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Sophie Redman and the Linford Grey team winning the Accounting Excellence award | AccountingWEB | Linford Grey: Getting results from marketing
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Linford Grey: Getting results from marketing

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Sophie Redman from Linford Grey Associates, the winner of the inaugural Accounting Excellence In-House Marketing Team of the Year Award for 2023, explains how their content strategy has helped scale the practice.

29th Jan 2024
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From social media engagement to video content and website rebrands, the importance of marketing for accountancy firms has never been more important. This is demonstrated at the upcoming Festival of Accounting & Bookkeeping (FAB) at the NEC, Birmingham on 13 and 14 March, where there will be a number of workshops dedicated to marketing.

Linford Grey Associates is a great example of a firm that’s grown through marketing. The firm impressed judges at the 2023 Accounting Excellence Awards for its content and outreach marketing strategy, which resulted in attracting larger, well-established businesses and increasing average client fees, resulting in the firm lifting the inaugural in-house marketing team of the year award. 

Focus on the ‘pain points’

Sophie Redman, head of media and marketing for Linford Grey Associates (pictured above accepting the Accounting Excellence Award), revealed that the secret to their content strategy is to focus on their clients’ “pain points”. 

“People are always looking for solutions to specific issues. Especially in accounting, if you can figure out what your ideal clients’ exact pain points are, and you have a solution for that, then that is pretty much the golden ticket.” 

She added, “Common sense tells us if one business owner has a problem there will be more.”

Redman, who will be outlining the award-winning firm’s marketing strategy at the Festival of Accounting & Bookkeeping’s Accounting Excellence Summit, said that prospective clients will be searching for answers to their accounting challenges online, and her job is to show that the firm has the solutions to their problems and explain what they can do to solve their issues. 

As an example, Redman said that the firm works with partners like payroll software Telleroo to support clients who do payroll every week. But when it comes to writing content, she said that prospective clients are “not bothered about what we use and how we do it”.

She said: “What they’re bothered about is we can save you X amount of hours in a day, we can save you X amount of hours in a week – which tallies up to X amount of hours in the month, which you can then use to focus on running the business and doing what you need to do.”

What do your clients want?

Understanding the pain points of your clients goes back to the cornerstone of marketing: targeting your ideal client. 

Linford Grey Associates is a five-year-old purely digital accountancy practice. As such, they don’t see any clients – they don’t come into the office and the accountants don’t visit them. As such, the type of client they want to attract are technology-first businesses such as e-commerce and businesses in sectors that could benefit from technology like hospitality. 

For this reason, Redman explained that the firm’s digital content strategy focuses on producing high-quality content about the technology they use and the value the firm can provide – and this content is repeated across their digital channels. 

A good example of this is the firm’s successful “under the hood” videos. Mirroring how budding DIY enthusiasts turn to YouTube to fix the latest household disaster, Linford Grey Associates videos steer prospective clients through the basics of navigating accounting technology. 

The firm’s most popular videos are its Xero 101 series, which is bursting with advice for newbie Xero users on how to use the bookkeeping software across a bingeable 29 videos. They’ve also experienced similar success with its ideal client-friendly roadmap of the firm’s tech stack. 

Ideas to create content 

Focusing on their ideal client’s pain points is a good starting point, but Redman admitted that it’s “hard work to constantly come up with sort of new ways of answering the same question”. 

That’s when Redman would sit down with the rest of the team and look at the content planned for the month ahead, review what’s worked previously, what they could repurpose or reshare to see if they can get better engagement – and then she utilises the expertise of the accountants on the team to write the content. 

“I get a lot of inspiration from the team – the team talks to clients every day. We ask: ‘Are there any questions that have been asked that you’ve noticed some people have asked before that we might be able to use?’” she said.  

And different social platforms provide opportunities to share content in different formats and have a continuous drumbeat of messaging. 

“We can use video, we can use images, we can use plain text – I’m just trying to create multiple different types of assets, answering similar questions, and just being able to put that out every day, every week, every month on different platforms, to create a bigger reach.” 

The firm has found that its organic marketing content and outreach has resulted in attracting larger, well-established businesses. “We wouldn’t have signed these larger clients up if we’d sat back and waited for them to find us, as they wouldn’t have,” she said. 

Structured content

The firm then plays the long game when putting these ideas into action. Redman explained that Linford Grey organises its content a month in advance, using Buffer to schedule social posts in advance alongside tools like Adobe’s creative suite and Canva for content creation.

