Standing out from the masses

opzioni binarie investimento un euro How can accounting firms utilise their marketing strategies to establish their own identity?

köp Viagra 150 mg pÃ¥ nätet Let’s face it: most accountants have never been known for their sales prowess. Death and taxes have long been perceived as the two certainties in life, and compliance work has long been a staple of the profession.

rsi binära optioner But as the industry continues its upheaval thanks to a shift to the advisory model and the ongoing threats of automation, accountants are faced with an entirely new challenge alongside their attempts to reinvent their service offering – how can they stand out from the crowd? The internet provides arguably the greatest tool for accountants to attract new clients, and to cater to their existing client base. A plethora of techniques and methods have begun to emerge in recent years,
and it is up to accountants to adopt the strategies that best suit their clients, their services, and their firm
as a whole. tutti broker opzioni digitali Marketing mishaps

The accounting industry has long been convinced that marketing their practice should solely target new
clients in the marketplace. But what if the best means of creating new business was already involved within your firm?

Accountants have continued to maintain less than ideal ways of marketing their image, with a majority of firms adopting a solely brand-orientated means of marketing.

“They are often very focused on a logo; well a logo is just a representation of a company or a firm name,” says Nic Gadaleta, director of online marketing solution provider Practice Advantage, stressing that there is no concept of brand loyalty within the accounting industry.

Despite clients refusing to align themselves with a firm based on a logo, name or slogan, accounting
firms continue to employ marketing strategies which simply do not realistically suit the resources or the
budget of a small suburban practice.

“No accounting firm in Australia has enough money to build a brand; if you’re Coke or McDonald’s, those big companies who’ve actually spent billions of dollars on marketing, they can do it,” he says.

“When I first did my practice certificate years ago, the man running the course said something that stuck
with me in my mind all along: the only people that care about your logo are you and your mother.”

go to link Building the base

If accountants are advised to stray from the concept of brand marketing, how do they begin to groom their current client base and subsequently attract new customers?

It would appear that the concept of content marketing has all but replaced the idea of simply promoting a brand.

Most accountants are no strangers to the concept of a website; but for many, the website is viewed as perhaps the final step in the process. Today, the website is a gateway, and the foundation on which marketing should be built upon.

Mr Gadaleta suggests that accountants should be driving marketing via a ‘direct response method’ for potential, new and existing clients, with the website firmly placed at the base of operations.

“With websites, whilst they’re important, you have to be physically driving yourself, you can’t be passive
about it,” he says. “It’s like, for instance, having a box of business cards, if I don’t give them out they’re
not going to help me. “If you don’t do something with the website, it’s not going to help you.”

Once the website has been established, Mr Gadaleta notes that far too many accountants make the mistake of adopting a passive mindset once the site is operational. With so many accounting firms in
the marketplace eager to establish themselves, standing out is certainly a hard ask, and SEO plays a key role in segmenting the marketplace.

SEO, or search engine optimisation, is a direct means of filtering searches and collating relevant information from websites onto search engines such as Google or Bing.

“Accountants are a very homogenous bunch,” he says, “it’s very difficult for any firm to improve their SEO ranking.

“They think ‘Oh I’ve got a website now, why aren’t I ranking on page one?’ Well in reality it’s because the
sort of keywords that you’re using and the way you describe your services are so homogenous with 10,000 other businesses, so it’s very difficult to gain some sort of traction.”

SEO becomes a necessity in online marketing, and although many firms describe themselves or their business as ‘different’, the concept of difference takes on a whole other meaning in a digital context.

“The reality is that no matter how much you try and describe yourself as different, you’re pretty much the same. So from an SEO point of view, the only difference that really distances firm A and firm B is geography,” says Mr Gadaleta.

If accountants are a “homogenous bunch” by nature, with thousands of firms crowding accounting related internet searches, constant website engagement and a clear definition of services is paramount to creating your own slice of internet real estate. “Just existing on a website doesn’t mean you will improve your ranking, there has to be some other actions there with it, like regular updates to your site, and an email marketing strategy that redirects clients back to the site itself.” A referral danger?

Peter Graham, managing director of AcctWeb, a fellow online marketing solution provider, echoes Mr Gadaleta’s sentiment, while adding that too many accountants are failing to utilise and advertise their own content, and are losing the potential for client referrals as a result.

While the internet has clearly established new ways of marketing a practice and engaging with clients, Mr Graham notes that referrals continue to dominate the way in which accountants generate business.

“We’ve done some research over time, and of the sources of new business that practices have in general, 90 per cent comes from referrals [from] their clients. Five per cent comes from Google, and 2.5 per cent comes from social media, seminars and advertising,” he says.

Mr Gadaleta, however, offers a stark warning regarding the referral process – think long and hard before mindlessly agreeing to take up work that has been thrown your way.

“Mathematically that doesn’t stack up,” he continues. “If every firm from Australia is getting business by referral, someone must be losing them by referral.”

Accountants often fall into the trap of taking on unnecessary referral work, which, according to Mr Gadaleta, tends to dilute their firm and place valuable resources elsewhere.

“I think a lot of accountants tend to look at it as more of a pat on the back for instance, as opposed to having any tangible value to it.

“I think a lot of firms take on work which is low value because it’s been referred to them, and they do it
as a courtesy to their existing client.” While accountants are advised to think twice before taking on referral work, they are also advised to take a step back and re-evaluate their own desires as a firm as to who they wish to attract in the future, so as to not be spread further afield.

