Does your accounting firm know the difference between marketing, branding and sales? In part deux of my 3 part series, I discuss marketing.
Look, I keep things pretty raw on my site. Some won’t like it and that’s fine. I just want to be authentic. No barriers – just the brutally honest truth. And so I begin…..what the hell do accounting firms know about marketing??? Or, maybe better asked….why don’t CPAs let their talented “marketing” staff do the jobs they’re being paid to do.
The last 2 sentences above are generalities, of course. Also – my consistent caveat – when I write, I am not writing in any way about my firm of employment. This is about the accounting firm landscape as a whole.
Yesterday, I wrote about branding and defined it as learning about your firm and industry and then speaking about these things in a way that draws in the interest of others. It’s that simple. You learn, you speak, you attract. That is branding.
Marketing takes your branding a step further by rallying your service offerings around your brand. Once people know you and see you as someone of interest and trust (due to your great blog posts and intriguing tweets), they are more likely to buy your services. By marketing your services to these folks, they will be more likely to buy from you.
Many “old school” businesses including accounting firms are familiar with “push marketing”. Think of newspaper and television advertisements, post card mailers, telemarketing, etc. It’s marketing by “pushing” a message upon people. These old school methods are dying…..quickly. Think about it. Who watches commercials any more? Most people use a DVR to record shows and fast-forward through commercials. Either that or they are looking at their mobile device during commercials. Less and less people are getting their news from traditional print media. Consider this May 2016 article in Forbes citing a survey where 62% of those polled say they get their news from social media. Push marketing is in trouble. Yes, large companies spend millions upon millions of dollars on television advertising. That doesn’t make it right. In fact, I think they’re just throwing money in a fire. Unfortunately, accounting firms are still doing this as well.
Today, it’s about “pull marketing” where you use your brand in a way that leads people to reach out to you to get more information on your services. Again, learn, speak and attract. In today’s world, blogging, tweet and using other social media platforms to get your brand “out there” will lead people to seek you out. This is why your accounting firm’s website is SO important. Market your services very well on your website. Use digital strategies to capture information on those coming to your website. What do you know about them? What are their likes? Once they take a bite at the apple, how can you corral them in?
Prospective clients will know that you know your stuff based on following you in social media platforms. Your website shouldn’t be littered with technical jargon. If you help people buy and sell companies, let them know it on your website. You don’t have to discuss technical FASB pronouncements – they don’t care. Speak in plain language. They’ll come to you. Hell – they’ll want to meet you. Again, you’ve already established trust.
I’m not saying traditional “push marketing” is dead and in some cases, it may help. However, accounting firms that don’t embrace “pull marketing” will not fulfill their highest aspirations. They can’t. It’s a new world out there.
So that’s the skinny on marketing. I wish I had more to say, but it’s that simple. You don’t have to invest thousands and thousands of dollars in “push marketing” campaigns. Accounting firms should spend more time focusing on branding activities (the firm and their employees) and then be ready to pounce once readers reach out to you.