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It’s cliche to say “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” especially in an industry like accounting that actually requires an expertise in order to succeed. Unfortunately, the old adage still holds true. Even if you are an expert and supremely confident in your abilities as an accountant, it doesn’t do you any good if you don’t have any clients. It might seem like common sense, but at the same time, it is easier said than done.
A good friend of mine, we’ll call him Jeremy, managed restaurants for a successful chain based out of London and Manchester. A successful restaurant is like a fully functioning economy of its own – and Jeremy realised that often times people who are good at making money, are not always great at managing it.
So he stopped running trendy bars, went back to college, and became an accountant for the same places he used to pour drinks at. He had a client built in because of his hard-earned reputation already existing in the company.
This was a better opportunity than many people get when they are first starting out. At the same time, a good start will only last so long, it doesn’t solve the question of how to expand from there.
Where Do You Even Start To Marketing Your Accountancy Firm?
According to an article published on Accountancy Age, a survey of UK accountants from technology provider Wolters Kluwer, discovered less than a third (29.9%) of firms have a dedicated marketing or business development strategy, and only 31.2% outsource some marketing responsibilities.
You’ve probably come up with some marketing ideas to help build your client base, most likely starting with the old business standby of networking. For better or worse, networking is as important to marketing your accountancy firm as ever.
There are the old school methods which still have a place, and nothing beats the personal touch. For starters, you could try referral letters. These aren’t sales letters so much as an announcement of your services to family, friends, and acquaintances. You are starting the spread of your business by word of mouth, rather than just solicitation.
You could also focus on informal marketing opportunities, which can be as simple as carrying business cards with you wherever you go. Accounting might be a tough thing to bring up in casual conversation, but at the same time, if you meet someone who is unhappy with their current accountant, you have a good chance of getting your foot in the door.
Jumping on The Social Networking Bandwagon
Just as it has with everything else in the business world, technology has changed the face of networking. There’s nothing wrong with attending an alumni networking event or joining local civic organisations to build contacts through people you know.
But now you can combine that strategy with networking through social media channels like Linkedin and Facebook. Specifically, focus on events in your target market. Each of these respective websites has advantages such as wider audience reach as well as more focused groups.
After all, what good is networking if you are meeting all the wrong people?
One way to avoid wasting resources on people who simply don’t need you is to focus on a niche. Not only does this increase the potential to get new clients, but it also increases the potential to get repeat clients. For Jeremy, the restaurant industry is a large niche but a niche he nonetheless felt comfortable with. It was an industry full of people that he could relate to, because he had been there. If you can relate to potential clients, that is a strong advantage.
Every Call to Action Needs a Plan
“Strategic planning is worthless – unless there is first a strategic vision.” – John Naisbitt
Word of mouth only gets you so far. At a certain point, it simply isn’t enough to just be good with the numbers and expect new customers to come knocking down the door.
The question is, what specific marketing ideas for accountants can you use to build a client base? And how can you make sure that you are moving in the right direction, targeting the right people, and generally just doing the right thing to build your company? Sometimes a plan of action is the best thing – but that alone isn’t always enough.
You have to visualise the success of your company. That way, you are always working towards something. Why? Because if you aren’t working towards something, then you don’t have anywhere to go! And with a goal in mind, it makes it easier to come up with a plan of action. You might have a plan, or at least a general idea of methods to get your name out there.
There are other traditional methods besides face to face networking, some simple, some complex, and usually expensive, too. Brochures, business cards, flyers, even radio ads. They might all get people to look at your company, but if somebody with no need for an accountant opens up their mailbox to a brochure for an accountant, chances are that brochure is going in the bin, and that’s a waste of time and money.
Building your company doesn’t have to be all external – it might sound crazy, but there are lots of things you can do internally to build confidence in potential clients.
Building Your Brand
People gravitate toward brands because they want to feel secure. If there’s one thing people are overly protective of, it’s their hard earned pay-cheque. They want to make sure it’s in good hands. That’s why you have to turn your accountancy firm into a brand name.
There are plenty of aspects that go into making your name or your company a brand. For instance, your name and your logo are the first thing that people hear or see. But once they get past that, they have to look a little bit deeper: at your brand’s mission, your brand’s values, everything that you stand for. Instilling confidence in your brand is key, and brand establishment leads to confidence. The easiest way to do this in this day and age is through targeted social strategies for accountants, something Storkey Media specialises in.
One way to build confidence in your company and utilise social media is to start a blog on your website. And don’t just write about what’s happening around the office. Write specific articles aimed at helping people with accounting. These allow you to do three different things:
- Prove that you are knowledgable.
- Earn favour with potential clients by providing something for free.
- Increase the visibility of your website.
Clients can’t be confident in your brand if you aren’t confident in it as well. Luckily, your confidence will grow at the same time your company does. Simply having social media pages for your accounting business, and not just yourself, is a great start and can make you feel like you have a real company rather than just a desk in your office at home.
And it gets even better, because the larger your social media accounts grow, the more potential clients will respond.
Facebook can be the most important part of your social media strategy, but the reason why might surprise you. It’s not about getting friends. It’s actually about getting reviews. These stats according to Brightlocal explain why reviews are so important:
- 88% have read reviews to determine the quality of a local business (vs. 85% in 2013)
- 39% read reviews on a regular basis (vs. 32% in 2013)
- Only 12% do not read reviews (vs. 15% in 2013)
As an accountancy firm, the two best ways for your company to get reviews is through Facebook and Yelp. This will put confidence in your potential clients, build your brand, and continue to get your name out there.
Once your brand name gets established, it’s time to let the clients find you!
Marketing a brand can be a full time business. At some point, there has to be some time set aside to do the actual accounting, right? Jeremy’s business, for instance, started to get bigger, as his brand got bigger. Again, the two often go hand in hand. But he didn’t get into accounting to be a marketer. He got into the business to be an accountant.
If you would rather focus on the accounting too but are seriously interested in growing your brand, your company, and your client base, book a free consultation with us and discover how we can help market your accountancy firm.