Do you really believe that marketing isn’t important to an accounting firm? Is your marketing not as effective as you hoped? Here’s one success story that may change your mind.
Flinder is an accounting analytics firm that skyrocketed to success in a very short amount of time. And their chief dreamer, Alastair Barlow, played a massive role in it.
He has a background in content marketing that includes an 18-month collaboration with Oomph Global. And during that time, he learned a new way of thinking and approaching marketing. It’s that thinking that helped him build a solid brand for Flinder.
That’s why in just three years and six months, Alastair helped Flinder become the successful data-lead accounting firm that it is today.
One of the things he did best was redefining the priorities and goals of the traditional accounting firm. Alastair understands that Flinder needs more than accountants on the team. He knows that business can be better if the company can provide more than financial consultation.
So, he emphasises helping clients. This means doing more than just financial consultation, but actually transforming businesses and helping them become successful. And he does this through innovative marketing techniques.
He shared some tips that may be very useful to you, too.
Tip #1 – Understand What a Brand Really Is
How do you define a brand as relates to businesses? Alastair has an interesting way of explaining what a brand is. And he highlights this in the following manner:
Think of a brand as a description. For example, say it’s your personal brand. In this situation, the brand is how others describe you when you’re not present.
So your company’s brand is, in a way, the description of your company. How do Flinder’s clients talk about the business? They talk about data, fast growth, and entrepreneurship.
When you can establish your company’s brand, that’s when people start to recognise you. It means that there’s less confusion about your services. And it’s also a great way to build a reputation – if you solidify your brand first.
Tip #2 – Know Who You’re Trying to Sell to Before You Create Anything
It’s important to figure out who your ideal clients are before you start selling anything. So, ask yourself questions, like:
- Who can pay you?
- What clients do you want to work with?
- Who is your ideal audience?
- Who do you benefit more from working with?
Alastair suggests using a Venn diagram with three circles. It’s an easy way to put things into perspective. So, draw your diagram and write down different types of clients. This lets you know which clients value you the most and which one you like working with the most.
Keep in mind that the two might not be mutually inclusive. But the idea is that you have to find your avatar.
Don’t think you can have just one, too. Take Flinder as an example. Alastair identified four avatars for the company:
- Entrepreneurs or fast growers
- Practising accountants
- Future and current employees
All of these avatars can be essential for growing a business. That’s because you don’t just grow through client acquisition but also through growing your team with valuable members.
Tip #3 – Content Without Substance Doesn’t Engage
Think about these avatars for a moment. You can’t reach all of them using the same hook. So, you must learn how to tailor content for specific avatars or clients. Even future collaborators or employees.
Any accounting firm can dish out newsletters and posts regularly. It’s not that hard to come up with content, right?
But you have to understand who your audience is.
Are you speaking to clients or candidates? Perhaps, to someone with an in-depth knowledge of tax accounting? Or to someone with little to zero knowledge at all?
Your goal is to build a strong brand. That’s why you must show everyone that your firm provides VITAL accounting services.
But, what do you do when someone doesn’t understand what you offer?
Put a different spin on it. It’s possible to make boring or technical content engaging, too. You just need to find the right context for it.
Tip #4 – Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment
You have to accept that some marketing attempts might fail. No one gets everything right, especially when you have to deal with a tough crowd. But that’s not a reason to suppress your creativity.
Even people without much marketing experience can be inventive.
One of Alastair’s ideas came from the old MTV show Cribs, which he used to watch on TV. He presented his workspace to the people and used it as a unique way of marketing. And it’s one that didn’t have much to do with accounting.
Yet, it sent a positive message about the company. It also helped build a friendly brand and resonated with some of the employees. Even if he didn’t hit the sweet spot with all four avatars, it still had a positive outcome.
There are many ways to get exposure or visibility. And being unique or even quirky at times isn’t bad at all!
Tip #5 – Start Now!
Building a brand always takes time. That’s why instead of asking yourself how soon you need it done, start now. Because the faster you begin the process, the sooner you make it happen.
But you don’t have to rush it, either. You can afford to make small adjustments to your strategy over time.
The thing about brand-building is that it can have a snowball effect. Those small changes end up having a massive impact. Just gathering views on videos and posts over time, for example, can make a difference. It provides consistent exposure and can boost client acquisition rates.
Tip #6 – Think Differently to How Other Firms Think
You may have heard the phrase “disrupting the market”. This can be a bit confusing for some who think it’s to be taken literally. But instead of that, think more along the lines of doing things differently.
If you use the same marketing approach as everyone else, it’s hard to set your accounting firm apart. You may know by now that offering VITAL implies providing unique valuable solutions.
It’s best you approach marketing with the same idea. Do something that other firms don’t do. Disrupt the market through your solutions, such as by implementing ground-breaking software.
Consider new ways to reach your ideal audience and avatars. But it’s essential that you also focus your efforts for the future of the company – don’t focus only on the present.
Tip #7 – Treat Marketing Like a Client
Poor prioritisation is common for many accounting firms. For example, many of them worry too much about client work and projects. This can result in marketing taking a step or two back.
But you can’t build the brand you want to if you neglect your marketing. That also means you also can’t grow your business as much or as fast.
If you’re not happy with a 5% or 10% yearly growth, you need to do better. Try treating your marketing as a client. Prioritise it a bit more. Of course, it really helps if you have specialists to delegate this work to.
Marketing needs a higher priority during a growth period. In fact, set it to a client-like priority to ensure you dedicate enough time.
The more people you reach, the easier it is to build a VITAL accounting brand.
Tip #8 – Go Where Your Avatars Hang Out
How does Flinder’s chief dreamer always manage to reach the ideal audience? One of his tips is finding where your avatars hang out.
Take the following example.
Alastair knows that it’s important to have a strong social media presence. But between Twitter and LinkedIn, which platform does he choose? It’s the latter.
He makes sure there’s a bigger presence for Flinder on LinkedIn than on Twitter. After all, that’s where many of their prospects and potential clients hang out. It’s also where the company can find future employees.
Identifying where your avatars hang out should be easy enough. Especially once you understand who they are and what they need.
When Marketing and Accounting Go Hand in Hand
Perhaps you never took your need for marketing too seriously. But it may be time to do so if you want bigger growth. Your prospects can’t know if you offer VITAL accounting services if they don’t hear from you enough.
So, you may want to start using these tips that helped Alastair transform Flinder into a powerhouse.
Building a reputable brand takes time. But as long as you keep at it, small successes can snowball fast.
Maybe you’re already in a position where you can grow a lot in a short amount of time. You just don’t know it yet.
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