Video has been hailed as the future of marketing – but as a job traditionally done by introverts, can accountants adapt?
A brief scroll through your LinkedIn feed and you’ll find a whole host of accountants and thought leaders talking to their phone cameras.
One reason for this vlogging saturation is that LinkedIn weights video content over everything else. Accounting coach Heather Townsend said her high performing Linkedin videos could get more than 5000 views in a week.
“I can’t get this sort of reach on any other platform or using just the written word,” she said.
Video is the future
With this kind of potential exposure, it’s no surprise why accountants have unleashed their inner-Kubrick behind the camera. Firms like Mazuma Accountants have shown their firm’s personality through a hilarious Blue Peter-type video spoof.
“Good videos are very shareable and easily digestible on smartphones and other devices,” said Lucy Cohen, the co-founder of Mazuma. “They’re a perfect way for us to communicate with our audience on their terms and when they want.”
Others like Soaring Falcon Accountancy’s Alex Falcon-Huerta use video to help clients get to grips with new technology. During April’s Accounting Excellence webcast Huerta discussed how her video how-tos have helped clients, as well as limiting her workload.
“If they're stuck on something it's easy for us to record how-to, send it across and its easier than typing up a process on 'this is how you go here',” she said.
Jo Tomlinson, the founder of Business Works, also has this medium on her mind. “Video is the future,” she concluded on her return from last year's QuickBooks Connect in San Jose. “It's about finding the mediums which will get people to listen to the messages you're trying to get out there.”
It takes more than a tripod
But creating a compelling video takes more than a tripod, camera and the bare bones of a script. It takes confidence. But over the years accountants have been painted, unfairly or not, as retiring introverts.
Given the introverted practitioner's propensity for shunning the limelight, the reality – as exemplified by the differing quality of Linkedin videos – is for these videos to go horribly wrong.
As demonstrated in last year's marketing events trend, there is a crossover here with accountants’ relationship with public speaking: the thought of speaking in front of a group – whether that’s 100 people or a 1000 – can terrify people. Whether its public speaking or speaking on video – nervoussness won't attract clients or achieve your desired response.
Heather Townsend presenting at the 2017 Practice Excellence Conference
Face your fears
Unfortunately for accountants taking centre stage is unavoidable. But Business Work’s Tomlinson took the “whatever scares you, you need to do more of” approach to public speaking.
Forcing herself to overcome her stage fright after years working as a management accountant standing up in front of the board, Tomlinson took a role as a lecturer at Huddersfield University.
One evening every week she’d stand up in front of 50 people and teach. So when Tomlinson started her business she’d partner with a bank and do a joint event or run seminars for limited companies or sole traders. “Our best marketing we've discovered is if we do a trade show and we have a stand,” said Tomlinson.
“Trade shows often have speaking opportunities as well. So if it's a trade show with a speaking opportunity, and I can do something technical or motivational for an hour or 30 minutes during the day. People come to the stand for a conversation because they like what they hear and they want to ask questions.
“We get more people in for meetings who then convert into clients out of that.”
People come to the trade show stand for a conversation because they like what they hear and they want to ask questions.
Jo Tomlinson, pictured above with her Business Works team, is a keen public speaker.
Know your subject
Video is an extension of public speaking. Like running seminars and workshops, the key is getting into a routine and, like anything else, practice.
Of course, if you’re in a backroom supporting role, the idea of filming videos may seem alien and something you’d associate with sales or marketing.
When he stopped by the No Accounting for Taste podcast, Xero’s Gary Turner explained that knowing his subject matter makes the difference. As a self-professed introvert, Turner, who recently presented in front of 2000 accountants at the ExCel in London Docklands, explained:
“When I've been on the spot talking to people, I've noticed the difference between when I've done really badly versus when it works is when I really know what I am talking about,” said Turner.
This explains why accountants in practice are gravitating towards ‘how-to’ videos: Falcon-Huerta’s tech how-tos is a good example of this, but equally as shareable and accessible to prospects could be adapting your clients' frequently asked questions into videos like a digestible explanation of business expenses (as Mazuma's Cohen has recently produced). It ticks all the boxes: it plays to your knowledge strengths, whilst being an icebreaker for prospects.
Accountants of tomorrow
It’s worth mentioning that this trend is still in its infancy. Video is not going anywhere. The conversation around video and marketing can’t help but stray into a recruitment topic; after all, we have a whole generation of millennial and younger who document on video every last minute of their day.
This social media generation are the accountants of tomorrow. They're accustomed to seeing themselves on video. Could a millennial influence mean that in ten years’ time this will be as common in accountant’s marketing as the Budget report?
“[Millennials] are refining their natural presentation ability socially,” said Xero’s Turner. “When they enter the workforce they’ll be ready to do video interviews or standing up presenting themselves because they’ve been practising it all throughout their teens and early twenties just because that’s what that generation is doing.”
Click play above to listen to the full Gary Turner interview on the No Accounting for Taste podcast.
About Richard Hattersley
Richard is AccountingWEB's practice correspondent. If you have any comments or suggestions for us get in touch.