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Effective marketing tools for an acountancy practice

I will think about and put in place some marketing planes over the next two months. At the moment I do not do any marketing.

Before I start planning  I just want to make sure that I am aware marketing tools that I should think about. Here are what I think are key marketing tools available to accountants:

  • Website
  • blog
  • Google Adwords
  • Direct mail
  • telemarketing
  • SEO
  • Networking

I am leaving out facebook and twitter - I think it would be just too time consuming.

Have I left out anything that is important (apart from the two above)?

Thanks

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26th Feb 2012 13:38

Referrals?

Word of mouth is always good, and I think we need to take more notice of this.  If someone recommends us to a friend or colleague, and that person becomes a new client, I always make sure I express my gratitude with a small note and gift.  Recommendations are something to be encouraged, and I think putting a bit of effort into this side of things really helps.

Some people and organisations suggest that we should actively ask clients for recommendations, but I've always been a bit uncomfortable about this.  Has anyone found a non-cringey way of doing it?

I'm not sure if this can really be counted as marketing, but it's an area we perhaps take for granted that we shouldn't.

 

WS.

Thanks (1)
By Locutus
26th Feb 2012 15:07

Agree with previous poster
Although all of the types of marketing on FirstTab's list have a place, I think it is important not to get too distracted by them. One common factor that all successful accountants in practice I have come across seem to share is that they understand their clients needs and are able to deliver competent solutions to those needs. When you are able to do this then referrals inevitably come through.

This isn't exactly rocket science, but there are a few bad accountants that I have seen who have not learnt it and constantly have to 'market' just to replace the good clients that left because they weren't getting a good service.

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Thirded

FT - I'm sure we have been along this path before?  Seem to remember that you accept that recommendation is the best process all around to get a new client but that it takes time.

After yonks years at it, I've only ever strayed a couple of times into advertising, direct marketing and "lead getting" and it was hopeless, probably because it's a numbers game, bit like putting a job ad in the paper or job website "I've got a job going in the office, anyone interested".  I just don't have the time to waste in doing all the ground work & vetting in order to get a handful of potential (cold) clients who will need months or years to be convinced they have made the right decision.

The best and most efficient marketing for any service industry is to do the best job you can for your existing clients resulting in them recommending you to friends, family, colleagues & contacts.  By doing so everyone involved is happy.

98% of my new clients have always come this way and I have never been short of clients (even now when I am trying to downsize).  The most noticeable thing when comparing cold & warm (recommended) clients is that the latter meet you pretty much already sold on the idea plus,if you have a good quality client base, their recommendations will tend to follow suit.

WS, you don't need to ask clients to recommend you, that is really putting them on the spot, you'd be better off asking them what they thought of you before you even approach it that way.  Some have suggested providing financial inducements which, again, goes against the grain for me and cheapens the relationship.  All you need to do is mention to them in passing that the business is going well and you are looking for new business.  

Beware though, if you give the impression of being rushed & always too busy, even clients that think the world of you will avoid recommending you in case it means you won't be able to cope with their work.

 

Thanks (2)
26th Feb 2012 16:51

depends where you are with your business

If you have just started out and you have got one or two clients, you would be waiting a long time to build up your practice on the basis of referrals. You would get there eventually, but it might take about 50 years.

The best way initially (I believe), is telemarketing. I know First Tab has tried this with a business associate of mine, who provides telemarketing services.

Once you have built up a reasonable level of clients (using telemarketing and other proactive marketing) the referrals should start to kick in.

This is on the basis you are a good accountant and provide a good service. If you are a rubbish accountant and provide a poor service, you may not be able to rely on referrals.

For the reasons above, accountants love to say "I get all my business from referrals", while they may not be keen on saying "we use telemarketing".

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks (2)
26th Feb 2012 17:09

Brilliant

Thank you all for a fantastic response. You changed my perspective.

 

Thanks (0)

What about linkedin?

I agree referrals are the best source for new clients.

I record the source of all new work and I get work from the following sources - listed in order of success (number of clients)

1. Referrals

2. Linkedin

3. Website/blog

4. Twitter

5. SEO

6. Business forums

I don't spend anything on this, other than my time.

I've tried a limited amount of marketing/advertising and it was a waste of time, got nothing from it.

 

 

Thanks (1)
26th Feb 2012 22:04

Tactics, strategy and methodology

 

@FirstTab - that is a good list of tactics and they all work. But, to make sure get the most from your investment (time, energy and money) make sure your positioning strategy is effective and you use the right marketing methodology.

I would recommend you consider adding events/seminars and make sure everything is linked.As for telemarketing, you can use this after the referrals kick-in as a way to head-hunt the best clients. I’d also recommend PR.

Bob Harper

Co-Founder | Crunchers Accounting Franchise

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avatar
28th Feb 2012 12:16

This reminds me.....

Many years ago we had a client who, as a sideline, was chairman of a local business forum.

We had an excellent relationship and asked him if he'd be prepared to recommend us. His response was that although he was delighted with our service, if he referred anyone else to us that would be the job we would mess (not the actual word he used!) up.

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