An interview with AccountancyManager

15th Apr 2021
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AccountancyManager

AccountancyManager recently appointed PracticeWeb as their recommended digital marketing partner.

The purpose of this partnership is to help firms take advantage of the rich feature set in AccountancyManager’s software alongside PracticeWeb’s marketing know-how to create a digital marketing strategy that streamlines the admin involved in running an accountancy practice.

PracticeWeb’s managing director, Mike Crook interviewed Jonathan Stobart (JS) and James Byrne (JB) from AccountancyManager on the role that marketing plays within AccountancyManager.

The full discussion can be read below.

Q: Please tell me who you both are and what you do.

JS: I'm Jonathan Stobart and I’m head of marketing and strategic partnerships at AccountancyManager. My responsibility is to increase brand awareness, assist lead developments and generally increase our partnerships with other organisations in the accountancy software space.

JB: I’m James Byrne and I’m the CEO of AccountancyManager. I set up the business in 2017, having previously run an accountancy practice.

Q: What role does marketing play within AccountancyManager?

JS: Through marketing we want to achieve three things: we want accountants to learn about our business and what we actually sell. Explaining the benefits of the system is a key element of that. Then we aim to encourage people to get in touch and start exploring the product.

Q: How has marketing enabled the growth of AccountancyManager?

JB: When we started the business we went to Accountex and posted on AccountingWEB, and we saw some organic growth from that. I think over the years our marketing has just accelerated that growth. The more marketing activity that we do, the more leads we see come in.

Q: What does the sales and marketing journey look like to an AccountancyManager prospect?

JS: I always talk about our marketing as a jam jar. We never know what eventually makes the jam jar fill up, but it’s a collection of different activities. We might have written to a prospect, they might have seen our adverts on Google, or read about us on AccountingWEB. Something in the end will make them get in contact with us.

Q: How did you start to build out your marketing team to what it is today?

JB: Previously, as CEO, I was taking the lead on marketing. At first we were trying to think on our feet a little bit, using some Google and print ads. There wasn’t a huge amount of strategic thinking then, we just tried to recognise opportunities that could be good for the business. We’ve always had a ‘just try it’ attitude: giving things a go and seeing what returns we get back.

JS: Which is a great attitude to have, actually, I would encourage more accountancy firms to have that attitude. I see a lot of accountants who tried one thing ten years ago, it didn’t work, and they won’t try again.

JB: The business was growing and I recognised that to achieve my goals I needed a proper marketing department. That was where Jonathan came in; he was experienced in running marketing departments and knew the accounting industry. We brought in Sophie as well who is an experienced marketing executive, and she and Jonathan both have a strong digital marketing focus.

JS: The department today is much more data driven than it was previously. We now have a marketing strategy, supported by an actual marketing budget, and we know what campaigns we’re going to run at various points in the year.

Q: What advice would you go back and give yourself to help you improve your marketing when you first started?

JB: I wish I had got somebody in sooner to take the lead on that marketing responsibility: somebody to make recommendations and drive the department much more efficiently.

JS: I would have invested earlier on in more digital marketing training: Google ads, SEO, just to be able to retain some ownership of those activities.

Q: How do you run your marketing to ensure it adds value to your business?

JS: You need to see the number of enquiries you're getting per referral source, what your conversion rates are like, and what sort of costs are involved. Having that information is fundamental to your marketing activity. Gone are the days where we just print adverts out and hope for the best, for me it’s all about data and proving the value, proving the return.

Q: What metrics help you assess the performance of your marketing and why?

JS: One is data: being able to run a campaign and see how many leads we gained and how much profit we made. But in addition, adverts still play an essential role.

Sometimes as a marketer you’ve got to be strong and say ‘we might not see a return on this advert, but I am going to invest that money, because our prospects might see us here and it’s a good message for us.’ I think it’s harder to analyse and articulate the general perception of the brand, but it goes back to the jam jar I was talking about earlier: all these things start adding up.

Over the last 12 months communication has been incredibly important.
Q: What changes have you made to the way you communicate with your clients?

JB: We’ve increased the frequency of our contact. With everybody working at home you run the risk of feeling a little bit isolated, and we want our users to feel like our support team is always available. We’re not just interested in subscriptions, we’re interested in users interacting with us and being part of our community.

JS: The type of delivery medium we use has also changed; we send regular emails to users, we host webinars, I started doing a podcast. And the content has differed a little bit. We started off talking about the functionality of AccountancyManager, then we wanted to try and offer additional support to users, so we did a webinar on mental health. And then of course we offer general business support.

We want to be more than just a company that you have a subscription to, we also want to support and help your business grow.

Q: What advice would you give to an accounting firm looking to invest in marketing?

JS: Think about the objectives you want to achieve, because that will dictate the investment. If you want to get more clients, I would say outsource your Google ads. Work with a partner experienced in SEO who can increase your profile online. If you want to increase your brand awareness within the community, that’s where you need someone internal to really learn about the culture and the brand of your organisation and help portray that externally.

JB: Something that we see quite a bit in the industry is marketing being assigned to a more junior member of staff. The problem with that is that the directors will instruct that member of staff and they’re only going to do what they’ve always done. Investing in a person or an external team means the directors are being challenged on the way they’re conducting their marketing activities.

Q: What will AccountancyManager be doing differently as a result of the last 12 months?

JB: We’re very happy with our products and the solution we provide, but we want to have partnerships within the accounting industry whose services we can recommend. Our users are coming to us with a variety of different problems and we want to be able to either provide or source a solution for their needs.

Q: How can AccountancyManager make life easier for PracticeWeb clients?

JB: It’s all about automating your admin and eliminating the time-consuming areas of running a practice. Using AccountancyManager saves our users time that can be better invested into marketing activities, for example. Go and grow your business, and don’t let your admin hold you back.

AccountancyManager clients can receive 10% off their first digital marketing project with PracticeWeb, whether it’s brand strategy, a new high-performance website, content or SEO.