Have you recently launched a new accounting practice, and want to know how to get the word out to potential clients online?
Or, perhaps you are a more established business with some experience in “offline marketing” (e.g. direct mail, seminars etc.), and want to diversify your marketing to also include a digital component.
In either case, it can be difficult to know where to start with it all. There are many platforms and tactics to choose from including social media, email marketing, search engine marketing and pay per click advertising (PPC). Which ones are right for your business?
Moreover, how much should you spend on your marketing and what kinds of results should you realistically expect?
In this article, we’ll be outlining some beginner’s steps when it comes to digital marketing for accountants. Whilst it will not cover everything you need to know and is for information purposes only, hopefully, it should inspire you to get started. Please get in touch with us if you’d like to discuss your own marketing campaign with a member of our team.
Identify the need
It’s important to ask yourself why you are thinking about digital marketing. Are you merely curious about how it works, or are you trying to solve a real marketing problem facing your firm?
For instance, perhaps you are looking to grow your business with new clients but your existing marketing efforts are not delivering enough leads into your sales pipeline.
Or, maybe you have noticed feedback from your existing clients that they would like to see much more of your brand and thought leadership online.
Discerning the exact marketing problems you are facing will help you immensely with your marketing goals, which we will talk about in the next section.
Do an audit
This is closely related to the first point, but it expands on by asking you to look at your internal and external marketing environment. Where have you come from in your marketing, to arrive at this point?
What has worked, and what has not? What is going on in your immediate marketing environment which might affect your business, such as consumer and competitor behaviour?
What is going on in the wider marketing context, which might affect your business (e.g. regulations, political changes, economic and societal forces).
Moreover, what’s happening within your own business which could affect your positioning, revenue and business profitability (e.g. staff, style, structure, skills etc.)?
A good way to organise your thoughts here is to use a SWOT analysis, to identify internal strengths and weaknesses as well as external opportunities and threats. From there, you can start to get a clearer picture of what your marketing needs to do, going forward.
Establish your goals
Once you have a clearer idea of where you are, now ask yourself what exactly are you looking to achieve with your marketing? Can you article these as clear goals?
We are still often surprised at the number of accountant businesses who have no specific marketing goals for the next 12 months or 3 years. It’s really important, however. After all, without a clear goal how will you be able to measure whether your marketing has achieved what you want it to?
For example, are you looking to grow loyalty, advocacy and referrals from your existing client base? Are you wanting more brand awareness within a specific target market? Are you looking for a certain quantity of leads to approach you each month, which you can then qualify and use to gradually grow your client base?
SMART goals are particularly useful for setting marketing goals, as they help ensure that they are focused and easy for everyone to understand. For instance, one marketing goal could be:
- Specific: “Increase the volume of business owner leads to our business…”
- Measurable: “…to an average of 10 leads per month…”
- Achievable: “…using [X] resources on [Y] amount of budget…”
- Relevant: [Yes]
- Time-bound: “…over the next 12 months…”
Think about strategic options
When you identify your marketing goals, you establish where you want to go. At this point, it’s important to think about how you are going to get there – i.e. your marketing strategy.
For instance, are you looking to “hold steady” with your current position in the marketplace and with clients, or are you wanting to “grow” your market share?
Is it most viable to achieve your marketing goals by selling more of your existing products and services to your current target market? Or, perhaps you want to sell new products or services to them. More radically, maybe you actually want to enter a new market with your current offering, or with a new one.
You’ll notice that we haven’t talked specifically about marketing online yet. That’s because you should not dive into marketing your business online, without going through this high-level thinking first.
After all, the goals and strategy you choose (as well as your SWOT analysis) will have a big impact on whether you should invest in online marketing for your accounting business, and how you should go about it.
Find your audience
Who are you actually looking to reach with your business offering?
Lots of accountants will say they are happy to help anyone with enough money, and to a degree that’s fine. However, without a clear picture in your head of who you are offering value to, you are going to find it very difficult to speak to your audience directly with appropriate messaging and distinguish yourself from competitors.
Don’t just think about demographics (e.g. age, income and industry) but also think about the specific psychographics you want to target as well (i.e. habits, pain points, needs, desires, worries).
Having a clear idea of your target audience will really help you get a better idea of the role of internet marketing in your overall marketing strategy. After all, if they primarily congregate at a specific place online then it makes sense to think about publicising yourself there.
If they are not really engaged or looking for your services on digital channels, however, then why invest in digital marketing?
Think about your budget
This is an important one – how much can you realistically commit to a digital marketing budget on top of your existing marketing efforts?
As a general guide, businesses should consider spending 10% on their marketing. Moreover, you should realistically expect digital marketing to cost at least £1,000 per month.
If you really cannot afford that (assuming digital marketing works for accountants), then you should probably consider other options until your business reaches a point where it can make that investment.