From dealing with tax issues and compliance to supporting clients on business growth, there are lots of tasks for you and your team to work on at your accountancy practice.
But there’s another important job to work on regularly if the business is to thrive. And that’s winning new clients.
If you’re struggling to attract new business for your practice, you’re not alone.
But there are solutions.
In this article, we share 11 exciting ideas to help you stay on course for continued future growth and win new clients in this fast-changing business world.
Here’s what we cover:
- 1. Focus on your ideal client
- 2. Update your website
- 3. Market your practice with online content
- 4. Use social media
- 5. Add your practice to an accountant and bookkeeper directory
- 6. Ask for feedback
- 7. Build an email list
- 8. Attend industry events
- 9. Develop a referral scheme
- 10. Build partnerships
- 11. Adopt new technology
- Final thoughts
1. Focus on your ideal client
Why start here?
Because once you’ve nailed down your ideal client, you can use this information to define your value proposition. This means becoming really clear about what your practice does and how you are different from your competition.
You could think about how to specialise within a market you already have a presence in and become the leading accountant in that area.
For example, accountancy firm UK Landlord Tax has clearly defined its ideal client.
As it says on its website, it’s: “Accountants for landlords and that’s it.”
This means the firm is able to focus its marketing efforts with a clear, powerful message as to what it does and who it helps.
Through specialisation, you can gain economies of scale by developing specific repeatable systems, plus you can become an expert with authoritative advice, leading to word of mouth referrals within the industry.
2. Update your website
Shopping online isn’t only for e-commerce businesses.
Currently, 68% of online user experiences begin with a search engine, according to marketing firm Intergrowth, and organic search makes up nearly 55% of website traffic.
That means a business website isn’t a nice to have, it’s a must-have.
Because if you don’t have an online presence, you’re creating a barrier between yourself and potential clients.
Ensure your website reassures potential clients that you:
- Offer the services they need
- Are qualified and experienced
- Know their sector.
Remember, first impressions count. You can cover these points by ensuring your website contains an About Us page, an Our Services page setting out what you do, and a blog where you can share your expertise.
3. Market your practice with online content
Search engine optimisation, or SEO, describes the practice of tweaking and improving your website and its content to get more visitors via search results on Google and other search engines.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing generates 3x as many leads as outbound marketing, but costs 62% less.
Getting better quality visitors is a key goal; you want to help your ideal clients find you among all the competition.
You can achieve this by ranking on the first page of the search results for the keywords your ideal clients are searching for.
So whenever you write a blog post, think about how you can provide valuable advice and education to those people, and what search keywords you can incorporate.
For example, by searching a question that a small business may ask “Do I need an accountant UK?” into Google, the first page came up with this blog article from Smooth Accounting: Do you need an accountant for a limited company?
Which establishes the firm as an expert in small business accounting services.
4. Use social media
According to the Digital 2022 Global Overview Report, created in partnership by marketing firms We Are Social and Hootsuite, there were 4.62 billion social media users around the world in January 2022, equal to 58.4% of the world’s total population.
So you don’t want to leave this market untapped.
Try new formats and see what resonates with your audience, from YouTube videos to webinars, Instagram stories, TikTok, and podcasting.
Heelan Associates provides business accounting advice on YouTube with topics such as How to pay yourself as a sole trade in the UK, which has had 43,000 views, and VAT basics explained with 57,000 views.
Finance influencers have also become very popular on TikTok, especially those providing personal finance tips for 16 to 25-year-olds.
If you don’t think you have the time to do social media, don’t try and reinvent the wheel. Instead, you can repackage your existing content for your social media accounts.
For example, you can turn a blog post into a video, an infographic or a tweet by summarising the key points.
People like to consume content in different forms, so you don’t have to worry about repeating yourself.
But it’s also important to remember social media isn’t just a broadcast medium, you need to be present and active on it to get the most benefit.
For every post you make, comment on someone else’s. Like, follow and reshare other’s content to keep front of their minds.
5. Add your practice to an accountant and bookkeeper directory
Proactively going out to find new clients, whether by cold calling, attending networking events or creating adverts, is great. But that can all take up your precious time.
Why not let potential clients find your practice instead?
One simple way to do that is to join an accountant and bookkeeper online directory. It’s an efficient and effective way to grow your client base.
