How to Market Your Accounting Firm on a Shoestring Budget

Marketing is a massive opportunity for Accountants & Bookkeepers to help grow their firms and to nurture current clients. But how do you get started? Join Charles Clark, Marketing Director of BOMA, and Kylie Wing, Global Marketing Lead for Spotlight Reporting, share 10 effective marketing tactics to help drive your firms growth that don't cost the earth.

During this webinar you’ll learn:

  • The importance of a Marketing Plan
  • Website best practice
  • How to be findable online
  • How to use social media
  • Winning video content
  • Using testimonials to help you win business
  • Thought leadership
  • Promoting your expertise with case studies
  • Emails & newsletters
  • How to stage an event
NB: You can also read a full transcript of this session below.

 

 

‘How to Market Your Accounting Firm on a Shoestring Budget' Transcript

Charles Clark:

Hi everyone, and welcome. Thanks for your time today, really thrilled that you could join us. My name is Charles Clark and I'm joined by Kylie Wing of Spotlight Reporting. Hi Kylie.

Kylie Wing:

Hi, how are you Charles?

Charles Clark:

Really well, thanks. And I'm thrilled to have you along, you and I have worked together on partnership between Spotlight and BOMA so thrilled that you can join us for this. And I think we've got a really good session today. And when you and I were discussing earlier, what we should be talking about, what we really tried to head on was 10 things that people could do that would really make a difference to their practice.

Charles Clark:

How could they do the simple things that didn't take a lot of time or necessarily a lot of money, and that would make a real difference, so that's what we're going to be covering today. There's quite a lot for us to cover so we'll be going through it at a bit of pace, but if you've got any questions, do shout out, type them in and we'll do our best to answer them as we go. So first, start talking about marketing plan and the key for this really. I think Kylie as illustrated to me is you need to have one.

Kylie Wing:

Yes, absolutely. So I think with marketing, all your efforts they really do start with a marketing plan. The way I like to frame it up is to think about Rubik's cube. This is a really fun way to understand how the plan works. So when you try and solve a Rubik cube, if you look at the video there, you can't make each move in isolation, you need to plan for a few moves in advance. And when you have the block colors, when you solve it, those are your business goals.

Kylie Wing:

So all the individual little pieces, those are your marketing tactics and the planners to get them all lined up. So when you have a marketing plan, you need to make sure it ladders up to your business strategy and your business goals, that's the best way to get really effective results. So the plan is a document that we can send out to you guys after this webinar and the follow-up email. It's a template that helps you get really organised and focused.

Kylie Wing:

You can prioritise all your marketing activity and you'll have direction on how you need to achieve your goals and objectives, who's going to carry out what who's going to do it by when, et cetera, et cetera. The part about making it deliberate and intentional, that's really about making sure that your marketing activity points back to whether you're trying to get a customer or keep a customer or generate revenue or growth. So you really need to think about what you're doing.

Kylie Wing:

I would say with marketing plans, make sure that you're not invisible and don't wait for a bigger competitor to come to town because when that happens, you'll find that if someone comes along and they're actually putting time and effort into marketing, all of a sudden you're on the back foot. So I would say the thing with this one is goals. If you're broadly speaking, if you've got goals like business growth in your marketing plan, you'll be really wanting to focus on new business and upselling.

Kylie Wing:

And if profit is one of your main objectives, you'll really be wanting to focus all your marketing on attracting and retaining high profit clients. And then awareness could be a key one for your firm as well. If you are trying to go for awareness, then your key objective will just be to establish yourself in market and build on your brand.

Charles Clark:

Yeah, I think all great points and like with everything, if you don't make a plan, oftentimes best intentions go by the wayside when life gets busy and those times of the year where it's super busy for accountants and bookkeepers. So if you have a plan, as Kylie said, people know what they have to do, when they have to do it or you'll find that actually instead of it being a last minute rush and a stress and a hassle, it can actually fit in with the other activity that you've undertaken. So yeah, once you've got a plan, I think that's basically the basis of everything that we are talking about today is you have that plan and then you can move out into those of the blocks and start ticking off.

Kylie Wing:

And use it as a document to keep you really honest as well, to focus on your metrics and your results because as you do marketing, you don't want to just do it and move on to the next thing you really want to measure and make sure you're really focused on whether or not you've gotten a return from the time and effort that you've put into this activity.

Charles Clark:

And so you want to think about in terms of that return on your investment, what you specify as a return may be different to someone else. So have a think about what specifically that return for you. So it might be that you won an event and you get some leads come through that or it may be that you're able to upsell some current clients to high value services. So there's lots of different ways that you can measure that return.

Charles Clark:

So, but as Kylie says you look back at the end of a six month or a year, you can say, “Look, how effective was this? Was it worth the time and effort and resources that we allocated to it?” So one of the other places to start once you've got your plan is your website and I'm sure lots of people out there already have websites, but I can tell you from practice that a lot of people, maybe their website is as maybe a little bit old or hasn't been brought into line with best practice.

Charles Clark:

So what we've got here are just some ideas that whether you just need to give your own website a bit of a tune-up or you're looking to do a new website entirely, what are the things that you should be looking for that are going to drive, I suppose, the best uptake by people who come onto your website. So a couple of pointers and the first one is that when someone comes onto your website, whether it's the first time or they've been there before, they're going to make up their mind about the website in about 0.3 of a second.

Charles Clark:

So that first visual feeling that I get will tell them a lot about, or will give them an insight into you as a brand and a company. So you can see here, Alluvia financial are doing all the right things. So the top left hand corner, they've got a really nice brand logo and that's repeated throughout the site and also across all their social and email activities. So that goes throughout all the marketing and con. So linking down from the logo, they also state what their mission is.

Charles Clark:

So for them, we help you discover your richness, and in the next slide, we actually look at the entire page and they actually have a client testimonial which tells the viewer how Alluvia helped them discover that richness because it's an individual thing. So they really nicely have their mission statement. What is it that Alluvia is here to do. And then also in that same box, they have a call to action which is let's get started and that actually goes through to a page where you can book a time to chat and it's got an online calendar and so you can immediately log your time to chat at a time that suits you, and then you're taking that first step on that discovery process.

