quality and years of knowledge. Authenticity requires an emotional and human connection that builds trust. Have you looked at your firm’s values and brand loyalty lately? Maybe it’s time for a refresh.

Try these ideas as a way to personalize your firm’s values and experiences with clients and potential clients.

  1. Explore your organization’s core values. As a different type of marketing exercise, come up with a list of cars, celebrities or songs that are distinctly a bad fit. Now talk about why they don’t fit your organization. In the negatives, you’ll learn a lot about who you really are and why you’re different from your competitors.
  2. Repeat great client experiences. Use a great client as a composite profile of more clients you would like to attract. Identify why the relationship works so well. Interview them about ways that you have built trust and personalized the relationship. Practice those skills with prospects and other clients. Just asking these questions can build more trust with your clients.
  3. Be human. Clients and prospects are looking for a way to connect. Take photos of fun times or “real” times with your team and share them. Celebrate new babies or anniversaries. Send a card if a client is sick. Stop the shop talk if you sense that your client needs someone to just listen.

This process of blending professional aspects of your business with personalization may not be easy at first. It requires being a bit vulnerable and less focused on the work sometimes. But in a service-based business, people care just as much about how you make them feel as they do about how you help them succeed.

Here are more examples of personalizing client experiences through your niche market.   


 

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3 Ways Personas Accelerate Brand Positioning

People avatar flat vector

Personas, also known as client profiles or target markets, are a description of the types of clients and influencers that choose your services. 

They apply to professional services whether you operate a firm or an association, and they should be a key component of your market research. 

IMPROVE RESEARCH RESULTS AND ROI WITH THIS FREE DOWNLOAD.

There are three big reasons to create and use personas — and to update them. They   focus your marketing, assist with prospecting and train your team on client service. All of these areas affect your brand positioning because potential clients or members need to quickly know that you understand them and can help them better than anyone.

1. Personas for Marketing

Effective marketing campaigns offer solutions for the potential buyer. Personas should include a description of your target buyer(s) that includes challenges, pains, goals and desires. These descriptions will help you focus your marketing messages on how your services bring solutions and support goals. By articulating how you best serve the buyer, you are differentiating your brand.

Whether you are writing blog posts, creating an ad campaign or writing website copy, personas will help you create content that fits the buyer. You will avoid the common problem of writing all about you instead of what buyers really want to know. Can you help them, and what should they do about their issue?

If you aren’t sure of your target buyer’s pains, interests or desires, interview your current clients or members and find out how you solve their problems and help them. It will clarify your brand positioning. You can include that feedback in your persona description! 

2. Personas for Sales

When having sales conversations, one rule of thumb is to have the prospective buyer speak two-thirds of them and to actively listen to their answers. To get them talking, you need great questions. But don’t just ask any question. Ask a question related to your brand; convince them that you are the best choice. 

A persona description will help you develop sales questions that relate to your target buyer to qualify them, but also to get them talking about what’s most important to them in a professional service relationship. 

For example, if you solve the challenge of training, ask a sales question like, “How important is it to you that your [professional service relationship] supports a well-educated team at your company?” It’s likely that the right buyer will say that it’s very important, which gives you an opportunity to ask about types of education they seek, and then talk about your service offerings.  

The persona description helps you prepare for these conversations with confidence and consistency. 

3. Personas for Client Service

Once you attract a new client — or a new member in the case of associations — you can use your persona descriptions to address how to deliver great client service. The descriptions can be used to train your staff on client service expectations, how you solve problems and how you make a difference. 

You can even create persona descriptions for referral sources and influencers. Help team members understand how to develop industry connections that can refer new opportunities to your firm or association. Everyone can take ownership of your brand positioning with the right knowledge. Personas are just one way to do this. 

Marketing needs to be personal but how do you know you are appealing to real people behind the digital curtain?

CHECK OUT SOME OF OUR BEST PERSONALIZATION TIPS.


Colorful icon showing two word balloons in a dark blue circle.

Testimonials build brand confidence

How to Make Testimonials Part of Your Marketing Strategy

Most professional service marketers have heard the old adage, “People buy with emotion and justify their decisions with logic.”  And yet, many professionals who sell an intangible service don’t know which emotions they are provoking and why anyone buys from them.  

Why do people buy from you? 

Quality service emerges as a compelling reason why professionals believe their clients buy from them. Interestingly, we have discovered that what signifies quality to a practitioner and what signifies quality to clients are often two different things. Professionals tend to focus on professional designations and internal process as measures of quality. Clients tend to focus on timeliness, impact, proactive communication and relationships.

The way to find out why your clients buy from you is to ask them. One of the first things we do with any new client is to call up some of their customers and have a good chat. We ask why they chose you, what they would say about you to a friend, if they would refer you to others, what you are best at and how you can improve. We ask them if they have worked with other firms in your field and what those experiences were like. We ask them how long they have worked with your firm and if they have ever considered switching.

Are your clients considering another service provider? Listen to our webinar to find out: Boosting Your Net Promoter Score.

At the end we have a transcript of the conversation and some juicy sound or word bites you can use on your website or in proposals. This gives you the opportunity to clearly understand your value proposition (sales-speak for what makes you unique and why people should buy from you). Your value proposition tells you how your clients feel about you. The conversation with your clients also gives you a chance to address any issues before they consider leaving.

Testimonials not only explain your unique-ness to the world in an independent voice, but they also build your confidence by taking a minute to bask in all those wonderful compliments. Every professional, and every firm, needs such affirmation to help strengthen conviction in the brand and value proposition. It makes you understand why you go to work every day, too! 

