Accountancy Marketing Advice to Ignore
By Patrick McLoughlin
The way your ideal clients choose their accountants and advisers has been transformed over the last ten years. Thanks to the internet, they can now check out their options to a degree that was unthinkable at the turn of the millennium.
In such a fast moving environment it's hardly surprising that many accountancy marketing agencies have failed to keep pace with the changes. It doesn't just affect professional services marketing either.
According to a study by the 'Chief Marketing Officer Council' just 9% of those surveyed believe, "Traditional ad agencies are doing a good job of evolving and extending their service capabilities in the digital age." Over 50% thought their agencies are "playing catch-up" - adding elements of digital marketing without taking an integrated approach. This leads me nicely into our first piece of damaging advice.
There are no silver bullets for marketing accountancy
1) Silver Bullet Marketing
Richard runs a 3-partner practice in the central London. On a client's recommendation he approached a local 'digital marketing' agency to help him grow his client list. They explained how they could drive his ideal clients to his website with a SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) campaign.
They seemed to know what they were talking about so Richard signed up on a 12-month contract. I spoke to him 10-months down the line, just days after his latest monthly review meeting with the agency. He wasn't happy!
He told me that although his website traffic had increased enormously, enquiries and new business hadn't. His agency account manager told him, with some irritation, that the agency had done their job: they were ranking in the top 5 for 90% of his target keywords (the search terms people type into Google).
Looking at his website it was clear what the problem was: it was awful. All the copy talked about the firm's history and how fantastic their service was. It was written by the practice, for the practice: self indulgent drivel. Nowhere did they attempt to demonstrate their expertise. Worse still, there was no attempt to generate sales leads by offering helpful reports / advice in exchange for an email address and the opportunity to stay in touch and build a relationship.
No single activity is going to transform your marketing results. Always focus on your ideal clients' journey from first contact with your practice, to instruction. An integrated approach always pays the best dividends.
2) Traditional Marketing is Dead
This is probably the most common and damaging advice I hear from accountancy marketing experts. Whilst marketing is changing, and some activities that used to work don't anymore, don't abandon all non-digital forms of marketing.
I listened to a great podcast last week of the excellent marketing consultant, Ian Brodie interviewing S Anthony Iannarino. Ian describes Anthony as, 'one of the few people who is actually winning clients day in, day out using LinkedIn.'
Anthony operates at the forefront of sales and business development and writes daily at the salesblog.com. Anthony said: "I hear a lot of people in sales saying LinkedIn is a better thing than cold calling or social media is better than the old traditional methods of marketing. That hasn't been my experience, or the experience of the clients I work with."
It is not a case of the new versus the old. It's all about the Return On Marketing Investment. For example, good content marketing (producing quality targeted reports, blogs and content) will drastically improve the return from a telemarketing campaign.
ROI Measure the Return On Investment from all your marketing activity.
3) Cold Calling your Website Visitors
Just because the technology is available to identify and cold call some of your website visitors, it doesn't mean you should. Your website's purpose is to build credibility and trust and entice your ideal clients to give you their email address in exchange for helpful guides and content.
Cold calling someone with the message 'You visited our website how can we help' is just too intrusive.
Just like buying and spamming email lists you might win the occasional client, but how many prospects have you put off? It is too much too soon; you don't ask your dream partner to move in with you on the first date.
4) You Must be Unique
Being unique is a common claim in accountants marketing collateral. You will see the words on a lot of firm's websites. But substantiating the claim is very rare indeed. If you make claims that you can't substantiate you will lose credibility.
Because the word is so overused it's lost its authority. It has the same impact as 'Pro-active accountant' or 'leading firm of accountants.'
Forget being unique, focus on being better.
Please do let me know by making a comment below if you agree or disagree with any of the points above.