It is safe to say that it is an exciting time to be in accounting. Now that the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic is behind us (*fingers crossed*), it is time to make more long-term plans about your business and where you want it to go.
Moreover, with several new changes coming in, such as MTD for ITSA and the growing popularity of cryptocurrency, you will have many more potential clients who need guidance with their finances and whatnot.
To be their go-to accountant, you will need to win them over with how good you are, and a big part of this involves marketing yourself and your practice.
If you are new to marketing, no worries — it is not that hard. Just like how you advise your clients to keep planning for more efficiency and control, you will need to take out the time to craft a marketing plan that takes you to the top of search results.
With the new year around the corner, now is the time to take a hard look at your marketing strategy. Here is an actionable, step-by-step guide to getting you started:
1. Set your marketing vision and goals
You have almost certainly heard this before, but every significant business change needs a vision. Where do you see your marketing plan taking you in a year? Five years? Fifteen years? Set down the dream vision in clear terms that everyone on the team understands and is on board with.
Then, list out goals that take you closer to that vision. When we say goals, we do not mean vague statements like ‘increase client base’.
We are talking about specific, actionable and time-bound goals. This gives you points of reference that you can come back to at intervals to check whether things are moving according to plan.
2. Know who your clients are
You may think you know your clients. After all, you have the list of their names right there with you. However, we are talking about detailed insights that let you see who your clients are — in terms of their characteristics, wants and expectations — versus who you think they are.
So, go out there and conduct some quick interviews and supplement it with general market research on your industry.
3. Chalk up your buyer personas
These include both the ‘ideal client’ whom you would love to work with, as well as the ‘not-so-ideal client’. Typically, as an accounting business, you are likely to be excited by clients who want a variety of services from you, are happy to pay for those services and are personally pleasant to work with.
On the other hand, you may currently have several clients with whom the work is less intellectually stimulating and who are bad-tempered or otherwise unpleasant. With this clarity, you can start thinking about how best to cater to the ideal client and market your services accordingly.
4. Choose a business niche
Even within your ‘ideal client’ vision, you would not necessarily be able to fulfil all their needs. You could theoretically opt for a generalist business.
But then you will be competing with thousands of other companies like yours, many of which may have more resources and more extensive networks.
Therefore, it makes more sense to choose a niche and market yourself to clients in that niche. Choose something based on your expertise as well as what you are interested in, and tailor your content and keywords to appeal to that niche.
5. Set clear objectives
Objectives are more granular than your business goals. These involve periodic deliverables (weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.) to get your marketing plan going. An easy way to start is by just brainstorming all the possible deliverables you could have.
Then, in collaboration with the team, assign priorities to each member to whittle the list down. Finally, fix deadlines for all the most critical deliverables and assign ownership for them to someone. There — you have your objectives.
6. Have a marketing plan
Your goals and objectives are for you and your team. However, your marketing plan is a crisp yet detailed statement that shows your investors, stakeholders, and colleagues what you are up to.
It should highlight your vision st
atement, marketing objectives, notes on campaigns, SWOT and PESTLE analysis and so on, along with dates and timelines for everything.
If the plan seems too extensive, consider having sub-plans to deal with each part. Moreover, when setting timelines, be sure to factor in enough time for reviews and any delays.
7. Draw up a content plan
A significant part of marketing is putting out the right content at the right time. Based on your deliverables, you need to have a calendar for a regular content flow on the channels you are active on. Try and keep it as uniform as possible, such as a set of two Instagram posts, two LinkedIn posts and one blog post for a week, with more to mark special occasions.
8. Build your brand
When most people think of brand-building, they picture a fancy logo. And while there is nothing wrong with a nice logo, real brand-building goes far beyond that. When clients think of your brand, they should instantly be able to recall the values and principles you promoteas a firm.
It could be clarity of thought and precision of insights. It could be the warmth and mutual trust of your relationships. It could be the lighthearted cheer you bring to meetings, even in the face of difficulties. Whatever marketing material you put out needs to embody these values.
In conclusion: Always measure your performance
As with any business venture, your marketing requires periodic analysis to ensure that you are on target. Decide in advance what metrics you want to focus on: customer lifetime value, cost per acquisition, marketing/sales qualified leads, website conversions, or a combination.
Then, invest in an analytics tool that draws up detailed reports for you. This gives you the visibility you need to do course correction wherever things are not working as per plan.
With January 31 around the corner, it can be challenging to balance priorities. If you want to increase your capacity to think about scaling your practice but are drowning in client paperwork for Self Assessments, shave off your workload by outsourcing to us. Book a free consultation.