Charles Clark:

So is this someone that I would like to work with and how could they help me? So immediately, we've set the stage with the logo and the mission statement and also the taking action and the call to action is really critical as well. Then there's a couple of other elements. So below the call to action, we've got all the certifications and awards that they've won. And then again, below those we've got all the clients that they have.

Charles Clark:

So two really key elements that just in that first couple of seconds when the user first looks at your web page, they immediately can see that Alluvia are a goal partner certified with Xero advisor, they've won some awards, they've got best accounting awards, and they've got lots of clients. Some of whom would be relevant because this is in quite a small town in Bendigo New South Wales. They can see that, “Oh look, I'm Bendigo.” And may even know some of those clients. So it's talking to that social proof. That means that actually these guys are real, they have real clients and these clients have felt comfortable with having their logos on here as well.

Kylie Wing:

Can I just add to that? So the goal of your website best practice is to try and keep people on your website for as long as possible. So you want to really stretch out that time on site, and one thing you can do is if you have access is to look at Google Analytics to try and understand what pages people are looking at on your site. What are they looking at and what aren't they looking at and how can you bring more people? Simple things like having a contact form that people can fill out just means that they can stay in your website rather than just stating the email address that they should contact you at. That means they have to go into another tab, open up their email, fire something up and send it over to you. So just little tricks like that are quite helpful.

Charles Clark:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). And that's a really good point. If you're not sure how to get Google Analytics, it's free which is fantastic. And if you run or you have someone who runs your website for you, they can definitely hook it up for you pretty quickly and easily. So this is the view of that entire webpage that I was just talking about. So you can see as you start to scroll down from the hero image where the accreditation and the clients are, and they start to break it up into sections.

Charles Clark:

And what science has proven is that if you have a whole lot of text from one of these web pages with all this fantastic information, because it's also densely packed together, the messaging will be lost. So the best practice is to start to actually put it into sections and keep each section very, very simple and have one point per section, and really try and hammer home that point in that section as to why in this case, it's talking about the way not you tick number crunches, what is the key piece of information that you want the user to see in that section, then you can let them scroll down a little bit further and they can take in another simple bit of information.

Charles Clark:

The idea is that through use of the sections and imagery, and just a little bit of text, you are able to impart quite a lot of information and bite size chunks that a user can … That they can understand and then actually take on board. So the idea is not to smother them with information like he would say in a blog post where it's rich and dense text. The idea is to just in a very sectioned way, just give them only the information that they need on that page.

Charles Clark:

The other element they've really done is start to incorporate video. And I know Kylie is really keen to talk about video later on, but what they've done here is basically interview one of their clients about how Alluvia has helped them discover their richness which in their case for this particular family was spending more time at home with the family rather than having to work all the time. So just a really nice way to A, bring in some different media onto the homepage, but also be start to tell that story that not only is a client's story as that might be for the user, they might say, “Oh yes, I'm exactly like that. I would like to have more time for my family, but it also brings it social proof element of people use this company, they trust it, and they to talk in a public forum on a website about how they found it helping them.”

Kylie Wing:

One other thing to add for visuals. If you're looking for visuals, there are lots of different free websites that you can find on the internet. One is called unsplash.com. So going to these websites and getting free imagery, stock imagery really helps as well. You just need to type in what you're looking for and it'll turn a whole lot of results. So that website again was unsplash.com and there's lots of others like that as well, but start with that one and see how you go.

Charles Clark:

Cool. So obviously once you've got your website, you don't want it to be to labor and obscurity. So you want people when they go into Google and they type in your name for you to come up at the top of the search rankings that this is absolutely sort of hygiene factor 101 for your website. So how do you make sure that this happens? How do you make sure that you rank organically?

Charles Clark:

So a couple of key points I would say is one, make sure that your website address contains the name of your business. So in this case for Alluvia, it's ….alluviafinancial.com. So there we are, the name is an email address and a website address, and so it's starting off on that process of making sure you have the keywords used multiple times. Other ways you can do it on different pages on your website. Again, make sure you reference that key name, but also you make sure you reference elements that would support it. So it could be your location, in this case, Bendigo.

Charles Clark:

It could be the fact that you're a Xero specialist, that you're an accountant. All these things that when people start to search for you so they might put an Alluvia Financial Bendigo or Alluvia Financial accountant, or they might put in Bendigo accounting, all these keywords. If you had them on your website, they will actually then be pulled up by Google and ranked. And then ideally, you'll start to go to the top of those pages. Yeah, and then obviously through my business which Kylie has done a lot with.

Kylie Wing:

Yeah, this is a good segue into Google my business. I love this one because this is a tool that allows you to manage how your business shows up on Google search and Google Maps. And for me, again, another hygiene factor, if you haven't got this for your business or your firm, you might want to quickly Google and see if you pop up on the right-hand side, just makes it really easy for customers to find all your information about your business without having to leave the search engine.

Kylie Wing:

You just need to make sure that your details are up to date and that they have the correct information. And like Charles said, Google will prioritise businesses that share this info so your firm will be higher up and the search results will be optimised. Yeah, just highly recommend getting a head start on this one. So if you had to make a list of everything of what we're going to talk about today, please make sure that this one is a must-do.

Charles Clark:

And one of the things that we'll touch on in a few minutes, you can see there they've got five star reviews. So this is actually people who have used them, have gone on written a review. So again, we talked about social proof failure, and then Kylie I know, wants to talk about sort of testimonials just a fantastic way. There were no reviews or bad reviews, people would probably still look you up, but just want to have those reviews again, just increases that level of trust, uncertainty that when they make that connection, that they can have a slightly higher level of confidence that you are going to be a great person or a great company to work with.

Kylie Wing:

Okay. This next one on social media. The one thing I think if you want to take away anything from today when it comes to social is that social media is not one person's job. So you might have one person who has always done the marketing. It's just not their sole responsibility. Social is the responsibility of everyone in the firm, and the reason is because when everyone gets behind it, you get to amplify the efforts because of how algorithms work on social media platforms these days.

