As an accountant, you’ve started creating content like never before.
You’re sending emails, recording videos, writing blog posts, creating website pages, setting up Facebook groups. You’re just..helping people. Communicating. Giving your take, your perspective, your thoughts, your feelings. “Here’s what we know – and we’ll be talking to you about it personally as soon as we can.”
And because of the worldwide crisis, your three former enemies – fear, perfection, and time – have been wiped away in an instant. There are bigger things to fear than recording a video, no one cares if it’s perfect, and you just make time for it because it has to be done.
Some of the tools you previously didn’t have time to try, or were worried it wouldn’t be too good, you literally don’t have time to mess with that. You’ve realised nobody cares if the video is perfect, or the lighting is perfect, or the email has the right spacing, or whatever. Nobody has anything together right now, and neither you nor your clients have time to faff about. Just get something out there, because people need help. It’s the message that matters. It’s the help that matters. It’s YOU who matters. And they love you for it.
That is brilliant. And we salute you for it.
And now, we’re going to encourage you to think just a little beyond today.
To not simply create content, but create assets for the firm you’ll be in the future.
We’re starting to get the collective feeling that things are settling just a little. We’re not in our new normal yet (someone said the other day “Let’s not call it that, because I don’t want this to be normal”), but new routines are beginning to form. You’re figuring out this thing where you’re at home while you’re working (different from the previously understood “working from home”). The kids are either learning things, or they’re happily watching Disney+ and that’s fine by everyone. Your online deliveries are showing up, or you were able to go out shopping, or you finally succeeded in getting your gran to STAY HOME. These are the victories, and they’re not small.
Your patterns have changed. Even in the past week or two. So your pattern of frantically creating content day by day has to change a little, too.
Still keep creating content! Don’t stop that. But do stop for a moment to think about where this content is going, and how you will add to it in the future.
Because the pattern goes like this:
- Create content based on information and help your clients need right now
- Find repeating patterns in that content
- Summarise your content into resources that belong solely to you
- Design and brand those resources for your firm
- Share those practical, branded assets with the world
- Build trust with prospects through your branded assets
As always, give away information, and have people pay for implementation. All these branded resources become assets of information, which you can share (or sometimes even sell) in the future.
Here are some ways to get started with this now.
Set patterns for emailing clients
Sending out update emails to your clients is great. It’s helpful and they appreciate it. But how often will you start sending them on a regular basis – now and in the future?
A few things to consider are:
- Setting a pattern of a daily or weekly email, with a date to review this. Most people seem to be moving to weekly or twice-weekly emails now, but a few are still sending them daily. This will slow down over time. Make sure you don’t forget about it and begin emailing randomly, with no pattern. Whatever pattern you’re in now, put a note to review it in a few weeks time, and then again in a month or so. Use this as an opportunity to get into the habit of emailing your clients consistently, with helpful information based on the questions they’re asking.
- Creating tags in your CRM system or email list for different industries. Now is the absolute best time to fix categories so you can send updates relevant to different industries (if you serve several of these, or have niche areas). It will take a little time, but it will be WELL worth it in the long run. This way, when a new update needs to be sent out only to creative agencies, or relating to those needing funding, or for freelancers, you’re all set. You don’t have to send generic emails – you can be really specific, and they’ll thank you for it. Down the road, you can create an opt in so prospects can sign up for these industry-focused updates, too.
- Creating tags for clients v prospects. Speaking of prospects, you eventually want to have different information going to clients than that which goes to prospects. If you don’t have time for it now, that’s okay. But take a little time to set the tags (or set up the system so people are tagged properly when they join) so you can send emails to clients with the extra support you give them; and emails to prospects inviting them to buy, or request a proposal, or connect in some other way.
- Getting email templates designed so they’re on-brand. Right now you don’t really care about pretty-looking emails (and neither do your clients). The message is all that matters. But as things calm down, keeping everything on brand enhances the feeling of trust and authority your firm gives, especially when your firm’s brand is impressive and beautiful. (If it’s not, consider a branding workshop with us!) If you’re not ready for this but want to chat about it later, enter it onto your parking list.
Turn email content into blog posts
A lot of emails (or texts, or social media DMs, or you-can’t-even-remember-what-platform) which you’re sending to clients include valuable, helpful information. And with a little copyediting that content could be turned into a blog post on your website, to help more than just clients.
Granted, some of those emails are very specific, or relate to one client only. But with slight edits (or a combination of several communications you’ve made to different clients), you could have shareable content – in your own tone of voice – with very little effort on your part!
Here are a few tips to help you capture that content and not lose it. Whenever you send an email to a client about something you’ve answered at least once or twice already, or repeated to other clients, just copy and paste the words into one of these places. Don’t make it perfect or super organised – you can do that later (or someone can do it for you). But do save it – because you’ll never be able to find it later.
- Save it to a notes app on your phone. At a bare minimum, open a note on your phone and paste the words there. I use this all the time for information I send clients by text, or in a Facebook message, or something that’s just a few sentences but it reminds me to write “proper” content later. (This very blog post you’re reading now is here because of some notes I saved to my phone, from various conversations with different clients.)
- Create a TAYA Gsheet or Google doc. TAYA stands for “They Ask You Answer”, and it just means your marketing consists of sharing content related to the advice and help you’re giving to clients. If you don’t have one, set it up (and share it with the team). Copy and paste the words into your document (either from your phone notes, or an email, or wherever). You could put a few headers in the document – like “Getting a loan” or “Pivoting your business” – so you can later put the content from various messages underneath it.
