How to Market Your Accounting & Bookkeeping Firm on a Budget
Marketing is a massive opportunity for Accountants & Bookkeepers to help nurture and support current clients and grow their firms. But how do you get started? Join Charles Clark, Marketing Director of BOMA, and Liz Studholme, Content Marketing Manager for BOMA, as they share cost effective effective marketing tactics that will help drive your firm’s growth.
During this webinar we cover:
- Why do you need to do marketing?
- Website best practice
- Testimonials and case studies
- Making it easier for people to find you online
- Content marketing
- Thought leadership and social media
- Emails & newsletters
- Winning video content
- How to stage an event
- Using online directories
- Advertising online
NB: You can also read a full transcript of this session below.
‘How to Market Your Accounting & Bookkeeping Firm on a Budget’ Transcript
Welcome to today’s webinar on how to market your accounting or bookkeeping firm on a budget. So glad that you can join us. My name is Charles Clark. I’m the marketing director at BOMA, and I’m joined by Liz Studholme. Hi Liz.
Hi everyone. Thanks for joining us. Yeah. Look forward to talking marketing with you.
Thank you to everyone so much for joining us. In particular, thank you all so much for your responses. We know that we asked some questions when you registered. I was just reviewing them early this morning, and the response is really overwhelming, and for us incredibly insightful and a lot that really resonates with Liz and I.
We were discussing the best way to, I suppose, package it or maybe talk about it, but there’s such just a wide variety of things that we thought, “Okay. We’ll probably do a poll at the end of this and we’ll actually ask you specifically if there are things that we can cover in future webinars and we’ll get your views on that.” There was one person’s response which really, really stood out.
This was, I suppose, alluded to by some other people, but I thought this really nailed it and I’ll just read it out. It says, “I really don’t know how to market my business effectively. There is so much information out there and I get confused where to start.” I thought that’s perfect because it can be confusing. There is a lot of information out there. There’s a lot of different things you need to be thinking about.
I thought just as a starting point we are all on this journey together, and hopefully today, while we are covering ostentatiously things that are cost-effective, also all of these things that we’re going to be talking about are also pretty much the things that one should be considering when it comes to marketing. Hopefully we’ll cover both sides of that.
I’m going to kick off with why you should do it, and we’re all going to have different answers to that. I think the first thing is that marketing is not necessarily just sales. It is also about the way you communicate with your existing clients to nurture and support them. It’s very much about retention as well as sales, and retention is also though somewhere where you end up helping with referral because happy clients are going to refer new business to you.
It might also be positioning your firm as the obvious choice. With an accounting or bookkeeping firm, you’re not necessarily going to drive change immediately. People might be looking for a new firm in the future, and you are the obvious choice because they’ve seen something that you’ve written on your blog. They might have seen something on social media.
They may have joined your newsletter database and started to get some information from you and you are starting to build yourself as the obvious choice for them. What you do in your marketing is going to link to your overall business strategy, whether it’s business growth, you want new clients today, whether it’s profit, you want to stay with your existing group of clients, but you actually want to improve your revenue.
It might be building awareness of some of the other services that you offer, and particularly now, while businesses are facing so many challenges. Or you’re building awareness of your firm so that over time you get yourself into a position where you can choose the clients you want, not just take on every new inquiry that comes your way. Marketing has obviously changed.
Long gone are the days where you just booked something in the local newspaper or a yellow pages ad, for example. However, it’s also some of those things are still very valid and a lot of the options that we have now give us a little bit more control. With radio, television, newspapers, et cetera, you went through an advertising salesperson. Now you actually control what you put on your website. You control what you put on your social media pages. You control what you send out via email.
That’s probably one of the challenges.
I was just going to say, that’s probably one of the challenges is that you’re both in control-
That is the big challenge.
… but also you have to do it.
That’s true. There is also a lot that you can without significant resource and using your in-house team, the internet allows you to kind of also overcome those distance barriers. We’re all now working … A lot of us, Charles and I are working from home. We don’t necessarily need to go into the office, although we really like doing that, actually.
You don’t have to necessarily have clients that are in your local area, but the internet allows you to overcome those barriers and reach people in a much wider area, and one or two more things. It gives you flexibility to do things quite quickly. It also gives you the ability to analyse what you’ve done. If you have started doing something on social media, you can see how people have engaged with that.
You can see if you’re getting clicks, likes, shares, et cetera. You can see if people are opening your emails and if they’re clicking on the links within them, if there are. We will go obviously into aspects of marketing. There are some things that will really resonate with you and some things that are not so important, but most of what we’re covering today will be things that are really vital for your firm.
As we do go along, if you have any questions, do just pop them into the chat box. We’ll try and get to them as we go along because I’m sure they’ll be relevant probably to what we’re covering at the time.
This is the one thing I want you to do. It can be a fun exercise. Get your team together, if you have a team, or if there are people that are helpful, other colleagues or people that you know that you can sit down and talk to about this. Obviously with marketing people say write a marketing plan to begin with, that’s a great idea, but it can be time-consuming. If you don’t have much time and you really want to get started, then I would say, at least just ask these two questions.
One is, who’s your ideal client? That might be someone that you have already, or it might be someone that you would like to have that you know is out there. It could be based on their industry, their location, their size, their needs. Think about all the things that make them an ideal client for you. Then you will know who you are talking to, and that’s going to really help you understand the messages that you’re going to say and where you’re going to say it.
The second question is, why would they choose you over anybody else? What is the thing that makes you unique? What’s your unique selling point? Or a single-minded proposition to use marketing speak. It could be your service offering. It could be the way you work with clients. It could be your specialism, your expertise, client care, et cetera.
