Whatever your plans are for the year ahead, communication with clients and prospects will be one of them. At BOMA, we’ve compiled an easy guide for making sure your marketing is in tip top shape. You will probably be able to tick many of these steps off already or use the guide to help get you started.
So here goes..
Technology has shaken things up a bit across industries. In accountancy and bookkeeping, software has taken over much of the compliance work, leaving firms under pressure to add value and offer more advisory services. Marketing has also changed. The good news is that digital marketing has, in fact made it 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 behind. But with a bit of a plan you can make FY18 your best year yet.
Brand – who are you and what are you really selling?
When you have established what is it that you do better than your competitors, and why they prefer you to anyone else, try to clearly and concisely articulate it. This is your brand proposition, and it will form the basis of, and help, every future marketing decision you make.
By analysing exactly what makes your company stand out from its competitors, and how the company really benefits consumers, you’ll be able to establish your point of difference.
This involves a bit of internal work. Think beyond the function of your product to the problem you are solving for clients and customers. Maybe you are:
- the cashflow king
- the trade specialist
- the small business wizard.
It’s all about promoting your advisory niche to establish yourself as a thought leader for that specific area of expertise.
Establishing your advisory niche
This takes time but if you continue to share new insight, commentary and advice that proves your worth, you will become the ‘go-to person for that area. Practical advice and ‘know how’ on the industry specific tools like Tradify, will set you apart from your competitors.
Getting the message out there
Start writing, sharing and talking about your firm’s capabilities and expertise. Great content is useful, interesting or even entertaining for your audience. Here are some ideas:
- Set up a regular blog post
- Reach out to influencers in the area and collaborate on content
- Speak at an event
- Grow your network using Facebook, Linkedin and /or Twitter to connect with others and add commentary
- Be prepared to get out there, share your opinion pieces with online and printed publications
- Offer a different and new opinion.
Brush up your website
Research shows that 89% of customers begin their purchase with an internet search. Even your referred clients will check out your website first. A study by Hinge Marketing found that 43.6% of referrals won’t get in touch if your website isn’t clear about how you can help them. Make sure you put your firm’s best foot forward.
Is your home page compelling – Keep it simple and put your 3 second pitch here stating clearly what you offer and why they should choose you.
Mobile responsive – More people now view websites from a mobile than a desktop machine. So your website needs to be ‘responsive’ – in other words, it must automatically resize and reformat when viewed on a mobile device. If it’s not already, make this a priority for your business.
Let others do the talking – Testimonials from your clients build trust and build credibility (and they also raise the profile of your client’s business too). Before you approach your clients, think about the areas you would like them to endorse you for, so you can discuss this with them – this will help them in coming up with a comment too.
Draw attention – Use visually interesting images that represent your products and services. Include images of the team in the About Us section.
“Do the basic things well you’ll have a highly effective website that will set you apart from the ordinary. Business owners often put off attempting to improve their websites but if you review your site and make these recommended changes you’ll see good increases in the time people spend on your site, the number of pages they view and ultimately more leads and then its over to you to woo them as clients.”
Grant Johnson, Co-founder at Rocketspark
Use email marketing
Email marketing allows you to quickly (and inexpensively) communicate with your clients and prospects to share advice and insight, and in the process, grow your service offering and your client base. Email is still one of the most effective ways to communicate with your clients and prospects. In fact 77% of us prefer to get messages delivered by email over any other channel.
Design your emails around information that is specific to the unique business challenges of your existing clients or the clients you are looking for. Great email marketing provides something of value for your audience (like giving free advice) and it puts you in a position of ‘trusted authority’. This is a great position to be in when they start looking for an advisory partner.
Embracing social media
Social Media is the new word of mouth. It’s a great way to reach a broader audience, amplify your message and establish your thought leadership.
Here’s a brief summary of the main channels, and what to post:
Facebook – The most dominant channel by far. Facebook provides you with a non selling environment – it’s all about personality, casual endorsement and being a proactive, responsive company.
- Post about the human side of your company with images of the team or an event you’ve held.
- Share long form content here too with a link back to the article on line or your website.
- Facebook Ads – Ads allow you to reach a defined target audience, that are more likely to be interested in your message and may not see it otherwise. You can reach more people, promote products or offers and direct people through to your website.
