When you are in the thick of the action growing your accountancy practice, it can be difficult to assess whether your efforts are truly aligned towards building a successful firm.
Don’t worry, this isn’t a unique problem for accountants. Most business owners have to wrestle with the challenge of spending time “on” the business instead of “in” the business.
As we’ve worked with hundreds of accountancy practices across the UK, we have seen them introduce the components of a successful practice piece by piece. Indeed, we ourselves help them implement the marketing infrastructure for success.
Here is a rundown of what a successful practice looks like, and how they will be marketing themselves to the outside world.
Creating a marketing plan
A marketing plan is a cornerstone to a successful firm. Good marketing plans are robust documents that feed into the overall objectives of your business plan. We wrote an article about ‘How to create a marketing plan for your firm’ near the end of last year.
Linking up long-term planning with short term actions, they will articulate who your ideal clients are, how you will engage with them and what competition you face in the market.
Your marketing plan will help you make decisions and anticipate change in the marketplace – for example, it may include how shifts in politics or technology may present opportunities and threats to your business development.
But bear in mind, a marketing plan should be considered a working document – flexible enough to be adjusted as the circumstances change.
Having a modern, multi-functioning website
You’re sure to know that for many years a website has been essential to any business’s fortunes. And nowadays a successful professional services business like an accountancy practice should not only have a website, but have a modern, multi-functional website.
It needs to create a great first impression and be capable of driving new leads which will convert into clients.
So what specifically are we talking about? Modern websites should be responsive – that is able to automatically sense what screen they are being viewed on and adjust their size to fit it. They should load quickly and have intuitive navigation.
The copy and imagery should be well-considered, reflecting your brand. And the website should be capable of integrating the latest plug-ins which suit your business – be that chatbot functionality, automated meeting bookings or something else.
If your website is more than two years old, you should review it against the above criteria, and also consider whether it is still aligned to your strategic goals.
Our results-focused websites for accountants are designed to attract your ideal clients, turn visitors into leads and enable your firm to measure your return on investment.
Thinking about client referrals strategically
Most businesses will receive referrals, but really successful accountancy practices will have a referral strategy that powers growth.
Successful practices will educate their referrers about what kind of referrals they want to receive. Importantly, this may change over time. So the type of business you welcomed early on in your business journey may not be what you are after when you are more established.
Be creative in how you encourage referrals – you could build marketing campaigns promoting referrals to existing clients, or take up some formal networking, for instance.
Look for ways in which other marketing can complement your referral channel, e.g. good content marketing practices and a digital presence fit for purpose will be helping to convert people who are referred to you.
Introducing practice management software
As Bob Dylan once sang: “The times they are a-changing”. It’s a universal truth, and perhaps there’s no greater example than the impact of technology. Successful accountancy practices recognise the need to embrace technological change. One company cites 29% of all automated technology being applied to, and in, the accounting industry.
Adopting software solutions can make you more efficient through automation, allow you to offer more or better quality services, and sends out a message to your clients that you are forward-thinking – ready to serve them in the years to come.
More specifically you can use practice management software to: securely store and retrieve files; communicate with clients and internal teams; track time; project manage; nurture inbound leads; manage email campaigns; and hold marketing data. If you are not doing this yet, you should look into your options.
Monitoring marketing ROI
As an accountant, you’ll know the importance of keeping an eye on the numbers. Some people may have the impression that marketing is woolly, but this is not the case if it is done properly.
At PracticeWeb, we are firm believers in (and practitioners of) rigorous performance marketing where all activity can be measured, and testing and analysis is regularly carried out to optimise results.
This includes understanding and tracking where your leads are coming from (all channels, including referrals), monitoring website visitors and, say, how many people download guides or eBooks as well as, of course, conversions.
Successful firms know that by having a handle on this data they can make better decisions and target resources on whatever yields the best results.
There are many business award ceremonies that are organised each year. Some are industry specific, some location specific and others business-size specific… in fact, there is an award for just about anything. The Accounting Excellence Awards by AccountingWEB would be an example of one for businesses and individuals from across the accounting community.
It may seem like stating the obvious to say that an award-winning accountancy practice will be a successful accountancy practice.
But actually, the giving out of awards can work in many different ways. For instance, some you may be nominated for, others you enter yourself; some may be decided by judges, others by an industry vote.
One tactic of a successful practice is to target the awards which they have a good chance of winning and that will enhance their reputation.
For example, if your market is in a particular city and there are local award ceremonies with categories like “best SME accountancy practice” or “business adviser of the year”, why not go for them?
And when you win, don’t forget to plaster your award logos on everything you publish.
Ready to take your marketing to the next level?
If you have all of the above nailed, well done! But if you spot a few gaps and want to take your marketing to the next level, please get in touch.
We specialise in helping accounting practices grow their business through digital marketing, and would love to help you too.