It could be a number of different things, but once you know that and who you’re talking to, it’s going to inform every single marketing decision you make. What content that you write, the offers that you put out there and where you spend your time. Ask those two questions and then everything else will flow from there. I think the thing with marketing, yes, it’s changed, but the fundamentals are the same. Know who you’re talking to, understand what you’re offering and be authentic.
If you’re not sure, if you’re really struggling on creating that ideal client, you might even look at some of your own clients, because I’m sure you will have some of those ideal clients already within your client list. You can say, “Look, I’m going to do a bit of an investigation on these couple of clients.” Maybe even speak to them and understand why they chose you.
Really deep dive in say, “Right, this is from the horse’s mouth, so to say, this is my ideal client. I know what attracted them to me in the first place.” Then you can use that as a method to move forward.
We thought we’d start, I suppose, in one of the most obvious places, which is your website. Probably everyone has one. Most of the accountants and bookkeepers that we deal with, they either have one or they’re updating one. I don’t think we’ve ever met one who doesn’t have one. That’s not to say that if you don’t, that’s terrible, but I think it’s just an indicative of the fact that really in this modern age, it’s your online shop window.
You really need to have one, and so if you don’t have one, you’re really missing a trick. That’s for a couple of reasons. It only takes the average user, a third of a second to get a first impression about you as a business, which is pretty cruel to say, but it does give you some opportunities. Alluvia Financial is one of our clients and they do this really, really well on their website.
I’ve just highlighted in the yellow boxes some of the things that I really like about their website. You can see there on the top left-hand corner, they’ve got their brand. That’s critical. You want your brand on your website just as you’ll have it across your social media channels, any letterheads that you have emails and so forth. On the right-hand side, they’ve got ways to contact them and ways to follow them online, so Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and also a way to basically sign up to their blog.
You can see in the middle, they’ve got a picture of their team. That’s great. It’s showing the viewer who they are, what they stand for, so a bit of an indication about what it might be like to work with them. Then they have a really nice proposition, which is, we help you discover your richness, along with a call to action, which is let’s chat today.
Really easily you’re starting to give the viewer a sense of what it would be like to work with you and also, some easy ways to get in touch or take that next step. They also do a really nice job on using their accreditations and awards. You can see there, the fourth box down, they have everything that they are accredited and have been awarded. Nice, and it’s above the fold as well. The user will always see that.
Then lastly, they’ve some social proofs. They’ve done this quite easily, so they don’t necessarily have testimonials, but they’ve got a whole lot of brands and logos of companies who are their clients. Because they’re a local accountant in Bendigo if you were in that area, you would know most of these clients. You’d be like, “Oh yes, I know those people. In fact, I might be even give them a call and ask them what their accountant’s like.”
Then you get to that word of mouth referral element. As I said before, your website is your shop window. The image on the right is basically the whole homepage. What I like about this is that they really easily give the information that the visitor needs. They’ve also done this in a very nicely visual way. They’re not too heavy on the text and you can see there that they have different sections and the sections use a lot of color and imagery and logos to divide up the sections.
If you’re scrolling through either on your phone, which is obviously very important that it’s mobile responsive, or on your laptop or desktop, each section is presented with a piece of information, a small piece of information, which will lead them to either ask a question, get a little bit of information that they can use, and it’s going to be highly relevant for them. They also do a nice job where then using a testimonial.
They have a testimonial in the first box and then also a further one with a video. That’s the other thing, you can use different forms of media. It doesn’t just have to be text. Imagery is really important. Video is fantastic. That’s just a really nice way, whether it’s you speaking directly to your viewer or you have an interview or you have a case study where one of your clients is given a testimonial, that’s a really nice way to basically give an insight that is maybe a little bit more difficult to give just through the written word.
There’s also another thing. If you find it difficult to write, or if it’s you don’t have the time to write, you can just make a recording, whether it’s on a cell phone or a budget video camera, and you can get people to say, or you might be able to say things in a way that you would struggle to write. You get the added benefit of being able to show your warmth and your communication skills, which are really, really critical.
We actually did a webinar in the UK with Practice-Web using their research. They did research on the most important skills and characteristics of a successful accountant. They asked small businesses in the UK, but it would be pretty similar in Australia and New Zealand and the number one most important skill and characteristic post-COVID was communication.
Communication obviously starts on your website that goes through, into obviously emails, social media, and obviously picking up the phone. Lots of different ways. Linda, it’s Alluvia Financial in Bendigo if you’re searching for them.
I was going to just go back to that slide, Charles, for a minute on keywords. I’m sure people are aware of what keywords are, but they’re quite a critical thing for your website. A keyword is the thing that people put into the search bar when they’re searching for something online. In order to provide a good result, the Google bots go out and look for those keywords. When they find content that has that keyword, they bring back the results for the search engine results page.
Keywords are important for your website because you’re responding to people’s requests for information. Make sure if you are the accountant or bookkeeper for trade and construction, you’re writing content on there in your titles, your blogs, your headers, your metadata, which is the data behind your website people don’t see, and using those keywords naturally within the text, and that will help improve your ranking on Google.
Testimonials. Yeah. If you’ve got people that are happy with the way they’re working with you, make sure that you’re asking them to write that content down. You can either use that on your website, or you can get them to write their review of you themselves on … If you turn on your testimonials on your social pages and you can put it on Google My Business on your Google listing.
They’re really powerful ways, because we are much more likely to listen to somebody else rave about your business than you rave about your business. It’s a really powerful way to promote your firm. Look, you’d be surprised if you sent a note out and said, “We’re asking for Google reviews.”
