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How to avoid the commoditisation trap

How to avoid the commoditisation trap

Accounting

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5

min read

How to avoid the commoditisation trap 

 

An issue that accountants have been grappling with increasingly in recent years is the so-called “commoditisation” of their services. 

 

Let's take a look at what this means, and then what steps you can take to avoid this problem and maintain and raise the value of the services you provide. 

What's a commodity? It can be oil, gas, sugar or one of many other products that are entirely indistinguishable one from another. They are so identical that it really makes no difference if you buy from one company or another. 

 

For accountants, market commoditisation is about offering the same services that other firms do. Think about it: if that’s the case then why would a potential client choose your company to take care of his accounts?  

 

In other words, you need to differentiate and add extra value. If not, then you have no unique selling proposition, and neither do you have the ability to resist demands for lower prices for your services. 

 

You have seen signs of commoditisation everywhere in the business: from accountants offering instant pricing quotes to online reviews which all say the same sorts of things: “great service”, “fast turnaround”, “attention to detail”, etc. 

 

The trend has been accelerated by the growing role of technology. There are software programmes today that will give your clients easy and rapid access to their financial situation. In the past, clients received tax reports relating to what had happened weeks and months before. Now, cloud-based computing means they can – and do demand – to see what is happening in real-time. 

 

If this is the case, no matter who is taking care of their accounts, then the accountant has much reduced value, and is placed in a weaker position. How do you persuade a client that it is more than just about the basic numbers. 

  

How to ensure you don’t become an accountancy commodity 

Given that humans are different, it makes sense that the services and advice accounting firms provide should be different from one person to another, and from one practice to another. 

 

Accountancy is full of accountants and companies that are unique. That should mean that they provide real value to clients. Just because they are all involved in the same trade should not necessarily mean they are supplying the same value services.  

But that is exactly what many are doing. 

So, what can you do to make sure your accounting services won’t become commodities? These three ideas can help: 

 

Target niche market 

It's impossible to be an expert in every single field of accounting, and that is a good argument for ensuring you specialize in a particular area.  

 

Jack of all trades, and master of none is a well-known expression, so creating a role for yourself as a valuable specialist will bring you clients.  

 

Don't market yourself purely as an accountant, but rather as an accountant specializing in doctors' practices, For example, vets or some other profession. In addition, add in your local town, city or region to your business listing. 

 

In this way, you can be seen as an authority which will bring more value than attempting to cast your net as wide as possible in the hope of bringing in more customers. 

 

Package yourself better 

After deciding which professions you are going to specialize in, find specific problem areas so you can present yourself as an expert in dealing with them.  

 

For example, private doctors may dislike having to deal with charging and accounts receivable. This provides an opportunity for an accountant to create a package of services that would remove this chore from the doctor's list. Taking care of problem areas is something that customers appreciate and are willing to pay for. 

 

Setting yourself apart from competitors who provide the same services will distinguish you and allow you to charge higher prices since it prevents your services from being seen as a commodity. 

  

State your value and advertise it 

You know that you have added value to offer, but you need to ensure that potential clients become aware of this as well, so create a succinct message about the value you deliver to your potential clients.  

 

First test it out on current clients to check that you have got it right, and then start delivering the message via social media and your other platforms.  


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