By Patrick McLoughlin
If a business owner was looking for a new accountant 20 years ago their options were limited. They could either ask around for a recommendation or reach for the Yellow Pages. If you can remember that far back, there really wasn’t much else available to them.
The accountants section of the Yellow Pages was always very competitive with firms competing for space on the page. The vast majority of ads looked like tombstones: name of the firm at the top followed by a short history – ‘providing accountancy services since 1970…’
Whilst the partners loved to see the firm’s name dominating the advert, it wasn’t much help to business owners. But even terrible ads like that could still generate a decent stream of enquiries. In 2012 the tables have turned. People don’t use phone directories in anything like the numbers they used to. The internet and Google in particular have taken over.
Nowadays your website is often the first exposure a potential client has to your practice. If you search ‘accountants’ on Google you might notice how little had changed. The vast majority of accountants’ websites follow the same format as their 90s predecessor: the Yellow Pages advert. Practice name dominates the top of the webpage followed by the firm’s history or the range of accountancy services on offer.
If you put yourself in the shoes of your potential client, you would ask “how does this help me choose an accountant when they all look the same.” If you spoke to your website visitors, they would tell you they are not interested in your firm. They are only interested in what you can do for them.
So if not the tombstone, what else? Let’s focus on what your ideal potential client is looking for. An accountant is a vitally important business adviser. Their first exposure to your services must start the process of building trust and credibility. So demonstrate your expertise by offering free, practical help.
Prospects will exchange their email address for quality content
This can take the form of white papers, guides, blogs or video interviews, with content relevant to your ideal clients. Not only does this differentiate your service it also allows you to start a relationship with the visitors your content appeals to – your ideal clients. They will happily exchange their email address for helpful content allowing you to send more regular, helpful advice nurturing the relationship until they are ready to move.
There are so many advantages to this approach that they’re difficult to cover in a short blog. Here are 3 Big Advantages:
- Positions your firm and partners as experts in their chosen fields.
- Builds trust and credibility by demonstrating the value and benefit you can bring to the reader.
- Elevates your offer above your competitors, allowing you to avoid ‘lowest fee wins’ and charge a premium for your services.
A Word of Warning!
When someone does download a guide or respond to blog don’t view it as an enquiry to work with you.
I recently responded to a blog by a firm of accountants specialising in working with marketing agencies. The blog focused on understanding the important numbers in your business. I responded to the offer of: ‘45-minute telephone reviews for any creative agency who needs help setting up their dashboard.’
Instead of help identifying the key numbers, a partner called me to demo their online accounts package and quote for our year-end work. All the good work, the trust and credibility built with quality content, was undone. I was not ‘sales ready.’
Up to 95% of visitors to your website will not be ‘sales read.’ If they had nurtured my interest with more targeted, quality content, the chances are I would have been ready to consider working with them within 12-months.
There Are No Shortcuts
I have seen a marketing firm offer accountants telemarketing, calling their website visitors. How receptive would you be if every website you visited then picked up the phone to sell to you.
If you are interested in standing out from the crowd with relevant, remarkable content, but aren’t quite sure where to start, get in touch. I’ll give you 30 minutes on the telephone to get you going. Oh, and I promise, I won’t try and sell you anything.