Industry leader Kristen Keats of Breakaway Bookkeeping shares her expertise.
Accountants are not typically known for marketing prowess. Accounting professionals—myself included—have long relied on the referral system, knowing that businesses will always need transactional services like bookkeeping and tax prep.
In 2021, the accounting industry will continue to shift toward selling higher-value services like advisory and coaching. According to Astrid Eira of FinancesOnline, this shift “comes from the discovery of new solutions for analytics that allow accountants to focus more on decoding data for deeper insights.” In order to grow in these areas, a thoughtful marketing strategy is necessary. Firms and accountants alike should recognize the quickly changing industry as an opportunity to:
- Grow your business and attract new clients and prospects
- Improve the frequency of your communication with existing clients
- Strengthen relationships with clients, leading to more loyalty
As accounting professionals, marketing is often the last thing we want to do—especially after such a brutal tax season! Some of us might cringe at the idea of self-promotion, or feel overwhelmed and unsure of where to start. We’re all mindful of budgeting and we may skip marketing because of the associated costs.
However, some marketing results have nothing to do with spending money or having an expensive logo. There are many marketing tactics that are free, and the rate of return on time spent is well worth the effort.
The 5 tips that follow are actionable, effective, and easy to implement at any stage of a marketing campaign.
1. Hold a Weekly Marketing Meeting
Setting aside time to evaluate what you’ve been doing and build new skills is a great way to develop a marketing plan.
At Breakaway, my team holds a weekly meeting called Marketing and More. We go over updates on audience engagement, troubleshoot marketing tactics, and share resources. Occasionally, we’ll invite outside experts to speak on topics such as LinkedIn profile building, or how to lead an effective Zoom meeting.
It’s important to recognize that no marketing effort is “one and done.” Consistency and persistence are essential in order to attract potential clients. Hold yourself and your team accountable by creating an ongoing conversation around your marketing strategy.
2. Start Networking, Whatever That Means for You
The word “networking” can strike fear into the heart of even the most seasoned accountant. But networking, especially in the midst of a global pandemic, can look different to everyone.
You should feel empowered to reconsider what networking looks like for you—it might be grabbing coffee with an old friend, chatting with another business owner, or joining your neighborhood’s Facebook group. Networking takes place anytime you tell someone about your profession.
3. Re-Share Impactful Content
When my team started to create a marketing strategy for Breakaway, I remember being advised to produce multiple new pieces of content every week. It seemed like an impossible task. But when I considered that I was already consistently re-sharing great online content produced by my colleagues, it wasn’t so overwhelming.
Stay up to date on industry blogs and social media, and re-share any content that you know would be valuable to your target audience. Make sure to include your own personal context when you re-share digital media that isn’t your own: Why is the information relevant to your services and your clients? What’s your takeaway?
If you’re not sure where to look for the kind of content that will speak to your small business clients, here are my suggestions:
4. Create Original Content
Producing your own content can be time-consuming, but extremely valuable. To be seen as a thought leader in your industry or niche, you must be willing to share your expertise and opinions.
Engage your audience by focusing on answering client questions from an advisory perspective. Set out to create content that addresses common pain points. For example:
- When can I hire a new employee?
- Will I make rent this month?
- When can I afford to pay myself?
Typically, these kinds of questions are answered by advisory services. If your content addresses areas of confusion like these, your audience will have a greater understanding of the level of service available to them.
5. Incorporate Your Personality
The best advisor relationships are the ones where clients have been fully vulnerable. Clients sometimes avoid mentioning mistakes they might have made, seeking out purely transactional services. But if clients don’t feel comfortable opening up, the opportunity to truly advise them is missed.
Meet clients halfway by showing your own vulnerability to demonstrate that you understand where they’re coming from. Consider incorporating your personality and personal life into tools that you might already be familiar with, like Twitter. Realizing that my firm got more web traffic from my personal Twitter posts was unexpected, but comforting. It was a relief to know that I didn’t have to put on a fake persona to attract leads.
It’s important to humanize what we do, especially as we’re using more technology in our field than ever before. We’re people with feelings and expertise of our own, and it’s crucial that clients understand we’re not robots. At the end of the day, our potential clients are searching for someone they can relate to.
Take Marketing One Step at a Time
Consider any of these action areas as a fantastic starting place—there’s no need to try and accomplish all of them at once. In 2021, make it a goal to focus on strengthening one area every quarter. When you’ve figured out the right rhythm and pace for your business, continue branching out into other action areas.
Which one will you prioritize first? Tweet your choice to us @FreshBooksAccts!
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about the author
Breakaway Bookkeeping & Advising, an innovative small business advisory firm that aims to bring joy to accounting. She is also the owner and principal at Sherwood Tax where she combines cutting-edge technology and high-touch client service to create a one-of-a-kind tax experience. Kristen's work at both Breakaway and Sherwood Tax is the culmination of years of research and experience to make accounting better for the accountant and the client.Kristen is a CPA and industry leader with over 20 years of experience serving small businesses and self-employed clients. She is the CEO of