Kylie Wing:

So the way to think about it is that your con social, that is the fire, but the social media part is the gasoline and everyone who gets behind it will just pour additional gasoline to make your fire burn a lot higher. These are some things to think about, all these bullets here, what you want to take away from social. Do have a think about your business goals and the target audience that you're trying to attract, because you need to be quite select in the platform that you're using.

Kylie Wing:

For example, if you choose to use LinkedIn, are you using that because you're going to have a targeted networking strategy or are you going to focus on Facebook because there's lots of businesses on there? So just take a think about the platform. Majority of you will already be doing social I take it. So this session might be good for some of you guys to do an audit thinking about your imagery, your cover photo, making sure that all your details are up to date, really vital stuff guys.

Kylie Wing:

So when you're out at events and say you're at a XeroCon or something like that, you really want to make sure that your social media channels and your platforms, they look professional that they're up to date, that they've got all the right details because you never who you're going to meet, and who's going to have a look. Make sure you're prepared and yeah, just keep things up to date. Every month, just pop in and make sure that you're looking right, but in addition to that, make sure you're in social quite often. Sorry, you go.

Charles Clark:

Oh, I was just going to say in terms of dating things, one of the things that and we just made a notion slide is you've got your cover image, that cover image doesn't have to stay the same all the time. You can change it up every couple of months. You could also put up images on a recent event that you held, maybe something that's relevant in terms of seasonality. So think of this as a platform, it's the first thing that people will see when they land on your social profile, and it's a great visual way that you can tell stories.

Charles Clark:

So it could be that you are promoting just your business, or it could be an event or it could be something that you are really proud of. Maybe you've won some awards. So again, just make sure to refresh because obviously like with everything in social, people want to see new content and making sure that you have of those new photos up there just because of something new to look at, something you can engage with.

Kylie Wing:

Actually, one other thing I will add to that one before we jump to the next slide Charles is just around the frequency of posting. For example, at spotlight reporting, we have a small marketing team that we try, every one of us tries to post something every day. So having a really good routine is a sure far way to get the momentum going on social and then having your people within your firm to also share and repost and to like, you'll get more engagement, you'll get more people commenting and sharing, but you've got to get the whole team on board to help amplify your efforts. And also, if people are on social and they are engaging with you, be courteous and thank them for sharing things, if they like something or comment, comment back and make them feel like you've appreciated their time that they've spent for doing that.

Charles Clark:

I think that's such a fantastic point. The more you engage with people online, as Kylie was saying about algorithms, the more engagements a post has, the higher it'll be ranked up and hopefully the more people will see it, but also engaging shows people that you're real which is great. And whether it's positive or negative, a comment or anything like that, how you engage with people will be seen by other users. And if you always try and be as Kylie said, upfront, courteous, honest and try and solve people's problems, I think that goes a long way to displaying your integrity as a company and people will take notion if they see that that's how you respond on social media, that's very much probably how you respond which is obviously a good thing for people to see that what type of business you are.

Kylie Wing:

And it is a two-way street as well. So just because people are commenting on your page absolutely should mean that you should still comment on this. So like other people's posts, like other people's pages, follow different pages and comment because when you comment, as you know, people will read on other pages, “Oh, such and such firm has commented.” They'll click on you. And that's another way to drive extra traffic back to your social page. So get on, get busy.

Charles Clark:

And that actually in a way links into thought leadership, which will touch on in a few minutes. The power of social media is that you can have an opinion, have a view and get it out there and share it with fans and followers, or you can engage in a conversation or it might be a group. And if you pick things that you're really interested in and you can start to comment knowledgeably and regularly on them, that will all just go to bolstering whether it's your personal brand or your brand as a company, your profile line as an expert and a niche or a series of niches.

Charles Clark:

And so when people start to look for topic if they use hashtags as we have on this page here, so if they searched hashtag webinar and marketing, then up would come this post and it might be a way that they would see that we are doing lots of webinars. So which actually links in directly to this. So one of the things that I think people make a mistake on with social media is that they put out a post and they don't, or they aren't specific with what they want the user to do next.

Charles Clark:

So, they make a comment or they put an article out there, but really, what is it that you want them to do? Do you want them to comment back? Do you want them to follow you? Do you want them to learn more and come to your website? Do you want them to sign up for an event? So I took the post that we did for this event, and I just highlighted two key bits. And the first one I highlighted are the two calls to action. So you can see at the top, we've got register here.

Charles Clark:

So if someone has read the first of the post, and they're like, “That sounds fantastic. I want to register.” But if they don't, they can continue on and read the second of the post and the banner. And if they want to learn more, they can. So the idea here is that you have multiple calls to action that a user can take. And ideally, in this case, we are wanting to get them to sign up and come to this webinar which obviously lots of people have which is fantastic. And the second element is hashtags.

Charles Clark:

And as we touched on with thought leadership, and I suppose, commenting on other things, hashtags are a really easy way to make a post searchable. And if you're regularly using hashtags that are relevant to your business, so your business name, and then areas that you're specialist in. So it might be just general accounting, or it might be taxation, or it might be the area or something local that you're in every time that you had a hashtag, it just links that social post to that hashtag.

Charles Clark:

And so when people are searching for them, it's more likely that your post will come up. So as we talk about in a couple minutes, thought leadership, if you want to, I suppose I specialise in a niche or some topics then always add hashtags because if you don't, they're not linked to those topics.

Kylie Wing:

And have a strategy for use as well I think throughout the year. So if you're going to have a hashtag and you're going to jump on that, make sure that you're using them frequently, not just one-off and stay away from those crazy ones that really unique ones that no one's ever going to really search for. You've all seen them on the internet, so.

Kylie Wing:

Ones that have six words or more, and they're just blended into like a really long sentence. So yeah, make sure they're really meaningful.

Charles Clark:

Yeah. Great. So I know a lot of people, one of the biggest questions that we get here at BOMA is this all sounds great, but I just never know what to share, what do I share on social? I always look at everything everyone else is doing, and it always seems like they all have it figured out, but how do I dip my toes into the water? And I suppose that's where I'd start is if you're just new to social media, I would look at what other people are doing in your industry.