Or anytime you get a positive comment from someone, put a little note to them say, “Would you be happy to write that on?” And give them the link to your social pages. Or, “Would you be happy for us to write that on our website?” Most people totally are.
That’s, as you say, using that social proof and I think we’ll cover that in the online directories later on, but having four or five stars given by a user. People will check you out. They’ll look at your website but they expect social media pages pretty much these days. It’s pretty standard for business when people do their research.
We’ve found that even if you get a word of mouth referral, 80% of potential clients will look at your website, will look at your social media pages. Really, really critical to both have good content and up-to-date content on there. But if you’ve got content from clients, whether that’s testimonials, referrals, or even comments on maybe social posts you’ve made, pictures that you’ve put up. I mean, all that engagement will help, I suppose, tell a story about the sort of firm that you are.
Case studies, similarly, social proof, but longer form where you probably write it rather than them make the quote, you using their quote, really much more powerful that someone else sings your praises than you sing your own. A case study also tells a reader about the sorts of problems that you resolve successfully for people. Think about a simple overview. In fact, I would go back to number one at the very end.
Write the problem at hand, the work that you undertook, the outcome, why they’re happy. Make sure that you have a conversation with your client about that so that you can put quotes throughout it, and then go back and write your overview at the beginning. It’s always easier to write the summary at the end. Share those around.
Publish that on your blog, share it on your social pages with a link back to read more to your blog, get them to share it and link to them in that copy so that those links through the internet are powerful for your search engine optimization.
Also quite a nice idea when you write that case study about the problem you solved. If you used a specific say product or service that you offer, nice then to link it in. We solved their problem through our X or Y service and which we offer.
Obviously if you’re using links within your website or on a blog post, then you could link it so that a user could read or click on that and go through to that other page within your website, which is also good, because that does also help from an SEO perspective, which I think is where we’re about to head now.
Getting found online really, really is important because people will often type in if they know your name directly, that’s fantastic, or they might even just type in the name of an accountant and a location. As Liz said, that is quite an involved process, but it doesn’t need to be difficult. When we talk about having keywords on your website, so keywords could be things like Xero specialist tax compliance, your location, all those sorts of things.
There are natural places where you can fit them onto your website. That could be, you have a contact us page or that would have your address, your location, your phone number. You’d have a services or a product page. Well, that would have the sorts of things that you specialise in, which would obviously mention taxation compliance, maybe trusts, superannuation, all the types of things that you specialise in. You can then write naturally.
That’s the key is that you can’t really write to fool a search bot. You have to write it naturally. That’s what the Google search boxes are basically looking for, is, would it be valuable for someone real to read where they get valuable information? If you write it normally as you would for someone to read, that’s the better way of writing from an SEO perspective, rather than just having a page with 50 different keywords but that don’t actually make sense when a human reads it.
In terms of content, and we will talk about this a little bit in content marketing, but there’s also the opportunity for you to be obviously writing about your products and services, but also what is happening out there in the marketplace? What are things that would be relevant to your users? I suppose hacking back to what Liz said a minute ago, when you write that piece on your ideal client, part of that is thinking, “What’s going to interest them?”
Where that then leads to is, “Well, I should write about what’s going to interest them, because that will help me attract them down the road.”
Content marketing. Now, it’s a buzzword and so is inbound marketing, but it’s a really, really valuable tool for your business. A lot of what we’re talking about today is long-term strategy in that it’s a slow play in a way. You can spend a lot of money and get some businesses contacting you tomorrow but as soon as you stop spending that money, that interest has disappeared. Long-term SEO is about building solid foundations that really help improve your ranking.
Content marketing is also often called inbound marketing because it’s about attracting people and based on things that interest them. It helps improve your rankings on search. It’s giving those Google bots more stuff to look at. It’s like it’s looking at things that are the links between your site, the length of time people spend on your site reading, et cetera. It helps grow your brand and tell your story.
It strengthens client relationships because you’re often writing about things that are helping them, giving them useful, valuable advice and increases your referrals when that content is being shared. Now it includes a gamut of different things, but it’s basically about producing regular interesting, valuable content and giving it away kind of for free or if not for free then in exchange for an email address.
That picture down the bottom says after social media posts, e-books and white papers, now podcasts as well could come into there. You could write a small book on tax or a small book on something relating to one of your specialisms or whatever, and have that hosted on your site and people download it using a lead-capture form, which We can talk about in a minute.
In return for their email address, in which case you get an interested lead, you can give them that e-book and that’s a really valuable thing for their business. I think on the next slide, we talk a little bit more about content marketing. I think that the best way to think about it is 80/20 rule. Like most things in life, give first, sell second. Make 80% of that content about them and the challenges they face and the problems they need solving.
In that 20%, you can talk about you and the services that you offer, but you are going to find that people are really interested in content that is about them and the stuff that they need to find solutions for. Think about again, your ideal client, what do they want to know, or what would they find useful? There are a number of ways you can find things out.
For example, if you have a LinkedIn company page, and we are going to talk about social media in a minute, we really recommend that if you’re going on social media you have company pages and there’s a lot of reasons for that, which we’ll talk about in a minute. On a LinkedIn company page, you can actually go and you’ll find in the top header a note that says content, and under there, you can choose an audience and you can find out what content they’re engaging with.
That helps build an idea of what sort of content to write about. You can focus on your expertise, your niche, your industry specialisms. For example, there might be information out there that’s critical at the moment. Obviously with COVID restrictions, there’s subsidies, all sorts of things that can help businesses at the moment. Work with influence partners.
