3 Practical Reasons Accountants Must Write Well
By Helen Wilkie – Marketing for Accountants
Quick Intro: It’s my pleasure to welcome back one of our favourite guest writers, Helen Wilkie, author of: ‘Make Your Words Count: a short painless guide to business writing for accountants.’
Before Helen explains how important good writing is in effective marketing for accountants, I’d like to invite you to a free webinar I’m hosting for Helen this Thursday, 13th April, at 10:00am. To find out more click here.
As people who deal mainly with numbers, accountants often pay little attention to their writing skills. From a business standpoint, that’s a mistake.
Here are three important business reasons you must write well:
1. Client service
2. Sales and marketing
3. Professional reputation
Whether you’re an audit or a tax specialist, a risk management consultant or a corporate financial guru, you spend a great deal of your time working on client projects and communicating with those clients.
At some point during the process, clients expect some advice: what to do next, how to correct a problem, how to deal with the tax authorities — and they expect to be able to understand that advice!
In my professional development work with accounting firms, I’ve seen many client letters and emails filled with large chunks of text quoted directly from tax legislation, with very little explanation of what it actually means to the client. (I don’t work with the people who actually draft this legislation, as they are clearly beyond my help!)
I don’t need my accountant to quote chapter and verse: I need him to guide me through the process by advising me in plain English.
If your client reads your report and doesn’t understand the advice you are providing, you have not served your client.
Sales and marketing
We live in a world filled with selling and marketing messages, directed both at consumers and business people. But if we’re going to succeed in business, we must market all the time, and accounting firms are not immune to this need. Like other professionals, though, your challenge is to communicate the benefits you have to offer clients in such a way that they not only understand them, but see you as a firm they actually want to work with.
If several accounting firms are courting the same potential client, either through the written word or oral presentations, or both, the one that communicates its message in the most clear and compelling way will more often than not win the business.
Every time you send a written message to anyone outside your firm, you are representing your firm. In fact, you are your firm to that person at that time. The quality of your writing, therefore, has an impact on how your firm is perceived by those on the outside.
I shudder to think of the impression conveyed ever day by ineffective (not to mention ungrammatical) email messages, rambling reports and other disasters. I’m not saying all accountants are guilty of this, but I’ve seen these examples, so I know they are out there.
On the other hand, good writing enhances a firm’s reputation by conveying an impression of professionalism, competence and confidence. Isn’t that what you want for your firm?
Helen Wilkie is the communication specialist for accountants, helping numbers people use words to grow their business (http://www.communicationforaccountants.com). She is the creator and presenter of the self-paced online course, Effective Business Writing for Accountants.
This article is adapted from her book, Make Your Words Count: a short painless guide to business writing for accountants.
If you’ve enjoyed Helen’s blog don’t forget to register for Thursday’s webinar. Just click on the link.