Charles Clark:

People that you admire, people that you like to follow, see what they're doing in terms of how they're doing it. And then once you've got a little bit more comfortable with it, maybe you've seen some examples in terms of length of post and sentences. You've got a few ideas, then you can start to dip in and share your own news. And really there is a ton of things that you can share. I think a lot of it accountants and bookkeepers share that they have a huge amount of knowledge about which lots of people don't know very much, so you guys are able to share hugely insightful knowledge that is really beneficial to a lot of people.

Charles Clark:

And so whether it's reminders for clients about upcoming dates relevant to tax or interview finances things like that, or it could be news. So news about policy updates or sort of trends that are relevant in their industry or industry changes. Really there is almost an unlimited amount of things out there to share. Having said all that, there's also things that you can share about your clients. So if a client of yours has a great success or win surprise, fantastic for you to share and promote that, that's always appreciated.

Charles Clark:

And the more you do that equally, your clients will really appreciate that firstly, and then probably do the same for you. And the same goes for your own firm. If you have a new starter or you've won an award or an event, or you go into an event and you think you might be likely to see clients there, tell people about it, get excited, tell them what you are going to look forward to seeing or a speaker that you might really want to see and what you might be interested in learning.

Charles Clark:

So there's a lot to say, and I suppose that the final thing I would say in here is keep the language quite simple, complex language and certain social posts never works well. If you think people are reading it on their phones, maybe as they're on the way to work or on the gym or snatching two minutes at lunch, keep it easy, keep it simple to understand. And then if you link back to a longer blog post on your website or something like that, that's where you can really give the full article, complex information and they can read that in their own time.

Charles Clark:

So I think we touched on this one a little bit before, and as Kylie said, having a plan is key here. As she pointed out, it's not just one person's responsibility. So engage with your team. I'm not suggesting that you mandate it, but maybe if you had a team of five or six and they all posted months or twice a week, or that suddenly 10 or 12 posts a week going out, they don't all need to be from your business Facebook page. They could be from their personal ones and then you can like and comment on them as a business or vice versa.

Charles Clark:

Really the main thing is to get regular activities so that when people say go onto your Facebook page or you'll LinkedIn page just like your website, if they go on there and they see that it's old, there hasn't been any regular content. No one's posting, it's a bit of a graveyard. That's not going to do much to enhance their view of you that you're modern, active, up to date with everything ,up to date with all the latest news and information.

Charles Clark:

So activity is your friend on social. And as the headline says don't be shy. The whole point is to be social. And don't think that you have to be perfect, you don't always have to have the perfect comment on something. The main thing is to engage with other people, especially in groups, everyone is there to engage and have some fun and learn exactly from other people.

Kylie Wing:

I have a tip for this. This is something that I've seen work really well in every organisation that I've worked at. When you have your weekly team meetings, you can create a theme or wrap up some kind of feature that you are all going to talk about on social. The person who likes social the most or wants to take the lead on it, they can come up with a couple of posts and provide suggested wording around that with a clear call to action and provide the imagery.

Kylie Wing:

The rest of the team can then take those posts and either share them on their personal accounts and either craft them differently. So write them in the way that they would usually say it, but that helps you all get out at it in market at the same time on social and all be talking consistently about the same thing. So what I was saying before about pouring that gasoline more gasoline and more gasoline, it works when there's more people doing it. It just takes one person to lead the way though.

Charles Clark:

And I've got a question from Grant which is do social posts which are not duplicated on your website help with your Google ranking? So Kylie, I'll take a stab at this and then, and then I'll pass it over to you. So my understanding is that yes, activity on social accounts does, or is a factor in the Google ranking. So even if it's not necessarily a post that links to your website, Google does factor it in. Kylie, what's your view on that?

Kylie Wing:

That's absolutely correct because when you Google a firm, sometimes it'll come up with their actual Facebook page. So yes, every bit helps. Also, if you have social media posts and one of the call to actions is you've put your posts there for more information, or to check out the story, visit our blog, or click on this link to our website when they go through to your website. There will be also additional traffic funneling through that way as well which will also help with driving those numbers up.

Kylie Wing:

The other thing lastly when you do post on social, you can tag people as well. So with the @ sign, tag other firms, that will also bump you up in the algorithms and notify other firms that you've tagged, that you've being mentioned in a post somewhere. The only tip I have around this is make it genuine because we get at spotlight reporting, we get tagged on lots of things. And when I take a good look at all of them, we find that a lot of them have got nothing to do with us at all which is a bit of a, it's a waste of 10 seconds of someone's time having to look. But when you don't genuinely tag people, you just end up annoying people. So if it's real, do it because it will be valuable.

Charles Clark:

And if that firm or that person has a large following, one retweet or one comment or share from them could be massive.

Kylie Wing:

Right, video. I'm a massive fan of video, I've always loved it. Personally, I really love the small bite sised videos. And I think the reason why I like them so much is because you can get so much from them in such a short time. More and more video contents being watched than ever before, and in a recent study, 68% of people said they'd or to learn about a new product or a service by watching a short video. So the key thing to remember here is that not everyone has time to read five pages because that information that often can be summed up very neatly in 60 seconds.

Kylie Wing:

So if you're going to create videos and you don't currently have this as part of your marketing strategy or something that you do on social, I recommend first of all finding a place to host them. YouTube could be a channel where you could host all your video content and break it up into different libraries or playlists. The other reason I like YouTube is because it is the second largest search engine in the world behind Google. So what's not to like about that? Lots of opportunities to be found.

Kylie Wing:

You don't have to a lot of money to do videos at all, you've got a smartphone. If you want to get really fancy, you can buy a microphone for better sound quality and some lighting, but just go on LinkedIn and see how many people are doing selfie video styles. So yeah, there's no reason not to get involved. Some ideas to get you started, lots of different things that you could dabble in. Some might be introductions of new team members or even existing team members showcasing expertise.