Now, whether that’s a bank or it might be an association, a trade association, manufacturers association, retail associations, whatever it is, work together. You could write a guest blog for them, or they write a guest blog for you. You provide those links or potentially you could do a joint webinar where you’re both reaching an audience that you’re both interested in talking to. Your audience obviously gains a lot from that and you get that cross-referral.
The image on the right here is from BOMA. Charles and I both work for BOMA, which is a digital marketing tool designed specifically for accountants and bookkeepers. The reason I’ve included that image is that it shows you some of the content in the content library. We’re not really going to go into huge detail about BOMA today, but we will make sure that you have an opportunity to do a free trial with BOMA.
The thing that BOMA does is give you that library of content, there’s over 400 pieces you can choose it and make it your own. Ah, so, okay. We talk about in the next one. There’s over 400 expertly-written articles and they’re updated every week. They cover compliance management and strategy, HR, sales and marketing, tax, technology. You can choose and customise it.
Now, I know from my point of view and I’m sure many of you are the same, it is much easier to critique, get out the red pen when someone else has written something than it is to write from scratch. BOMA gives you that opportunity. You don’t need to send it as it is. You absolutely can. We write the social post. We write the email, et cetera, or you can change it and write exactly what you would like and add a personal greeting.
We have BOMA content, but we also have partner content by Xero, The Gap, Vend, Wolters Kluwer CCH, MY HR, Spotlight Reporting. We are often talking to and adding other partners. It’s based on your region. If you are in Australia, you’d hear about JobKeeper, in New Zealand and you’d hear about the Wage Subsidy, and not the other way around. You can create emails, newsletters, and social posts in minutes.
When you connect to BOMA, you link your Facebook, your LinkedIn, your Twitter account, also, in fact, your Instagram for advertising and you upload your contact so that can email them. That’s just really in a nutshell what BOMA is, but we also have lead-capture forms. You create a form where you can ask people’s name and email address for downloading things or registering for a webinar, for example, and signing up for a newsletter.
Yeah. Because one of the things about content is that it enables you to, I suppose, position whether it’s yourself personally, or your firm as a thought leader. I know that thought leadership is another one of those buzzwords which has bandied around and many of you think of thought leaders as only the most notable people in your industry. Steve Vamos from Xero, we all know he’s a thought leader.
He’s also the head of a big company, but that doesn’t mean that in your individual situations, you can’t be [inaudible 00:27:00] things going and they are desperate for someone to reach out and give them some information and help, I suppose, support and shape their business in the best of times, through normal times and in current times through a really, really challenging period.
You can use thought leadership basically to support your clients and hopefully to reach new clients, because it does a couple of things. It promotes your credibility. If you’re giving out reliable, insightful, expert information on certain topics that maybe your clients didn’t know you had, or maybe people just who’ve come across your website or your social profile read about, they start to see that you are credible.
You are an expert in these areas and also trust. Whether it’s to your own clients, that helps build up that trust because they see that you are going the extra mile, you care about them. You want to give them information that will help. Also, when it comes to, I suppose, on the lead side, and that was a number of you talked about in your responses about gaining leads that is that connection.
How do you take someone who is just a lead or has just seen your social profile or your website, how do you build that relationship? Trust is a really key element. Obviously credibility goes alongside that as well. If you can get them to trust you, then when you have that conversation about them becoming a client, or if they already are a client about them stepping up to maybe taking more services from you, the fact that they trust you will make a huge difference.
Just in terms of your overall marketing, if you are a trusted brand, that makes all the difference. If you think of some of … And nothing really [inaudible 00:29:03] but in terms of like Volkswagen around Dieselgate, they had done great marketing for years, and then suddenly Dieselgate comes out and people don’t trust the brand. You can see how it can undermine it, a lack of trust, and so versa.
If people trust your brand, then it’s as equally as powerful in a positive way, in terms of how impactful and effective all your other marketing actions are.
We’ve had two questions I just wanted to respond to on this content. One of them was, will we have content for Canada? We have a lot global content. Our main content markets are the UK, Australia and New Zealand, but we are building on that so watch this space, but yes, there is an awful lot of global content. The other question was, should I be sharing content that somebody else is sharing? Absolutely. Yeah. You want to have a little bit of uniqueness.
What we say to people is that when you take your piece of content from BOMA, you customise it and make it your own. Now there’s also 1.7 million images within BOMA to choose from, and they’re free to use. The other thing I think is that the reason that we created BOMA, knowing all of that is that to create your own content, not only takes an awful lot of time, it takes a huge amount of expense. Bespoke good content costs a lot of money.
That’s where BOMA provides a really cost-effective solution to go in and choose a piece of content that is really relevant in your area right now to make it your own, to change the image. We are providing a solution that our users find incredibly valuable because it’s providing that useful way to support their clients, but also to tell their own story and kick start their content marketing.
Yeah. I think that’s an important point. Every piece of BOMA content, whether it’s in an email or in a social post, you have a hundred percent control over. As Liz said, you can change the image, but you can also change all of the copies. If a piece of content is talking about five tips for hiring a person and you want to make it four, or you want to make it seven, it’s completely up to you.
I think in terms of the content side of things, the things that we’re talking about are absolutely critical. Something’s announced in government policy, we usually have something out in a day or two. Really if someone’s asking about the latest JobSeeker or superannuation changes, there’s only really so many ways to write about that. What you really need is the impactful, insightful, correct facts. Then you could have some commentary alongside of that.
I do remember when we first launched BOMA in 2017 and there were quite a few accountants who said, “Oh, yes, but I write my own content.” Then six months later they’d come back and they said, “Oh, yes. We tried to do it, but I don’t have six or eight or nine hours a week to write content. I’m too busy supporting my clients.”
