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 client referrals, knowing that businesses will always need transactional services like bookkeeping and tax prep.
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. Accounting firms and professionals 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 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.
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However, some marketing results have nothing to do with spending money or having an expensive logo. There are many marketing tactics that use free tools, 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 strategy.
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 marketing efforts are never “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 that doesn’t necessarily mean have to mean hitting up all the networking events in your area.
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 an accounting organization. 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 as part of a digital marketing strategy. 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.
Having an active social media presence is easier than you might think. 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 your clients’ 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 trust you more and have a greater understanding of the accounting services available to them.
There are a lot of ways to share content with your audience, but many firms rely mainly on online marketing. What this looks like can vary a lot depending on the time and budget you’re ready to invest in marketing efforts.
For example, newer accountants marketing their firm’s services might consider using free tools, like social media platforms and a Google Business Profile. In comparison, a larger firm might have a more robust digital strategy using email marketing, paid advertising, or search engine marketing.
Regardless of how you get your content out there, effective marketing is all about reaching your clients with the information that lets them know you’re there to help.
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.
Successful accounting marketing includes showing your prospective and current clients that you’re there to help. Whether that’s through a full-scale marketing plan, social media marketing, or simply sharing a blog post with a client, showing prospective clients your personality will go a long way.
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 2023, 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!