If you're looking to grow your practice, focusing on a niche can provide long-term benefits.
First, people like working with experts in their field.
Second, human nature makes it more likely that people will refer colleagues to those experts. Your brand is also easier to rank online when your message is narrowly focused.
Step 1. Choose Your Niche
Many of the most successful practices have narrowly focused brand messages; a practice can focus on expatriates, nonprofits, dentists, athletes, same-sex couples, solopreneurs or any other group.
For example, if you focus on same-sex couples, you will develop a unique selling proposition around the special circumstances this audience faces in tax planning and preparation. Because you are narrowly focused, you are automatically competing with fewer other professionals. Of course, any competent professional could help them, but the clients’ perception will be that you will know secrets that no one else knows. The benefit to you is that you actually will start to know more because you will encounter scenarios that repeat themselves. This means less time spent researching or serving your clients’ needs.
Step 2. Develop Content and Social Channels Around Your Focus
Ok: You have chosen your niche. You may now want to create a separate website dedicated to this focus or update your main site with a special section on the focus. Your indexing will then start to improve for long-tailed keyword search terms. For example, it is nearly impossible to rank well in the search engines for the search term “certified public accountant.” However, you narrow the field immensely when you add a phrase such as “certified public accountant same-sex marriage” to your content. Longer-tailed search terms lead to less competition in the rankings. True, there will be less search traffic for those terms, but these visitors will be much more likely to be interested in what you offer than more general visitors would be.
Effectively targeting long-tailed keywords in your blog content can greatly increase your number of search visitors. You should stay active by writing articles and posting on other sites related to your niche. Search guru Neil Patel wrote a great overview of how long-tailed keyword searches work. Basically, long-tailed keywords that address searchers’ needs or that indicate a solution to a specific problem will likely rank well on Google. As more visitors view your content, they will start to see your brand as the authority on the subject.
You should carry your focus forward to your social media marketing efforts and to review sites. Increasing mentions of your brand and of its associated long-tailed keywords will lead to more traffic.
Step 3. On-Board New Leads
You need to be passionate about your niche and own it. Clients and prospects can see right through those who do not value the service they provide. Being passionate also lets you start charging a premium for your niche service. You can set up a process to engage the new leads who come in because of your content. Your mentality needs to be that your prospect needs you and that you are uniquely able to help solve their problem. If you are truly confident in what you are doing, the other party will lower their defense mechanisms because they won’t feel like they are being sold to. Your content and advice should have already started this process, thus making it much easier and faster to convert leads into paid clients.
Step 4. Set Up Your Referral Channels
You should start collecting client testimonials and reviews within your niche focus. Nothing sells your service better than real-life client experiences and social proof. Use marketplace sites such as Yelp, TaxBuzz and Google My Business to start building this valuable resource. The first benefit you will see is a lift in your search results. Better yet, when you have a very strong online reputation, you will be able to convert more leads and referrals into clients.
Step 5. Focus on Social Media
You can participate in groups or online networks that already talk about your niche, or you can create your own social media groups. You can also frequently use hashtags and curate social media content in your preferred subject matter. This all helps build your authority online.
If you create your own group, first make sure that you are not using it to sell. The group should be about fostering relationships with your audience and building trust. Examples of social groups are a Facebook group focusing on expatriate taxes or a LinkedIn group that talks about the issues facing solopreneurs—or even more granularly, AirBNB owners. You will attract a large following over time as long as you put in the time and create posts with valuable content that engages your audience.
Focusing on a niche is a long-term play. It takes dedication and resolve, so don’t look at it as an overnight solution for growing your practice. As a result of your evergreen content, you will gain repeat visitors, be able to charge higher average fees and become a brand with staying power. More importantly, if you are consistently adding blog content about your niche, you will achieve long-term staying power that will be difficult for up-and-coming competitors to overcome. You encounter this all the time; for instance, a competitor who does not have all the skills that you have can still be perceived as stronger by prospects, in Google search results or in the online marketplace. Focusing on a niche is a strategy that will deliver dividends for years to come.
Lee Reams II is the founder and CEO of ClientWhys Inc. andTaxBuzz.com. He is an active blogger and webinar presenter.