Yeah. I think there’s that trade-off in terms of if you have that amount of time to spend on marketing, that’s absolutely fantastical writing content. But if you are up against it from a time perspective and also trying to live your life outside of your firm, then efficiency is really a key point here.
What we’ve also noticed is that people that are new to marketing suddenly become much more confident on social media. They might start with a few posts that come from BOMA and more and more, they create their own because it becomes easier and quicker.
On that point, social media. What I’ve got here are just a couple of examples of a firm in the UK and Lielette in Australia. Social media is like your website really is. It’s a bit of a non-negotiable. We’re not saying that you have to have all the channels, but you should definitely, in addition to your own personal LinkedIn channel, you should at least probably have Facebook because clients will go on or prospective clients will go and look for you.
If you don’t have any social media channels that immediately for most clients will say, “Okay. Well, that’s a certain type of person. They may be not up with all the latest technology.” If you think of the way that accounting is going with cloud accounting and all the add-ons and amazing technological advancements in the last 10 years, a little bit difficult for you to be singing that tune on one hand.
But on the other hand, you don’t have the modern communications tools yourself. Definitely a non-negotiable. If you can start with just one, that’s fantastic and as you get more comfortable, you could always consider broadening it out. Like on your website, it gives people a chance to connect with you. The great thing about social media is that it’s two-way.
Whereas a website is a one-way communication, you put up the content and people go and visit it, social media allows you to have engagement, and have a conversation. You can put up comments, you can put up videos, you can put up photos, you can put up information. We did a social media webinar recently, and a huge amount of accountants and bookkeepers are putting up educational and insightful commentary on things that are impacting their clients, but it’s not all serious.
You don’t have to just think, “Oh, it only can be work-related.” It’s also a place where you can, I suppose, show off your personality, show off a bit more personal side and I suppose start building that relationship with people.
Charlie, I just noticed there that if we look at sort of, for example, Facebook and LinkedIn, you have the ability to have a business page on both of those. We mentioned it earlier. The reason for that is if you think about Facebook, if you’re using Facebook personal for your business, people have to be your friend. They have to know what your relationship status is. They have to know about their birthday, and they have to share that with you.
Whereas a business page gives them the ability to just follow or unfollow. It also provides the ability for them to write reviews. There’s a lot more functionality if you do business pages. Yes, you probably all have your own personal Facebook page. Make sure for your business, you have a business page and fill out all that information.
Likewise, for LinkedIn as well as Facebook, because you’ll find the functionality on there and the functionality to advertise. You won’t have that on just a plain personal page.
Yeah. No. That’s a very good point. Have we talked about getting more people following us, Liz or is just responding to a question?
Yeah. No. We haven’t. That’s really important. Obviously, if you’re going to start posting on social, you want people to see it. The more people that you have on there, and then when they engage, the more likely … It obviously works like a web. We have got a blog post on that actually for more detail on our BOMA marketing website. But start with the people that you know, invite them.
Also, your colleagues or staff, and make sure that you are also acting as your page on those social media platforms. When you go into Facebook and you look at someone’s post, you can actually use the dropdown and act as your page when you comment so your page starts gaining traction as a name out on those social platforms. There are lots of different things you can do. I recommend that you do … I think it’s called grow your fans and followers on Facebook.
I think there’s a similar one for LinkedIn on a blog on our BOMA marketing website under resources that will tell you how to grow those, because obviously that’s a really fundamental thing. Once you’ve got an audience, a small audience, you can start growing that.
The point here is that obviously why do you have a social media page? It’s also ultimately to drive leads and traffic to your website which you can then hopefully convert and to grow your business. Liz talked earlier in terms of content marketing, putting out piece of content research. You can do this again on social media and again, it can link back to your website as well. You can either capture lead page. You can capture those leads if you have it gated, or you can have it open so that they can just land on your website and read it.
Some tips on social media. I think the clue is in the name social. It is social and don’t, in a rush blood, start up a Facebook page and then neglect it. The point is that you have to be active to it to a small extent. We’re not saying you have to be on there all hours of the day, but at least a couple of times a week post something, if you have time. Being regular is pretty key.
I suppose if you could make it a bit of a non-negotiable part of your day or maybe one of your colleague’s day. Need only take sort of 10/15 minutes just to post something on there, maybe check out if people have responded to your posts. Always make sure to respond to anyone who comments on your post. It’ll drive that engagement up. We talk about using the @ sign.
If you were maybe doing a post and you were referencing a client and you were friends with them on Facebook, you could go @ their name or you could do the same with their business. That’s quite a nice thing if you were maybe celebrating the success that they’d had. Maybe they had won a contract, or maybe they’d had a really good year, you could join in the celebration and congratulate them. That’s quite a nice personal touch.
From a cynic’s point of view, it obviously serves the purpose of, one, it shows the client that you are aware of what they’re doing and that you care, but also it has the effect of other people out there who might come across that post says, “Goodness me, that accountant or bookkeeper, they’re up to date with what their clients are doing. They’re celebrating their success and they care.”
I mean, obviously you do care. I’m just trying to make a point that it’s all very well caring and just giving that person a call, but it can be very effective from a marketing perspective if you make it public. It’s a public celebration alongside maybe the more personal one which you might make via an email or a phone call. You can also do other things. We’ll go into this a little bit more detail later on, but you can boost your posts.
If you’ve had a post with great engagement and you’ll know that if you come back up for a couple of days and you see that it has some likes or comments, if you think that that post is a message that you really want to promote further, and maybe it’s because you’re running a webinar or an event, or it’s a service or product that you’re offering, you can then on Facebook and Instagram actually put a little bit of budget behind it.