Once you’ve signed up to the directory, customise your practice profile, add details about the services your offer, include information about your team, and talk about how you’ve helped other clients.
When your profile is live, small businesses and sole traders in your area will easily be able to find you and get in touch. Then you can take those new business enquiries and turn the resulting conversations into new clients for your practice.
6. Ask for feedback
Don’t underestimate the influence that positive reviews and testimonials can have over a potential client’s decision to contact you.
According to KPMG, 55% of consumers search online reviews before they buy something.
For example, Brebners Chartered Accountants have accumulated a number of quality testimonials on their website from a range of existing clients. This is an easy way to build trust with new visitors, by letting your clients do the talking for you.
Make sure you’ve also added and verified your Google Business profile, so you can manage your information on Google Maps.
To set up your profile all you need is your business name, location, and category. This not only allows you more visibility in local search results, but clients will be able to leave Google reviews, a popular online research tool.
Once you’ve built up some reviews, remember to add a link to your reviews on your website like SJD Accounting has done with Trustpilot, to make them even more accessible for visitors.
7. Build an email list
Running social media accounts on YouTube or Instagram are great marketing strategies. But unfortunately if those platforms were to shut down tomorrow, you would lose all of the followers you’ve built.
That’s a huge advantage of owning your own email list because it can’t be taken away from you.
And unlike social media, you don’t have to rely on an algorithm to get your content in front of your audience.
To entice website visitors to subscribe to your email list, you’ll want to create a lead magnet offering. Essentially this is a free, quick solution to a problem your ideal client faces.
For example, if you help small businesses prepare their tax returns, you could provide a downloadable checklist for getting their information ready for the tax year-end.
8. Attend industry events
Face-to-face communication is still the fastest way to build new business connections, making industry events a hotbed for meeting new prospects, gaining referrals, and developing relationships.
If you want to find conferences to attend, you can try online databases, read industry journals or magazines from the likes of ICAEW, or connect with other accountants and join professional groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.
Before you choose the conferences and events to attend, make sure to review the list of speakers, sponsors, and attendees and see if any of them could be a potential prospect, so you can attend the events that hold the most potential for your practice.
A single event could turn into a dozen or more new leads for your practice, so bring relevant members of your business development team, so they can engage as well.
9. Develop a referral scheme
Your current happy clients are one of your best sources of new business.
The lifetime value of a referred customer is 25% higher than that of other customers according to Wharton School of Business.
You can incentivise referrals by offering a reward such as a gift card or a free month of services for every referral who signs up to become a client.
A good starting point is to have a conversation with a trusted client and ask for their input on what type of incentive would be valuable to them, and then you can trial your scheme with a few clients to begin with.
10. Build partnerships
Find companies to partner with to create a holistic solution for your clients. That way you can refer accounting clients to them, and they can refer their own clients to you, making it a win-win scenario.
To get started, first consider the networks you already have on LinkedIn and Facebook.
Then think of other services your clients need, such as legal representation, investment advice, recruiting needs and technology, and reach out to relevant local businesses in the area.
11. Adopt new technology
According to a study by McKinsey Global Institute, around 50% of current work activities are technically automatable by adapting currently demonstrated technologies.
Therefore, automation is a major factor in your practice’s ability to scale. Your team’s time should be focused on tasks requiring a high level of expertise, while everything else has the potential to be automated.
By removing unnecessary manual processes, practice management software can save up to 30% of time spent on year-end compliance.
Chris Pattas, former director of Sage Australia’s accounting division says: “You can save hundreds of hours that can be transferred to more value-adding activities.”
Winning new clients for your accountancy practice means taking action.
In addition to leveraging your trusted customers, nowadays you can’t ignore your digital presence.
Putting your practice out there online and building your reputation as a leading voice in your field of expertise is required to help you stand out from the competition.
Editor’s note: This article was first published in August 2022 and has been updated for relevance.
Recommended Next Read
How your accountancy practice can become a Human Firm now
The Human Firm
Discover how you can turn your accountancy practice into a Human Firm by downloading our essential guide and checklist.
Subscribe to the Sage Advice newsletter
Join more than 500,000 UK readers and get the best business admin strategies and tactics, as well as actionable advice to help your company thrive, in your inbox every month.