MALVERN - MELBOURNE
Nexus Accountants is an accounting and business advisory firm located in Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs. Domenic Tempone has been a sole practitioner for the past 25 years and has significantly grown the practice. He has built an outstanding reputation on the back of quality advice and personal service.
Several years ago, Dom noticed some trends in the profession and this is his story.
IN HIS OWN WORDS ...
“In 2013 we attended a seminar called the ‘New Rules of Business’ that highlighted some significant changes in the business landscape. The seminar content alerted us to the importance of marketing in the digital and social age and it served as a real wake up call. The internet and Google had taken over and the next generation of business owners were doing their research online. Unfortunately, our website was just an electronic billboard and we had also turned a blind eye to social media.
A fortnight after the New Rules seminar we discovered that our biggest client was selling his business and we were about to lose a six figure fee. This prompted a review of our top 30 clients and I didn’t like what I found. Just under half of our major clients were aged over 53 and fifty percent of our top 10 clients were aged over 55. The alarm bells were ringing and while we were busy putting out client bushfires and expanding our range of services, we had no marketing plan.
The final straw came when a good client told us they had referred us a new client in the same industry (real estate agent). They never called and when I chased up our existing client they told me the prospect had gone to another firm. Apparently, our website was sending the message that we were no different to other local firms. At that moment, I knew it was time for action but we just didn’t have the time to drop tools and focus on developing a new brand and website.
In April 2013 we received a brochure for a seminar Pat Camm was running called Ready Set Grow. I attended and the content hit a raw nerve. We were heavily reliant on client referrals but they had started to dry up. Our ageing client base had become an issue, our brand was a bit tired and we really didn’t have a clear idea on who our ideal client was plus our website wasn’t converting.
Following that seminar we contacted Pat and joined the Accountants Accelerator Group. I knew we couldn’t get a decent run at our marketing and we needed to engage a group who could build us a website that stood out from the crowd, produce our client newsletters and manage our social media accounts. The first step in the process was to identify our ideal type of client and work through the marketing strategies that would attract these clients. We identified several niche industries and the key services we could hang our hat on. Our brand also needed to a minor makeover and Pat recommended we simply add the slogan, ‘Connecting Your Business to Profits’. Looking back, there was a disconnect between the logo and our target market and the inclusion of that slogan injected life into our brand. We knew we had the consulting skills and tools to help SME’s grow their business but our brand didn’t spell it out.
They then customised our new website to our niche industries and specialist services. It is now generating quality leads plus it also means we never lose a referral. The content is impressive and the lead magnets, calls to action and videos all work. It is the epicentre of our marketing and they keep adding new features, functions and content so we remain at the cutting edge. Our videos are outstanding and the post production processes are simply stunning.
We know potential new clients aren’t picking up the phone like they used to and I hear a lot of my colleagues making excuses about their lack of growth. They blame the economy, their staff and their old clients for their lack of leads and growth. We genuinely believe Pat when he says, “Your marketing can be the difference between doom, gloom and boom.” It’s been an amazing journey so far and given our work load we knew we had to partner with a group we could trust and take control of our entire marketing activities. The content they pump out is high quality and it makes us look like experts. The video scripts target our ideal clients, the newsletters go out on time every time, the blog posts are topical and relevant and our social media campaigns are working. The SEO is all organic so we haven’t had to spend one cent extra on paid ads. Ironically, other groups we spoke to kept pushing pay per click campaigns and Facebook ads.
I would say to any accountant who is busy working in their practice and struggling to get their marketing plans in place, the Accountants Accelerator Group is the answer. They do everything for you and the combination of coaching, training and tools have made it educational and even inspiring at times. It’s just so practical and the other members openly share their knowledge, new ideas and their marketing success stories. The Growth Lab quarterly meetings always unearth some gold that save us time, help us win new clients, make money and improve our systems. It’s a really supportive environment and we are now starting to see the members share information via the members only Facebook group.
Domenic Tempone – Principal – Nexus Accountants
The key issues we identified included:
- An Ageing Client Base
- Referrals had slowed
- Failure to Promote their Points of Difference
- The Firm’s Brand didn’t focus on their ideal type of client
- No online focus on their Industry Niches or Specialist Services
- Website was an Electronic Brochure - No Videos, SEO, Calls to Action, Lead Magnets etc.
- Spasmodic distribution of client newsletters and the content was all tax information
- Minimal Social Media Activity
- Lack of Google Reviews
- No Systematic approach to Marketing
Their client base of 50 to 65 year-old business owners had stopped referring. This demographic don’t refer like their 25 to 35 year-old counterparts and they generally don’t require advice on bread and butter services that have fuelled the firm’s growth for years - starting a business, buying a business, SMSF’s or negative gearing.
