As the regulatory landscape continues to evolve, your accounting firm’s communication and marketing strategy should too. Here’s what some of the more successful firms are doing to set themselves up for the future.
Changing regulatory requirements and client needs have presented the accountant industry with an opportunity to evolve their service offering. With new services on offer, there is no better time to refresh your client communication and marketing strategy.
Head of Advice Marketing at Count Financial, Peter Duvall, encourages all accountants who are now operating under an AFSL to optimise the time of change as an opportunity to promote the availability new client services.
“Firms who have made the transition should be communicating the changes to their client base as well as making their SMSF clients aware of what to expect ahead of their next meeting,” Peter said. “It’s also a chance to inform clients about other advisory services the firm can now provide.”
So in the current climate change, how should you go about promoting your services to existing clients — and reaching out to new ones? Here are Peter’s top 5 tips on how to successfully market your firm.
Tip 1: Set your strategic goals
By defining your business objectives and goals upfront, you can ensure that all of your marketing activities support the targets you have set. So whether your focus is on keeping or getting new clients, identifying your goals and desired outcomes first will make it easier to develop your marketing strategy and, track your progress as you go.
“You won’t know the true value of a particular activity unless you set targets to measure it against,” Peter said. “Let’s say your aim is to engage more with your clients through regular communication. What’s your click-through rate for emails and newsletters, and how can you improve it? Or if you’re focusing on acquisition, how many new appointments are you making per month, and where are those leads coming from?”
Tip 2: Build a deeper understanding of your clients
To attract new clients, you first need a deep understanding of your existing ones — from their accounting and advice needs to their financial behaviour and preferences.
Start by talking to your existing clients, especially those you identify as ‘ideal’. You can also use client surveys to capture feedback, ask suitable questions at review time and capture it accordingly, or tap into client research available from your licensee or service providers. By better understanding what your clients want, you’ll be able to identify the best way to position your firm.
“It’s important to have a strong client value proposition that defines your business and sets it apart,” Peter said. “You should apply your proposition consistently across all of your communication channels as well as ensure your team members understand and articulate it to clients.”
Tip 3: Map your client journey
Your existing clients can be your greatest advocates. But if you want to build a strong referral base, first you need to give them every reason to become advocates.
The best way to do this to map your client journey focusing on the key touch points. This will help you better understand the client experience so you can optimise it and make it as seamless as possible.
Peter recommends a basic three-rule test for each client touch point. “Ask yourself: is it simple, is it clear and is it personal? For example, take a look at your website. Is it easy to use and does it render to modern devices such as smart phones? Can clients click to call and click to email you from their mobile devices? Do you use appropriate language and images or icons that appeal to your ideal client? Are your clients getting the same experience when they call, visit or receive an email from your office? If you were the client, what would your experience be and then think about how you can improve those touch points.“
Tip 4: Consider how you look online
Did you know that 57% of today’s average clients' pre-purchase decision-making is done before they actually engage with a service provider face to face.1
Eight out of ten buyers will Google you and check out your website as their first port of call, while seven will go straight to your LinkedIn profile when doing a social media search.1 That’s why you need to consider the first impression you’re making online.
“If you think about the modern client who receives a referral from a friend or family member — before they make an appointment, they’re bound to look you up online. The question is how do you look?”
Additionally, if you are aware that your target and current clients are active social media users, you should be thinking around how to best build a social media strategy for acquisition or retention, that way you can ensure you’re active where your clients or prospect spend their time online. Do remember though, their online time is potentially social time, so a clear strategy is essential to ensure you reach out on their terms.
Tip 5: Stay focused
No matter what form your client engagement strategy takes, don’t fall in the trap of trying to be all things to all people, or applying a scattergun approach to promote your services. Once you’ve set your targets, focus your marketing efforts on achieving them.
And remember, a successful marketing strategy doesn’t have to cost the earth. As Peter says, “Even the smallest, low-cost marketing activity can have an enormous impact if you take a strategic approach, with a client centric mindset and targeted plan.”
1 Hinge Marketing, Rethinking referral marketing, 2015.