Kylie Wing:

You might want to do videos where you're announcing your response to an industry matter. Training videos can be really valuable as well for relationships and helping educate your clients on the basics, videos where you're explaining a big win or a success, that's a great way to promote your firm and build the brand. And with your client's permission, you can even start dabbling in customer or client videos where you're talking one on one, about a certain topic, or how the service that you provide for them helps solve a lot of their problems and helps them win.

Charles Clark:

I would add to … So like Spotlight, we use YouTube a lot and we've got a playlist and everything up there, as well as on our website. The other portal I would suggest using is Facebook and Facebook is really easy to do, Facebook live videos. So literally, you just grab your phone, as Kylie said, you can do it with or without a microphone. If you were going to do it at an event where it was really noisy, that would be great. But if you're just doing it in your office, you could probably get away with just a microphone on your smartphone, but you can do basically live videos on Facebook.

Charles Clark:

So if you've got a couple hundred followers, it would all come the top of their feet in Facebook, and they could actually watch them real time and commenting real time and like, and chat in real time. So we've done them at some XeroCons and other events and they get really well-received by people who are either at the event or wish they were especially when we use those hashtags. So we hashtag them that we are at this event. So people who are searching for a particular thing, or as Kylie said, it might be an industry announcement, or it might be the budget. At those hashtags, then your video will be push up the queue as it were, and then seen.

Charles Clark:

And the nice thing is once you've done the video, you can both download it onto your phone and then onto your computer, you can have it on your website, but it will also sit on your Facebook page as well. And then if you want to get really advanced, you can say, “Look, that was fantastic. Let's put $50 behind it and let's target people on [inaudible 00:34:50].” So it might be retailers in our town or agricultural people in our sector, people who we think this would relate to.

Charles Clark:

So that's one thing we haven't touched on a lot today, but you can with a lot of these, you can boost them. I'm sure a lot of you have boosted posts on Facebook. It's the same with videos you can boost and target as well. Just if you want to give your people a video a bit more reach than it would get organically.

Kylie Wing:

Right, testimonials. Okay, marketing gold everyone, this is one of my favorite ones alongside videos. You should definitely be using testimonials to help you acquire new clients, and this strategy is proven. It increases conversion rates, it increases trust. So people rely on testimonials and reviews for everything these days. If you remember a few slides back where we had Alluvia Finance in the Google my business section, that's one area where you can click on reviews.

Kylie Wing:

The other thing I should point out, there are some people who won't even go to a movie these days until they've seen a review. It's just the way that we've all become wired living in this internet age that we are in. So if you don't have testimonials on your website, I really urge you to start collecting them now. And to start with, you can do make it really easy. Just reach out to a number of your trusted clients, the clients that you want to attract more of, don't go out to the clients that are okay, but you don't want to attract more of those types.

Kylie Wing:

Get them to ask them to provide a testimonial, a written statement, something that they can email to you and ask them if it's okay to publish it. You'll need to explain where their testimonial is going to go and get their permission. I like this one because it's social proof. It means that you don't have to talk about your business and blow your own trump, but you've got other people doing that for you. You will receive very positive results.

Kylie Wing:

So the other thing you can do to amplify this is to ask for a headshot of the person who's supplying the testimonial, that adds an extra layer of validity to it, and make sure when you get a whole lot of them, don't bury them on the secondary page of your website. These are your trophies. So put them on display, front and center of your homepage if possible. And re-share these all year round on your blog, on your social posts and videos, tag the person that gave you the testimonial, get them to repost. There are so many different ways that these testimonials can blow up and get you a lot of likes.

Charles Clark:

I think that's fantastic advice. And yeah, I think social proof is with a lot these days as you say, everyone is overwhelmed with choices. And so part of the way that they make those decisions is based on how other people have experienced that service or in the case that you made a movie. So thought leadership, and I know that this is probably a buzzword that you guys have heard a lot of and maybe sick of hearing or not sure what it means.

Charles Clark:

And the reason we've included this is really just to make a key point is why should I be doing thought leadership? And the main reason is that your clients or prospective clients out there value knowledge massively, and where they recognise it, they're willing to pay for it, and they want to work with people who have it. So how do you promote yourself as someone who has that knowledge? Well, you have to then think of things that you're an expert in and then start to, I suppose, disseminate and display and comment and talk about those topics in a knowledgeable way.

Charles Clark:

And the great benefit of this is that as Kylie said with testimonials, having someone else blow your own trumpet, by doing a lot of thought leadership work, you are actually displaying that you are an expert in something so people will read it and gradually, that level of comfortableness with you in that area will grow and then when it comes to you making those sales approaches or those marketing messages, they'll already be a bit more predisposed to accepting them at face value because they, for example, you go to a client who's never heard of you or they may have heard of you, but already know what you do and say, “Look, I'm an expert in taxation, and when you do the tax free business, you should use me.”

Charles Clark:

Now, imagine how that conversation would go if they had also when you went to them read three or four articles that you had written, maybe on your website, or maybe in some industry publications where you had talked expertly about this topic where you had given them a level of comfort that you knew what you were speaking. And maybe if you had been in in those two publications, you'd been recognised by other people as being an expert in that field. So those two situations so much more likely that the person who is seeing your thought leadership pieces before is much, much more likely to be predisposed to saying yes when you make the ask of would you like to work with us? What would that look like?

Kylie Wing:

And keep in mind that when people are researching your firm, they're also researching you potentially as well, your personal brand, that's your social currency. And so becoming a thought leader, you really have to have some thinking around what it is you want to achieve, pick some themes and for example, if you want more advisory work, don't talk about that. Don't talk about compliance. The other thing you can do is pick a few partners and get on the thought leadership bandwagon together. It allows you to amplify your efforts and be seen at that same level, and you'll reach more people if you consider your format and the reach that you have together as a group.

Charles Clark:

So I know this sounds pretty technical and a bit amorphous in terms of how do I get started. So I think the key thing that I would do is write down what is it that I'm an expert and what am I passionate about? Because to be honest if you are going to continue with this longer term, you really have to be passionate about something. You really want to make a difference in terms of sharing your knowledge and expertise, and if you're not passionate about it, it's going to be hard work.

