During tough times, one of the first things many firms do is trim their marketing budget. While marketing is certainly an easier place to cut costs than payroll, it can have long-lasting and even harmful effects.
In fact, according to a study published in the International Journal of Research in Marketing, the companies that bounce back strongest after a recession are the ones that don’t cut their marketing spend, and in some cases, actually increased it. Marketing is your lifeline to growth. It connects your firm’s brand to current and potential clients. Without it, you’re out of sight, out of mind.
Still, the reality is that some budgetary cuts may be inevitable. But that doesn’t mean you need to end all of your marketing efforts. Here are a few of my favorite ideas for marketing your firm on a shoestring budget.
Encourage guest posts on your firm’s blog
Just about every accounting firm these days has a blog. If you rely solely on your own team members or outside contractors to provide content, consider opening it up to guest posts.
Why? Allowing guest authors to contribute to your firm’s blog is a marketing strategy with enormous potential. Say you know many of your clients are concerned about the security of their accounting data in the cloud. You know a vendor that provides cloud accounting solutions, so you invite them to contribute a guest post, agreeing to link back to their website from your blog.
In most cases, the vendor will be happy to participate, and they’ll likely also share the post on their own social media channels or in their newsletters. This extends your blog’s reach, potentially putting you in front of several potential new clients. It’s a win/win.
Leverage social media advertising
Many accounting firms have social media accounts, but few do more than share their own content and other interesting news. That’s no longer enough. To reach new clients on social media, you have to pay to play.
Fortunately, social media advertising is inexpensive and effective. For the cost of running one traditional print ad, you can create an ad for Facebook or Instagram that runs for weeks, narrowly targeting your ideal clients. It’s a perfect fit for firms that provide services for a specific niche.
You don’t even need to work with a marketing agency to create the ads. Just follow the detailed walkthroughs provided by Facebook for Business.
Speak at virtual events
Speaking at live events has long been a great way to market your firm. Companies and organizations are always looking for speakers on various topics in which CPAs have a wealth of expertise. Many in-person events aren’t happening now, but the proliferation of virtual events brings even greater opportunity because you aren’t limited to speaking in your geographic area.
Put together a one-page PDF explaining your expertise and potential topics and send it to businesses or organizations in your niche. Once you’ve landed a speaking engagement, collect questions from the group ahead of your presentation so you can tailor it to address their needs.
Be sure you don’t turn your presentation into one long commercial; that can be off-putting. Instead, be a resource to people. In most cases, the event organizers will share your contact details at the end of the webinar or conference so potential clients can follow up with you later.
Share testimonials from existing clients
Who knows the value of your services better than your clients? After a good client meeting or successful engagement, ask your client to provide a testimonial. Highlight that testimonial on your website and social media profiles.
Client testimonials might seem insignificant, but one survey from BrightLocal found that 84% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, and 74% say client or customer testimonials make them trust local businesses more.
Marketing isn’t about how much money you spend. It’s about putting time and effort into connecting with clients and demonstrating the value you can provide. With the strategies above, you don’t need to spend a lot to generate new business and remain top-of-mind for your existing clients.