When you enrolled in a graduate program in accounting, you probably didn’t imagine you would one day also have to worry about marketing. Accounting courses train their students to become CPAs and run an accounting firm successfully. However, they don’t always equip budding accountants with the knowledge to market their services to their target audience. Most accounting firms do not get past their business cards and networking events when it comes to marketing themselves.
While savvy accountants know that they need to market themselves in order to get newer and higher-paying clients, most accountants are simply unaware of the intricacies involving marketing their own firms. While there are a number of agencies that offer marketing for accounting firms to find more clients or leads, a basic marketing strategy can be implemented by the firms themselves.
In this article, we list 7 tips that will help you to market your accounting firm, until you decide to hire a professional service when your needs grow.
1. Develop a marketing and branding strategy
Most accountants rely on word of mouth and basic networking to find clients. That's helpful, but won't spurt enough growth. An accounting firm should study its market and do a competitive analysis. This will help the firm to understand who its peers are, and what its market is composed of, and what others are doing to market. Next, the firm can develop a marketing strategy that is specifically geared towards its target audience. An accounting firm’s clientele can be surprisingly diverse.
To build and implement a successful marketing strategy, follow these steps:
• Identify your market and segment it based on demographics and other variables
• Choose your target audience and create marketing campaigns specifically for those audiences. For example, are your clients individual professionals or large businesses?
• Track and monitor your strategy over time, so that you know that your campaigns are fetching results
2. Start building a mailing list
While many have begun to think emails are outdated, they are not. In fact, studies show that most businesses still find clients via email and by clicking on call-to-action links within email newsletters. This is why, you need to start building a list of emails for people who would be specifically interested in your business. You can build an email list by installing tools such as Hello Bar on your website, or by requesting people to sign up for your newsletter. Chances are, if they register for your newsletter, they are most likely interested in placing their money on your accounting services at some point in their lives.
Build a successful mailing list by following these steps:
• Seek consent and ask people to leave their email addresses in exchange for a downloadable resource such as an eBook or white paper
• Urge web visitors to subscribe to your newsletter
• Make a list of emails that belong to people you think will be interested in your accounting services. LinkedIn is a good place to start
3. Be visible online and on social media
Accounting firms are usually very staid in nature and instagramming pictures to engage in self-promotion is usually not very common among these circles. Yet, promoting your accounting firm on social media and maintaining an updated and attractive website are both crucial to successful marketing. Firstly, make sure that you hire someone to update your website and fill it with quality content that promotes your business. Second, create social profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to humanize your firm and also engage your audience on social platforms.
To enhance your image online, start with these steps:
• Develop or update your website, and fill it with informative content. Videos and images are very helpful in attracting attention.
• Regularly post blogs and share your knowledge abut accounting processes to your target audience. Establish thought leadership.
• Engage your audience on social media profiles by regularly answering their questions, sharing images from your firm and engaging in polite conversation
4. Use organic and paid advertising
While this may have already crossed your mind, paid advertising helps marketing firms immensely. Good places to start are Facebook, Google and Twitter. Strategic placement of ads will help you to collect email addresses or even direct solicitations for accounting-related work. Organic advertising includes making sure that your website ranks well in search engine queries, becoming part of social conversations and requesting for client testimonials and referrals. You can also try advertising in niche magazines and forums that cater to the target audience you wish to work with.
To make your advertising strategy work, do these:
• Allocate a small percentage of your profits to advertising
• Use both search engine and social media advertising to reach your target audience
• Do not forget to implement search engine optimization so that you engage in organic marketing as well
5. Up your content marketing game
Content marketing involves publishing content that is of some use to your target audience, and making sure that you come across as an informed and knowledgeable entity. Businesses usually use social media, blogs and their websites to engage in content marketing and establish themselves as thought leaders of their chosen area. To begin with, you can start publishing blogs related to accounting at a regular frequency, and answer queries on Quora and other social networks to provide proof of your knowledge. Though you may be giving your knowledge for free, most people need your full services rather than just your knowledge.
To share your expert knowledge and attract more clients to your office, do the following:
• Update your website and blog with fresh content and establish your expertise in accounting and related topics
• Display your thought leadership on social media and give away knowledge for free
• Use tools such as Quora and Twitter to respond to people’s queries
6. Seek referrals and testimonials
If you run an accounting firm, you are probably hesitant to seek referrals and testimonials from your clients when you finish filing their taxes or doing their accounts. It might come across as jarring to your clients too, when you ask them to write testimonials or refer your business to their acquaintances. However, it helps to give it a try and request some of your long-term clients to put in a good word for you on social media or to refer your firm to their acquaintances. Most clients opt to do business with firms they have been referred to by their friends or close contacts.
Even if it feels slightly odd, do the following things:
• Make a list of your long term clients or those you feel comfortable to approach
• Ask these clients to make positive recommendations on their social media profiles
• Inquire if their acquaintances or other firms would like to do business with you
7. Use technology to your advantage
Marketing depends on a number of tools such as email automation, CRM, lead management tools and data analytics. Use these tools to your advantage and identify who your prospects are and how you can nurture leads. Lead nurturing and lead engagement can both be automated so that you can focus on what you do best, which is to help manage other people’s numbers. If you do not know which marketing automation tool (also known as MarTech) you need to choose, speak to an IT consultant who will be able to help you better.
To take your marketing to the next level, do the following:
• Identify which marketing automation tool will help you manage campaigns for your target audience better
• Consider investing in email automation tools as emails are where the leads and clients are
• Use data analytics to predict outcomes and understand your audience better
Accounting firms need marketing
For a long time now, accounting firms were not very keen on marketing their services to their clients. This worked before the digital age, when professionals often found clients by way of word of mouth or referrals. Unfortunately, every profession today needs to go online to be found by clients and accounting firms are no exception. By implementing basic marketing techniques, accounting firms can find the clients that will pay them to eventually hire top-notch marketing agencies. If you follow the 7 steps related to marketing for accounting firms, you will quickly witness growth and success.