I’m fortunate to have been in the marketing “game” for 25 years. This experience enables me to understand what really matters for a firm in 2018, and what marketing ideas can be ignored for now, until they are proven (i.e. just a fad).
By now, I am sure you understand that digital marketing as a whole is here to stay. Which means that the accounting profession cannot bury its head in the sand and hope that this is just a fad. Whilst the digital platforms that we use in our marketing may change, get bought out or disappear, this is now how business is often carried out.
In the book Entrepreneur Revolution by Daniel Priestly, he looks back at how we got to where we are today:
“If you go back 250 years in a time machine the chances are the first person you would meet is a farmer. The agricultural age was defined by the fact that most people worked the land. Then came the technological breakthrough. The steam engine, fossil fuels, and machinery…
One tractor could do the work of 250 men… The technology changed things, you couldn’t fight it, there was a revolution.
If you look back between 1850 and 2000 there is a lot less chance you would meet a farmer, but stumble across factory workers.
In the early part, you would find “blue collar” workers, working on machines. In the late 1900’s you would find “white collar” workers, on computers, making data…”
If This Is So Then Where Do These Changes Leave Accounting Practices?
The technology that robbed the farmers of their livelihood has developed so much so that we need factory workers no more. The competitive advantage is no longer there and white collar workers (technicians) are no longer vital.
The power is now in business owners hand and we do not need to outsource like we once used to. The smartphones that we now carry around in our pockets are more powerful than the computer that landed the spaceship on the moon.
These changes need to bring a new way of thinking for the profession. We need to be pioneering a way forward so not to be left behind, or out of a job.
If this is the case how do we need to think? Well there are 3 things we need to embrace, these are:
Sorry guys and gals but being visible is going to play a part in your practice growth whether you like it or not. Referral marketing is no longer going to cut it, and having great customer service will no longer be your unique selling proposition. Great customer service is no longer a differentiator, it is a given.
People are not finding their accountant whilst playing golf on a Friday or meeting down the pub with their acquaintances/network for a lunchtime drink. Business is no longer done the way it used to be.
People are searching for their new accountant online. They are asking for recommendations from virtual strangers in Facebook groups and on Linkedin.
They are accepting these recommendations and then Googling the firms to see if their website and social media back up what someone has said about them.
They are then reading blogs the accountants have written, maybe attending a webinar that is being held, or going to an event if local. They are researching and accepting recommendations on face value, much less.
This means that an accounting practice now needs to be more visible than ever before. They need to have a strong online presence and a brand that backs up they say they are. They need to visible in the right way.
Relationships are more important now than ever before. However, over 50% of your relationship building with prospects will be done before you even speak to them.
This means certain marketing foundations need to be in place to ensure that the right relationships are built with the right people.
Techniques like customer journey mapping for different personas and understanding the buyer’s journey are essential before any firm decides to plow forward with the marketing of their firm.
Understanding how content and information is consumed by your target market will ensure that your marketing is hitting the spot and building on these relationships.
Video marketing, article writing, audio, and infographics are all ways your audience can consume your content. If you are providing content and people are reading/listening/watching it – you are already building these essential relationships.
Your personal brand, business brand, and your service/product brands are more important now than ever before. You need to purposefully carve out your reputation, and not leave it for others to do it for you.
2018 brings new ways to sell your services. Your lengthy “get to know you meetings” are something that many of your prospects no longer want to sit in, nor do they need. They make their buying decision on your ability to show your expertise and authority before they meet with you:
Webinars, conferences, events and Skype calls will be a way that you convert people from a prospect into a client.
Strong onboarding processes and service delivery will ensure that you keep your new client. Loyalty is down, and the consumer demands more from their accountant than ever before.
Having process and systems in place will ensure that the marketing you carry out within your firm will meet the buyer where they want to be met. They need to be fulfilled at every stage of the customer journey – from attracting to delighting.
At The Heart Of It All
At the heart of every successful business is a valuable solution to a person’s problem.
Bookkeeping problems for the small business are far less then they used to be. Apps like Xero and Quickbooks are eliminating the need for outsourcing bookkeeping. Year-end accounts can be submitted to HMRC with the push of a button, which means accountants are not seen as vital for a business as they once were. However, technology cannot completely do the job of an accountant or bookkeeper. Technology does not read the numbers or have the insights that a person can have.
At the heart of it all is you, the passionate accountant that knows more than any machine does at this moment in time.
With visibility, great relationships and processes in place the changes to the profession will be nothing other than a challenge that a pioneering accountant can easily adapt to and embrace.
P.S. When you’re ready… here are ways we can help you with marketing and growing your accounting firm:
1. Grab a free copy of our eBook 100 Ways To Market Your Accounting Firm. It’s full of ideas that help you attract leads and convert them into clients.
2. Join our Facebook Group Marketing For Professional Advisors and connect with other accountants and advisors who want more time, clients and profits.
3. Join our Implementation Programme specifically for accounting firms and be a case study. I’m putting together a new group so if you (and/or your team) would like to work with me on mastering your marketing just send me a message email@example.com put Case Study in the subject line.
4. Work with me and my team privately. If you would like to work with me and my team privately and have a bespoke marketing strategy designed and implemented send me a message firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me a little bit more about your firm and what you would like to work on together, and I’ll get you all the details.