I got delayed writing our blog this week as I was on a webinar with the Institute of Chartered Accountants. The title for the webinar was “Growing Your Practice Online”. One of the discussion points was on social media marketing and the clue was in the name social. We are often guilty of not getting that point as we can be too focused on getting across what we do rather than who we are.
The main speaker on the webinar was Karen Reyburn of wearepf. They are a marketing agency for Accountants, based in the UK, but have clients all over the world. Kieran Phelan of Cloud 360 Accounting cloud360, based in Derry, was the other practice-based accountant. Kieran is an award-winning accountant that has a huge focus on technology and automation. When I was thinking about what I was going to say last night I sent a message to myself about the main reasons we do Marketing. While these reasons are ours, they can apply to any business. We will look at
- Initial view – 10 years ago
- Understand how clients find us
- Attracting prospects
- Attracting staff
- Ultimate reason why
- Room for improvement
10 years ago
100% honesty here I thought marketing was the biggest waste of time and money. What I used to say to myself is that we shouldn’t waste €1 on it. That was when we started the business. I was 100% wrong. My thinking was that we will do all this quality work and would have a queue out the door of prospects looking to join us. Wrong again. We spoke about this, this morning. The view we took was that clients will stay with you because of quality work. But they won’t come to you because of quality work. And the reason is that they don’t know about you. They can’t find you in the first place. Our marketing was a bog-standard website and nothing more. Ger found Karen and Wearepf on Linkedin and so began our marketing journey.
The first major project that PF did for us was rebranding. Karen and Tom came over from the UK to meet the team here and to get our insights as owners of the business. We wanted to see what our values were and what we stood for. The plan was to get these up on the wall and that everyone had input. These are the values that we have but also the values we want to see in our clients. Our six are
- Problem solve
- Enjoy what we do
- Protect you
We invested time and money in a new website and dipped our toes in the water with social media.
Understand how clients find us
The reason for the change of approach was that we weren’t attracting new clients. The main learning for us was understanding how clients find us. Karen got us to read a book called “They ask you Answer” by Marcus Sheridan. This was a guy that worked for a pool company in the US. He turned that business around by answering questions about pools. Prospects had questions and lots of them. They were about to make a large investment and they wanted to make sure they got the right information. They were making an informed decision and Marcus was answering all their questions.
How clients find us, or any business is not that much different. If you have a problem, what do you do? You type your issue into Google and see what comes out on the first page. You hardly ever go to page 2 and if you do it’s because you didn’t find the answer on page 1. If we are there on page 1 then we are in the game. At this stage a prospect will click on the site that provides them with the answers to their problem. They will search a few sites to get the closest match. Have you written a blog or have a video that talks about a specific topic that your prospect needs? If so, the prospect is coming onto your site and checking out the information.
They may hang around a bit and check other areas of the site such as testimonials or who you are. If they like what they see they are getting warmer. If not, they are gone. You are bringing a prospect on a journey so if it’s all good so far, then what next? Next is your call to action. How do they get in touch with you by call or e-mail? Once they call or e-mail then your marketing is working. The call and next piece must work too. The key is that the prospect is a warm one. They are looking to buy because they have done the initial work and like what they see. Hence you are not selling. In general, we hate selling and Irish people don’t like the hard sell.
Let’s face it when you tell someone you are an accountant or tax adviser, they don’t go weak at the knees. You are not James Bond, are you! The stereotype is thick glasses, snowed under by paper, no craic, and a rundown office that your granny would live in. If we are not on social media or haven’t a modern website, then potential employees have nowhere to check us out.
Nowhere to see that we are quite normal, can hold a conversation and can even smile at times. Except when we are telling you your tax liability of course. They want to see what the office looks like. What are the people like that they will be spending a lot of their future lives with? If you have little or no presence on social media, it makes it more difficult for them to find out more about you. And we must be honest with ourselves too. If our websites are full of models and high-rise office blocks and we are working in a one-bedroom bedsit we will be found out.
Like a client a potential staff member will take their time and do their research. You tick a lot of boxes if
- Your website is modern
- The office looks good and is comfortable
- You are present on social media
- Your people are friendly
Real Reasons Why
As Kieran said on the webinar it comes back to family and the type of business you want. When we have family, we want the best for them. We want to increase our standard of living and look after the people that are important to us. For any business, the primary goal is to make a profit. The more profit we make the more we can protect the jobs and look after the staff we have and invest in them too. We spend a lot of time working and that is more enjoyable if we work with the right type of clients.
We are trying to grow a business for the future. That is a business that we can sell or pass on to the next generation. Marketing is one of the systems in your business that helps generate leads. While it is an important system there are many other aspects to a business that are as important. There is no point in getting a whole load of new clients and not being able to deliver a quality service to them. It takes time and persistence but if you invest money and time, it will pay off for you.
Room for improvement
We do some marketing well, but we are by no means experts in this field. That is why we use the services of wearepf because they are the experts. We do regular blogs and post 6 days a week on social media. We are on webinars and have held some events. These things work for us but there are many areas in which we can improve. Areas for improvement for us are
- A new website [coming next year]
- More video
- Different more focused blogs on growth areas like bookkeeping, cloud accounting, and business sales & successions
- Get all staff members involved
- Get onto the Metaverse [only joking]
The key message from the webinar is that this is a must to grow your business. Make a start, get help and be bloody persistent. You will get there.
Interested in talking to us? Call Deirdre on 051 396703 or start here. Tell us a bit about you and your business and we will see if we can help.