In reviewing recent surveys and listening to accounting firm marketing consultants it is evident that many firms have been so busy with Covid issues, serving clients, managing staff and meeting deadlines that the marketing effort has suffered somewhat. I thought it might be of interest to take a look at a range of marketing strategies intended to increase your pipeline and reinvigorate the flow of new business.
I was once known as the top marketing specialist on the marketing of an accountancy business. That came about as a result of my marketing seminars and also the two marketing companies I founded – Practice Track and Practice WEB. But that was 20 or more years ago and digital marketing has since come to the fore – and I am no digital marketing guru!
But, while the digital marketing revolution has opened up powerful cost-effective and previously undreamt-of ways to promote your services, there are other ways to market so in this short read we will look at a range of impactful ‘non-digital’ marketing ideas.
I am going to outline 18 strategies for you to consider opting into. We look in this first article at the front 9 and then the back nine will be outlined in my next blog in two week’s time. Maybe with one of these you can score a hole in one!
1. Make sure that every firm owner has a a personal marketing plan:
Who are your referrals? Who are your prospects? Identify a list of the clients you would “die to act for”. Make sure this includes the client’s name – not just the company.
Key Point: If you do not have a name – you don’t have a prospect. What are your targets? What are your cross-serving goals?
2. Identify what you can be ‘famous for’ in your marketplace:
What are your strengths and service expertise? Every firm owner should have at least one area of specialist expertise. What expertise can you acquire? Make stand above the crowd and you will win more business and be able to charge a higher rate for your services. Can you gain speaking engagements? Author articles? Write a blog for a local newspaper? Be interviewed on radio or maybe even TV?
Key Point: Having an industry or niche service expertise is the starting point for developing your personal brand and famous person profile.
3. Prioritise collecting over handing out business cards:
When you next go to a networking event – which surely you will sometime in the future – when you give your card out, you have no idea if the recipient will ever make contact. However, if you ask a prospect for their card, that confirms your interest in them, and it puts you in control.
Key Action: Make sure you have cards in every jacket or handbag – a business card should always be within arms length – including in your car.
4. Keep marketing to existing clients:
In my opinion, we should spend at least at much time marketing to existing clients as to prospects. In fact I believe that 80% of a firm owner’s marketing should be directed toward existing clients.
Ask clients: “How else can we help you?” or use a survey to uncover unidentified needs. In reception, include a tip board with ideas for tax saving, profit improvement, firm events and so on.
Key Point: Your clients are entitled to the very best of all your expertise.
5. Ask great questions:
What are the ‘killer’ questions that will penetrate your client/prospects mind? Make them think and help to see how you can help.
For example ask:
“What is your greatest challenge?”
“Do you know how much money you will need to live on in retirement?”
“Do you know what your competitors are doing?”
“If you could change one thing about your business what would it be?”
6. Take a risk and recommend your partners:
It is surprising how many firm owners do not recommend partners who have specialisms. If that is true in your firm, why not gather round the table with your client lists and openly discuss where you could introduce another owner to one of the firm’s clients?
7. Ask for referrals:
Why not ask your clients if they know anyone else who needs a good (or great – depending on your client relationship and your confidence!) accountant? Remember, it’s not unprofessional to ask; it’s just good business practice. Most clients are happy to pass on a recommendation but are rarely asked.
8. Woo back lost clients:
I consulted with one firm and asked the MP for a list of lost clients and the fee they were last charged. I gave the list back the next day and asked the MP to call 10 of those larger former clients and invite them for lunch. The result – he won back one client with a fee of £25,000. That was 25 years ago and today that firm is still a client and their fees are now over £75,000!
Key Action: If there are lost clients you’d like to win back, retain them on your marketing database. After they have experienced their new accountant’s service, they may well be interested in returning as a client. Their new accountant may not be giving them the advice or service promised.
Key Action: Route one – after a year or two – call those clients you would like back and ask them if they would like to meet you.
9. Keep growing your database:
My rule of thumb (and it is mine – not one that is borne out by extensive research) is that you should have 50 prospects for the firm and 50 for every owner. So, if you have a three-owner firm, then you should seek a quality and relevant database of 200 prospects. Properly managed, that database should yield one new client per owner every year. When collecting personal data for marketing or any other purpose, however, be sure to be mindful of the any rule such as [in Europe] The General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).
That’s it for now – I look forward to sharing the back nine with you next time.