How to succeed with accounting firm marketing (Hint: Be helpful)

Accounting firm leaders don’t have the time to break down what search engines look for when ranking content in search results.

Two people sitting at a table and smiling at a laptop screen in front of them.

However, recently Google updated its algorithm (the program that decides which articles show up in top results) in a way that lends itself to anyone who values genuinely helpful ideas and articles.

Maybe that’s why they called it the Helpful Content Update.

Google (via their algorithm) is telling businesses: we want to reward those who actually help others.

How it applies to accounting firms: In accounting firm marketing, it’s all about trust. Potential clients must trust you before they will engage. Being helpful is a great way to establish trust.

Here’s the question: How can you be helpful in your marketing?

Focus on your audience

If you take an honest look at your website, how many pages deal with what you do (services, processes, etc.)? On the opposite side, how much do prospects and site visitors stand to learn when visiting your site?

Here’s the point: Too often, marketing starts with ourselves.

Being clear on who you serve allows you to speak directly to them. However, you must go beyond this and begin serving that target audience before they’re clients.

A great example of this is Ryan Lazanis' Future Firm.

Ryan helps accounting firms better organize and grow their business. Whether or not you join his community or use his consulting services, you’ll find tons of value in his free podcast and blog. 

Take, for example, this in-depth article about accounts receivable automation. It’s there for you, and any other firm, at any time 

Why? Because Future Firm knows accounting firms are trying to figure out how to automate A/R for their clients.

That’s helpful.

Take action: First, identify who you’re trying to reach with your accounting services. Then, think about the kinds of information they’re looking for that align with your services.

Focus on solutions to problems

Your potential clients are looking for answers because they have problems. Content should drive home those problems, while offering help. 

Think about recent clients you’ve served:

  • How did you help them? 

  • What were their issues? 

Chances are, there are many other potential future clients with similar issues your current client roster faces. Write about those things, providing ways around these problems.

Doesn’t it make sense that those seeing your genuinely helpful advice will look to you as a trusted source?

In accounting, money comes from deliverables and expertise applied to specific client situations. But before there’s an invoice, many firms are succeeding in offering their expertise to a broad audience. 

Take Ali Ladha, Founder of Vertical CPA, for example.

He’s grown a popular podcast and Twitter following (@alithecfo) by offering incredible CFO-level advice to his followers (both business owners and fellow firm owners). 

Here’s one of his recent, popular threads on Twitter:

Take action: Begin creating helpful content that aligns with your features, services, and benefits. Focus on answering questions to problems you specialize in solving to build trust quickly.

Don’t sell your value short

Too often accounting firms think business owners don’t want to hear about financial subjects or the ins and outs of accounting. 

Accounting firms bring predictability in an unpredictable world. You bring order to chaotic cash flows. Stability in unstable environments.

Business owners crave this content. 

As accountants, it’s all about communicating this value in a way that bridges the gap between how businesses seek that information and how firms solve those problems.

The point is, helpful content does seem to provide better search engine rankings, but the value it provides your potential clients and your firm are much more.

Take action: What are 2-3 things you wish your clients understood about accounting? Hint: These would probably make great helpful marketing content.

Take action: Be yourself!

Uniqueness is another factor of the recent Helpful Content Update.

Search engines realized that too many cookie-cutter sites have sprung up over the years,all offering similar advice, taken and regurgitated from another site. 

In other words: Be unique

What makes your firm different? How can you bake that into whatever content and marketing your firm offers?

No, you don’t have to start a YouTube channel and get a 3-point lighting setup (although you could). It may be as simple as narrowing down to a particular vertical and writing genuinely helpful content for that market. 

It could be using Twitter, LinkedIn, or your blog.

Whatever it is: be yourself and be helpful.

The first step in being helpful is defining your ideal client. Then you can speak directly to solving their biggest challenges. To define your ideal client, check out this template from Full Stadium