This is a really, really effective way of helping your post gain visibility and traction within a really crowded, I suppose, social media universe. The nice thing is that you can also target your audience. When you boost the post, you can say, “Look, I want to target, for example, people who live in my area, or I want to target a specific type of person.”
Maybe they’re a tradie or they’re retail, or maybe they’re a professional between certain ages and maybe they live in a certain area. There’s lots of options you have where you can really think about back to your ideal client, and then bring that into your targeting and think, “Yeah, I want to go after that concept of my ideal client.”
Hashtags is another way to link your content. If you’re not familiar with hashtags, simply put the hashtag in front of a word, no spaces, no punctuation. They’re often used. In fact, it was invented, I think because of the San Diego fires, I don’t know, 20 years ago now, in order to group conversations so that you could find them. They’re like a miniature search engine.
Events often use them like Xerocon for example, so that all conversations that use that hashtag could be grouped together. It provides a really useful way to find all that information on a trending topic. You make sure that you put your own business name as a hashtag at the very least. If you’re in a specific niche, use that hashtag to help your content kind of reach a wider audience so that people searching under that hashtag can find the content that you’ve shared.
Again, there is a blog on hashtag. Someone’s asked for the link to the last blog. We’ll make sure that we send out some links to some of these blogs so that you can have a look and find out a little bit more as to how to do that.
Cool. I’m just aware of the time. We’ve got a few more slides to get through. We’ll just go through these quite quickly, but obviously ask questions as we go. In terms of what can you share on social? The nice thing is that you can really share anything. It could be reminders of specific dates for clients. It could be news, whether that’s your news or news out there in the industry, it could be changes within the industry.
Industry publications are often a good place to start. You might be getting those anyway in your email inbox. If you see something that might be relevant to your clients, it’s pretty easy to take the link and then share that as well. If you’ve got an event coming up like Kinder Pocock, we’re promoting this webinar, you can do that. Or if you’re going into an event, obviously Xerocon is not happening this year, but Xero On Air is happening.
You could always say that you’re attending, or as Liz said, use that hashtag. We’ve talked about promoting clients’ brands, but it also goes for your own firm. If you’ve got some great news to share, maybe it’s a new starter, you’ve won an award or you’ve been recognised within the industry.
Those are all really fantastic and worthwhile things to share and on that last point, will go to helping build that trust and credibility, both within your clients, but also within the wider industry with your colleagues and peers.
If you can think of things that will invite engagement, the more engagement that you have on social, the wider your reach is. Anytime someone comments or posts or shares, the people that follow them, get to see it. If there are questions or a survey that you could post, questions that you can ask, and then just make sure that when you post that you’re ready to engage with people that respond and use the @ sign to tag them so that you’re broadening that reach and keeping the conversation going.
Getting onto emails and newsletters. Obviously we love these because emails are free and you can do them as often as you like. Obviously accepting that you don’t want to necessarily bombard your client list, but there’s a couple of ways that you can get started. In terms of getting started, if you’re not sure who you could be sending your emails to, if you’re thinking, “Goodness me, I don’t have a database.”
Well, you could start with your client list because you definitely will have clients and you could think about them. You could also, as we’ve shown before on some of the examples, make it really easy for people to sign up on your website, make it easy for people to sign up on your social pages as well. Always really important to make sure that you have permission.
In these current times, the laws are changing. When you get people to sign up, make sure that there’s a tick box that they basically give their permission for you to market them. On the BOMA lead pages, which you can embed on your website, or it can just be a form, we always have that tick box there so you can obviously get their permission.
In terms of what to write about, and we covered this in content marketing, but it goes again back to those principles, what’s in it for them? What would be worth their while? Much better to only send one email a month rather than two or three, and just make sure it’s sort of the highest quality. Really quality over quantity is key when it comes to emails. If you are only sending one email a month, I highly recommend that that’s a newsletter.
In that newsletter, you can be really creative. You can have links to webinars, you could have links to blogs. You could have insightful information, educational information. Your newsletter is really a menu of content options that your readers can then go through and pick out in their own time, the pieces of content that interest them. Really, really highly recommend if you don’t have a newsletter at the moment that you really strongly consider doing it.
It’s a basic one that you should be thinking of. Some tips to make the most from your emails. Think about the last couple of emails that you got. What took you from reading basically the subject line to clicking on it? Think of an impactful subject line that will make them open the email.
It doesn’t matter how good the email content is, or the offer in the email is, if they haven’t opened the email, they’ll never get to read about it, so make sure you have an impactful subject line.
Stay away from April newsletter and go into that newsletter and choose the most important thing that you are writing about. You might be writing about three or four little short paragraphs of different topics. Take the one that you think is going to be of most interest to your clients and go back and write and prospects and write your subject line at the very end.
I think the other thing there is that we all read online in a very different way to the way we read a newspaper or read a book. We skim. Make it short, easily readable, introduce the topic, why it’s important, use bullet points and heading so that you can skim through and read and take out.
If your content is really readable and great to read, that’s why I think why BOMA has been successful is that that’s what our content absolutely is, is that they’re more likely to open the next email and the next email and the next email, and potentially even share that with somebody else. Including your personality is really important.
You may be known to be someone who always cracks a joke or something, make sure you do that in your email, because it’s about building that relationship with prospects and clients. Use images, white space, and have a call to action. Again we are saying, when people get to your website, make sure they always know what they’re going to do next.
Same, understand what you want them to do next in your newsletters as well, whether it’s you want them to go to your website or whether to a book a time with you, or to take up an offer or to call you or whatever it is that you think you’d like them to do, make sure you include that in your newsletter. There are some examples on the right-hand side image, whether it’s more info, read more, book a time, et cetera.