- Share it with the team. Don’t go lone ranger on this: you need the entire team involved. They’re talking to clients daily, too. This is why having a shareable document is a good idea, because then it’s not only you who’s contributing to it. This will come in VERY handy in the future. We’ve long been encouraging accountants to involve their team in content creation, and now is the best time to build good habits!
Build a waiting list for prospects
Some of you are signing new business during this time, because other accountants aren’t stepping up. (We’ve heard horror stories of people phoning their accountants to get a recorded message saying they aren’t answering the phone. Or no message at all. Being told just to go to the government website, because “we don’t really have much to tell you besides that”.)
Some of you aren’t getting new business signed yet, but you’ve got lots of people saying “Oh you’ve been so helpful – when we get to the other side of this I’ll want to talk to you about doing my accounts”, or “I told all my friends about your video because it was so good”. That gives you a nice feeling: but do you have a means for capturing those leads NOW, before they forget who you are, and you forget who THEY are?
Here’s a video we did on how to create a waiting list (or a “later list”) page for your website. You can get going on this yourself, or park it for later with PF. (See what we did there??)
Turn your email & blog content into guides
In addition to taking email content and making it into blogs, you can also take email/blog content and turn it into a downloadable guide or resource of some kind. You don’t have to worry too much about making it perfect right now – people would rather get to the content fast than have it look particularly pretty – but down the road you can combine different pieces of content into one PDF guide, or a website page, or a resource to help more than just clients.
Remember to look for themes: Are you creating a lot of content around funding sources? Or short term budgeting for cash? Or hiring and recruiting? This is another reason having your collaborative TAYA Google doc will come in handy. You can see patterns and themes, and identify a resource based on all that combined content.
For now you could create a Google doc and export it to a PDF, job done. Nice and simple. Later you can brand it up and add imagery or custom design.
If it’s only a few pages, or a short guide, you could even offer it without even asking for an email address. That way you’re simply sharing helpful information and then the longer more detailed guide (or properly branded one) could go into your resources page. Read on.
Turn your webinars into video content
Many of you are running regular webinars for clients (or for anyone), covering critical questions relating to everything from funding and financing to hiring or letting go employees, marketing, and mental health! You can share the webinar recordings afterwards, but if the webinar is an hour or so, in a few months people won’t be watching those recordings anymore because the content or regulations may have changed.
One of the best things about longer content is that it becomes “stackable” content. You break up the long content into little pieces that then stack together to build authority and drive people to start a conversation with you.
For webinars with longer-term content, consider breaking them up as follows. If you don’t have a video editor or don’t want to take time to learn imovie or Camtasia or similar just now, at least make a note in your TAYA document about what the content is and where – ie “24th March webinar – from 1.15 to 4.56 – section on [topic]”.
- Clip out sections for short videos on particular areas. Perhaps you had a guest speaker on mental health, and there were a few minutes where they were talking about a particular method which is useful anytime. Clip out just that section, share it on the socials or in an email, and then drive people to the full video which is saved on your website. Or to your resources page!
- Use quotes in your emails or other marketing communication. When your guest speaker (or even you yourself) says something particularly quoteable (if you do say so yourself), make a note of it and share that elsewhere. You could even create an image with the quote and share that. (Having a branded quote template which you can upload to Canva and edit quickly on your phone helps a lot.)
- Share videos on your resource page. We talk about the resource page next, but you can embed these videos (or clips of videos) into your resource page and at least have them easily accessible on your own website. That way you’re not sending people away to YouTube or Vimeo, but keeping them on your site as long as possible. (Here’s an article on how to download and share your webinar recording.)
Create a resource page (or platform)
All these resources you’re creating may feel rather simple just now. A few blog posts, some emails, a video or two.
Think ahead to a single place you can send people to get the help they need – particularly by category.
You can categorise it by type of content:
- Articles and blog posts
- Videos and tutorials
- Webinar recordings
- Community and engagement
Or you could categorise it by the type of advice:
- Funding and financing
- Budgets and forecasting
- Team and hiring
- Government support
- …and so on
If you don’t have time to create something in depth or comprehensive, just create a page on your website called Resources. Or Helping, or Support, or Here for you, or something more long term. it’s okay to have COVID-19 resources, and even a COVID page if you want one, but think ahead to what this will look like and how you will rename it and change things after this crisis has passed. Here’s an example from Saint & Co – their page is called Supporting You.
You can also create a banner on your website which points people to the helping page or the COVID resources – as you can see from the PF website, we’ve done that for now so you can find our summary page easily. It’s just a simple page called “Helping” right now, but we’ll be expanding it further in the upcoming weeks. Find all the COVID-19 marketing resources for accountants on this page.
Build community for the long term
Many of you have set up Facebook groups for your clients, which is great! Some of you are using WhatsApp groups, or Slack workspaces, or something else.
Whatever is working for now, do think ahead to how you can keep using this beyond the crisis. A few questions to ask yourself are:
- Do I intend to continue this group beyond the crisis?
- Is this group for clients only, or do I want to invite prospects? This will help you decide what platform to use, and whether to have one group or multiple groups.
- What’s the best way to build community not just between me and my clients, but between clients and team? Or all your clients together, building relationships with each other?
- What’s the most secure way to have conversations with clients?
- What will lend itself best to integrations and community?
If you’ve already set up one type of group and think you might need a change, now is the time to do it. As long as you have good reason for the change, you can explain it to those who are in the group and encourage them to use the new one. For example, if the WhatsApp group is getting a bit too busy and confusing, you could send a message saying “Hey, we’re moving these conversations to a Facebook group so they’re more searchable and you can connect better with each other! Here’s the link – join now and we’ll shut this group down in a few days.”
Join the PF Marketing community on Facebook to talk with other accountants (and the PF team) about your marketing questions and wins!