by Sarah Warlick, content director
So often in marketing, we hear clients asking that old question, “How can I stand out in a crowded professional landscape?” We help them answer it with a variety of customized marketing strategies based on what makes them different. Before we can do that, though, we spend a good deal of time assisting them in identifying the factors that distinguish them from similar firms.
Surprisingly often, they have not put much thought into this critical question and are stumped for answers. (They are frequently shocked and dismayed to learn that “Really listening to clients, building a relationship and becoming their trusted advisors” does not count as a unique factor that sets the firm apart from the crowd.) Frequently these are fine firms that are very like a dozen others nearby, offering the same services, at a high but roughly equal level of quality, and targeting the same potential clients.
One of the smartest and simplest ways to distinguish your firm is to focus on reaching and serving a non-traditional client base. Naturally, most firms are interested in high net worth individuals and families. What they often don’t realize is that these clients may identify first in ways other than “wealthy.” Two prime examples are women, particularly divorced women, and same sex couples.
For a variety of reasons, women more often than men are likely to ignore, postpone or fear dealing with financial and legal issues. Though women are the sole or primary earner in the household increasingly often, they are still, as a group, less likely to possess a high level of financial planning knowledge and commitment to building and managing wealth, or to be the one making most of the financial decisions. They are also less likely to take a proactive approach to wills, estate plans and other legal documents. At the same time, this group is often virtually ignored in financial and legal marketing, and that makes this demographic a ripe target for astute firms that take these factors into account in their marketing messages.
Same sex couples and families, similarly, have long been a part of the social fabric whose needs have tended to be overlooked and underserved by financial and legal professionals. These demographic units have also been hesitant to approach providers with their needs, in many cases.
The pent up demand by this group for accounting, financial planning and legal services has suddenly expanded to an even greater number of potential clients, now that the Supreme Court has instigated a wave of weddings and awareness with their ruling recognizing the validity of all marriages nationwide. Adoptions, combining assets, retirement planning, wills and estates – there’s a lot of work for accountants and attorneys that will come from this ruling.
It’s also true, but unfortunate, that the spike in same sex marriages will probably be followed by an increase in divorces, as these couples follow the normal relationship patterns. On the personal level that fact represents devastating loss, but it does bring expanded opportunity for providers of professional services.
Carving out a distinctive niche for your firm can be challenging. By building a marketing strategy around reaching out to a new client base, you can increase your firm’s recognition in the marketplace along with your business. Becoming known within your clients’ social circles as “the firm that totally understands our needs and specializes in serving us,” whatever that ‘us’ may stand for, is a powerful tool for building success.