To compete in a tough landscape, financial professionals must now wear a new hat: marketer. Mastery of marketing – especially digital – is key to whether an accounting practice thrives long term.
You will have noticed how technology has shaken up accountancy, software has reduced good billable hours to the click of a button so firms are under increasing pressure to add value and price competitively to get, and keep, clients.
Marketing has also changed. The good news is that it’s easier and cheaper than ever to reach out to prospective customers and engage with your existing clients, the bad news is that if you’re not taking advantage of that you’re being left further and further behind.
If you are still asking yourself “do I really need to market my accountancy or bookkeeping firm” the answer is yes and here’s why…
1. Your Competition is Already Marketing Themselves
You can check what the competition is up to for inspiration and then devise a strategy tailored to work for your business, designed around your strengths and your target market. Don’t panic, there are some simple steps to get you started
- Sort out your website: Ensure the design is clear, easy to navigate and optimised for mobile.
- Embrace social media: create a LinkedIn page and establish yourself/your business on other social networks like Facebook and Twitter that your ideal client base uses.
- Create Content: consider a blogging strategy that will provide plenty of engaging content to share with prospective clients, ask for testimonials from existing clients, consider sharing their story and how you have helped their business.
2. Marketing Helps Attract the Type of Clients you Want
Who is your ideal client? Apart from the kind that pays on time. You might focus on businesses in your area, or find it more profitable to work with the general public. Perhaps there is a special sector or industry in which you specialise, such as helping small to medium-sized businesses.
Whoever you want to serve, marketing will help get your message to them. Tailor your marketing and craft campaigns to speak directly to your ideal customers through specialised content and targeted social media advertising.
You can’t please, or serve, all the people all the time so it makes sense to know your ideal target consumer. If you think you’ll be attracting your chosen market at the expense of other demographics you may be right but that’s not necessarily a bad thing – it’s worked for some of the most successful brands on the planet.
Take Brokerage app Robin Hood, for example. It’s taken an old school business – stockbroking – and made it accessible and appealing to the significant Millennial market. An old product that’s presented for modern consumers by a company which understood that it was a younger segment who would be comfortable with and adopt personal trading software. As a result they went full force in that direction with their marketing.
A narrow focus worked for them and it can work for you, too.
If you aren't sure who to target, start with your current client base and see if you can identify common denominators. For instance, you might find you have several clients in the construction industry or that most of your revenue comes from a certain age range or geographic region. It pays to do a little research to discover your audience segments, then you can attract more just like them.
3. Marketing Encourages You to Define Your Competitive Advantage
Can you explain, out loud, why someone should choose your accounting or bookkeeping firm over another one? If you have the answer ready that’s great, if not make crafting the answer a priority
Theodore Levitt, one of the founding fathers of modern marketing, was a firm believer in what he called ‘differentiation’. It means identifying your ‘unique selling proposition’ and he believed it to be one of the most important activities for marketers. Prospective clients are wondering which firm to chose and why so help them out. Don’t wait to be asked, be proactive about getting your message out.
4. Word-of-Mouth Advertising Isn't Loud Enough Anymore
Word-of-mouth has long been an accounting firm's best friend. It's free, it's simple, and best of all, it's an effective way to attract new clients.
However, in the post digital world of mobile internet, social media, and online everything, people are turning to Google and relying on online sources to guide decisions big and small. Word-of-mouth is being superseded by online evangelism.
One study shows that 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a recommendation from a family member or close friend and 85% of consumers claim to read up to 10 reviews about a local business.
People fear making the wrong choice. They want to know who they're dealing with and feel secure their choices. Online reviews flow so freely on Google and social media, it's easier than ever to see if people think an accounting firm is worth its salt, or not.
There are a few things you can do to get more people talking about your firm:
- Ask satisfied clients for referrals and online reviews
- Engage with your clients and prospective clients online
- Monitor and respond to reviews/comments on Google and social media, especially if someone leaves you a negative review
- Update your content, keeping your online presence fresh and relevant
5. Marketing Helps Establish Your Brand
Keep in mind that marketing is not another word for selling. Rather, you're promoting your brand, values, mission, and other core features that make your firm unique.
Successful marketing will help attract new clients and drive increased value from current ones. You can use your marketing strategy to present your practice to the world in a way that best reflects both its values and the unique characteristics you want people to associate with your company.
6. Digital Marketing Never Sleeps
Digital marketing of your accounting or bookkeeping practice is working for you 24-7. Your website, social media pages, blog, and other elements are always on so you can be engaging with clients even when you're away from your desk.
Prospects will be doing their online research at a convenient time for them and online resources like Google Analytics can tell you exactly when this is. If they can't find the answers they need on your website or other resources, there are plenty of accounting firms with better online visibility that are just a few clicks away.
Marketing doesn't have to take a massive time and money investment to get results. However you choose to manage your marketing, understand that whether to market is no longer a choice – it's becoming a necessity to increase your client base and maximise revenue and satisfaction from existing clients.