LinkedIn – LinkedIn is the business version and helps you get in touch with others within an industry or across industry. Create a page for your business and make sure your team link to it. On LinkedIn, the opportunity exists to be a thought leader in your areas of expertise.
- Post longer form content here that provides a new take or perspective
- Share posts written by others that provide something of value for your audience and introduce with your own comment.
Twitter – Twitter is all about micro posts on topical issues. They can be stand alone comments but you can also use Twitter to share and comment on an article you’ve read online or share your opinion on something newsworthy. If you are new to Twitter, it’s a good place to follow industry influencers and get a feel for what’s trending.
- Share clever comments about topical issues.
- Introduce and link to a blog post you have written
- Add an entertaining take on industry news.
Instagram – Instagram is about beautiful images. While it is well suited to product based businesses, there are plenty of examples of the service industries doing beautiful instagram feeds. Images can reflect values, personality or causes you care about and sponsor. Look at GE or Fedex.
- You can create ads in instagram in the same way as Facebook. Instagram users are a highly engaged audience. 60% say they discover new products on the platform and 75% take action after being inspired by a post according to a survey of users.
Social media for business is about community
Social media is about relationships with others. Think about what your audience is really interested in, you are there to give first, sell second. So, while your end goal may be promotion, you are doing this in a way that is useful, engaging, informative or entertaining. The more engaging your posts and tweets are the more likely your message with be shared.
TIP: BOMA reformats and delivers your campaign to the channels you choose. Email, Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter – all from one easy to use platform.
Create a plan for your content marketing
Creating a plan at the beginning of a new financial year will make your marketing a lot easier, particularly in busy periods. Plus, if your plan is based on creating content for the topics within your advisory niche, you’ll find it a lot easier to achieve your marketing goals and each communication will build on the last.
Create a list of topics to cover so that you always have inspiration. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Advice, guidance and new compliance rules
- Industry updates
- Look at industry publications both online and printed for ideas on topical issues
- Events – have you been to something recently or is there something coming up?
- Frequently asked questions – What questions have you been asked recently? Chances are the answers to a question asked by one client, will be useful and relevant to another.
- Profiles of your customers (this gives them valuable exposure too). Share their story and how you have helped their business
- News from your firm
- Newsletter, this can be a combination of the topics above
Finally, put some dates in the diary. Decide how often you want to send an email out. Some of this will depend on time and resource. With a plan, the task is easier. And once you get started, you’ll be able to establish what works and what doesn’t.
And on that note … Let’s look at how to work out what works and what doesn’t!
Return on investment – measuring your activity
Digital marketing is much more measurable than traditional marketing but you do need to start with your business goals. Work out what you want to achieve and that will tell you what you need to measure.
There are lots of ways to analyse the effectiveness of your marketing:
- Website traffic and engagement – with a tool like Google Analytics you’ll be able to see how many visit your site and from where. You can also look at how long they stay, what they look at and what they do. You’ll be able to see what pages are doing well and which pages might need more work. If your goal is more enquiry, measure the calls and emails you get.
- Email engagement – Email marketing with useful content is a way of nurturing contacts and allowing them to come to you when the time is right for them. So unless your email asks directly for a sale, the return might be a slower burn and the result of an iterative process. In BOMA, look at open rates and click rates.
- Social Media likes and followers – If your post on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn is engaged with, it gets more exposure and encourages more followers and likes.
- Growth of your client base – And are they the clients you are wanting to attract? If not, tweak the messaging.
- Feedback from your clients – Don’t be afraid to ask your clients what they think, they may also give you inspiration for future content.
Most of the time your metrics will confirm what you know already, but they will help shape the direction your content takes. Over time you will build a picture on what content works and what doesn’t.
It’s important to note that content marketing is about building relationships and sharing something of value with your audience. So take a long and broad view. Your new client may have contacted you as a result of a number of marketing initiatives e.g. they may have talked to you at an event, visited your site and received an interesting email. All of these things combine to build their knowledge of you and your firm.
Phew! Well that’s the basics. We hope that FY18 is the best year yet for your business.
Good luck and go forth!
About the Author: Liz Studholme is the Marketing Content Manager at BOMA.
We take the complexity out of digital marketing. Find out more.