Take the fear out of accountancy

Are your clients afraid to hear from you, their accountant?

If you are only in touch with your clients to share an invoice, a set of accounts, a tax bill, information about a tax enquiry, or for debt chasing, then your accountancy firm could be in a place where your clients are afraid to hear from you.

Marketing Tips: oh no it's my accountant

Historically, accountants have considered their role to be that of the classic accountant, and have done the accounting and tax work and sent the invoices and for the most part left clients alone otherwise.

The thought seems to be,’If we don’t hear from our clients, they must be happy – or at least not unhappy.’

The problem is, that is just not true.

Your clients want more from their accountant than just the basics. They want advice and help and support and handholding and great ideas. They know that accountants are valuable experts and they’re not settling for less.

In addition, if your clients are not in touch with you regularly (or you with them), you’re missing out on massive opportunities to help them. Sort out new problems. Showcase your expertise. Prove yourself the hero.

You’re also missing out on an opportunity to hear if they are not happy.

I completely understand that hearing negative feedback of any kind is not fun. I don’t like it myself, because I love it when my clients are happy and have what they want (unless of course what they want is not what they should want, but that’s a whole different marketing tip).

But it’s far better to hear that a client is unhappy, and sort out the problem swiftly and make them quickly happy.

Because the alternative is for the issues to drag on and on, with minor frustrations becoming major ones, until one day they can’t take it anymore and you get The Letter – from the new accountant.

If your desire is to avoid any situations of this kind, then oddly enough it means you are both afraid.

You are afraid to hear from your client (because they might not be happy in some way), and your client is afraid to hear from you (because everything you send them is difficult or costly or requires effort on their part).

One of the most powerful things you can do to improve your own business and marketing is to ensure that you are actively engaged in sharing good, helpful content with your clients. Helpful tips. Great business ideas. New accounting software. Checklists. Templates. Webinars. Videos. Download the 27 content ideas now.

So, here are a few things you can do to prevent the fear:

Segment your client base.

Identify what clients are interested in, hot topics, type of industry, etc., so that you can send them what is relevant to them (not just generic advice).

This can be as simple as adding a field in Mailchimp, or even (gasp!) creating an Excel spreadsheet. (My goal in life is to never use Excel again, since we have all these amazing cloud solutions, but one step at a time.)

Send update emails that are short, and relevant.

For a while there, every accountant was using those standard, generic newsletter emails (those tax update ones, that accountants love but most of your clients could care less about).

Many of you are changing your ways now, but I encourage more of you to do the same.

It’s better to send out three short email updates about something helpful to your clients, than to send one long, complicated, confusing tax update which has a little something for everybody.

Automate your invoicing and credit control.

When your invoicing, debt chasing, and credit control is all automated, there’s a greater chance you’ll be paid more quickly (cash flow! yay!), but it has the added benefit of ensuring that your clients don’t have to spend time sorting out payments and invoices with you.

Using Xero + Gocardless + Satago or Chaser, for example, is a beautiful way to automate just about everything. Invoice sent, invoice paid, chasing done automatically.

And you and your client can focus on talking about more interesting things. Like their products or profits or new ideas or more services from you.

Create blog posts from your clients’ FAQs.

When more than one client has asked you the same question, turn it into a blog post. (We can help.)

First, it saves you time. You write out the answer once, say 15 minutes to send the email. The second time, you grab that previous email, edit it so it applies to more than just your one client, and send it to your website team to post it on the blog. 10 minutes. The third time, you grab that blog link and send it with a little note. 2 minutes. Beautiful.

Second, it has the added benefit of showcasing your expertise. If you send the blog post, they realise that this is not your first rodeo. You’ve been here before: therefore you’re even more of an expert than they thought.

Finally, it helps with SEO and website findability. The more fresh content you share on your website, the better your search engine rankings, and the more you have to share via social media – making your marketing better over time.

When you come across something relevant to a client, send it to them.

Many of you do this already – this is just a gentle reminder to keep doing it.

If you read a good article about plumbers, send it to your plumber client. You come across an event for creative agencies – send it to a few of your creative clients. You read a new book that addresses team issues – send a copy to that client who was struggling with their staff.

Be helpful, even in ways that have nothing to do with accounting. Your clients will love you for it.