While accountants prefer to focus on their core strengths such as numbers, risk assessment, analysis, research and reporting, they also need to find time to market themselves to attract new clients, retain existing clients and position themselves as experts in the field.
At a webinar hosted by EasyBiz Technologies, Co-Founder of eComm Accounting Solutions, Nadine Chetty, touched on the importance of marketing oneself as an accountant, elaborating on the why’s and how’s.
She says accountants who do not market their accounting services or accounting firms will battle to grow their operations. “No marketing means potentially missing out on new business opportunities and a stagnant client base. The ultimate goal of marketing is business growth and diversifying the operation’s client pool.”
Chetty notes that marketing for accountants is often tricky because they are not sales people. “It is, however, important for accountants to do some research into marketing because they tend to sell themselves short. They need to be creative in the way they advertise themselves, because it’s much more difficult to market a service than it is to market a physical product.
“Notably, current clients are the best advertising tool for accountants. An effective way to get new business is to incentivise clients for referrals by, for example, offering them a 10% discount on their next transaction,” she adds.
Harness the power of digital channels
Numerous digital channels can be harnessed by accountants to extend their marketing reach and sell their services.
A good start is to create a website for the business. This is one of the most effective ways for accountants or accounting firms to showcase their services and highlight what distinguishes them from other accountants or firms.
Bridget du Toit, Head of Services at EasyBiz Technologies adds that it is well known that people conduct research on the products and services they are looking for before they make a decision. Websites are usually the first port of call as this is where potential clients can access information, assess credibility and get a general sense of the business and the services it offers.
Chetty says accountants need to highlight what sets them apart from their competitors. “This means showing value that extends beyond accounting skills such as the difference they can make in their clients’ lives and their approach to delivering exceptional client service.”
Websites should not be content heavy and video and other visual aids, such as infographics, are highly effective ways of making even more of an impact. Overall, websites should be professional and aesthetically pleasing to hold the attention of the visitor.
Blogs provide the perfect opportunity for accountants or accounting firms to become thought leaders in the industry by showcasing their expertise on particular topics such as changes to the regulatory environment or how to better manage taxes.
Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn are powerful platforms for creating awareness of the business and services it offers, as well as increasing its visibility – this is where people go before or after visiting a website. Potential clients scroll through social media pages to ascertain engagement, posts and possible reviews about the business.
Notably, social media pages need to remain current and accountants need to ensure they create a dialogue that encourages engagement, humanises their businesses and makes them more approachable.
Du Toit suggests posts should not always have to be in text format. Short videos and stories can be created to get short messages across. Longer content can be created for the business’s YouTube channel – these can include explanatory content such as how to register a company with CIPC, for example. Live videos on Facebook and Instagram can also help with engagement as they happen in real time and allow people to get instant feedback.
Spend a little to extend reach
Having a marketing budget can ensure accountants extend their reach even further and should be viewed as an investment in the growth of the business rather than an expense. Google Ads, for example, are a great way to create visibility for a business’s services, because they reach anyone who uses Google to search for those particular services. When used correctly, this medium has the potential to reach large numbers of people who want exactly what the business has to offer. The same goes for promoted or sponsored social media posts.
One of the best free ways to market your business is the QuickBooks Online Accountant advisor online portal where you can advertise all your services and expertise. The advisor portal helps small businesses find an accountant or advisor that is in their area and operates within their industry.
Maintain consistency of marketing efforts
Consistency is key when it comes to marketing a business. It is important for accountants to make sure they update their websites with news content on a regular basis and highlight their top performing services. Blogs need to be updated regularly and social media pages need to be kept fresh. It’s important to maintain a presence on social media, because the algorithms for these platforms reward users for consistency by promoting wider reach.
In conclusion, Chetty says accountants need to market themselves and their services equally. “They need to put themselves out there, show their personalities and give an indication of their expertise and how they work. This will ensure a steady stream of interest in the business and potential new clients knocking at their doors.”