Accounting firms are turning their hands to all kinds of marketing and client communication, from social media to more traditional email bulletins.
But pioneering practitioners are you that firms could be making more use of the “powerful” opportunities presented by video marketing.
YouTube, the popular online video site is the second most popular search engine behind the one operated by its corporate parent, Google. so a YouTube presence can also boost your profile in search results.
Firms that have embraced online video include big names such as Bishop Fleming and Grant Thornton, but also smaller outfits like Ward Williams, who provide a raft of videos on their YouTube channel from cash accounting for tax to the new employee shareholder status.
Another firm employing similar tactics is Gordons Knight, a nominee for the 2012 small firm Practice Excellence Award.
Gordons Knight uses online tools to offer free, five-minute coaching via email, fortnightly webinars and videos on business and marketing topics.
The firm also provides free video analysis of clients’ financials for and posts video client testimonials on its YouTube channel.
But the firm doesn’t just use video marketing to generate marketing leads. It concentrates instead on helping clients and shortening the sales cycle.
“I hate repeating myself and giving the same piece of advice again and again,” said Gordons Knight managing director Gordon D’Silva.
“This is the ideal platform for us not to have to do this now, and to have one-way conversations with clients before they come on calls, for example.
“We’re living in busier times, and if I can send on a video to a client to consume at their leisure instead of having a lengthy meeting or call, they’ve already got about 90% of the idea before we speak,” he added.
D’Silva, a self-confessed marketing enthusiast, also uses the video to impart confidential advice to individual clients and groups.
To do this, he uploads a personalised video to Dropbox or another confidential file-sharing website and password protects it so that only clients who know the code can access it.
“I can’t honestly say we get a massive amount of leads from YouTube but it’s not mainly what we use it for,” he added.
D’Silva uses screen capture software Cantasia, available for PC, and his smartphone or Flipcam to shoot videos. The software is fast, easy and the cost “pays for itself” at around $200 (£128).
AVN’s Mark Wickersham is another advocate of video marketing. He says that most accountants haven’t yet caught on to the benefits of video marketing, so there are opportunities for those who quickly pick it up.
“Some accountants might be put off as they think it’s a) difficult to do and b) that you need to be physically in front of the camera to make a good video, which puts them outside their comfort zones.”
There are a number of different ways to make, edit and shoot videos, none of which need to be particularly costly or time-consuming, added Wickersham, who has his own YouTube channel.
Videos can be shot with an up-to-date iPhone or decent webcam, Wickersham advised, and screen sharing software means that both cost and being in front of the camera don’t need to be issues.
According to Wickersham, video formats could include:
- Standard or sitting, presenting in front of the camera on a particular topic
- Using screen capture software to record a how-to video, for example, how to enter accounts into a particular type of software
- Use the same type of software to provide a voiceover of a Powerpoint presentation, if you’re camera shy
- A recording of a live event you spoke at
- Client testimonials in the form of a client ‘success story’ interview or a simple, standard testimonial
Topic areas could include similar to what you focus your online content on. For example, impart your wisdom on a certain area of expertise, give tax tips or simply talk about exciting developments within your firm.
“Engaging content is what’s going to make people want to watch your videos,” Wickersham said.
It’s not just a meaningless marketing manoeuvre, either, he added. Leads can be generated from video marketing, as it firstly gives you a platform to showcase your personality.
“The accounting professional is built on relationships. If someone can see what you’re like and like what they see, they’re more likely to give you a call,” he added.
In addition, you can gain leads by offering something for free at the end of your video such as a report, and a link pointing viewers to your website.
Inviting those watching to connect with you on LinkedIn is another way of gaining leads from video marketing, he added.
A few steps accountants wishing to take the plunge into video marketing include:
- Step one: Set up a YouTube channel. This is free to do and takes a relatively short period of time, especially if you already have a Google account.
- Step two: Set out a strategy - will you have a video a month, two, three? What topics are you going to cover and who is going to do the presenting.
- Step three: Source equipment you need to use. This could be a webcam with good quality sound, or separate microphone and software to edit with if you need it (if you have a Mac, iMovie will do).
- Step four: Find a suitable area of the office such as a separate, quiet room with suitable backdrop for those that will be presenting in front of the camera.
- Step five: Record, find out what works and upload!
Don't forget to get client feedback on your videos too, as getting clients to let you know what works and what doesn't will help shape future videos into what clients' want.
If you're unsure about how to edit a video once you've done it, do ask for outside help or even draw on the skills of existing employees or interns who might either have the talent themselves or know someone who does.