We live in a technology-driven era where every single day brings in new surprises and innovations. The marketing tactics that we knew of ten decades back have completely transformed today. Marketing was born out of the simple act of trying to sell products and services. The marketing concept is as old as the human civilisation itself, and just like our civilisation, it has grown to adapt to the new advancements made in technology. Companies across industries are moving away from the traditional modes of marketing towards the digital practice of marketing. Gone are the days when salesmen would knock on doors, trying to convince customers to buy their products. With the onset of technology, companies are exploring innovative marketing mixes to drive better revenue opportunities.
For decades, accountants have used strategic marketing practices to attract more customers and increase their sales numbers. However, over the years, these strategies have evolved with advancements in technology and have become more digitally-driven. This has opened up the market, offering more options for customers as well as opportunities for sellers. Accountants are no longer only using inbound marketing strategies. They are also focussing on adopting effective digital marketing strategies to the leverage the power of digital technologies. We’ve compiled an essential checklist of marketing strategies that will help accountants expand their customer reach and achieve better sales figures.
- Do not market yourself: There is nothing new about this strategy. Marketing yourself as a ‘proficient accountant’ is not going to get you customers because your customers are not looking for an accountant, they are looking for a solution to their business problem, a solution that an accountant can offer. Company owners tend to focus on three main things: how much can I make, how much can I save and is it really necessary? Accountants, sadly, fall in the last bracket, so if you get the point, it is not really hard to comprehend why marketing yourself instead of the benefits you can offer is not the greatest of ideas. Every other accountant in the market is likely to adopt the same approach–how you distinguish yourself from the rest of the crowd is what will make all the difference. Market yourself as an ‘expert’ or a ‘go to’ solution provider, and see for yourself how the barriers surrounding your accounting practice diminish.
- Don’t keep calling your customers: Though cold calling is still a very relevant practice, it is an advisable strategy to wait for the customers to call you. It is not always a good idea to call your prospects before they call you. Many accountants solely rely on tele calling as a marketing strategy. Imagine you are busy with a bustling day at work, and your phone rings. The caller says that he/she is an accountant and wants to discuss your accounting services. How high are the chances that you’d leave your work to pay him/her heed? Well, very slim. Most people are likely to disconnect the call right after you tell them you’re an accountant. Had this been the other way around, i.e. a prospect trying to reach you to inquire about the services you offer, the chances of cracking a deal would double. The marketing approach you select will determine how buyers perceive your services. When approaching prospects, it is always a better idea to be a doctor instead of a salesperson–let your buyers find you instead of you seeking them.
- Develop your personal brand: When starting out on your own for the first time, an important task to undertake is to develop your personal marketing plan. This plan will help establish your personal brand and positioning in a market full of accountants. Develop a positioning statement that defines your areas of expertise, specific skillsets and the business value you can offer to clients. You should also focus on positioning yourself as a thought leader, someone who is not a simple accountant but more of a business consultant. Your clients should feel that your only intent is not making money but helping them address their concerns, for which you need to completely understand their business as well as requirements. When you’re positioned as a thought leader, the money you charge for your services will become secondary. Customers will come to you for the quality of services you offer, and money will stop being an issue if the quality is top-notch.
- Create a digital presence: Customers across the world use the Internet to learn more about the services that they can receive from providers. The Internet has changed the buying behaviours and patterns of customers. The digital world is a pool of resources, and if you do not have an online presence, you are missing out on significant opportunities. Formulating a digital strategy is important for your accounting business, as studies suggest that more than 60% of any purchase decision in the accounting business is already made before a prospect calls in to inquire about your services. This suggests that buyers use digital platforms and mediums to track your digital footprint and make purchase decisions based on the available information. Therefore, it becomes extremely crucial for accountants to maintain a captivating online image, as this image will decide how buyers perceive your brand and the services you offer. Having an online presence is also important because it offers a real-time and an effective means of engaging your prospects, and in today’s world of technology, he who manages getting to the customers faster has the higher chances of making a sale.
- Build a simple yet an informative website: A website is the first ubiquitous contact point for buyers to reach out to a company. Buyers will use the information present on your website to make purchase decisions. Your website will be the first impression that your business will leave on buyers. Therefore, it is very important that you have an informative yet simple website for your accounting practice. Since your website will be the face of your accounting business, you should be very careful with the content you post on it. Though content creation is a time-consuming task, the success of your entire digital marketing efforts depends on the type and the quality of content you post on your website. Have a clear definition of the target market you wish to capture, and create website content that is relevant to your target audience. Engage your audience in discussions via forums and blog comments to drive more traffic. Ensure you assign catchy titles to the content you post; 80% of website visitors decide to read an article based on how appealing its title is. You should also focus on the website layout, your website should have content but shouldn’t be crammed with more than what is required. Use space and other graphic elements to make your website visually appealing.
- Leverage social marketing tools: You will find large numbers of your target audience on social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, and the rule of business is that you need to be where your customers are. Social media has become a part of the modern buyer’s life, and you will have to consider this fact while formulating your marketing strategy. Contrary to what is believed, social media platforms offer immense opportunities to build business relationships and share vital information that is of importance to prospects and customers. Social media platforms will also give you the opportunity to interact with your buyers in the real-time. However, once you take a dip in the social media pool, you’ll have to ensure an active presence by regularly (not frequently) posting relevant content and responding to customer queries, but this is not as easy as it sounds. With an online presence, you will also make your business susceptible to direct criticism, and how you respond will decide the success of your firm. Be cautious with what you say and the claims you make online. Your online presence can pretty much make or break your accounting business, but if you do it right, you’ll hit jackpot.
- Build passive client acquisition channels: Passive client acquisition channels are little effort but huge gains. You can enrol your accounting business in local directories to receive high-quality leads. You should focus on local clients with whom you can build long-term relationships that can lead to more future referrals. You should also consider connecting with service providers such as local mortgage lenders, financial consultants and lawyers, as these providers assist customers in the area that you hold expertise in. So there is an opportunity for a mutual association which can benefit both the parties.
- Make yourself accessible: Always keep the doors of communication open. Your customers should always have convenient access to a contact number that they can reach you on. Make your contact details available on your website and other social media handles. It may result in high call volumes that may be time-consuming, but the leads you’ll receive from customers calling in are more likely to convert than the other way around.