Client acquisition is paramount to success. While retention of long-term customers is important, studies show that 60-80% of satisfied consumers will still not return, despite favourable experiences. There are a multitude of reasons for this, but the core takeaway from this data is that new clients are the lifeblood of an accountancy firm. Without them, you cannot hope to continue long-term operation.
But how do accountants find new customers?
The simple answer is: you advertise your business. However, there are better and more sustainable options than advertisements through traditional marketing platforms. That is not to say these should be ignored, but it is recommended they are used in conjunction with other ideas and techniques.
So what are these other ideas?
Position Yourself Within Your Customers’ Line of Sight
Despite what it may sound like, this does not mean interruptive advertisements. Instead, you need to be asking yourself: where are my customers, and where are they going to be looking for accountancy firms that can help them?
Adverts put your name in front of a potential client, but these people often won’t actually be looking for your help. What you really want to do is place your accounting brand before the eyes of those who are actively seeking your services.
So, where are these places?
- Search Engines — For most looking for a service like accountancy, Google is the first port of call. 3.5 billion searches are made daily on the search engine. This is where your customers are looking. To acquire new customers, you must follow good practices of search engine optimisation to ensure that when a person searches for the kind of services you offer, you are what they find.
- Online Directories — Another place a potential client may look for you is through a directory service. A massive Yellow Pages might be a thing of the past, but its listings are even more extensive online, and you’ll find far more niche directory opportunities for your industry as well. Get yourself listed anywhere potential customers may go to seek you out.
- Networking Circles — Networking is a powerful tool in client acquisition. It allows you to enter target communities, build relationships and introduce them to your brand. Be cautious of hard selling when it comes to networking, however. Instead, simply become involved, get connected and create awareness.
Demonstrate Trustworthiness and Accountability
The collapse of major construction company Carillion led to the spotlight falling upon a number of high-profile accountancy firms, with investigations taking place into potentially dodgy practices. This is not the first time the public’s attention has been drawn to accountants squirrelling away money and making a mess of things. Accounting scandals are, unfortunately, a major influence on the perception of the practice.
The fact is: many people do not trust accountants.
The result is that those operating accountancy firms face an uphill battle to assure potential clients they are trustworthy in an effort to boost acquisition rates. But how, in a world where people are doubtful of the legitimacy of your industry, let alone your business, can you do this?
- Quality — Ensure everything associated with your brand is marked with quality, from the website to your offices. It’s a small difference, but it shows you’re invested in your practice and that you are less likely to materialise into thin air at a moment's notice. The easier it would be for you to cut and run, the less trustworthy you’ll appear.
- Reviews — 84% of people would trust a review as much as they would the word of a friend, and 77% of people look to reviews before making decisions about purchases. Reviews are a powerful platform for customer influence. Focusing on acquiring good reviews will help build a body of trust around your accountancy firm.
- Accreditations — Governing bodies and independent authorities can provide your firm with certification and accreditations which not only show skills, but also demonstrate that you are following appropriate codes of conduct.
Raise Your Industry Profile
Profile in industry is everything. Elon Musk is a prime example. His name is synonymous with forward-thinking tech. He’s a man who does not struggle with client or investment acquisition.
Although, he is an extreme example.
Perhaps a more low-key example would be internet marketing guru Neil Patel. If you don’t run in his circle, you won’t know who he is, but all those in the sector are very familiar. Neil has built a name for himself as an authority in online marketing, and the result is that people and clients gravitate towards him, as he’s the expert they want to work with.
Those running accountancy firms want to be an authority of their industry like Musk or Patel. They want people to know they have the knowledge and skills to do the work. They want people to naturally move towards them over competitors because they’ve shown they know what they are doing.
If you can achieve this, you’ll never struggle to find new clients; you’ll be fighting them off.
How do you become that authority?
- Talks and Seminars — Run presentations and meetings, providing an educational platform that showcases your knowledge (conferences and events are the perfect opportunities).
- Workshops — Get hands-on with potential customers and teach them the basics, such as how to use accountancy software or methods of managing their books.
- Content marketing — Utilise online marketing tools like articles and blogs, putting your name and brand to expert insight and useful information.
- Social Media — Establish a social media presence, providing commentary on relevant news in your industry, as well as engaging with people and brands.
- Build Connections — Beyond finding customers, networking increases your notoriety in the industry, helping you establish a professional reputation. This is especially true if you connect with influential figures you are trying to emulate.
You’ll notice a key theme amongst all these authority building practices: they don’t sell products.
Instead, they build awareness.
Becoming an accountancy influencer isn’t about trying to make a quick sale. It’s a long, slow burn process designed to result in sales without actually selling anything. Make yourself an accountancy firm that people respect and want to use, and they’ll come to you without a single sales pitch placed.
Find Your Niche
In Britain, there are over 5.7million small business enterprises operating. That’s about one small business to every 11 people. With this perspective in mind, it’s not hard to understand how competitive popular industries like accountancy actually are. The result is people and businesses have a lot of options when it comes to hiring an accounting professional.
To reach customers, a generalised approach to financial management is unlikely to be your best option. With so many rivals, you need to find a way of standing out. You can do this by becoming a niche provider.
A niche accounting service provider is a firm that offers specific services to specific consumer types. This narrows down your potential consumer base, but makes your firm more attractive to those in the field you are targeting. For example, you could shift your focus to:
- Small businesses
- Self-employed workers
- Budget or high-end services
- Businesses of a certain industry
- Companies of certain employee roster or income
- Personal finance management
- Online and remote solutions
- Local and community services
- Services for nonprofits, charities, or public organisations
While it may seem counterproductive to client acquisition to limit your potential reach, consider the mindset of a client. Let’s say you operate a small company in the construction industry and you need financial support. Are you going to go with:
- The accountancy firm that offers general services
- The accountancy firm that offers expertise in the construction industry
If you market yourself to a niche, if you make your accountancy firm the obvious choice, clients will opt for your services over others.