One of the foundational elements of your content marketing journey is your brand.
And by brand, we go far beyond the logo of your accountancy firm, and we delve into the realms of who you, and your business, are at your core.
Developing a full branding identity is one of the most important, and least appreciated, marketing actions for accountants. (Read the full blog here.) But even if you’re not ready to launch an entire branding exercise, you can still address your branding, and I would argue that you must.
Your buyer is used to high quality branding.
Your buyer – especially your business-savvy, cloud-technology-using, keep-it-simple buyer – is beginning to expect high quality branding, even by small companies or startups.
Even if branding was just your logo (which it’s not), you can these days get an incredibly high quality logo or business presence designed by someone like 99designs or People per Hour. It’s not even wildly expensive.
Remember the days when you could expect a quote in the thousands of pounds just to get a logo and some stationery designed? Of course, that could be why some accountants have logos they designed themselves. Maybe it worked for a time, but it is costing you now.
Visuals first, words second.
The picture is now worth a thousand quid, not just a thousand words. Because the more you invest in your visuals, the better impact you make on your potential buyer before you’ve even said a word.
You particularly see this in website design.
When we work with a new accountancy firm to help them build a new website, we always ask them for a list of three websites they like the look and feel of. Not other accountancy firm websites – just any website, anywhere.
The types of websites they share with us are sites like:
(Actually, the number of accountants who have asked if we can “Xerofy” their website is continually growing. It’s a thing.)
You the accountant already know that you like the look and feel of sites (and marketing) that are fresh. Clean. Bright. Modern. If you look at these sites, and others like them, you’ll realise that many of the landing pages are image-heavy rather than being heavy with what we consider content.
What your buyer wants to see – on your website and all your marketing – is good clean visuals, with a clear call to action that works.
(As a side note, it’s still important to have loads of words: you just need to put them in the right place. Push anything that is content-heavy to your blog, a download, a presentation. But get rid of the ten paragraphs on your home page.)
Your brand is tied up with your expertise.
Let’s go back to the concept of the visible expert. As a reminder, this is what your buyers are looking for – not just your expertise, but for that expertise to be visible, evident, findable when they need it.
So your prospects don’t only see your company name. At one glance they take in your website, your logo, the colours and fonts you use, your style, the words you use (and don’t), imagery, social media, video….everything is taken in without their realising it. And they subconsciously make lightning-fast decisions about your firm’s value, modernity, freshness, and reliability.
In short, they’re getting a sense of your expertise – before they have read a word.
We all know you can go to a clean, modern website and within a few minutes (or seconds) realise that it’s just nice imagery. They really don’t have anything to say at all.
But what if you had amazing things to say, but your ‘brand’ was preventing the right people from hearing those things?
I’ve talked to some accountants whose opinions and experience is such that if you sat down with them for ten minutes you’d be glad to start working with them straight away. But none of that comes across on their website, or in the social media posts on their firm’s Twitter feed. It’s all stiff, tax focused, old-school accounting, and even they don’t like it.
“That’s not who we are,” they tell me. Or some of them admit, “It is a little bit who we are, but we’re trying to change.”
Listen to what your brand is saying to you, right now.
This is the beauty of branding: it reflects where you actually are, right now.
If your brand, your visuals and imagery, are outdated, or tired, or were put together more than three years ago, that’s what your prospects are going to pick up on.
If you’re beginning to make progress, with a few changes here and there – perhaps a new Xero landing page, or a webinar – they’ll see that, and pick up on your desire to move with the times.
And for those of you with shiny new websites, logos, or graphic design – prepare for your prospects to be seriously impressed. (As is only right!)
One of our clients ran a niche-specific event a few months ago, complete with a new graphic and concept focused on that niche. He followed up with his event attendees (well done!), and one of them signed up with his firm. The new client has a £1m turnover and £1m in the bank, which represents (for this small firm) one of the largest new clients they’ve gotten. Now, we’re not taking all the credit for his brilliant new graphic and visuals. He had been in touch with the business owner for about 18 months. But we’re confident that the combination of good branding, a solid event, and of course the accountant’s expertise, all worked together to deliver a result that was significantly better than any other prospects he’d been getting previously.
Start addressing your accountancy firm brand
So, here are a few ways you can address your accountancy firm brand:
- Accept that cheap or self-made branding will never get you where you want to be. It’s also not what your prospects want. The end goal is clean, consistent, modern branding that reflects well on you, your firm, and your expertise. Getting that firmly in your mind will help you when you move on to some of these other items.
- Review your logo: It isn’t the entirety of your brand, but it does affect every aspect of your marketing. Ask yourself one simple question: do you love it? If you don’t, do something about it – even just a slight refresh with a better font.
- Refresh your website. If your existing site is horrible, or you can’t access it (this happens far more than you’d like to think), you can still take the first step. A completely strategised new site with entirely custom content is best in the long run – but if you aren’t ready for that, you can at least refresh your site by having your existing site transferred to a new WordPress template or the Rocketspark platform. (We’ll do it all for you, including re-writing your home page content, if you like. Just ask.)
- Engage a graphic designer. At least have one on standby for whenever you do need something designed. They tend to be extremely busy and they don’t work to last-minute schedules. WARNING: If you choose a designer simply because they are a client, or you met them at a networking event, or they offered to do a service swap, be careful. It could go very wrong (and I’ve seen it too many times).
- Add a new website landing page. Use something like Leadpages or Clickfunnels to set up a one-pager that you can share via email or social media. Their templates are so simple you can hardly go wrong – or it may not take your marketing person too long to figure it out.
- Get new social media banners designed. There are far too many accountants who set up Twitter and LinkedIn and Google Plus, but never went back and looked at them all in succession and realised that the logo is old on one platform, poor resolution in another, and missing entirely from another. At least make sure your social media banners and profile icons are consistent and as modern as possible. (Although, if your logo is a disaster, you may need go back to step 2.)
- Just get one item designed. If your website is fairly new and your logo is modern, get one graphic or email header or website banner or something very simple designed. It will give a little edge to your marketing, and it will help you begin to engage with the branding process.
- Not perfect, but done. As always, my rallying cry! And one of the reasons I include it is because I’m conscious that the Profitable Firm has not hit perfection in the branding arena, either. Sometimes content comes first. (Currently our Content Marketer site is getting all the branding attention – more to come soon!) Just do something when it comes to branding, because doing nothing is worse than you think. It doesn’t simply not move you forward: it sends you backwards. Time is moving on, so every day that an outdated logo sits on a ten year old website, a brand becomes worse. That’s not what you want!
Remember that our Content Marketer programme kicks off soon, and we’ll have a whole session about branding and how to take these small steps for your firm. Register your interest now.
And hopefully we’ll see you at Xerocon in London? Good!
Oh! Before I forget, I am delivering a full day content marketing session at the Xero Uni day, before Xerocon begins. If you haven’t booked it yet, go here or talk to the Xero people to make sure you can join us.