Practical Testimonial Writing

We have learned some best practices over the years, as well as a few things to avoid when undertaking a testimonial-gathering effort.

Here is our checklist for curating high-quality testimonials:

  • Consider using an outside party who is good at drawing people out. Your clients will tell you that you are “great” but “great” is hardly compelling sales copy. They will be more expressive with someone they do not know. Make sure your interviewer has done this before; it is an art to draw people out and get the language that persuades.
  • Tell your clients who will be calling them and why. A heads-up from you means they will be much more comfortable with the interviewer.
  • Always use the telephone or in-person interviews. If you ask folks to write a letter, the letter will almost always be stiff and formal. Again, that’s not compelling copy. When you interview them, you have the chance to craft the words. Clients appreciate word crafting as long as it’s still accurate to the tone of their experience. 
  • Craft a variety of testimonial quotes for use in your promotional campaigns.
  • Send each quote you might ever consider using to the client and get approval. Make sure they know it may be used on your website, media releases, proposals and for a variety of promotional uses. A testimonial template is helpful in this process for written documentation of their approval.
  • Whenever possible, use the person’s full name, title, and company. “Pat Z. in Wisconsin” sounds like a late night, diet-aid commercial. “Patrick Zuber, President, HealthCore Company, Madison, Wisconsin” is more credible.  
  • Keep a file of testimonial approvals for future reference as you develop marketing materials and campaigns. 
  • Send a copy of brochures or newsletters where the quote is used to the client. Most people like seeing their name in print.


Read This Final Referral Tip

One huge advantage of a persuasive testimonial is something called the second person referral effect. Most people choose professional service providers from personal referral — in other words, a referral from someone they know and trust. A testimonial is from someone your prospect may not know. However, this stranger does know you and is willing to brag about the intangible — how it feels to buy from you — in print. While not as powerful as a personal referral, it carries more weight than you saying the same thing.
Finally, if your brochure claims your service is wonderful, it probably sounds to readers like common advertising fluff. If a real person testifies in detail about how it feels to work with you, the resulting impact will be much more persuasive. Having a file full of testimonials will enhance the quality of all your promotional material. Of course, testimonials also help you understand just why people buy from you. Plus, these tales of loyalty will help you build confidence to go out there and tell your story.


Dawn Wagenaar headshot.

Four Steps to Take to Align your Brand Across Multiple Markets

Is your firm struggling in other markets? Does your brand awareness seem to fall flat in some markets but thrive in others? Dawn Wagenaar, principal at Ingenuity Marketing Group, shares four steps to take to align your brand strategy across multiple markets. Learn brand positioning best practices for your firm, how to assess your competition and where you may have some gaps in your current positioning. Implement these steps to better align your brand across multiple markets.


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Niche Marketing Strategy Must Go Deeper Than Before

How to Grow Your Niche Market 

As your firm becomes known for a niche industry or service, you rise above the competition and are hired for that knowledge and your connections. The niche becomes part of your brand.

Niches can also attract and retain talented young professionals for the partner track.

For example, one of our accounting clients has built two-thirds of the firm’s practice in government consulting, a deep niche that is attracting non-CPAs with health care backgrounds as well as accountants. Another client focuses exclusively on pharmacies, and now has a national market. Yet another client has success with a large niche in buy here pay here auto dealerships that has contributed to double-digit firm revenue growth. 

From these examples, it’s clear that niche development is going deeper than before, requiring a focused niche marketing strategy to stay visible to a narrower audience. 

How to Deepen Your Niche Market

Which clients do you already serve in an industry? Can you grow a deeper niche for which you are better known than any competitor? Can the niche expand nationally?

You have to discern if the niche is sustainable as a growth industry, the level of competition and the potential to gain a significant portion of the market without being the lowest cost provider. Market research goes a long way toward defining your true niches. 

For AEC clients, we have done market research for specific cities as well as for subspecialties that range from senior housing to urban redevelopment. Check out our range of research capabilities.

If you don’t yet have a niche or if your firm is small, you can still develop a narrower niche within an industry. One professional services firm exploring new opportunities in manufacturing started to focus just on software developers because of the number of those firms in its region and the fact that no other comparable firms served them. It had a few clients and knowledgeable staff and was able to grow the niche through referrals and strategic marketing.  

Create a Firm Within a Firm

Speaking of your niche team, select someone as the lead or spokesperson who has the respect of other partners and can facilitate niche objectives. Organize the team like a company within a company. Build in administrative and marketing support, job descriptions, a budget, and incentives for participation. 

Ideally, you want a mix of established and new staff on the team to fuel ideas and momentum. Without this organization and commitment to growth, team members can be pulled in other directions — lacking time for focused business development and niche client services expansion. 

Choose Your Messages

Work with the niche team to identify its value proposition. Why do you service the clients exceptionally well? Why is your experience important to their everyday business? Decide what sets your firm apart in this area and what values and expectations you want people to associate with your team.

Helpful hint: To support niche visibility, your online presence should look like the people and industry that you serve. Update your images and messaging to speak to their pains, interests and desires. 

One of our clients recently asked us to develop team member bios that reflect their niche-specific experience. These bios can be used on the website as well as in proposals, presentations and speaking engagements to create more niche visibility and growth.    Other firms develop partner-marketing events and send out industry briefs to inform niche clients and potential clients about their knowledge.   

Remember that niche market development is not a rapid process. It can take years to establish your expertise. Make sure when identifying a deeper niche that it has internal champions with established industry connections and knowledge, a target market with growth potential, and synergy with your firm’s vision.

See how we worked with one firm to update their online presence to reflect their niches.