Promoting your firm doesn’t have to cost the earth. Here are some simple – and cost-effective – ways to put yourself out there.
If you want your accounting or advice firm to grow and flourish, it goes without saying that you need to find ways to attract new clients. But in a highly competitive market, how can you cut through the noise and make potential clients aware of what you have to offer, without breaking the bank?
The good news is that there are plenty of inexpensive ways to promote your firm. You do need to invest some time though – but if you do it right, you’ll see it pay off in the long run.
And when it comes to marketing, it’s not just about reaching as many people as possible; it’s far more important to form meaningful connections with the right people. Here’s how to get started.
1. Be active on social media
These days, it’s not enough to have a website and expect people to find it. To maximise your reach, you need to be clearly visible online. Social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn are used by hundreds of millions of people every day, so if you’re not using them, you’re missing out on an enormous opportunity.
It’s free to set up a social media profile for your business and share content. Facebook is the most popular platform among older users, and definitely worth considering if your target market is pre-retirees or retirees, whereas LinkedIn is a better option for building your professional profile and network.
Both platforms allow you to share images and articles, as well as posting your own images and videos, which can be powerful tools for engaging an audience. You can even sponsor your posts so they’re more likely to appear in your target demographics' news feeds.
Facebook is also a great platform for creating online communities. Simply set up a private Facebook group, invite current and prospective clients to join and then start posting content that will interest the group and spark a conversation. The power of social media is its ability to help you build relationships. You want to encourage your audience to actively engage with you – so whenever you post or share something, check regularly for any comments and respond as soon as you can.
But before you start posting, make sure you’re aware of current regulatory standards – particularly around privacy – as well as any social media guidelines provided by your licensee.
2. Create useful content
When you’re building your online presence, a common marketing mistake is to constantly self-promote yourself or your business. This can make you come across as purely sales focused. Instead, think about sharing information that will interest your current and potential clients and reflect positively on your brand.
To get started, have a look at some online forums to identify the hot topics that are trending. Another approach is to look at the kinds of questions your followers ask in their comments, and then write and share blog posts that provide the answers.
Remember, the content you post is an opportunity to join the conversation and position yourself as a thought leader. This means tapping into ideas your audience is already talking about, and then offering a unique perspective, opinion or insight.
And if this all sounds like a time-consuming daily chore, it doesn’t have to be. Social media tools make it easy to prepare content in advance and schedule it to be automatically posted to your feed on a regular basis.
3. Connect with your community
If you want your business to build a strong local identity and reputation, why not get involved with your community? This could mean sponsoring a local charity or fundraising event or, better yet, rolling up your sleeves and volunteering.
Another option is to host workshops or seminars around key financial issues and encourage your clients to invite their friends and family along. You could also get in touch with local organisations or community groups and offer to present at their own events. Not only will this introduce potential new clients to your firm, you’ll also be positioning yourself as a local thought leader in your field.
It’s also worth checking whether your licensee has imposed any specific guidelines around hosting events, and if they have any tools or resources available to help make your events as successful as possible.
And don’t forget to keep in touch with your existing client community. One way is to send a regular e-newsletter containing financial tips, regulatory updates and any relevant news about your business. You could also invite potential clients to join your mailing list so they can get to know what your firm is all about.
4. Connect with other businesses
Instead of viewing your industry peers as competitors, why not think of them as collaborators? By banding together, you can create a powerful support network that helps your firm grow through cross-promotion and referrals.
As well as developing centres of influence with professionals like solicitors and lending specialists, you might consider building referral partnerships with other accountants or financial advisers who have specialisations outside your own areas of in-house expertise. By closing the gaps in your service offering, you’ll be able to strengthen your relationships with existing clients by referring them to a trusted partner who can take care of their needs. You might even gain new clients in the process.
Be aware that your licensee may have strict rules around things like payment arrangements for referral partnerships, so make sure you do your homework first.
It’s also worth thinking outside the box and approaching other types of service providers to help reach out to your target demographic. For example, if you’re hosting a seminar on financial health and wellbeing, you might ask a local gym or yoga studio if you can advertise the event to their members.
5. Ask your clients
The most valuable source of referrals is your own satisfied clients, but many accountants and advisers are afraid to ask for recommendations. Very few clients will take the initiative on their own, but many will be happy to refer you to their friends and family if you ask them.
That’s why it’s worth starting the conversation and reminding your clients of the ways you might be able to help the people they know. You could also invite your clients to bring their parents, siblings or adult children along to their next appointment.
Client testimonials and referrals can also be useful marketing tools. These might be what a potential client looks for when they search for you online, and some positive reviews and ratings can help you make a good first impression. Often people don’t think of posting reviews with a service provider unless they’ve had a negative experience, so it’s a matter of asking your happy clients to oblige.
This can be as simple as dropping them a quick email, thanking them for their support and explaining how much you’d appreciate a positive online review from them. You could even send your clients the link to your Google review page, so all they have to do is click on it then write and submit their review. If your clients are grateful for the advice and service you’ve provided, you might be surprised at how many are willing to let the world know.