Charles Clark:

So find things that you're passionate about that you're really happy to talk about. And then that's a great place to start, and then think about what it is in those fields that you can talk about. And then there's lots of different ways that you can start talking about it. As Kylie said, you can reach out to influential partners. So maybe this is the bank in your local area. You've got a relationship with the bank manager and he's getting in local businesses to talk about how to plan for growth, or they may tap you then to come and say, “Well, look, if you're planning for growth, these are the things you need to have set up in your business.”

Charles Clark:

You may want to start writing. So you've got your blog, you've got your social posts, or you can obviously guest post. So you can guest post on other people's blogs or other people's publications, or in the case of what Kylie is doing now, I invited her on as an expert in marketing to come and join our webinar. So this is exactly something that you could be doing with other people. You could go on and be a guest on radio show, on a podcast, on someone else's webinar, all places that you can bring credibility and to showcase your expertise and help get your name.

Kylie Wing:

And also think about the angle from your thought leadership. Don't say the same thing that everyone else says because that's not a thought leader when you're repeating and just parroting back stuff that's already in market. Try and show off a new edge, try to inspire, educate, or just show off a really progressive side. And sometimes, thought leadership means that it's an idea that people aren't quite yet comfortable with because it could be quite disruptive, but be brave with this and if you're going to commit, just go in it fully.

Kylie Wing:

The other thing you can do is use with thought leadership. You can use quotes to fill the gaps on social media, talking about inspirational quotes, or you can recycle ones from other thought leaders that you really respect, but create your own quotes as well. And they will be picked up and seen in market. People will retweet or re share, so.

Charles Clark:

That's really good too.

Kylie Wing:

Case studies, another one for marketing gold up there with testimonials, but this is quite different because case studies are a fleshed out story. Testimonials are a short sound bite from someone like a review, but these case studies, they have a bit of structure to them. Again, great way of getting other people to promote your firm without you having to speak directly about it. One of our customers at Spotlight Reporting that does this really well is WK Advisors and Accountants.

Kylie Wing:

So if you want to go and check their website out, wk.co.nz, go to the About page and click on case studies. They've got a mixture of written and video case studies, but in this section, we're just going to talk about the written ones because this is what done doesn't cost you. There's no budget. To get started, you just need to think, compile a list of all your clients that you want to feature in a case study and get them to answer these questions in the structure. What you want to do is really show to the world how you've helped this client overcome some problems and that they're very happy using their services.

Kylie Wing:

Make sure you get a variety of different case studies. Don't just go for the same problem that you solved because you don't want to just keep repeating the same thing. You want to show that you have breadth and depth and experience in solving problems and issues for customers. Some examples might be a case study where you've helped a customer get out of their business so that they can work less in it and more on it.

Kylie Wing:

Getting your clients to reduce the number of hours that they've worked in the organisation so they can focus more time on their passions or how you've helped them revolutionise internal processes and reporting growing new business turnover, forward thinking, planning, forecasting, there's so many things. You might even have helped clients develop really smart KPIs and goals and how that's really changed, helping them get scale under control. There's lots of problems. Think about the problems and think about how you solve them and then package that in a really beautiful case study so that you'll attract new clientele.

Charles Clark:

I would just add to that in terms of the breadth. While you obviously want to talk about the different problems that you solved, also maybe think about the different verticals that you worked in. So maybe if you only specialise say if you were in a small town and you only specialised in one vertical, maybe agricultural and everyone could be from agricultural town, but that's pretty unlikely. So you may have agricultural, you have retail, you have small business.

Charles Clark:

So again, think about if I was a small business user, I came on to your website, make sure that you have a case study as well as the problem that would relate to them so they say, “Oh yes, another small business like me had this problem, makes sense.” Or another farmer like me was up against it with this issue and this is how this it's preferred to solve it. So again, you'll get lots of people on your website. And so think about your audience and think the types of people that they are, and then give them the content that would most resonate with each of them.

Kylie Wing:

And don't just sit on them, share them all year round just because you've collected a case study and you've put it onto your social media or your blog post once. It doesn't mean that in the next quarter or a few months down the track that you can't bring it back up again as a throwback. It's always great to keep pushing your case studies because not everyone will see it the first time you post about it on social. So just keep that in mind.

Charles Clark:

That's a really good point. And actually, in terms of thinking about different audiences, this links in really nicely to emails and users, and they still remain one of the best ways to communicate with your clients or if you've got prospects as well, email is really, really powerful. And the great thing about email is that you can use it in ways that maybe were more difficult to 10 or 15 years ago. You could include video in there.

Charles Clark:

There could be links to four or five different product pages or services that you offer. There's a whole range of things that you can do in an email now that aren't just text, as they used to be. You can be really inventive and creative in the emails that go out. And obviously the more interested you make the emails, the more likely it is that you'll get people engaging in them. So just a couple of basics with emails, if you have a list of people that you want email, make sure that you've got their permission. They actually have to affirmatively give their permission either by signing up to a seven newsletter or saying in an email, “Yup, I'm happy to get an email from you like a marketing email from you.”

Charles Clark:

So permission-based email marketing is always the best way to go and you don't only have to promote it on your website. You can also have it across your social pages. You could have it in any other event, emails that you send up just ways that people can easily subscribe to hear more from you. And we were talking in terms of case studies about having different verticals and it's the same with your own database.

Charles Clark:

You might want to buy them into clients or prospects or maybe they're Xero or non Xero clients. They might be traders or agricultural. So the reason why we would want to submit them is that, sure you might once a month send everyone a general newsletter. This is the general information that we've been up to, general news is probably for everyone. But equally, there might be times when you're like, “Right, there's a specific piece of information that is only going to be relevant to my trades.”

Charles Clark:

So I don't want to bother my retail clients or my non clients or my agricultural clients with this. I just want to focus on my trade clients and send it to them. And you'll find that if you send segments of your audience highly relevant information, A, they'll love it, so they'll get value, but also you're protecting your other database leads from getting information that isn't relevant to them. And that's the key with email marketing is when you're doing it, make sure it's relevant to them.