A big challenge was to attract the millennial generation (roughly 20 to 38 year old’s) because they are the next generation of business owners. Clearly they live online so social media and the website were obvious areas to address. The old website was static and most of the firm’s marketing was traditional offline tactics like flyers, local newspaper ads and Yellow Pages ads. These tactics have lost their marketing mojo and had to be replaced with online tactics - Google searches, content marketing, email campaigns and social media.
Dom acknowledged these issues, “We knew the internet was a marketing game changer but we were buried in client work and just couldn’t find the time to address our marketing. Our client first approach is part of our DNA but it was time to work on our practice and get some outside marketing help.”
Prior to engaging P J Camm & Associates, Nexus Accountants approach to marketing was erratic. Dom says, “We had the best intentions but we missed the mark because we were time poor and there was no system or scheduling in place. It was hit and miss marketing at its worst”.
The Accountants Accelerator Group fixed all that says Dom. “Our marketing is now very consistent. We are on time with our quarterly newsletters and our blogs and social media campaigns are all clockwork. In all honesty, I don’t think about it anymore because I know when and where our marketing activities are scheduled. We love the done for you aspect of the program.”
The first step was a small brand adjustment. We wanted to align the brand with their target market and the inclusion of the slogan has made it clear – Nexus Accountants specialise in helping business owners improve their profitability. The next step was to identify the niche industries to target and they now include:
- Real Estate Agents
- Cafes & Coffee Shops
- Veterinary Surgeons
- The Various Building Trades including Plumbers
- Golf (Pro players, Coaches, Suppliers and Pro Shops)
- Importers & Wholesalers
- Online Businesses
From there we built their new ‘Accelerator Website’ that incorporates content that specifically targets these industries plus their specialist services. Dom says, “The website really is the hub of the marketing program. It serves so many roles and creates a great first impression with new clients - professional, modern, tech and marketing savvy. The content has been carefully crafted so we rank well with the search engines in each of our niche industries and suburbs we target.
There’s no doubt we are now attracting a younger generation of clients. The videos are getting plenty of hits and our website traffic continues to grow. Our presence on Facebook and Twitter has made a difference and I honestly think the content of our newsletters and blog posts have engaged with the younger demographic. In the past we tried to deliver our clients a Masters Of Taxation by correspondence but now we talk about business growth strategies, digital marketing and the latest apps to save time. Our clients love it.”
We have helped the firm gather testimonials and they have also started to collect 5 star reviews on Google. We have given them templated emails to send to clients and the team can make changes to the website at any time. They now offer clients advice on digital marketing including their websites which has created a big point of difference and those services are driving referrals.
Dom says, “We are really happy with the outcome. New clients are the oxygen that breathe life into the practice and they also add variety to our job. While they bring new challenges with them, ultimately they make us better business advisors. Over the last few years we have seen massive internal changes and we offer more value-added services to our clients. In turn, they have a reason to refer us to their friends, family and business colleagues. Most importantly, we are attracting a better calibre of client who are prepared to pay the right fee.
Upon reflection, there are so pieces to the digital marketing jigsaw. You need to consider lead generation and conversion, graphic design, referral management, videos, content writing, social media, newsletter production and distribution plus email campaigns. Back in 2013/14 I was overwhelmed and couldn’t prioritise because there were so many clients competing for my time. I might have produced a marketing plan but I didn’t have the time to implement it. I probably didn’t have the resources to research, learn and develop the marketing ideas so reaching out to an external group was the solution. We decided to stick to our most profitable activities, helping clients and then engage the services of a marketing group that specialised in the profession to help us find new clients.
When looking for an external marketing group to help us we couldn’t afford to be guinea pigs or go through a trial and error process. We wanted a proven system but we also knew there was no marketing quick fix. We found SEO groups that promised the world but their proposals were built on a foundation of quicksand. We spoke to a number of groups and to be frank, I’m allergic to hype and they kept telling us what to do but couldn’t back it up. In other cases we had to do the heavy lifting but we aren’t wordsmiths or journalists. On closer inspection, their websites were really just one or two rungs up from what we already had and they weren’t going to deliver. Unfortunately, most marketing agencies don't understand what makes accounting professionals tick.
On the other hand, when we spoke to Pat and other members of the Accountants Accelerator Group we found a proven track record and a ’done for you’ approach. We put a lot of faith in Pat and his team who have delivered in spades. They have built us a serious marketing machine that works on auto-pilot. It is tailored to our firm, our niche industries and the millennial generation. We are enjoying a stream of enquiries and leads thanks to the systemised approach.”The content paints the firm as modern with their finger on the pulse. Their website traffic continues to grow year on year and visitors spend more than double the industry average time on their website. The final word from Dom is, “We took action and we have reaped the rewards. We now know that Pat was right when he told us, “Your marketing can be the difference between doom, gloom and boom.”
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