Can you cheat algorithms? (and more marketing tips)
Our third Summer Session with experts from across the accounting world was another hit… but there’s a trend emerging. We go down a number of rabbit holes.
These tangents are usually thanks to questions from attendees – and they’re great. Forget what our host or panellists want to talk about, the important thing is what you want to know. And that’s one of the keys to marketing right there.
Ashley Leeds is the ‘15-Minute Guy’ (you’ll find out why). Ashley runs consultancy company Full Cup Coaching and he loves LinkedIn.
Gabo Quiros is Head of Growth and Client Success at PracticeWEB, a marketing agency specialising in accountancy.
Henry Waddilove is MD of Novus Business Connections, a high-level telemarketing firm that helps grow businesses, both through new client acquisition and the existing client database.
Sarah Bradley is one of the directors of TI Accountancy, based in ‘the far reaches of Cumbria’. Sarah is an AM super-user with clients across the UK.
How should I approach marketing my practice?
Ashley: I think with smaller practitioners, they'd rather do a set of accounts than do the marketing. They do a bit of marketing, it doesn't work, so they go and try something else. The main thing about marketing is consistency. You've got to keep doing it all the time. It's not, "We'll do it this week," and then that's it.
It’s all about the mindset. Some firms think they can’t do marketing because they’re not big enough and that’s just not true.”- Henry
Gabo: I agree, consistency is super important. Beyond that, segmentation is king in marketing: who you want to talk to and how. And finding what you feel comfortable doing. I often hear "I don't like that. I've never done it." Marketing can sometimes feel too far out of your comfort zone, so it's finding that middle ground.
Sarah: Our founder started TI Accountancy from her bedroom and now we own a building on the high street. One thing she’s always done consistently is marketing.
My advice would be, just do it, it's certainly worked for us. Sticking your head above the parapet can be a bit uncomfortable, it certainly is for me. There are thousands and thousands of firms in the country, you've got to find your difference, your selling point, then go out and shout about it!
What’s a good way to get started – while keeping costs low?
Ashley: LinkedIn – it’s free! I call myself the 15-Minute Guy because I try and get people into a daily habit of doing things in just 15 minutes. Now, we can all find 15 minutes and if you do that every day, five days a week, that's 65 hours a year of free marketing. Who doesn't want that?
If you’ve tried LinkedIn and it didn’t work for you, again, it's consistency. We look at people that are doing it well, and go, "Oh, well, it's not working like that." But look at what you're doing today, and yesterday, the day before, last week, last month, last year… There's only 1% of people creating content on LinkedIn, if you start creating content, you’re going to rise to the top.
Henry: I would invest in some time and expertise around the ‘why?’ question, it doesn't need to cost that much money. Get an expert to dig into why your clients use you and why your clients should speak to you. If you don't do that, you'll waste any other money you spend. Then make sure your website’s in check – whatever you communicate, make sure it's on your website.
You can do things for very cheap, you don't need to invest a lot. You just need a little bit of strategy. That's the first step.” - Gabo
Ashley: Yeah, Henry's right, People don't know who you are and the first thing they do is check you out online. So your online presence has to be absolutely who you are. Take all those stock photos and cartoon characters off everything! People buy from people they know, like and trust. So, let's have a picture of the team eating pizzas after a busy tax return.
Can I just cheat the algorithms on Google and social media?
Ashley: The only way to game the algorithm is to be consistent! I keep saying that word, I'm sorry. Going in and doing a little bit on LinkedIn today and leaving it for a week, that's not consistent. 15 minutes a day – that's all you need to do.
You don't defeat the algorithm. you cannot defeat an algorithm. You need to work with the algorithm. That's the point of the algorithm.”
Gabo: The algorithms are defined – in social media, Facebook, or in Google – with a purpose: to provide the most relevant, useful, interesting things to individuals based on their interests. One of the best things you can do is to understand what that message is and who you're delivering it to, And actually give value.
Marketing and attracting clients is about giving value. People ask ‘how can I defeat the algorithm?’ You don't defeat the algorithm, you cannot defeat an algorithm. You need to work with the algorithm. That's the point of the algorithm.
It's about changing your mindset, not beating the algorithm, but working in serving your clients.” - Gabo
The more you can give to your audience, the more it will be worth for the algorithm to pick up and share to more people. So, the question is, how can you showcase yourself as an expert and what value can you give to clients?
But you’ll never get that if you don't have consistency or the planning of what you're going to say: Who you are as a practice? Who is your client? What’s the benefit? What are the challenges? What are the pain points? It always comes back to that strategic part.
How do I avoid sounding like every other accountant and cut through the noise?
Gabo: If Google is going to search every single practice nationally, that’s thousands, right? You’re never going to show up. So find a niche, either a group of people that you want to work for, or people in your local area, or types of client you want to provide a specific service to. With those things, Google will pick up your content and website easier.
Then you need to capture leads and retarget them – so if someone expresses interest, you’ll nurture that relationship into a client down a funnel. This is what Henry and I specialise in.
We hear it all the time, accountants don't want to niche down, but the most successful marketing campaigns are the niche ones.” - Henry
Henry: Differentiation comes from asking the question ‘Why do our clients use us? Pick up the phone and ask them, take them for a coffee, take them for lunch. Before you do anything, you've got to understand why people use you, because that's your marketing.
Ashley: I don't think there's anything wrong with sounding the same, but if you keep putting the message out, more people will see you and you’re front of mind. In essence, accountants are doing the same thing. So focus on what’s different, and talk about that. It might be that you're close to decent parking… it's more about being out there all the time.
What about EDMs and newsletters, do they work?
Gabo: Email is still considered one of the most effective ways of marketing, believe it or not. Traditional methods, like even radio, still work really well. But it’s all about how much value you are giving someone.
If I'm a business, what I want is for you to give me real advice. If that's a wishy washy message, save your time. Don't do it. Find something else to do. Find what works really well, and do it.
Another important thing is always have a call to action and have a very clear message. Don't make it the day before, create a calendar and think about the pain points of your clients.
An entrepreneur may struggle to have family time, so a topic could be ‘how to spend more time with your family as an entrepreneur’. Then connect that into what you do, propose your services as a solution down the line. It's like a funnel, in stages, it's not blasting a constant message.
Henry: It comes back to consistency and cutting through the noise. Consistently message them. They might never read your emails but they'll see your name ping up. So, when they need someone, you’ll be the first person they think of.
Sarah: That’s true, we get people that we've emailed for two or three years and never heard from them, then all of a sudden they've hit that pain point.
With our email marketing, we've done things where you can download tax tips from our website then we capture their information and get a list together. Then you can email these prospects as well as your clients.
We send a weekly email on a different subject – testimonials, examples of where we've helped people, up to date information that people may need to know and things that are going to be happening in the future.
See more from our panellists
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