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How to communicate and engage with Generation Z | accountingweb
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How to communicate and engage with Generation Z

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As older clients retire, it’s important to look for a younger audience for your services. Here’s how to attract the new wave of business owners who are part of Generation Z.

21st Nov 2022
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Known as digital natives with a strong social consciousness, Generation Z is the next wave of business owners. To keep new clients coming into your firm and staying for the long term, you need to be thinking about how you work with this younger generation.

Broadly speaking, Generation Z includes those born in the period from the late nineties to the early 2010s. That means those on the older end of that range are now entering the early stages of their careers, and many are thinking of setting out on their own.

In fact, research suggests that some 62% of Gen Zers plan to start their own business, particularly in the technology, retail and entertainment sectors.

This means a whole new demographic of people are entering the market for accountancy services – a group with different preferences, needs and expectations to their predecessors. 

As older business owners step back or retire, accountants can’t afford to ignore this shift. To maintain a healthy client base and prepare your firm for the future, you need to look at new marketing channels, and new ways of engaging with the younger generation. You can get lots of pointers at the Getting Down With the Kids session at AccountingWEB Live Expo in Coventry on 30 November.

What’s different about Generation Z?

Much has been said about the differences between this generation and the last, but one of the biggest factors – and the hardest to ignore – is the role of technology.

As the first generation to grow up with access to the internet and portable digital devices from a young age, Gen Z tends to spend more time on those devices than generations before them.

This affects the way they consume digital content, with some theorising it’s led to reduced attention spans and a preference for quick, attention-grabbing information. But, it could also mean they’re more wary of advertising and marketing online.

It’s also brought about a heightened social awareness, with younger people increasingly interested in the ethics and societal contribution of the businesses they interact with.

When it comes to the world of work, Gen Z has become known for its pushback against the “hustle culture” of previous generations, with trends like so-called “quiet quitting” prioritising work-life balance and mental health. 

And when working with an accountant, they’re not willing to put up with a service that’s lacking. Our own research at PracticeWeb showed that younger clients were more likely than older age groups to have switched accountant in the past if they weren’t happy.

While an average of 34% of people across all age groups said they had never changed their accountant, this dropped to only 10% of those aged 18-24.

Among those who had changed accountants before, younger age groups were also more likely to do so due to poor communication or service. In other words, they’re not going to stick around if they’re not getting the value they expect from you.

Marketing strategies to engage with Generation Z

1. Use attention-grabbing, visual content

With more time spent online and more digital content to filter out, Gen Z favours snappy, visually interesting content. 

Short-form video is one of the most popular forms of content right now, whether that’s on TikTok, Instagram stories or reels, or YouTube shorts. 

Instagram posts or stories are other avenues to explore, and a well-placed infographic could also help to make your content more engaging, digestible and shareable.

2. Provide value through quick tips

As well as entertaining and engaging users, short-form content is often valuable when it’s used to educate and inform.

Quick tip style content that addresses customer pain points and offers a solution to them can be successful on platforms like TikTok. This is a great way to share your accounting expertise, warn against risks or common errors, or suggest ways people can improve on what they’re doing now.

This could be especially useful for young business owners running fast-growing startups – people who may not have had the time and experience to learn the basics first.

It also comes with the added benefit of human connection, as the user feels more like they’re learning from a person’s knowledge and experience, rather than a brand. 

3. Engage with interactive marketing

As our research showed, poor or slow communication can be a major problem for younger clients, and one they’re not willing to put up with. 

Make sure you have processes in place that allow you to respond promptly to your clients, whether that’s to direct queries or comments and interactions on social media.

It’s also worth thinking about the channels you use to communicate with existing clients – using text or instant messaging, for example, rather than video or phone calls. 

When it comes to your marketing materials, you can encourage more engagement and interaction through content like polls, quizzes, swipeable Instagram posts, and more.

4. Establish and communicate strong brand values

Don’t shy away from expressing what’s important to your firm. People of all ages are more likely to want to work with a firm they connect with on a personal level, and for Gen Z, values and ethics are a priority.

When we talk about expressing your values, this isn’t just about promoting a particular idea or belief. (Although it could include talking about and promoting social causes that you feel strongly about.)

It’s about embedding values throughout your brand, so they’re a part of both your internal working culture and your interactions with clients.

For this to work, it must be genuine. The people who interact with your brand, and younger people especially, will be able to sense insincere attempts at values-based marketing a mile off. At best it looks awkward, and at worst it looks like a cynical marketing ploy.

