Marketing to Win New Clients
Accounting used to be a stable profession. When a business hired an accountant, that partnership tended to last. Changing to a different firm was expensive and complex. To some extent that’s still true today. No doubt many of your clients have been with you for years. But it’s getting easier for businesses to shop around. New technology means that moving to a new accountant isn’t as hard as it once was.
This is opening up the market and improving customer choice. It also presents a great opportunity for nimble, proactive firms to win new clients. But to win new clients you need to know about marketing. This guide will help you get started.
Marketing Strategies for Accounting Firms
To start growing your accounting business we’ve devised this short but information-rich guide. It contains the most important steps you should take to market an accounting firm and lay a stable foundation for winning more clients.
Know Your Clients to Know Your Target Market
Marketing for accounting firms begins with understanding who you best clients are. You can’t market your services to potential clients (and the clients you most want to work with) unless you know their specific needs.
This doesn’t mean you must become an expert in their field. You don’t have to be an engineer to understand the accounting needs of an engineering firm. But the more you understand the issues they face, the better your marketing will be.
Your UVP (Unique Value Proposition)
What sets you apart from other firms? Why should prospects hire you instead of your competitors?
Have you conducted a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) Analysis? Know what you’re good at and focus on those services. Know what you’re not good at (and what you don’t like doing) and avoid that type of work (or outsource it).
Establish Your Specialty and Niche
While some accountants choose to serve various industries, for most, the best approach is to specialize in a few professional fields such as lawyers, consultants, and psychologists.
In this way, you know their intricacies and the right approach that these specific types of clients need.
As an added bonus, the better you become in a certain specialty, the less time you and your team would need for executing the work, and the higher quality services you’d be able to provide — which benefits all parties.
Some of the top accounting firm niches include:
- Estate or trust accounting
- Forensic accounting
- International tax
- Mergers and acquisitions
- Create a marketing plan
Services to be marketed
Which of your firm’s services are the most profitable? Which ones are likely to be of interest to target prospects? Which are the easiest to sell?
You help (this type of client) with (this sort of accounting issue) by (insert your secret sauce here).
Devise Your Marketing Strategy
Now that you know exactly who you’re talking to, and exactly the services you’re offering, you can feed that insight into your marketing strategy.
Whether you’ve spent some budget on marketing each year or are just getting started you should take the time to define your marketing goals and the methods you’ll use to reach them. All of this should go into a well-documented and researched marketing strategy.
Putting together a more formal marketing plan for your accounting business is a great way to organize your efforts and ensure they’re productive. Include your UVP, your SWOT Analysis, business targets, and overarching goals. A plan will help keep you focused, and it should tie in with your business plan. That’s because successful marketing will help you achieve your business goals.
Determine your budget
It’s difficult to build anything without first knowing what you’re willing to invest. Understand that marketing isn’t an expense, it is an investment and you expect a return from that investment (in the form of new clients and revenue from those clients). Understand how much a client is worth to you over the course of a year, and choose a percentage of that value that you’re comfortable in investing to get that new client (or a suitable payback period to recoup the cost of acquiring that new client).
Put together a schedule of the actions you’ll take to reach your goals. Here are some examples of things you should be doing for your accounting firm marketing:
- Improve your web presence. Once your strategy is set, the starting point should be your website. This is likely your clients’ first impression of your business so it’s important to not overlook its content, design and usability.
- It’s a good idea to plan the improvement and creation of content at the same time, first considering what key information a prospective client would need to know.
- Some tips to step up your accounting firm’s website:
- Include bios for your leadership so potential clients can understand who they’ll meet with
- List all of your services and explain what sets your firm account (here’s where that USP comes in handy)
- Make your contact page easy to find, and include a form or similar way to reach out
- If you have a blog, make sure to regularly post relevant articles and other resources that target your clients’ needs
- Setup your tracking and measurement plan. If you’re not tracking how people are engaging with your website, how effective your marketing is, or whether or not your marketing is achieving your stated goals then you aren’t trying very hard. You wouldn’t wear a blindfold to drive a car, so you shouldn’t go into marketing without knowing where you’re going and where you’ve been.
- Claim all of your social media profiles. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Yelp, Google My Business, Bing Place for Business… there are a ton of social media profiles and listings you should claim and setup. These profiles at minimum act as proof points that you are a real, legitimate business. They also act as a signal to search engines that your business information is real and trustworthy. At best these profiles can serve as lead engines and a place to establish and document your expertise in your field and with your target market.
- Get someone to help you with your marketing. You’re an accountant, not a marketer. Your time is best spent meeting with potential clients, closing new business, and servicing your existing clients. You understand what your time is worth and what you can charge for that time. Paying someone with marketing expertise to build your lead engine will not cost you as much per hour as you charge (or at least it shouldn’t). Find someone with expertise like Lift Digital that works with and has worked with accountants in all corners of the country. Also make certain that whoever you find to work on your marketing isn’t working with someone else in your service area. You’re already competing against other accounting firms, so you don’t want to potentially fund the competition by working with the same marketing agency.