How do you promote your service?
Unfortunately, when it comes to accountancy services, “Build it and they will come” doesn’t apply, because there’s an awful lot of competition for potential clients.
Despite a wave of consolidations, there are still around 35,000 accounting firms in the UK.
Some thrive on long-term reputation and referrals but the majority don’t have it so easy – they have to take active steps to market themselves, get found online and promote their services.
Before you rush to strategising or devising marketing campaigns, you need to take some time to put yourself in the shoes of your ideal client.
Mapping the buyer journey
Thinking through the buyer journey is a well-established tactic in marketing.
We know that, typically, a buyer will go through three key stages on their way to making a final purchase:
We also know that they tend to visit each stage a number of times, going back and forth, thinking and rethinking, weighing the information.
Think about the last time you bought an expensive item like a car, guitar or computer. How long did you spend reading online reviews, watching videos on YouTube, nosing around on forums or talking to people whose opinions you trust?
It’s exactly the same when buying services only, let’s be honest, a bit less fun.
In fact, research into the B2B buyer journey by Gartner suggests that more than 70% of buyers revisit each step.
The challenge for you is to come up with a promotion strategy which will make potential buyers aware; make it easy for them to evaluate; and prompt them to buy.
Making buyers aware of your service
Launching a new service from scratch isn’t easy.
You probably won’t have evidence of previous successful delivery, or glowing customer reviews. You won’t have any traction with Google so won’t show up in search results. And it’s unlikely anyone will be recommending you, either.
What’s more, you’ll be facing well-established competitors who do have all of the above.
None of that means you shouldn’t launch a new service, though – you just have to go about it the right way.
First, you need to build a reputation in this new service area. One way to do that is through the creation of relevant, helpful, engaging content.
Don’t just wing it – draw up a content strategy so you know which blog posts, videos and social media updates you need to produce during the launch phase and for at least three months thereafter.
Let’s say you’ve just launched a new service helping film, TV and video production companies access creative industry tax reliefs. Here’s an example of how you might go about building its profile.
First, do your keyword research. What are people in film, TV and video game production searching for when they want tax advice?
In this case, keyword research reveals that more people search ‘video games tax relief’ (about 200 searches per month in the UK) than the generic term ‘creative industry tax reliefs’, which only has around 10 searches.
Then, create some seriously valuable cornerstone content, such as a 4,000-word ‘Ultimate guide to accessing video games tax relief in the UK’.
This might be a fully-designed PDF that people download to read later, perhaps behind a gate so you can get their email address. Or you might put it all on a web-page, open to access – which is great for getting the maximum value out of the text in terms of SEO.
Make sure it includes links to the page on your website that sets out the details of the new service and includes at least one ‘call to action’ telling people to talk to you about it.
Next, to get maximum value out of the time and money you’ve invested in your cornerstone content, write spin-off content. From blog posts to articles to updates on LinkedIn, this is your chance to build a body of material relevant to your new service.
There are various ways to approach this. For example, you could pick individual sections of the ultimate guide and expand on them, putting in all the detail you didn’t have room for in the main document. Or you could boil the entire guide down into ‘Ten top video games tax relief tips’.
All of this material should link to both the cornerstone content and to the creative industry tax relief service page on your website.
It’s all about building a web of connections that reinforces with Google that you have substantial content on this topic and also drives potential clients towards the decision stage of the buyer journey.
Finally, promote your content. It’s worrying how often we see accountancy firms produce great content only to neglect to tell anyone about it.
If you’ve got followers and connections on social media, why wouldn’t you promote your content to them by sharing links and extracts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or wherever?
Check out our Beginner’s guide to social media for accountants for detailed advice.
You should also use email marketing to share your new-service content with prospects and existing clients. Remember, people on your mailing list have opted in – they’re interested in what you have to say.
Promotion is a process, not an event
When you launch your service, your promotion activity will be intense, but it certainly shouldn’t stop dead after a few weeks or months.
Build regular blog posts, videos and social media updates into your schedule. The more you talk about it, the more people will find it.
Learn more about developing your practice’s offer with our free guide to packaging, marketing and pricing.
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