How to get more accounting clients?
The shake-up that we’ve witnessed over the past 18 months or so has inevitably seen business winners, losers and a fair few grizzled survivors. Whether you are rebuilding your firm, further capitalising on gains made or just trying to build some momentum, the quest for new clients continues.
Marketing through hard times is often said to be the best opportunity, when weaker competitors have given up.
With much uncertainty still around, we take a look at five go-to ideas to focus your marketing and gain new accounting clients.
Digital channels for accountancy marketing
Done well, digital channels have long been an excellent way of generating leads and converting them into clients. But in the midst of the pandemic and now the uncertain world in which we find ourselves they gain new significance – especially as tech-savvy and digital native millennials increasingly become SME business owners.
Digital marketing almost always starts with having a good, functional website. This is your online shop window, and also your primary platform for hosting content.
What does your website say about you? If you feel it does not represent your services; or lets your brand down; or doesn’t give you the flexibility to publish content like a blog and case studies, it is time to think about an upgrade. Here are some further thoughts on when your website might be harming your brand.
With a good website in place, you can turn your attention to using digital channels to attract people to it and converting them into clients. This is going to mean content, probably a blog to begin with.
A successful blog will combine usefulness to your target audience to build rapport, a showcasing of your expertise to build credibility and a clear (but not forced) link to your services.
These are good principles for other content too, such as case studies, video, and if you are feeling ambitious a webinar.
To get started with digital or for a review of your current practices, please get in touch with our experts.
Identify ideal clients that you should target
Effective marketing relies on you understanding who your ideal clients are, and, just as importantly, demonstrating to them that you understand their needs.
Indeed, an in-depth report we undertook in 2019 found that 71% of SME business owners said it was important or very important that their accountant understood their sector.
To find your sweet spot you need to recognise what your firm’s strengths are and then align these to a market need. It is not always as straightforward as it might seem and requires some work.
There are a number of marketing tools that you can use to help you reach robust conclusions though. These include SWOT analysis, buyer personas and value proposition canvas.
Download the eBook:
How to attract higher-value clients and grow your accounting firm.
Find out much more about this process and the concepts involved by downloading our eBook.
When you have completed the process of identifying target clients and the services they need, you will have a much clearer idea about what kinds of content to develop to be relevant to them.
For example, say you identify that your firm has expertise in property taxation and develop a compelling new proposition around that. This may lead into a series of blog posts or a webinar that answers common questions property investors ask to attract these ideal clients for you.
Even with no referral plan, you are sure to pick some referral business up when an existing client recommends you to an acquaintance. So imagine what you could achieve by adding structure.
Many people will refer naturally when the opportunity arises, keen to help out both a trusted supplier and someone who needs their services. Leads which come this way are often high quality because they are based on the recommendation of an independent party.
A referral marketing plan simply puts in place processes to make it easy for clients to refer you. It is a common-sense approach for any business, removing a bit of the friction involved in making a referral, and being proactive in planting the thought in clients’ minds.
There are several ways you can do it. You may train staff to simply ask the question as client relationships develop; or have an offer that can be included with your invoice; or you might send out email shots promoting referrals.
Incentives for referees can work, but be careful not to undermine the perceived authenticity of the referral.
Sell more to your existing client base
Upselling and cross-selling are good ways to grow revenue. This is because existing clients are generally easier to sell to. After all, they are already familiar with you. It can be surprising, though, how often a client does not understand a firm’s full range of services. So review how well you communicate other services to your existing client base.
Be proactive about this. For example: Are your staff on the look out for opportunities to upsell or cross-sell in their interactions with clients? Could you add a “Service of the month” feature to your email newsletter to let your client base know what else you do?
Traditional business networking groups were hit hard by COVID restrictions, but most have managed to pivot successfully to a digital format. Many people have complemented the Zoom calls with more LinkedIn and social media activity to further extend their reach. And as rules relax, face-to-face networking will be sure to make a comeback.
If you were already a networker you’ll know that it actually overlaps with the referral tactics we spoke about earlier. But rather than focusing on the mechanics of people making a referral, instead networking builds up the number of people who “know, like and trust” you and are prepared to recommend your services.
Networking is a learnable skill. When you pause to reflect, it is interesting to note just how many “networks” you are part of, even before you count formal business ones. If you don’t take networking seriously but want more clients, maybe now is the time to explore the channel more.
Further ideas for getting more accounting clients
You can find out much more about this process and the concepts involved by downloading our eBook: How to attract higher fee clients and grow your firm.
As you can see, we are brimming with ideas for helping accountants get more clients. It is our specialism.