Charles Clark:

So if they signed up to an event, great, you can send them a couple of emails about that, but if they haven't signed up to an event, don't send emails about an event that they haven't signed up to. So it's all I suppose about context and making sure that it's relevant for them.

Kylie Wing:

Yeah. And there's a rule for that, it's called show me, you know me. So keep that in mind when you're designing emails and sending them out to.

Charles Clark:

And I think that segue is actually right into the last point here which is what is it that you were emailing them for? Why are you emailing them? And yup, you can do obviously some general newsletters, but for the rest of your emails, what is in it for them? So when they open this email, what are they going to get out of it? Obviously, as a valued advisor to them, you're obviously wanting to give them something that's going to benefit them, and it doesn't have to be anything more than information sometimes.

Charles Clark:

It could be like, “I think this will be interesting for you or your business should know that this change in regulation is happening or it could be an invitation to an event.” But the main thing is that you are offering them things of value that they will come to appreciate. And that's the great thing in terms of building loyalty. And Kylie mentioned on it right at the beginning of this webinar, if you're not doing anything with your current clients to show them that you appreciate them, that you value them, that you want their business, someone else is going to come in and will be doing all of these things and then suddenly, your clients will go to someone else because actually, they'll be getting shown how valued they are.

Charles Clark:

And it's not just at the end of the day coming down to a service that you provide a couple times a year, or it might be more frequently, but it's about what you wrap it into in terms of the holistic relationship that you have with them where you have an ongoing conversation in ways that benefits them. So just a couple of fast tips here in designing your emails. You may know quite a lot of these already, so I'll just quickly go over them.

Charles Clark:

And the first thing is when you send an email that lands in your inbox, you have basically one small sentence to get your point across and to make them open that line, that email. So think about clickbait on some of the daily mail sites and there's that are really tempting headline which is like, “Oh, I really want to know who's just had Botox or who's divorcing who or which soccer player is having an affair.” That's clickbait and in a way is almost what you want on your subject line.

Charles Clark:

You want it to be so engaging and so intriguing that they want to open it and then they open your email and then you can tell them what it is that you're are trying to communicate with them. Secondly, always keep it short and easy readable. So never say something and four sentences that you could say in one, just get your point across succinctly, and that will always be appreciated. People have too many emails these days, they're overloaded with information, so be brief.

Charles Clark:

Make it personal as well. That's always a good thing. You're not a robot, you're not just someone that sends out emails all the time. You're a person expert and on the phone, they've probably known you for a long time. So let your personality come through in the way that you write in your tone of voice. If you're not a particularly formal person, don't make your emails hugely formal, just make sure that it matches your own personalities so that when people read it, it seems authentic to them.

Charles Clark:

And also, similar to a website and these last two points, use imagery, use white text to break it up. If you're getting across points in your email, there's nothing wrong with having an image breaking them up so that people can focus on a point and move on to another point. It's also quite good from a visual perspective to help illustrate what it is that you're talking about. And then always, always, always have a really clear call to action.

Charles Clark:

So having read the email, what do you want them to do? Do you want them to email you back, go to your website, sign up for an event? If you don't tell them what you want them to do and you leave them guessing, then you've just wasted that opportunity. And then you have to send them another email or you have to give them a phone call. So always make it easy for them.

Kylie Wing:

Yeah, I love that one, that is so a good point. I think in this day, I delete … On a weekly basis, I delete more emails than I actually read emails, that's the state of my inbox is like in 2019. What I like is when, if I get an email, I like three sections and that's the guiding rule that we have as Spotlight Reporting. When we write to our customers and prospects, we say, “Why are you emailing me?” We'll tell you very quickly why we're emailing you.

Kylie Wing:

We'll tell you quickly what we want to tell you and what's in it for you. And then we'll end it off with what we want you to do. Just keep it really punchy. Don't have to write novels when you come to emails and always AB test as well. A lot of people, people design an email and send it out, but they won't actually go back and check on the metrics. You need to do AB testing to know what resonates, test those subject lines, test the content, test the structure, and when you have that winning formula run with that.

Charles Clark:

And so just for those of you not familiar with AB testing, so you could send out one version email, subject line to say a small percentage of it [inaudible 00:54:49], and then send out a different subject line to the other percentage of your database, need to see which one resonates best. So an easy way just to as Kylie said, work out which elements are driving the most conversion.

Charles Clark:

So station and event, and I've divided this into two because in my experience changed a lot of accountants bookkeepers, you guys are doing both. Lots of webinars out there and, but also lots of seminars and workshops, and there are a few differences between them. There are differences in terms of when people are most likely to be willing to do them. So an online webinar, it makes you do it around the middle of the day, especially around lunchtime or very early afternoon whereas in a person workshop, sometimes on the way to work or on the way home from work is better.

Charles Clark:

So early morning or late afternoon. Days of the week, it may vary from place to place, but we usually … Our rule of thumb is midweek is usually good. Monday is a bit rushed, it's your first day back at work, early midweek is a time where people can start to focus on learning things, going to events, things like that. Locations obviously in virtual conference is very easy, we're doing one right now. That's just accessible as long as you have internet.

Charles Clark:

And if you're doing one, a live event is it going to be your office or maybe it should be somewhere else, maybe your office doesn't have enough meeting room or the parking's not great. So you might want to go somewhere like a local restaurant or cafe or maybe even a local room that you could rent out. The benefit of some of those other options is that they'll often come with catering and parking and good acoustics. So it just depends on how many people you're thinking of inviting.

Charles Clark:

If it's just a small event of five or six, your office might be perfect. If it's 40 of 50 people, then you might have to think of a location that specialises in hosting lighter events. And the great thing is they'll also come with projectors and speakers and all those things that if you had to organise yourself is a bit of a nightmare from an admin perspective, but they do it all the time.

Kylie Wing:

Yeah, three things I would say to think about when you're considering events, ROI, intimacy, and reach. So with your ROI, if you're going to do an in-person event and invite people, there will be those costs or the catering and the venue high potentially. So you need to make sure you get your ROI on that. And then the intimacy is another factor in gauging whether or not you're going to do a webinar or invite people locally into your office and reach because you know you can reach way more people on a webinar like this than you can face to face.

