For one, 'marketing' is an extremely broad term. There are so many actions you can take that fit into the category of 'marketing'.
Then, making matters worse, you have 'hustle warriors' always telling you to suck it up and do more! This combination of an endless supply of things to do with a nagging feeling that you should do more creates anxiety, with little results.
Finally, in accounting firm marketing, you’re dealing with subject matter that is intimidating for many. Accounting solutions are not necessarily what people are waking up in the morning hoping to learn more about.
So how do you cut through these multifaceted challenges, and get predictable, quality leads into your accounting firm?
Recommended reading: How to get accounting leads
The answer is: focus.
What happens with the overwhelming amount of options is accounting firms dabble in a lot of separate activities, without generating any true momentum. The problem is not lack of action, it’s lack of focus.
How to simplify your marketing
The good news is, it doesn’t have to be this hard. Marketing at its core is simple. You have an audience, a message, and then you take the message to the audience.
The real key is to boil marketing down to these fundamentals. When you do this, everything gets easier and you can find a repeatable path equalling predictable growth.
To simplify this marketing process, here’s a three-step framework to consider:
Define: Find the right audience
Predictable success is achieved through counterintuitive marketing—in the form of specializing or “niching down”. It might seem like the right approach is to do more, but more often than not, less is more.
To start, you need to be extremely clear on who you serve, and what value you provide to them. With this clarity in mind, marketing starts to get a lot easier.
How narrowing your audience increases growth
The blunt truth is: Unless you specialize and focus, your marketing message will likely never resonate. Think about business in general: Why do people buy things? Typically, to solve a problem.
Accounting firms solve massive problems. You help clients understand their financials. You save them time and headaches. But how do you stand out?
The key is to solve a specific problem better than anyone else. Then you can stand out. If you serve dentists very well, then you can speak clearly about the exact problems that frustrate dentists. This language will differentiate you.
Here is an example of two different marketing messages:
Generic: At [insert firm name here] we have more than 100 years of accounting experience and are trusted by XX businesses across [insert geographic area].
Specialized: Tech startups aren’t traditional businesses and need more than basic bookkeeping. At [insert firm name] we specialize in SaaS and software startups and help manage funds, raise capital and structure investment deals.
The generic appeal is all about the firm, causing most of the people who see it to keep scrolling or bounce from your website. On the other hand, the tech niche example appeals to the needs of a specific type of prospect. With a specific audience, you can lean into a specific pain with a specific solution and generate real interest.
Create: The right message
The right message comes down to two primary factors:
The specific financial pain points of your target market
How your accounting firm solves these pains
Clients don't want more information, they want solutions to their problem. If you can explain their problem clearly, they’ll stick around to learn about how you might solve it.
Marketing in an accounting firm is all about closing the trust gap. Potential clients don’t trust you, especially not with something as sensitive as their financial world.
In order to get accounting clients through marketing efforts, you have to create a message in such a way that establishes trust.
By nature, accountants and accounting firms are problem solvers. But with marketing you can’t just solve the problem—you have to talk about it.
Here are four tips to great messaging to allow prospects to trust your accounting firm:
Focus on them: Too often in marketing, firms are so caught up in their own solution they forget to focus on their potential clients. Remember, they don’t care about you—they care about themselves.
Talk to your best current clients: Talking to clients is a great way to uncover messaging. You may think you know the value you provide, but your clients will open your eyes. Ask them why they work with you, what they like. Pay attention to the words they use. If you are solving a problem for one client, chances are there are many others out there.
Focus on the pain: For someone to take action, they need to feel their pain enough to try to get it solved. Your message should talk about specific pains so that it resonates with your ideal client.
Educate and help: All content doesn’t have to lead directly to your services. Create content that genuinely helps your ideal client better understand their own business. By providing helpful content, you establish trust, which is essential in accounting firm marketing.
When you have a specific audience, and you focus on them, messaging starts to get easier. If a potential client is in the exact niche you’re speaking to, they are going to resonate with your message and gain trust in you.
Now, the key is getting that message in front of that audience.
Distribute: The right vehicle(s)
Distribution (in this case) is taking your message to your ideal client. One of the biggest marketing mistakes is to start here.
Start a blog that just talks about your firm
Run a generic ad on LinkedIn or Facebook to see what happens
Pay for promotional spots
Without the right context, any content you put into the world is virtually meaningless. That said, if you work to define a target client and create the ideal message (for said client), it’s much easier to figure out which venues will help propel your message in front of the right audience.
There are almost as many methods of getting your content “out there” as there are marketing tactics. But you don’t want to lose focus after so much progress. Here are a few focused and simplified ways to begin:
SEO for traffic
Blogging for the sake of blogging doesn’t typically work. However, with a specific group of people in mind, you create content that draws prospects into your ecosystem. For example, a manufacturer does a search and lands on your article on how manufacturers can improve cash flow to save money on materials.
Next, they click on another article, download a guide or even schedule a consultation. SEO takes research, consistency and time. But with the right focus, you’ll build an asset that draws in regular leads.
Social media and digital marketing are great for setting your firm up as an expert source (for your target market) as well as generating leads via pay-per-click ads. For example, you advertise a resource for attracting investors to “founders” on LinkedIn. Maybe it’s an ebook, whitepaper or even a webinar.
From there, interested prospects sign up for a consultation and/or express interest in one of your accounting packages.
Promotion is getting your message in front of someone else’s audience. A few examples of promotional opportunities include:
Guest post: You write content for another site and it includes either a pitch or link back to you (the article you’re reading is a guest post).
Podcast appearance: You go onto a program and talk about accounting for [insert industry].
Email newsletter: Your company is featured in an email newsletter.
In nearly every case, there are publications and organizations who already have the eyes and ears of your target industry. Believe it or not, there are likely multiple opportunities for you to get in front of just about any market.
Just do a search for “manufacturing podcast” to see more than a dozen regular programs dedicated to that market.
Define, create and distribute
Don’t get discouraged when marketing becomes overwhelming. Rather than combat those feelings with more activity, it’s better to take a deep breath and try to see the bigger picture.
Differentiate your firm for a specific client
Create quality targeted content
Distribute it where your prospects hang out
Doing these things well allows you to put a lever on your growth and build the healthy accounting firm you want.