Marketing For Accountants
Most accounting firms enjoyed a decade of sustained growth after the introduction of GST, however, the landscape has changed. Today, a large number of firms are flat lining or in decline and characterised by an aging client base. GROWTH is now the number one issue for both big and small accounting firms.
If you're looking to grow your practice you have two options - Fee Acquisition or Marketing.
Firstly, the acquisition option can be seen a ‘quick fix’ but it’s expensive. There's also a big problem with supply and in Melbourne we have more than 250 firms on a register looking to buy fees. Unfortunately, the baby boomer Principals and Partners aren’t selling in the numbers we all expected and our broking division could only satisfy the appetite of around five percent of buyers this year.
While the acquisition of merger option can definitely work, the majority of vendors are baby boomer practitioners who typically have an aging client base. If you’re thinking of buying fees to replenish or rejuvenate your aging client base then you could be buying more of the same.
That brings us to plan B, MARKETING.
In the digital and social age, your marketing can be the difference between Doom, Gloom and BOOM!
When we talk about marketing we are not referring to traditional marketing methods like dropping flyers into letter boxes, local newspaper ads and your Yellow Pages ad. These tactics together with radio and television have lost their marketing mojo. The new marketing magnets for accounting firms are all online tactics including Google searches, content marketing, email marketing and social media. Our marketing services combined with our breakthrough marketing strategies and tools can help you achieve double digit compound growth year on year. Ultimately, our marketing services let you spend your time helping clients, not finding clients.
If you’re looking to rejuvenate or regenerate your aging client base you need to shift your marketing focus online. The millennial generation (20 to 40 year olds) are your next generation of clients and they live online. You’ll find a number of our marketing strategies are specifically geared towards this demographic. Members of the Accountants Accelerator Group report outstanding results from our marketing services and you can read about their success in these case studies:
SBG Accountants & Business Advisors - Melbourne CBD based sole practitioner who has been attracting his ideal type of client for the past 4 years. Their website has consistently generated 6 figure returns for the past 3 years. Click here for more information.
Linda McGowan Accountants - Suburban sole practitioner who has enjoyed explosive growth over the past 4 years with their website generating more than $100k of new fees each year for the past 4 years. In the 2017 financial year they generated in excess of $250k of new business from their involvement in the program and to read their story click here.
DOOM GLOOM OR BOOM?
How is it that some accounting firms are growing at phenomenal rates while others are flat lining or in decline?
The answer is marketing but not conventional marketing techniques that have served the profession so well in the past. The internet has caused a marketing revolution and there is clear evidence that people ‘buy’ accounting services online. Business owners start their research with a Google search on their computer, smart phone or tablet. They gather information and education online. Next, they use a search engine (89% use Google in Australia) to source firms that operate in their region, understand their industry or specialise in their problem area.
For example, their search phrase could be ‘accountant for starting a business’, ‘starting a self-managed super fund’ or ‘accountant for musicians’. The local search (‘accountant in your suburb’) is very common and let me ask you this - Where do you appear in thise search? If you're not on page one and in the first few listings you're probably not getting local leads.
ONLINE EQUALS PROFIT & GROWTH
Research suggests the more leads a professional services firm generates online, the more profitable the firm. Profitability remains reasonably steady up until about twenty percent of leads are generated online, but profitability steadily rises along with the percentage of leads generated online.
The research also highlights the fact that firms that generate more leads online have a faster rate of growth. The results show that firms’ growth rates rise along with the proportion of leads generated online, up until the point where forty percent or more of leads originate online. Firms that generate between forty and fifty-nine percent of leads online grew at four times the rate of those with no online leads.
Clearly, if you want to grow faster than your compeitors and be more profitable, you need to focus your marketing efforts online. However, the internet is a jungle and online success doesn’t come easy. Your website is your most important marketing tool and if you want to attract new clients you need to build a lead generation website. If your website is simply an electronic brochure that lists the who, what and where of your firm you're going to get eaten alive by your competitors.
Referrals remain a very important source of new business for accounting firms but they have also dried up in recent times. A client base full of fifty and sixty year olds won’t refer like a client base of 20 and 30 year-olds. They simply aren’t as connected as their younger counterparts and their friends aren’t starting or buying businesses, setting up self managed super funds or buying investment properties. If you’ve got an aging client base you need to move your marketing focus online.
MARKETING HAS CHANGED
Historically, we used ‘outbound’ marketing techniques to ‘buy’ the attention of customers. We interrupted consumers with cold-calls, persistent sales representatives, pamphlets, brochures, radio, TV advertisements, newspaper ads, billboards and telemarketing. To stop the interruptions and unwanted advertising, consumers bought set top boxes to fast forward through the commercials, they stopped reading direct mail and signed up for the ‘do not call’ register to block the telemarketers.
These annoying outbound marketing methods have been replaced by ‘inbound’ marketing activities that are designed to bring visitors to your business. No more interrupting consumers to get their attention. Accountants now need to use inbound marketing tactics to promote their practice through blogs, podcasts, videos, e-Books, e-newsletters, whitepapers, search engine optimisation (SEO), social media marketing and other forms of content marketing. These methods are designed to earn the attention of potential clients and draw customers to your website by producing relevant, interesting and targeted content.
To tap into this market you need a serious online presence and a website that resembles an ‘electronic brochure’ is not going to generate new clients. If you are looking to rejuvenate your aging client base then it’s time for a ‘lead generation’ website. In fact, the primary purpose of your website is to generate leads and new clients so if your website isn’t delivering then it’s time for a new website or a serious makeover. Your website is the hub of your marketing machine and if it lacks strategy, content, lead magnets, calls to action and search engine optimization (SEO) then your practice will probably never reach its full profit potential.
Your website must be seen as an investment, not a cost. It is a very important asset and the front door to your practice. In fact, it is usually the first touch point with a prospective new client and you only get one chance to make a good first impression. Websites that are little more than ‘electronic brochures’ can be a new client killers and they can also be a turn off for a potential new client who has been referred to your firm. Close to fifty percent of Australian accounting firms still don’t have a website so they look like dinosaurs in the digital era. Prospects will pass judgment on your practice in seconds and your website remains the most relevant and important piece of marketing technology for accountants. The Accelerator Websites we build for members of the Accountants Accelerator Group are generating six figure returns year after year. These firms are getting double digit compound growth and most importantly, they are winning more of their ideal type of clients.
To attract traffic and prospects to your website you need to provide educational content that resonates with your ideal type of client. You must convey your professionalism and how you can solve their problems. The new formula for success requires you to create remarkable online content, optimise that content for the search engines, publish the content and market the content through your blog and social media channels. If you produce great content for your target market, clients will come to you. If you then deliver great service your clients will share their experience and refer new clients.
In business, the definition of insanity is continuing to do things the same way and expect a different result. If your practice is flat lining or in decline with an ageing client base, an electronic billboard website, no social media presence or videos and a tired old brand then it’s time to talk to the accounting marketing experts.
Our knowledge of the accounting profession combined with our marketing expertise and custom built tools means we can offer you a range of marketing tools and services including:
- The Accountants Accelerator Group
- Brand in A Box Service
- Marketing Makeover Package
- Video Production Services
- Marketing Action Plan