Kylie Wing:

You have to remember that when you do an event, a face-to-face event, you'll send the invites out, but not everyone will be able to make it because there are just all sorts of reasons why people can't attend at the last minute. So that's another thing which can be disappointing when you've put in a lot of work into an event and you don't get the numbers.

Charles Clark:

Actually, and that's a good point. And we have a client in Kerikeri in Northern New Zealand and they do about six live events per year. And the geography that they cover is in the hundreds and hundreds of kilometers. And so that's why they're moving to webinars because they can equally, they can do a whole lot of webinars. And then when the people who have attended those webinars, if they can get them along to the events, they're more likely to come. They've had that sort of first or second touch point and then they can have that in-person meeting where hopefully, as Kylie said, when you say what's in it for you or what would I like you to do next?

Kylie Wing:

Yeah, and film your events as well even if you have an in-person event. You can Facebook live that so people in Kerikeri who can't attend or can't be there, other people can still catch up. The same thing for your webinar is that you can get the recording because right now, this webinar is being recorded and we will to everyone that's on this line, but also the people that couldn't make it. So we have the internet now, we can still be connected, but you just have to think where you're going to focus your time and effort.

Charles Clark:

So just quickly, so sending out one invite isn't enough as Kylie said, so you really need to give people a few chances to attend. People's in boxes are super full, they're busy. They might miss it, they might open the first one and think, “Oh yeah, I must get round to that.” But then they don't. So send them a couple of in invites and make sure it's far enough out that they can actually have the time to put it in their diary.

Charles Clark:

Then always a good idea if it's a live event, send them a reminder a day before. If it's an online event like today, you all probably got a reminder about an hour before. And in that event reminder, make sure that you always include, again, even if you send them before, where is it? What's it about? What are they going to get out of it? And any other incidental things like, “Is it going to be parking? Is it going to be catering?”

Charles Clark:

People will often come to an event at the last minute looking on their phone for directions, they type it in. If it's all there at the top of their inbox with all the details, it just removes any barriers they may have to getting onto your webinar or to make it to your event. So your job threes invites once you've got them as to make it as easy as possible for those people to attend your event.

Kylie Wing:

Hey, and don't forget, you can send these emails out, but there's also social. And on Facebook, you've seen the Facebook events, so you can set up your own events now and other people can see who's going and when you do know people who are coming, that can be quite motivating and think, “Oh, such and such is going. Well, I'm going to go too because I haven't seen that person for a long time. Must be pretty good if a whole bunch of people are going.” So yeah, think about extending this to social media as well to get extra amplification. So you get bigger numbers.

Charles Clark:

Exactly. And then you can use as we were talking about before, use those hashtags, use the calls to action, all those bits that we've touched on as you say, that can help in that [crosstalk 01:00:48]

Kylie Wing:

Yeah, and tagging people. Right, okay. So guys, this was the final thing we wanted to impart with you and everything that Charles and I have talked about in this hour, think Rubik's cube to begin with, the big marketing plan at the top. Everything needs to connect up, but this is your bingo card to take away. So the top three things Charles and I, we both think that the top three that are not negotiable.

Kylie Wing:

These are the ones that you should have already nailed or already have. You might just need to refocus your efforts on how you're doing it, but you need a website, you need to be find more online. You absolutely need social media, that's your gasoline. The next row for me, and the bottom line case studies, those are ones that will help you drive all your extra business goals. Those are the things that you can put on your website and on social.

Kylie Wing:

Those are the things that you want to share with the world essentially. And then the bottom two, those are the channels, those are ways that you can get your messages out to the world. It's a really good bingo card to have, and it's just like a renovation. It might be overwhelming if there's a lot or if there's only one of you in your firm to do the marketing, be realistic, don't feel like you need to smash and bash everything and do it all at once.

Kylie Wing:

Find the ones that you know that you can action quite quickly and get those ones underway first. It's just like a house renovation. Just do one room at a time and keep going, but be consistent. Find people to help you, and if that's not possible, I don't know, you do need to have other people in your firm to help get behind the marketing especially social media. So use this bingo card, go with it and prosper.

Charles Clark:

Yeah, no and I couldn't agree more. And as Kylie said, don't go overwhelmed. My father always says, he was a lawyer, he said, “If you want to eat an elephant, take it one bite at a time.” So pick a couple of these, and if you are particularly good at hosting events or workshops, that's a fantastic place to start. You are quite keener, who've got someone in your firm who loves doing video, that's a great place to start. There's no on those second or third lines, there's not one has to come for the other. If you are already doing something really well, that's fantastic, recommend that you keep on doing with it, and then there's just some other ideas as to things that you could do to, I suppose, add extra elements to your wider marketing strategy.

Kylie Wing:

Yeah, and at the end of this webinar, I'd highly encourage you all to get a list while this is all fresh in your head, make a list of what you're doing. Okay, but could be better. Make a list of what you're not doing well and make a list of all those trusted clients that you should be reaching out to get testimonials for case studies to potentially film videos with. Get a list of all the people internally that should be helping and getting active on social media, make a list of people that you might want to approach to do thought leadership with.

Kylie Wing:

Just get busy, writing your lists, the marketing plan that we are going to send you, you can use that, fill in the gaps and create a timeline and just prioritise. Do not feel like you need to do everything. The other thing is I would say, keep an eye on your competition. You need to make sure know what they're doing. Don't wait for someone to tell you that something has happened. Make sure that you are proactive and you know what's happening in your space.

Charles Clark:

And just answering a chat question that came through in terms of a recording of the video. So we'll be sending a video out to everyone tomorrow. And so you can share it within your firm or to colleagues or friends of yours that you think might benefit. So that will be coming tomorrow about mid-day once we've done some editing to make sure that Kylie and I sound and look great. Brilliant, so I realise we've gone over time everyone, but thanks so much for coming. I hope you found it useful. Kylie, really appreciate your insights and really interesting stuff for everyone, and definitely I list some stuff there. So thanks again, and we'll see you all next time.