There’s no doubt that marketing strategies have completely transformed over the last decade, thanks to the internet. What was tried and true even a few years ago has evolved into something new and different. However, the underlying motivation remains the same—connecting businesses with current and future clients. For accounting firms, many of those clients are small businesses. In order to find and establish relationships with those small businesses, accounting firms must apply the proper marketing strategies to bring about favorable results.
It can be tough for an accounting firm to find small business clients, especially if they are fairly new or small and seeking to grow. The good news is that while the internet has fundamentally changed effective marketing strategies, it has also equalized many things, and small accounting firms can get a lot of results from a modest marketing plan. It doesn’t matter as much about the size of the marketing budget as what accounting firms do with it. Creativity and connecting with the community is the core of a successful marketing campaign to get new small business clients.
Create a client avatar
Marketing professionals recommend creating a client avatar before starting a marketing campaign for new clients. Accounting firms must ask themselves questions like this:
- Who is their ideal client?
- What kind of business do they have?
- What are their fears, frustrations, and pain points?
- Where do they usually go for services?
- How much is their bookkeeping budget?
- How do they like to communicate?
- What is their annual revenue?
- What is stopping them from using your services?
Creating an ideal client profile certainly helps accounting firms understand the needs and concerns of their target market, as well as where and how they should focus their marketing efforts. All this will help craft the right messages that will reach the clients they desire.
Set up an effective website
Before choosing any type of service, most people do an online search and small business owners and managers are no different. It’s vital for an accounting firm seeking small business clients to have a professional website that ranks highly on search engines. A well-done website should also have helpful and valuable content for small business owners to bring in new traffic. With a sloppy or ineffective website, accounting firms will fail to convert visitors into leads.
There are many small businesses out there that create websites for companies in niche markets. Some even specialize in serving businesses in the financial industry like bookkeepers, accountants, tax specialists, and more. With a top-quality website, accounting firms can be there for potential small business clients when they start their search.
Solidify an online presence
It’s not enough to have a static website that looks nice—the key to driving traffic to the site is having quality content and establishing an online presence through social media. For example, if the target market is most likely to use Facebook and LinkedIn, the accounting firm should have relevant messages that will help cultivate an audience. Accounting firms that add value to their current and future clients' lives are more likely to make connections and convert those to solid leads.
Avoid the mistake of aggressively pushing the firm’s accounting services online, as that is a big turnoff to any online community. Instead, focus on providing mostly valuable content with only the occasional self-promotion. Links to free resources, providing helpful information and discussing relevant business topics will help accounting firms become known as reliable, trustworthy, and helpful. Establishing relationships in an online community and bringing value to the discussions will pay off via an engaged audience and exposure for the accounting firm.
Establish a robust referral program
Many accounting firms are unaware that one of the best and most effective marketing tools is a strong referral rewards program. Word-of-mouth recommendations are invaluable, and studies show that people are more likely to try out a business that someone they trust refers to them. When current clients are given an incentive to refer friends, family, and other business owners to the accounting firm, they are providing solid leads that have an excellent chance of becoming clients themselves.
Incentive programs are not difficult to implement but are usually quite successful. The idea is to provide some kind of reward or value to the current clients when they successfully refer a potential client. This can be in the form of valuable items, money, discounts, and more. Referral programs also have the added bonus of making current clients feel good about their relationship with the accounting firm. Employee referrals are also effective as people generally have lots of family and friends who run small businesses and may need accounting services.
Get face to face with your target market
Marketing is about making connections with potential clients. A lot of focus is placed on the online marketing strategies, but there are other avenues to get face to face with your target market. Accounting firms can send speakers to small business conferences in the community, participate in business gatherings, and volunteer to speak at training sessions put on by other businesses or organizations. Trade shows and other industry-specific events can bring a niche market directly in contact with the accounting firm as well.
The benefits of participating in the small business community can have big rewards when accounting firms offer valuable information. This could be in the form of free accounting seminars and hosting small business Q&A sessions. Any kind of direct exposure that an accounting firm receives can be an effective way of setting themselves up as trustworthy experts to many potential clients.
Be an accountant and a marketing expert
While many accountants know all about how they can help their clients, they can no longer limit their skill set to just the numbers. Today’s accountants need to become savvy marketers as well to ensure their business not only survives but thrives. Once accounting firms figure out the most effective marketing strategies for their ideal clients, they can implement a marketing plan that will bring them success.
Have plenty of marketing ideas for your accounting firm but no time to do them? Check out How to Make Time for Marketing in Your Firm.