Market to your dream client

Francois Badenhorst
Practice correspondent
Sift Media
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The Profitable Firm's Karen Reyburn kicked off Xerocon 2016's Uni Day by asking accountants to understand what drives and demotivates their dream client.

In "The Content Marketer" session, Reyburn tasked attendees with formulating their ideal client persona. "Come up with what they care about, what they don't care about, what kind of family they have - this will inform what content you make and share," says Reyburn. "What matters to them?"

Reyburn presented the following matrix for marketing to your envisioned dream client:

  • What motivates this person?
  • What frustrates the life out of them?
  • What do they need help with?
  • What are the problems in their business?
  • How do they make decisions?
  • How do they communicate?

Accountants should use these questions as a touchstone, said Reyburn. "Everything you do should be pivoted toward your ideal client, constantly asking, ‘What is success to them?'," she explained. "Some just want to build a nice small business, others want to rule the world.

"If you try to appeal to everybody, you'll appeal to nobody."

The big issue with how accountants market themselves is the dependence on generic content. "The best content comes from your own head or from the heads of the people that deal with the clients," said Reyburn. "You know their problems, their frustrations. Generic content doesn't work. Your very educated client is bored to tears and can tell immediately."

In the long run, said Reyburn, the goal is to form a complete brand identity for your firm. Although, she acknowledged its difficult for a busy practitioner to find time to think branding. "Attaining a brand identity is expensive, it's time consuming and it won't bring immediate results - but it's vital," says Reyburn. "It's the consistency of your message. It means everything you do reflects who you are, combining your persona and your visual design."

With a successful brand identity, explains Reyburn, your marketing integrates to the point where you won't be able to identify why a client came to you, "Whether they liked your logo, downloaded your white paper, read your content. It becomes a cohesive whole".

"The brand identity is your practice's personality. Your brand is tied in your buyer's mind with your expertise."

The start point for synthesising your practice's personality is to think about your own personality. Reyburn broadly categorises accountants as either:

  • Freedom fighter (They work to attain time and freedom)
  • Empire builder (They want to rule the world)
  • Craftsman (Just wants to do the accounts)
"You need to know about your professional identity, it changes everything: The clients you target, the marketing and content you produce, and it crafts your firm's identity," explained Reyburn.


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09th Feb 2016 09:31

  Brand Indentity

For a complete identity, naming the firm after yourself is always a good idea. For example it certainly work seems to work for Harrods, Marks and Spencer, Birdseye, Kellogs, Honeywell and Bacardi

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By redboam
09th Feb 2016 11:07

Surely when it comes to successful marketing the very first question that should be asked (missing here) should be:


"Am I offering services that people will want to use at prices they will be prepared to pay"?

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09th Feb 2016 11:26


"If you try to appeal to everybody, you'll appeal to nobody" is simply Incorrect.

If you try to appeal to everybody you will not 100% succeed, but there will be some you appeal to successfully.

It does frustrate me when writers and commentators use soundbites just to sound good rather than looking into the substance of what they are claiming.


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09th Feb 2016 11:48

I tend to agree with Rayburn, I must admit

Thanks for the comment! I see where you're coming from. But when you say, "If you try to appeal to everybody you will not 100% succeed, but there will be some you appeal to successfully", doesn't that mean you should've identified that group you appeal to and focus on them rather? The point that Reyburn is making is that by pivoting your marketing towards the client you want to work with, you're better off in the long run.

Thanks again for the comment.

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09th Feb 2016 12:21

Yes Francois, but the comment did not say that.  It simply read as it read and I made my comment accordingly.  So are you telling me that if I formulated a marketing plan that tried to appeal to everybody, I would get a zero success rate every single time??  Surely not.  BTW, personally I would never  set out to come up with a marketing plan that tried to appeal to everybody - it is not ideal - but it would have limited success.  That is all that I was trying to say.

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09th Feb 2016 12:46

I get you

You're right, of course. I suppose Karen was just emphasising her point, rather than making an absolute statement of fact (and I'm also a little guilty because I'm a journalist and I love a punchy quote). 

 You'd definitely get some success of course with a wide ranging marketing strategy - but like you say, by concentrating more on a target, you'll probably have more success. 

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09th Feb 2016 12:31

Yes, but the problem

is, that, from previous experience anyway, it is very hard to gleen exactly what a new potential client is all about. I therefore look for synergy with certain business sectors where I think I can add value, and no longer try to gauge how I am going to get on with the client, as, you can only find out what people are like over time. Some clients, who - on first meet, I did not necessarily warm to, have proven to be my best clients, and a few others, who on first meet, I felt a good connection, have turned out to be awful. No one is going to undersell themselves when the speak to a potential new accountant, most will talk a big talk, and, as I say, it is difficult to really know whether you really have anything in common at all!

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