By giving proper thought to your firm’s values and letting them shine through in everything you do, you’re more likely to connect with like-minded individuals who’ll benefit from your services. 

At PracticeWeb, we work with accountants to create marketing strategies, branding and content that resonates with the clients they want to work with.

 

Replies (17)

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By Paul Crowley
21st Nov 2022 09:42

They like click bait.
My guess is that they will fall for the on line stuff, despite having not spoken to a person.
They think group emails and text is communication.
And probably never use their telephones to talk (as in speak)

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By Ian McTernan CTA
21st Nov 2022 10:38

'In fact, research suggests that some 62% of Gen Zers plan to start their own business..'

And that's the rub. They all seem to think they can set up and run a business without realising most businesses fail within 5 years.

The sheer amount of misinformation on social media is staggering, and many will be drawn into this and be stung.

Glitzy shiny clickbait campaigns aren't for me, but I can see how they would appeal to Gen Z with the attention span of a gnat and instant grab.

There is no finer example of Gen Z than the 22 year old who put all his savings into Crypto thinking massive returns, then moaned when he lost most of it. No taking proper consided advice, no asset splits, just click and go (bust). Then trys to blame someone else 'why wasn't I told by the govt' etc. This is what happens when the school system tells them 'everyone's a winner, there are no losers' and entitled to everything. Reality bites.

Thanks (7)
Replying to Ian McTernan CTA:
By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
21st Nov 2022 12:17

@Ian, I think you could have written the same thing about people buying into the dot.com bubble when I was about 22.

Older so and so's moaning about the naivety of youth is universal.

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Replying to ireallyshouldknowthisbut:
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By Hugo Fair
21st Nov 2022 18:40

True, but so is the point which has been (deliberately?) missed by the author.

When saying ".. research suggests that some 62% of Gen Zers plan to start their own business" ... how is that different from youngsters through the ages (or at least the last 60+ years) who all wanted to 'get rich quick'?
The channel may have varied (footballer / pop star / model / importer / re-seller / influencer / etc) ... but what never seems to change is either any awareness of how to achieve the goal (and the risk factors) or how to apply yourself if things don't work out instantly.

In other words ... don't confuse avowed aspirations for any sort of commitment (or indeed likelihood of success).
Personally, I wouldn't try to build growth by targeting the flawed dreams of naïve optimists.

Thanks (4)
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By JustAnotherUser
21st Nov 2022 14:49

This is extremely generalising, I don't know where to start with feedback.

You're still going to get a new generation of trades people, plumbers, sparkies etc and other associated self-employed that need accountants.

They all wont care about your carbon footprint and will not want to know how many trees you plant to offset the carbon generated by your services.

Yes they are techy, but Ill speak from experience, they may be used to technology but they have no idea how to use it or how it works, everything is built for them to be as easy as possible. This generation has a lot less troubleshooting skills as they didn't go though tech pain like millennials did. Things need to be simple, and work first time.

Double edged sword, you have those who are more aware of scams, marketing and less influenced... the opposite is true about fake news and how easy people fall for headline grabbing stories.

As an accountant just look to what you do best... this generation isn't full of hustlers, crypto millionaires, social media stars etc... they exist as a small minority bought front and centre due to social media showing everyone's best day.

...this generation still has small business owners working 100 hours a week, trades people, self employed in abundance.

They will hold the same values as older generations, the big change for me is that this generation has just as much loyalty, but in different ways...

...They wont be happy being your customer...they are hiring you to do work for them, they want quality output, transparency, trust and value, gone are the days of the electrician dropping off a shoebox once a year... being an accountant for a Gen Z client is now a 365 day relationship, its between you and them what this looks like.

The average Gen Z that needs an accountant =/= to your average Gen Z. The majority do not run their business on tik-tok and would laugh at you if you thought they would have the time.

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Replying to JustAnotherUser:
paddle steamer
By DJKL
22nd Nov 2022 10:02

"Yes they are techy, but Ill speak from experience, they may be used to technology but they have no idea how to use it or how it works, everything is built for them to be as easy as possible. This generation has a lot less troubleshooting skills as they didn't go though tech pain like millennials did. Things need to be simple, and work first time."

That is not how I would characterise my two, they both can understand tech and use it (with son it is expected , he is a software engineer, but daughter is also no slouch (Geographer/Sustainable Development/Urban Planner)).

I think you maybe need to split Gen Z into subsets based upon educational attainments or some other type metric, for my two the one thing I can say is they learn very fast in fields outwith their own (Whilst my son is no accountant he has picked up a reasonable appreciation of the UK tax system whilst working as a contractor in both UK and Germany and is now hopefully gaining some understanding of the US system.)

