Here’s a question. Does your accounting firm know the difference between sales and marketing? What about branding, sales and marketing? Too many firms mix up these very different disciplines and it is going to put some accounting and professional service firms out of business in the future.
Make no mistake about it. Sales, marketing and branding are 3 different disciplines and accounting firms need to recognize this. Simply put, branding is the discipline of establishing and maintaining your name. Marketing is the discipline of rallying your service offerings around your brand. Sales is the discipline of offering your services to the public.
Accounting firms are notorious for not understanding the difference and for failing miserably to execute on each discipline.
Accounting Firm Branding
Let me start with branding. How are you getting your brand into the market? Does your current and potential client base see your brand regularly in the market? Brand doesn’t just have to be the accounting firm’s name. It can also be the personal branding of individuals in your firm. What are they doing to brand themselves? Are they using social media to get their name out? Is your accounting firm using social media and videos to get the firm’s name out? Everyone in your firm should be branding themselves and the firm.
Branding really isn’t that difficult. Personally, I think it’s pretty damn fun. It involves learning about your firm and industry. Read up on big things shaping the accounting industry. By learning, you can speak about these things.
Speaking may involve verbal communication or using social media to brand yourself and/or the accounting firm. Tweet articles from others on big topics. Post articles to LinkedIn. Establish your own blog and make sure your followers see it by linking your blog to other social media sites. This is the basis for everything I’m doing right now related to my take on the accounting industry.
Look, it’s hard work. “Marketers” (and I use that term loosely as accounting firms should have a brand manager) have to bust their ass to get good, meaningful information and share it. They have to realize that the industry is greater than any one firm. They should post information from other firms that relates to the industry. Yes – don’t be fearful. IT WILL MAKE YOUR FIRM BETTER.
Individuals should work hard establishing their personal brand. Set up your infrastructure outside of core work hours. Create Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube and other social media accounts. Post daily. Show that you have knowledge of your industry. Create meaningful content and others will follow you and respond. This will lead them to engage you and ultimately your firm.
There is so much more to branding and each sentence above deserves its own post. That will come in time, but just know that accounting firms will have to change to survive. Brand managers should focus on getting with staff regularly to help them understand this new world we live in. If you don’t have a brand manager, leverage some staff – they get it. They’re the ones deeply involved in this social media revolution.
This is serious the world is changing and failure for you and your accounting firm to embrace branding could have very detrimental consequences.