Small businesses need your support – now is the time to connect
These are difficult times for everyone, not least for the UK’s 5.9 million small businesses.
Although the Government has announced unprecedented financial support for both employees and the self-employed, many of those businesses are still facing a very real threat to their future, and are making important decisions to protect themselves.
While the majority of accountants have rightly focused on supporting their clients, there is still a sea of information-hungry small business owners out there, who just aren’t getting the advice they need.
We’ve seen it in our recent UK Business Forums report, which explores COVID-19 discussions from when the outbreak started in March up until now.
Micro and small businesses are seeking clarity on a vast amount of questions, from managing the financial impact and knowing what to do about employees, to accessing Government support.
For many, dealing with these issues is an overwhelming challenge, and a balancing act between keeping their business running, understanding the legalities of new Government measures, and supporting themselves and the people they work with.
“I'm confused, but trying to put everyone's best interests forward,” said one forum user. “It doesn't help that the business isn't doing great.”
I also spent over an hour on a group video call with 30 digital agency owners within the Bristol area, who had largely tried to figure things out themselves. The majority had accountants, but they still weren’t getting enough advice.
How will you be remembered?
A lot of accountants have had a crash course in digital marketing over the last few weeks. Some are still grappling with how to approach it, what to communicate and how to come across.
Those who have embraced it will no doubt reap the rewards of providing sound advice in a time of great need.
After all, at a time when businesses will be remembered for how they responded, and what support they gave to their clients and employees, you can’t afford not to communicate.
That doesn’t mean you should be selling directly – and doing so is more likely to reflect poorly on your firm than promote it – but it’s a perfect time to start finding and attracting those SMEs who are in desperate need of support.
It’s the right time to start building new connections to show that you care. Businesses will remember who showed up, what you said, and how you helped them during this time – and when we all come out the other side of this, they will think of you when it comes to rebuilding their business.
You have an opportunity to demonstrate your expertise and outstanding customer service, and to show why accountants are critical to business and the UK economy.
So, however familiar you are with digital marketing and producing content, the best thing you can do is to get started now. It’s not the time for procrastination or self-doubt. It’s the time for action.
How can you build connections?
Simply put, by providing the information they are crying out for. You don’t have to have all the answers, neither does it have to be polished, and you can always update your content as you learn more. This is now newsroom style reporting mixed with marketing.
Here are our three core tactics to help you build connections.
1. Video updates
In a sea of information, a short explainer video is perfect for the time-poor, information-hungry SME.
Focus on the key topics discussed in this document and the latest government updates, to demonstrate your expertise, build credibility with future clients, and show your personality too.
2. Helpful content
At PracticeWeb, we usually say long-form content is best, but normal rules don’t apply at the moment. Topical, current information is more important to your clients than polished content.
So, if you’re not normally comfortable with writing, now’s the time to start. Putting together short explanations of the topics covered here or in Government updates is more helpful than doing nothing at all.
3. Spreading the word
At a time when business owners need accountants and information more than ever, you are in a unique place to start building strong, new connections.
Your website should act as a hub of helpful content and explainer videos. And over time you will reap the benefits in search engine rankings from creating unique, highly relevant, and topical content.
But for now, you can start growing your connection list on social media, and use the content you’ve been creating to demonstrate your expertise.
Search for SMEs on LinkedIn and introduce yourself, sharing relevant content from your website.
You should also post videos directly into social media, and a summary of your helpful content. Include links to your website for further reading, or let your connections know they can keep up to date on the latest developments by visiting your website.
This is also a great opportunity for you to start building your email list. Once prospects land on your website, make sure you clearly signpost them to sign up for your COVID-19 and business advice email alerts.
Again, it’s important to remember that right now it isn’t about making a sale, it’s about building strong relationships so that once you’re out of this crisis, those new connections will remember you were there for them.
How we can support you
On behalf of PracticeWeb, we would like to thank you for all the hard work you’re doing to help British business through these tough times.
To say thank you, we’ve put together a selection of resources for accounting firms to refer to during the coronavirus outbreak, including:
- Daily updates on announcements from the Government
- A briefing paper on announcements to date
- Guidance on communicating with your clients about COVID-19
If you would like further support on your communications during this time, we would be delighted to hear from you. Call us on 0117 915 0420 or email us at [email protected]
Editorial: Mike Crook, Managing Director