But this is no change, back in my day graduates often developed knowledge well outside their specific academic field, they had in effect learned how to learn by themselves, this was the key skill university endowed.

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By Trethi Teg
21st Nov 2022 14:58

Got lots of younger clients. When it comes to their self interest then carbon footprints, responsibilities to other people, ethics etc go out of the window. That is not surprising as the vast majority of society are exactly the same. They talk as if they care but then do the opposite. Hypocrites.

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Replying to Trethi Teg:
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By User deleted
21st Nov 2022 15:37

Same as when loads of people were clapping in for the NHS. I said at the time I wondered how quickly they would go back indoors if you asked them to pay extra NI. And so it came to pass

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Replying to Trethi Teg:
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By Ian McTernan CTA
22nd Nov 2022 11:37

Reminds me of the 'volunteer to pay more tax for a better NHS' test they conducted in Islington (Corbyn's seat).

Place a ball in the container, one says 'yes I am willing to pay more tax to fund the NHS' the other says no.

Then as soon as they place the ball in yes, give them the details on how to pay more.

Not surprisingly, all the virtue signallers decided to disappear rather than make any payment. This is because people are always willing for someone else to pay more for better services, just as long as it doesn't affect them personally.

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Replying to Ian McTernan CTA:
By Duggimon
22nd Nov 2022 12:29

What a stupid experiment. I would absolutely sign up to pay more tax to better fund the NHS provided my payments triggered the same from everyone else earning what I earn. That's what tax is.

I don't see it as a sign of the lack of conviction of these "virtue signallers" as you term them that their choice changes when you pull the rug out and reveal that their 'tax' that they'd opt to pay was in fact a donation and not tax at all and will be a drop in the holey bucket rather than a trigger to billions more for the NHS.

It's a moronic stunt carried out by the Taxpayers Alliance, a right wing group so shady they admitted complete liability for their illegal activities surrounding the Brexit campaign rather than reveal in court who funds and runs their organisation. Literally everything they do is discredited before it starts.

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Chris M
By mr. mischief
21st Nov 2022 16:38

My most successful client is quite young. He runs exactly the sort of very high productivity business politicians seem to want more of. £750k sales, £250k to £300k profit with 2 employees. So £150k per person in the good years.

The nature of the business is scalping tickets on the internet, no doubt this quarter's VAT return will feature World Cup tickets strongly. Whilst this is the sort of business some folk will think is immoral, the pandemic was interesting.

I had clients with several rental properties who were slow paying HMRC anything up to £100k or £200k. But the ticket scalpers did not do this. Having recycled business profits into residential buy to lets, they simply sold enough of them to pay their tax bills.

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Replying to mr. mischief:
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By User deleted
21st Nov 2022 20:07

Just "some" folk will think immoral? Well, yes, all decent ones. I couldn't act for such a type

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Replying to mr. mischief:
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By Paul Crowley
25th Nov 2022 18:18

Tickets are just a commodity
It makes money from latent desire
Is that not what car dealers do?

The big difference is that your client pays his tax whilst most scalpers do not

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Tornado
By Tornado
21st Nov 2022 18:28

"While an average of 34% of people across all age groups said they had never changed their accountant, this dropped to only 10% of those aged 18-24."

With only 10% of this generation saying that they had never changed Accountants, it seems to me that they need to be avoided at all costs as potential clients as they are clearly difficult to please with no sense of loyalty. Not the right values for successful entrepreneurs in my view.

With some of my clients having started from scratch with my firm decades ago and have not changed Accountants since then, give me the old fashioned reliable clients any time where strong long term relationships can be honed to perfection to the benefit of all.

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Lone Wolf
By Lone_Wolf
21st Nov 2022 23:46

How do you do, fellow kids?

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By Duggimon
22nd Nov 2022 09:53

As with all generations, the key to interacting successfully with Generation Z is to not treat them like one homogenous lump as portrayed in wildly generalised and extremely patronising articles.

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By Mark Lee
24th Nov 2022 11:16

A related point is the need for older accountants to rethink how they try to encourage Gen Z to work for them. One reason why so many firms are struggling to recruit staff is that they are doing what we have always done. Jobs are advertised solely from the employer's perspective and little thought is given to evidencing that the firm is attuned to effective induction, retention and progression in the ways that appeal to Gen Z as distinct from what seemed to work when we were young.

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