Some people start marketing their firm by looking at tools and think that they are the priority. For example – “what platform do I need to send out my newsletter?” Whilst others think – “shall I use social media or SEO to get leads?”. And a few of the savvy ones start with strategy – “who is my target market and what is my USP?”
Let’s break down the three pillars:
Pillar 1 – Strategy
There are four ingredients to a successful strategy. Each ingredient must be thought about carefully, and must be revisited as your firm grows and changes. A solid focus in one or more of these ingredients can have a positive or negative impact on your firm’s profitability.
Ingredient One: Specialisation
You must decide in exactly which area you are going to specialise. You cannot be all things to all people. Do you want to specialise in Audits, Management Accounts, Bookeeping etc. Too many businesses make the mistake of offering too many services, to too many types of clients, at too many prices in too many ways. This is not the path to wealth.
Ingredient Two – Differentiation
All business success requires you to be different and better than your competitors in a clear, distinct way. The key to differentiation is understanding your competitors, knowing who they are, and what makes them special. Once you know this you need to understand why your ideal client is buying from them, and how you can change this situation. This is your USP. (Unique selling proposition).
At TwentyTwo Agency our differentiation is the combination of Strategy, Tactics and Tools. Our competitors have a maximum of two of these pillars, but nobody specialises or differentiates like we do.
The only hope you have in winning clients is to focus most of your time and attention on understanding who your ideal client is, and what you need to do to get them to buy from you, and not the accountant down the road.
Ingredient Three – Segmentation
If you decide to go down the route of segmenting your market (for example your accounting firm specialises in helping lawyers, property investors and start-ups) you will need to divide your potential clients into separate market segments.
There will be a need to understand each segment, identify the key characteristics and problems of each potential ideal client, and have a dedicated plan for each segment.
Ingredient Four – Focus
Once you have applied the ingredients of specialisation, differentiation and segmentation you need to focus. Focus your limited resources – time, money and energy – on an outcome.
To do this you need to start with the end in mind. What is the desired outcome that you need to focus on?
Is your focus to be getting more clients? Is it on getting more referrals. Is it on increasing profit by 30% in the next 24 months?
Once you know what you are focusing it on, you then need to work the strategy hard. One of the reasons we work a strategy for a year is because during a time of focus you can test and measure, tweak and maximise and see the success. If you lack focus and don’t give it time, or get distracted, your strategy will go out the window and your profits will go down the drain.
Once you have your strategy in place you move on to the next pillar. Never move to pillar two without having pillar one in place.
Pillar Two – Tactics
For your strategy to work you need to have actions in place to reach your chosen goal. These are known as Tactics.
Tactics are the highly practical things you are going to do in your accounting or bookkeeping firm, every day/week/month to reach your desired outcome. Having a strong foundation in place (Strategy) will ensure the tactics you use are about results, and not about throwing mud hoping some of it will stick.
Tactics can include: (these are not the only tactics, they are just a few examples)
Content (Blogging/Article Writing/Videos/Audio)
Content is used to position you in your prospects mind, educate your ideal client and answer questions along their buyers journey. Good content will get you remembered and recommended. Bad content will make noise in an already crowded market place. Good content will get you found on Google. Bad content will leave you invisible. Content marketing is a tactic that should be used, without a doubt.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Because your content resides on the Internet, getting it in front of your ideal client relies on making sure it can be found. The content that you create should primarily reside on your own website as that is the hub of all you do. However, you will also have videos on YouTube that will need SEO’ing, material on SlideShare that needs SEO’ing and Images on your website that need ALT tagging.
The biggest and most overlooked SEO strategy is local SEO. Google My Business is an online platform that makes it easier for local businesses to attract new customers on Google search and get featured in Google Map Listings (top 3).
An optimised Google My Business Profile helps your clients find you online when they search a type of business located in a specific town or city.
Here is a screen shot of a listing for Google My Business for Sutton Accountants. As you can see the top 4 listings are Google Adwords (PPC) but the next 3 listings are Google My Business. This is a tactic that is overlooked by many accounting firms, which is madness considering 9/10 are looking for local clients.
Social Media Marketing
If you want to be seen online the tactic needed is social media marketing. Social media marketing refers to the process of gaining traffic or attention though social media sites. It is a catch-all term for all sites. Social media marketing is a tactic for getting in front of people.
Social media will feed your information to connections, followers, potential joint venture partners, and will raise your profile to attract ideal staff candidates. It is a great tactic to reach your goals.
Done well social media marketing will drive people to your content and your accounting firm. Done badly you will add to the white noise out there, and be invisible.
Networking & Events
Not all marketing is online. Traditional networking or event marketing may be the perfect tactic to get in front of your ideal client and raise your profile. The tactic you choose with your networking/event marketing could be specialised conferences, or local networking groups. It could be a stand at an industry specific event, or sponsorship of a seminar. To have success you need to pick the right tactic to get in front of your ideal client. Whether you should or shouldn’t do events will be an easy decision if you have done the strategy work.
Once you have worked out your marketing tactics you then need to look at the tools you might use to be able to implement chosen tactics.
Pillar 3 – Tools
The last pillar of this process is to identify the tools you will need to implement each tactic. There are a plethora of tools for most jobs, and this is where most accounting firms end up like startled rabbits in a car headlight.
Questions arise around tools which lead to procrastination, overwhelm and panic about costs. If you do not know which tools you should be using you can end up in investing heavily in something that you do not need to pay for.
- For example: Excel and Google Analytics (both free) may be all you need to monitor your monthly reporting, yet there are highly sophisticated platforms out there that can cost £700 a month and are not necessarily needed.
- Sending a monthly newsletter can be created and sent out using a free tool called MailChimp, or alternatively you can spend £2000 getting Infusionsoft put into your accounting firm, with ongoing monthly costs, and then spend the next year frustrated as it is so complicated you need a full-time employee to train on it and run it.
- On the other hand, you could spend hours running your social media platforms manually when for £6 a month you can use Buffer and schedule them once a week.
- When it comes to creating videos, you can spend a small fortune on a mic, lights and camera – where in fact to start with your iPhone will suffice.
- If you choose to use webinar marketing (a tactic) do you want to choose WebinarJam, GoToWebinar or Zoom (tools)?
As you can see there are so many “tool” options for each tactic, and so many different prices depending on the tool you choose.
So how do you choose tools? Tools should be chosen taking into consideration a couple of things:
- Time savings vs costs savings.
- Ease of use (which comes back to time savings)
As you can clearly see the three pillars of marketing for accountants; Strategy, Tactics and Tools all need to be carefully considered to reach your goal. If you were in any doubt about how to approach your marketing plan, sales plan or campaigns, the 3 Pillars should give you the process you need to follow.
And then Tools.
Here at Twenty Two Agency we are all three. Strategy, Tactics and a Tool. (Yes I laughed as I wrote that). As a marketing agency, you use us to help craft your strategy and devise the tactics you will use to reach your goals. We then implement it for you.
To download our ebook and get a list of 100 marketing ideas for your accounting practice click here for the 100 Ways To Market Your Accounting Firm
What do we do at TwentyTwo?
At TwentyTwo Agency we specialise in helping you create a strategy, attract ideal prospects, convert them into clients and get remembered and referred. Our specialities include content marketing, blog writing, email newsletter management and social media management. We are a content marketing and digital experience agency for accounting firms. We ensure you get remembered, recommended and referred.
To find out if we can help you, reach out to our team by emailing [email protected]