One of the positives of all this focus on marketing-for-accountants lately is that there are a lot of you accountants going through some sort of marketing training lately.
I’ve had a few emails this week from accountants in different parts of the world (the UK, South Africa, Canada…) telling me that they’ve just started a new marketing training or sales training or marketing coaching course.
Some of them are DIY or at your own pace. Others involve live group events. Some are delivered as live webinars.
I’ve been thinking a lot about marketing training because we’ve been delivering the Content Marketer (now the Accelerator) for several years, and it’s gone through a few iterations until we’ve begun to settle into a pattern that really, actually works. That gets accountants not only learning, but DOING.
There are a lot of reasons not to do (yet another) marketing training course, and they’re all valid. Based on some of those reasons, here are the questions I suggest you ask yourself before you book yourself onto any course:
1. If it’s a “go at your own pace” course, will you actually watch any of it? Will you stick with it?
It’s important to recognise that everyone processes content and training differently. Some people are brilliant at the DIY courses and will actually go through them, consistently and regularly, watching them at a certain time each week or slotting time into their calendar to make sure it’s being done in order.
If you’re not that kind of person, and you know fine well you’ll start off enthusiastic and then after a few weeks or months do nothing at all, you’ll want to think about how you can combat that.
2. What kind of coaching and support do you get?
Is it support delivered via webinar once a week, or once a month? Will you get together online or in person, and be able to ask questions about what’s relevant to you that day? Will you have access to the course leader so that if you’ve created something or are thinking of a brilliant new marketing idea, you can get their specific feedback for your firm?
Think about the type of support that is most helpful to you when it comes to marketing. If you’ve got a brainwave about a new landing page on your website, or you’re confident that Facebook ads are useless, or you’re considering hiring a marketing person for your firm…where will you get those questions answered?
3. Do you need a marketing course that’s been built for accountants?
The answer will not always be ‘yes’, simply because you’re an accountant….or simply because the course says it’s for accountants. Who’s delivering it? What do they know about content marketing for accountants? What’s their track record?
If the course is indeed built exclusively for accountants, look at how it was created and what it’s based on. What they know about accountants doing marketing and the case studies and stories they’ve got to tell about accountants who have implemented all these great ideas.
4. Do you trust the person or company delivering the course?
This is a big one for us at PF. We know many accountants who have been burned by marketers and marketing companies and courses and gurus. So we take trust very seriously. It means a great deal to me personally when an accountant signs up for our Accelerator course because I know they are expressing a high level of trust in what we have promised to deliver.
A few things to look at are:
- Does this person/company practice what they preach?If the course is on social media, do they do social well? If it’s about writing content, is theirs engaging and human? If it’s on strategy, are they following one themselves?
- Do you like them? Do you get on with the person, enjoy listening to them, feel like you can connect with them? Presumably you’re going to be hearing a lot from them during all this training!
- Have you been following them for a while? You can get a good sense of whether this person or company is trustworthy by the length of time you’ve been following them, reading their content, watching their videos, seeing them interact with other accountants. Look at the long story.
5. How long is the course?
This matters because of how you typically take action. Do you need something that’s a bit slower-paced, perhaps one session a month or every other month? Or are you raring to go and need a weekly call or even a daily one!
We’ve spent a lot of time figuring out the best pace for accountants when it comes to our courses – and we have found it varies depending on the type of marketing we’re talking about, and the type of accountant who is taking the course.
The Content Marketer used to be a 12 month course. The sessions build on each other, so it’s important they go in order. At first 12 months was a great length, but after we had run it four or five times, we began to discover that 12 months was too long for the accountants who were really keen to move their marketing forward. Everyone started out with enthusiasm, but after 5 or 6 months, there were some who began to drop off the live sessions, get busy, make time for other things. Many of them saw it through to the end, but they all gave the feedback that a shorter time frame would be helpful because the 12 sessions built on each other, so they didn’t want to forget the previous session when a month had gone by.
So we changed it to 12 weeks and created the Accelerator, and the results from that course have been legendary by comparison. (One member literally tripled her Twitter impressions and got six times as many link clicks after she went through the Accelerator.)
Our Social Marketer course, on the other hand, is a series of DIY videos. We knew that if you want to figure out how to set up a Facebook ad, you usually want to know right now. You don’t want to wait a month for a live session – by then you could have generated four Facebook ads and gotten some leads already!
Look at how long the course is, how it is delivered, and how that fits with the way you do things.
6. What will you actually have DONE by the end of the course?
You know how you go to a conference and they have these “action sheets” or notebooks or to-do lists or whatever – anything to say “What will you DO after being here today?”
The same thing applies to a marketing course. However it’s delivered (a one day training, a 12 week online course, a log-in portal with videos), you still want to be sure that something is done and completed by the end. That you have victories. Wins. Successes.
At the end of every Accelerator course I run, I have a personal one-on-one call with every member, and the first question I ask is, “Why did you join?” We talk about that, and whether they achieved what they hoped to. The second question is, “What are your victories?” What did you do, what did you achieve that was un-done before you joined?
Those answers are the best part of my day. I’ve got members who have written blog posts, redesigned websites, rebranded their firm, recorded video for the first time ever, got comfortable with video and are doing it daily, massively increased their social media followings…the list goes on. (Literally, on and on and on.)
When I created the Accelerator, I wanted to help train accountants about marketing so they could do it better. Over time I’ve learned that training and learning only matter if they’re practiced: and the accountants who practice what they learn have a huge list of victories.
Ask yourself what kind of victories you are looking for – and remember to be realistic. If your victory is “get 14 new leads per week”, that might be achievable if you have a good foundation of website and brand already, you have some marketing support, and you also work like a crazy person on marketing, evenings and weekends, and there is literally nothing you won’t try. If you are a brand new startup and you want 14 new leads even in a month, you might struggle.
Also, ask the person who runs the course what kind of victories you can expect, and how much time you’ll need to put in to achieve those victories. If the answer is “a few hours a week” and you were hoping it would be “thirty seconds per week”, then the solution is not to skip the course and carry on doing what you’re doing. The solution is to figure out how you can arrange your time so you’ll get the victories you want.
One of the accountants I spoke to recently was Paul Grafton in Australia, and he said he did a lot of research into marketing training for accountants before deciding to join PF’s 12 week Accelerator course.
“It’s value for money and only focused on accountants, so there aren’t many courses which are equivalent,” he said.
My question for Paul was, “WHY did you feel it was value for money?” It’s a really powerful statement he made (especially for accountants) and I was keen to understand what the expectations were and how this delivered.
“Well, you actually got a lot of steps out of it,” Paul said. “There were the small bite size sessions each on a different topic – but they were all relevant and you strung it all together. That put the meat together of what I actually need when it comes to marketing.
“I guess when we’re talking about value for money, what I mean is that you delivered on what the course outline was. It’s more like a proper course – not just a series of webinars. I looked at other courses, some of them more expensive and most of them more vague in what they were discussing. That’s where value for money loses traction – it’s just consulting, really, and you don’t really know what you get out of it.”
If you want a 12 week marketing course, built for accountants and delivered online via live sessions with personal feedback from me, that helps you win very cool marketing victories… here you go.(If you want something else, drop me a note and I’ll help you find it.)