We live in a digital world, where we communicate and conduct business online now more than ever. Businesses are storing their data in the cloud, Facebook is a primary communication device, and we’re using our smartphones for everything from making calls to browsing the internet to paying for groceries. So, to gain more clients, accountants and bookkeepers need to be online, since it’s where their prospects are doing their research. If your accounting firm doesn’t have an online strategy, then you’re behind all the others that do.
Most accountants and bookkeepers know that word-of-mouth—referrals—is the most effective form of advertising. It’s how accountants gain business clients and repeat business.
So, how can you build your “word-of-mouth” as an accountant? Consider these three steps.
1) Define your competitive advantage
Write down your competitive edge. The first step to growing your business is to understand what makes your practice attractive to clients. Successful businesses got that way because they focused on an advantage lacking in their competitors. Examples include:
- Innovative pricing.
- Specialized services.
- Better technology
- Faster service.
- Industry-specific experience.
- Full range of services.
- Your friendly team.
If you are struggling to identify your competitive advantage, ask your existing clients why they like working with you. Use that information to sharpen your marketing program and sell to new prospects.
2) Leverage social media
Because social media gives you scope to focus on more personal communications, it’s an amplified word-of-mouth tool, and essential for accounting and bookkeeping firms. Remember—the end goal is face-to-face meetings that are the beginning of a real relationship between you and a client. It’s a great way of engaging potential customers, keeping in touch with current customers and forging valuable networking contacts within the industry.
Share content that has value to your clients, but be aware of adding too much noise. The last thing you want is to create an annoyance factor by clogging up people’s feeds, so keep your content in a business context and always make sure it’s relevant. Be selective!
Focus on just one platform—pick one you like most and get started. It only takes a few minutes each week to share a bookkeeping tip or link to an interesting article from your firm using Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. Track the results of your marketing activities and you’ll soon discover the right formula for your business and your marketplace. An audience of followers who appreciate your insights is more likely to contact you for accounting services.
It used to be difficult to interact with people you didn’t already have a personal connection with. Nowadays, you can network with people you’d never have had access to in the past. Social media makes everyone more accessible, which means that it’s easier to start conversations with prospects, get involved with groups that are relevant to your industry and generally engage with people. Remember—people buy from people. If you gain their trust through personal communication and prove that you know your stuff, they’re more likely to convert into a client.
Always market your services
Lastly, many accountants and bookkeepers are happy if they keep their current client list year over year. Unfortunately, you can’t always count on the same clients forever: People retire, businesses close, and clients may even move on to other accounting professionals, through no fault of your own.
These are the reasons why you should always be marketing to attract new clients. Although it’s difficult to find the time (and money) to invest in marketing when you are so busy serving your existing clients with their accounting and bookkeeping needs, the key is to develop an easy to maintain marketing strategy that keeps your business in front of prospective clients, no matter how busy you are.