It would be fair to say that at this point you would expect me to tell you to be a trusted advisor. This is what many of the industry “gurus” are saying is the way to stand out in a more and more commoditised profession.
But this is not what this article is about. There are hundreds of those articles, and if you know me well you know I like to think differently.
And in fact this is the key. They key to standing out in a commoditised profession is to do things differently to others in your profession.
Many of your skills were once seen as “elusive” to us mortals who are not accountants and bookkeepers, but technology has enabled us to “believe” that we too can be masters of tax efficiency and accounting.
The truth is though, that we just are not able to do it. We might believe at first that we can take control of our business and personal finances, but you and I both know that this will not work in the long term.
But as us mere mortals are rubbish at accounting, we need you to show us that we need you and your expertise. And by your expertise I don’t mean being the trusted advisor, I mean actually doing the accounting work… running tax returns, year-end, payroll and the mess we get ourselves into.
So the question is then, “why you and not one of your peers?”.
You look similar (if not the same) online, you and your peers often have the same company running your social media accountants, and you and your peers use the same language to sell your services.
As a buyer, there is often little, if no way, to differentiate you from other accountants.
So how can you transcend commoditisation? How can you be relevant despite the ever-changing landscape? How can you continue to have an accounting practice when so much is out of your control?
Here is where you start: You master the art of personal branding.
There is no one like you in the world. You are unique. Which is fortunate, as in todays loud, noisy and overcrowded world, very little is unique.
At this point you may start to shake and think – I can’t master the art of personal branding, I am an introvert. I will share with you in a future blog why this will never hold you back, and why being an introvert may be a tool in your arsenal.
So let’s continue this article assuming you have bought into the idea of raising your personal brand, and let me share with you some ideas on how to go about building it.
1. Know why you set up your accounting practice in the first place. When you have a strong idea of why you are running it, you will find you have a passion for it. This passion is contagious and people will want what you are offering if they feel it is important.
2. Understand that your personal brand is not just about you, but also about positioning your firm and your offering. For this reason you have to ensure that you and your firm match up. They key to this is delving deep into your values, and ensuring your team and you have values that are aligned.
3. Educate yourself so that you can become an expert in something that is relevant to your accounting practice’s offering. You don’t have to position yourself as the tax return specialist, but you do need to know what pains your ideal clients have so that you are relevant.
4. Be a niche celebrity to a few. When you go to do your weekly shop you don’t want to be recognised. Being a celebrity can be exhausting. But if you choose a niche that you can be a celebrity to, then you will be well known when you hang out with them, but still have a life outside work. Being famous to a few will go a long way to giving you a great lifestyle.
5. Hang out with influencers in your chosen niche. Being able to leverage other people’s brands to raise your profile will enable you to build trust quickly with ideal clients.
6. Publish like there is no tomorrow. I out-publish all my competitors. I also get more traction online than my competitors. You will be more visible, the more content and value you share in the world. It is important to remember that you must share valuable content. You do not want to add to the noise with bland content.
7. Publish bland content. Yes, I know I said don’t publish bland content, but you have to start somewhere. Your mission is to get good at writing/video. But you may not be a natural on day one. I was horrendous. But now, I’m not so bad. It’s a journey, and it starts with the first piece of content.
8. Play The Google Game™. If you have heard me speak you know there is a reason why I am called Amanda C. Watts. It’s purely because I play what I call The Google Game™. When I Google you, it is imperative that you take up the first few pages on the search results. This is step one in creating your personal brand.
9. Focus on being on as many different podcasts, webinars, and interviews as you can. This will enable you to be found on Google, but it will also give you lots of content that you can share online.
10. Have 1000 conversations. Yep, the more conversations you have the more people will know you. If you sit in your office “doing the work” you will end up commoditised and feel the squeeze. If you go out and meet people you will be able to attract more opportunities, attract better staff and run a more profitable business.
And these ideas are just the tip of the iceberg. There are 100’s of ways to use personal branding to differentiate yourself in the marketplace. It is the most effective, cost-efficient and profit generating technique out there. No one is more unique than you.