By Patrick McLoughlinWe all know how difficult it is, for accountants marketing their services, to stand out in a crowded marketplace. But if you can’t find a way of differentiating your offer, your clients and potential clients will. The difference will be cost every time: lowest fee will always win. Fixed fees, guaranteed completion dates and no charge for telephone calls used to be all you needed. You could even top it off by calling yourself pro-active. But it doesn’t take long for the market to catch up. Nowadays clients expect so much more. This week I want to look at the images you use to reflect your firm and service offer. Images are a key part of accountants marketing. Be they on your website or promotional literature they help bring your offer to life. Ideally, they should hint at the difference between you and your competitors. But that’s easier said than done! Below are my top 5 images found spread across accountants websites and literature. They are over used to such an extent that we hardly even notice them anymore. Rather than express your individuality, they reinforce the same dull message: ‘we are bog standard accountants.’
Let the Countdown Begin5) The Abacus In at number 5, is an age-old favourite: the Abacus. We all get it, Abacus equals counting, and accountants count! Like the rest of the list that below, it is just a little bit to obvious. 4) Random Numbers What it lacks in inspiration, it makes up for in popularity. I have seen this one so many times over the years. It is a graphic designers’ favourite and is just as ubiquitous on the internet. Again, there is no questioning the logic. Accountants do indeed work with numbers. But couldn’t we reflect on the benefits we derive from them? 3) The Handshake I have to put my own hand up to this one. A few years back I bought a templated postcard featuring the enduring handshake. In my feeble defence, they were shockingly inexpensive, or do I mean cheap, and I only bought a small number to test. Guess what, they didn’t perform very well at all. I am sure there’s still a pile of them lying around our office somewhere. 2) Beans There are firms out there that view themselves as bean counters. When you ask the partners what’s special about their work they look at you blankly and tell you they are accountants, “we produce accounts!” I am not criticising them. But I am pointing out that they will face more pressure on their fees then firms that specialise. If you are not one of them steer clear of the beans. 1) The Calculator I would guess that this is the most popular or all. It’s another lazy link to the accountancy profession. Some of the templatated, accountants websites on offer use the same image across their clients sites. Again, it underplays the value of the work professional service firms carry out for our clients. Anyone can work a calculator; if that is the value, you reflect it should come as no surprise when you are asked to ‘sharpen your pencil.’ You might be thinking how easy it is to poke fun at these clichés, but what should take their place. I understand where you are coming from. The only advice I can offer is to focus on what makes you special. Where is the difference in your service over your competitors?
- Think of the unique benefits, not features of your work.
- It’s always useful to ask your clients what they like most about working with you.
- Think of the work you have done that you are really proud of.