She said that working this far ahead enables her to be spontaneous and move content around or have content already banked if a deadline is missed. Recently Linford Grey’s founder and managing director Adam Pritchard was interviewed at the Xero Roadshow. As soon as assets from the event dropped in her inbox, she was able to shift plans and make room for this more timely and relevant information. 

The need to be spontaneous with messaging was no more evident for accounting firms than over the past three years, where marketing teams were forced to pivot their marketing strategy to account for the pandemic, political turmoil and a potential recession. 

Sophie Redman holding aloft the marketing award
Accounting-Excellence_Alistair-Veryard

Using social media to win new clients

Having this bank of content is also useful in attracting new clients on social media. LinkedIn, in particular, has proven to be a “gold mine” for lead generation. 

By focusing content on answering common pain points enables Redman to reach out to prospects over email or drop into people’s direct messages on LinkedIn if she sees someone needing help with one of those problems. 

She’ll monitor e-commerce discussion groups or follow related hashtags and look out for anyone looking for recommendations for accountants and take note of what people are asking. 

Where relevant and appropriate, she’d direct message those people on LinkedIn and say that she saw them asking a question and that they have a client with the same problem – and with the marketing content to hand she’d tell them what the firm did. “That’s sort of an ‘in’ to having a good conversation with those people and also selling your services eventually.”

Acknowledging that people don’t like cold messaging on LinkedIn and other platforms, often trying to sell services unpromoted or totally irrelevant to what they’re doing, Redman only approaches those where Linford Grey can genuinely help. For example, they may be asking about accounting software for an e-commerce business or they’re struggling with payment methods. 

“It’s a less cold approach because you actually have an answer to their question, and it opens a dialogue rather than bombarding people and hoping something falls out.” She added: “It’s a more targeted way of finding clients and a more natural conversation starter.”

Measuring the success of the content

The success of any marketing is to measure what matters. Linford Grey uses the cloud-based sales customer relationship management (CRM) system Pipedrive, alongside HubSpot, to track the success of their lead generation and their nurturing of prospects into clients. 

They use Pipedrive to attribute each prospect to a source – whether that’s organic, referrals or social media – and then drill down further and track the social media lead, for example, as a cold outreach message, paid advertising and so on.

“We track everything from who we have spoken to who’s come in, and at what stage they are. So we go from contact made to discovery call booked to service level agreements sent out, even to stages where ‘they didn’t respond’, ‘stop responding’ and ‘lost than one’, so we fully track where everybody that we speak to comes from,” she explained. 

They also use the CRM system to segment prospects into different lists so they can send newsletters and different information depending on where they are in the nurturing process. 

Playing the long game with content

She acknowledged that this content strategy may be a long burn, noting that it can take up to six to 12 months to get a return, but maintained that the consistency of content does pay off. 

“Somebody that came in a couple of weeks ago as a new client, then messaged me on LinkedIn and said, ‘We’ve been following you on LinkedIn for two years and we’ve always found what you’ve put out interesting, but never really picked up the phone to ask you to be our accountants’. But then something I posted that day really hit the sweet spot. They signed up pretty much the next day.

“I think the consistency of putting content out is never going to be a loss – it’s always going to benefit you in some way.” 

Alongside their content strategy and social outreach, they have also added paid social advertising to their marketing arsenal, because “you can’t just rely on word of mouth for referrals”. They’ve tested the different platforms, finding more success with LinkedIn over Facebook and Instagram. 

Threat of AI

The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) over the past few years presents both challenges and opportunities for accounting firms in their marketing, as will be discussed at the upcoming Festival of Accounting & Bookkeeping

Redman recognised that generative AI platforms like ChatGPT will become helpful for marketers and accountants in creating content or even to generate ideas, but she warns against just “copying, pasting and splashing it everywhere online”. 

“I think use it, but edit it so it’s you and tailor it to your ideal clients. Because chances are ChatGPT doesn’t know who you are. It’s just going to write something generic.”

The technology may serve a purpose, but like with all of Linford Grey Associates’ content, Redman doesn’t want to lose the all-important human element. “You’re never going to get away from the age-old saying: ‘People buy from people’,” she said.  

Sophie Redman will be revealing more secrets behind Linford Grey’s marketing success at the Festival of Accounting & Bookkeeping on 13 and 14 March at the NEC, Birmingham. Book your FREE ticket and find out how you can use marketing to scale your business in 2024.