In terms of content, one item we really want to cover was video content. If like me, you spend a lot of time looking at video content you’ll know just how engaging it is and how as a format for understanding information and taking that in and doing research, it really is, it’s one of my favourite forms these days.
YouTube have basically said that on average people are spending about 16 hours a week watching online videos and nearly 85% have been convinced to buy a product or service by watching a related video. The nice thing is that you guys have a lot of things that you could be talking about in your videos. Where we are now in 2020 is very different to 15 years ago, it doesn’t cost much money to make a video.
You’ve got your cell phone, you’ve got your laptop or your desktop, and that’s really all you need. We’ve got a couple of tools down the bottom that we use. Loom is a really great mobile and desktop tool. That allows you to create and edit short videos which you can then send out. It might be that you send that to one client, or it might be that you send that out to lots of your clients via email or social media.
We’re obviously using Zoom today for this webinar, but they also allow you to record videos too. The main thing in a video is they’re amazing to create, a way to convey stories. We talked about, I think in one of the earlier slides, as a really nice alternative to writing, video allows you to really capture the emotion and sentiment and energy behind a story that maybe is more of a struggle to do when you write it.
In terms of video ideas, so it could be you could be announcing something that’s happened in an industry. You might be announcing a new hire or that you’ve won an award. Training videos are fantastic. You guys have so many things that you could talk about in terms of training up your clients, whether it’s on Xero or doing accounts or cash flow or basically so many things that, again, are simple for you but for your clients will be super, super valuable because-
They don’t need to be long, do they?
You could do honestly a four-minute or less than segment where you say, “This is my one tip of the day or one tip of the week.” There is so much knowledge in the bookkeeping accounting community that you take for granted, but that your clients you may think is common sense and quite well-known, but that on a specific day, your clients and prospects are just like, it’s an aha moment for them.
It might just be even some of those complicated accounting concepts explained. What’s the difference between cash versus accrual accounting in a nutshell? Or you could create a series based on some of that stuff that helps demystify accounting and bookkeeping for businesses or clients.
Yeah. I mean, a series is a great idea. Then they can live on your website, they can live on your social channels. Again, when people go and visit those places, if they’re not a client, but they’re just looking to understand more about you, they can take themselves through those videos. Obviously not to forget YouTube, I know that was a question we had from one of you when you registered. YouTube is another great channel to put your videos on.
It also is great to host videos. If you’ve got a lot of videos on your website, I would recommend hosting them on YouTube. Then you can insert the link on your website, because that means that basically YouTube pays for the hosting and you just have the link coming through to your website. It doesn’t cost you any time in terms of loading speed or money.
How to stage. We put the online in brackets because obviously pre-COVID, we’d be saying how to host just an event, but at present, a lot of us will be having to think about how we still maintain those sorts of connections and opportunities, but through an online manner. Look, we’re doing a webinar and you can very much copy this format. Couple of, I suppose, tips and tricks that we found work well.
Timing. Unless you know that your particular audience or segment of your audience is only available very early or very late, usually in the middle of the day works well. People could prefer around their lunch hour or something like that. Again, earlier in the week is slightly better. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday’s all good. People we found seem to start tuning out and thinking about the weekend later in the week.
Numbers. It’s a great way to basically reach a lot of people. If you think maybe a year ago, if you had something to announce, you might send a couple of emails or ring people, or have coffees with them. Obviously that’s not possible these days for that social distancing purposes, but also just in terms of shared time, can you afford to spend an hour having a phone call or a coffee conversation with 50 clients?
You can speak to 10 or 20 or 30 clients on a Zoom webinar. Get across all the information you want. Then they’ll give you a call back or an email with the specific questions and actions that they want to take from that webinar.
Actually, one of our users has used online webinars as a useful way to nurture and support clients, but also kind of, I guess, thought about it in the following way. That an hour of their time could be spent helping a number of clients at the same time with giving away some information and advisory. But it can also then really build awareness of that advisory service that they’re offering and drive more business from those existing clients.
Gone are the days where you heard from your accountant or bookkeeper once a year. Now, I think there’s very much a need for businesses and people to hear more frequently and to have that, even if they’re not at that time tuning in, but being able to sign up and then perhaps watch it later, be supported with an advisor that is really there to help them and offer advice.
There is a bit of a method in terms of how you go about the process of getting out the invites and reminders. We’ve just detailed it on the left. This is obviously best case scenario that you would send the first invite four weeks out. Look, if you only have time to do it a week or two weeks out, that’s absolutely fine. The idea is that you send the first invite out and then you follow up again.
You email everyone on your list who hasn’t signed up, because people often they’ll have looked at the email and they may have thought, “Oh, that’s great, but I’m just a bit busy and I need to rush out.” But you give them another invite. You remind them about it, can be like, “Oh yes, that is something I want to see.” And they will click on it. For example, we had 70 people sign up this morning on our reminder invite.
With less than four hours’ notice we got 70 people who said, “Actually that is worth my time. I was meaning to do that. We’re going to sign up.” To that point, reminder. Whether it’s an hour before or the day before, if it’s maybe an in-person event, always make sure that you send the reminder and have the specific details. If it’s an online event, make sure it has the time, the link to login, any other information that you might want them to have.
Today we sent a workbook so that you guys could take notes. Maybe that’s something that you could think of doing. If it’s in person, obviously you might want to give them a map, the address, maybe tell them about parking and things like that.
Also, if you do happen to speak to a client or prospect by the phone, you bump into them, again, you can say, “Oh, look, we’ve got this event coming up. When I get back to the office, I’m going to send you an invite as well.” Online directories, Liz.