“Not all work is good work. It’s about identifying what sort of clients there are, and what your ideal profile may be. That’s another mistake a lot of firms make, they can’t necessarily articulate what they’re actually doing, so when a client is being referred to them, it’s not just the wrong sort of client they’re getting, it’s often the wrong sort of work,” Mr Gadaleta says.

buy Priligy with visa in Columbus Georgia The tribe mentality

Mr Gadaleta is far from opposed to a referral system, he simply stresses that firms need to better utilise
their existing clients as part of their marketing strategy, in order to access a breed of customer that is a perfect fit for the firm.

“The problem is, because there’s no coaching of the current clients in terms of what my target audience is, clients send work your way which is not that great. You can actually build your clients and be using them as proper ambassadors if they know what to look for.”

Accountants are about as far removed from the castaways of Survivor as possible, but according to Mr Gadaleta, a tribe mentality is the mantra that should be adopted in order to maintain a thriving network of clients. “I’m a very  rm believer in the tribe mentality. If you’ve got a tribe, and you want to bring members into the tribe, they have to work with you otherwise you’re not going to survive. “If you bring somebody in who’s not got the right characteristics, the tribe will suffer,” he says.

How can accountants steer clear of the clients that are a mismatch with the firm’s services, and turn their existing client base into their biggest fans and avenues of unlocking new customers?

“You need to walk the talk, and by driving that through your marketing strategy you’re helping to attract
the sort of member you want – the people with the same philosophical approach to business.” Education is key

“Education is the new marketing,” says Michelle Polglase, general manager of marketing solution provider Practice Plus.

“What value can you provide your existing client base?” According to Ms Polglase, simply having a conversation with your existing clients is the first step in determining how you can form better connections with them, and ultimately leverage their networks to grow your own business.

Establishing a regular point of contact with existing clients is vital to maintaining this relationship; accountants can often fall into the trap of becoming a ‘faceless’ entity. What customer has a good relationship with a business that appears once or twice a year, only to disappear again once tax season has passed?

“Committing to a monthly update on what’s happening within your firm or the wider industry doesn’t need to take a lot of time,” says Ms Polglase.

“It doesn’t need to be an essay – it just needs to be executed regularly.” A weekly or monthly newsletter, distributed with a personalised greeting is one of the simplest and most cost-effective ways
of developing touch points with new and existing clients. These newsletters, according to Mr Gadaleta, should ideally contain some form of a ‘call to action’, to engage clients and keep them informed of a broader range of services.

It’s no secret that accountants are pressed for time, so the ability to utilise a time-efficient strategy such as blogging can be hugely beneficial. It is simply a cost-effective way of fostering engagement with the client base, staying at the forefront of their minds for future referrals.

As an added bonus, constant engagement with clients via a website will drastically improve your SEO ranking, allowing an ever broader audience for your firm and its services.

Ms Polglase states that these blog posts can be then collated into a newsletter and distributed, which
adds yet another personal touch and means of engagement with existing clients. Gone are the days where spruiking your name or delivering a sales pitch would nab new clients; customers are now more likely to be drawn towards those firms who can demonstrate a high level of expertise in their given fields according to Mr Gadaleta, who adds that blogging provides firms with the ability to segment the marketplace and cater to those that are their specific targets.

Social media has become yet another digital buzzword, and is perhaps the newest stomping ground for accountants in the ways in which they can market their services. The same advice applies, however: it is important to have clarity on who your target market is.

“Social media can be a highly effective way to reach a new client base, but you need to take a clear strategy with your approach,” says Ms Polglase.

According to Ms Polglase, most accountants tend to start with setting up a company page on LinkedIn, which is a service catered more towards professional networking. From there, Facebook and Twitter can be utilised to target different segments of the market with punchier and more refined information.

“A social media strategy can also help establish yourself as a thought leader within the industry
by helping you connect to a wider community,” Ms Polglase adds.

As a word of caution, however, Mr Gadaleta believes that social media is only viable in some respects, and may not be an option for some firms at all. “It’s kind of irrelevant if you’ve got an audience that isn’t going to work on that particular platform, so if you’ve got a target audience which is based on retirees, social media channels are going to be less likely.

“It needs to be an appropriate matching of your marketing strategy to your desired client. The strategy
needs to have some purpose, simply posting random articles from another source of streaming material
that is not relevant to visitor will dilute the firm’s value,” he says. Delegation decisions

Mr Graham notes that marketing operations are continually delegated haphazardly, with a staff
member often “wasting their time trying to do things without their own infrastructure”.

Mr Gadaleta agrees, stressing that the decision to adopt a marketing strategy must start at the top, with
partners needing to embrace the marketing process themselves before it can be distributed throughout
the firm. It is his view that firms are opting for a part-time employee in terms of delegating marketing
operations, a situation that leaves the aforementioned staff member ‘floundering’, and the partners out
of the loop.

“They have to pitch to the partners, and it’s still a hard sell actually because there’s a very strong paradigm there that brand is important, and … I keep saying to clients that no one cares about your brand; your brand is your logo.” With a profession so time pressed and unable to adequately keep up with the latest trends and advancements in the world of marketing, collaborating with an online marketing service provider becomes a viable and valuable option for big and small practices, for leveraging networks and keeping abreast of marketing movements.

“We work alongside accountants,” says Ms Polglase of the work that Practice Plus provides, “we hold their hand through the process as opposed to taking it on board ourselves, although we do offer content subscriptions that we provide for firms that need to tick the content marketing box.” Client engagement and marketing operations for accountants are continually evolving, and while social media, blogging and developing touch points are all viable strategies, they must all start with a passion and a clear goal. Marketing remains a personal activity.

“A website, email, newsletter or social media channel are critical to be seen as serious in the business
world,but accounting is still very much an industry that needs some personal interaction,” says
Mr Gadaleta.

“Firms should develop a marketing culture and teach staff to identify clients need and opportunities –
finding needs must come first.”

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