Yeah. Yeah. Well, look, along with your website, make sure that you are also on all these free directories out there. Now, the first one is Google My Business. If you go and type in Google My Business, type in your own name and your name, and you haven’t already claimed and verified your business, make sure you do that. Google is often a place where people start when they’re looking for a business in their area.
If someone has typed in accountants in my area or bookkeepers in my area, you want your business to pop up. You get to put your address in there, obviously your hours. That’s something that you can manage over time. Say for example, you are closed for a number of days over the Christmas break or something, you can change your hours. You can also put reviews on there and get five stars as Alluvia Financial have managed to do, which is fantastic.
I think Charles I’m writing saying that once you’ve claimed it, they will send you a letter to verify it. That’s still the case, but whatever you go on there, claim your listing. Now, Google’s not the only place. Of course if you’re a Xero partner, you should make sure that you’re in the Xero advisor directory, because people can actually go onto Xero businesses that are using Xero and find an advisor there.
If you’re a member of one of the industry groups like Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, CPA, et cetera, or industry associations, chamber of commerce, manufacturers, all those, all specific industry associations that you have connections with. Think about the directories where people might go and it obviously all helps to broaden awareness of your firm. Also, I guess gives you a bit of credibility when you’re listed on these other directories.
Yeah. Again, just hacking back to that social proof element, nothing is as powerful as seeing someone else who’s rated a business highly that just gives people the feeling that they can take that step and give you a call because from what they have seen in terms of other people’s experiences, they’re going to be looked after as well. Be really important.
We put this one on the end and I think the reason we’ve included this is because obviously advertising online does cost money. We’re talking about AdWords, Facebook ads, LinkedIn, display ads, things like that, but done right it can be cost-effective and you don’t need to spend a huge amount of money. You can see an example on the right-hand side. I just put in accountant in Manly, Manly in Sydney, and up came three ads with three people, three accountants in there.
Obviously you can see down the bottom, there’s the map showing them all. The nice thing is that even with a small budget, so I’m talking a couple of hundred dollars a month, you can do AdWords as a place to start, but because advertising online is all trackable. You can know exactly what your ROI is. You can know if you have the right tracking links. You can speak to your webmaster about that.
If you’re looking for what pixels you should have or UTM parameters, make sure you have those in there, but you can say, “Okay. Well, I spent a hundred dollars. How many people came through to my website? How many people clicked on a link and maybe came through and downloaded a lead-capture form to get access to a piece of valuable content?” The same goes for obviously Facebook ads and LinkedIn display ads.
You’ll know exactly how many people clicked on a link and where they ended up and so you might be able to say, “Well, look, I spent a hundred dollars and I can track that I got two emails or two leads or two people filled out a form and I got their information so that I can follow up with. Each lead costs me $50.” That’s just a really basic example of looking at it.
I would definitely say that if you’re doing everything else that we’ve talked about and you’re still thinking that you would like to maybe expand your marketing a little bit further, whether you do it yourself or you have someone help you do it, I would definitely say, look at advertising online. There’s just a couple of things to think about in terms of, I suppose, what mediums to use.
The point that we’ve made first about AdWords, which is, are people already searching for your services? If they are, that’s a really good opportunity to use AdWords. If they’re searching for, as an example on the right, accountants in Manly and you’re in Manly and you’re an accountant, fantastic, you can put some AdWords up there.
Obviously it’s not just that you would say you’re an accountant in Manly, you would put a whole range of keywords that you wanted to rank for. They may also include your services that you offer, what you specialise in. You can see here, Beany has tax, GST, small businesses. They’ve got a whole lot of different keywords in there.
If you’re looking to target people who may not be looking specifically for your services, but are looking for general accounting and bookkeeping services, then it’s quite a good idea to use more of a display channel. Such as Facebook ads or LinkedIn or the display networks. You can then create an ad with an image and some copy and a link that then linked through to somewhere on your website.
Think of that link as going through to a place on your website where they can take an action. That might be that they go through to a calendar page where they can book a call with you would be a really easy one, or they can watch a video or they can read a case, study something that will give them some insightful information or help them begin that relationship building process with you.
If you just take them to your homepage, then you’re saying, “Hey, here’s the homepage, but it’s up to you what you do next.” Make it really easy for them to take the next step. Say, “Here’s this case study, you should read this case study or here’s a video, or give me a call. Let’s book a time to chat.” Just be really straightforward, clear calls to action and make it obvious what you’re asking them to do.
Look, we’re just about to finish up and I just wanted to launch this poll. Just if you have time just in the last minute or two, if there’s any topics that you’d like us to cover in future webinars, we’d love it if you could cast your vote. It won’t take more than just a couple of seconds.
If you see a topic there that we haven’t mentioned, please do just type it directly into the comment section if you don’t see it in there and we will tell you the results and then put that into our webinar calendar for the coming months.
Likewise, there were a couple of questions about BOMA. We will send out a link so that you can do your own free trial. If you are interested in looking at a demo before you do that, you can book a demo with us. If there are a number of you that do want to do that, we could actually run it as a group demo so that you’re on together.
Again, in the content section, that comment section, would that be the place to put it, Charlie, that you’re interested in a demo, a group demo? Put group demo and we’ll make sure that we send something out with a link so that we can bring you back on for a short demo and we’ll run through what the product offers.
Yeah. Well, then so thanks so much everyone. We know we’ve gone a few minutes over time. Really, really appreciate your attendance. Your question, your interactions. Just leaves me to thank Liz so much for her time. Thanks, Liz.
Thank you. Nice to be involved.
Thanks so much everyone. See you next time.