How do I educate a team who sees marketing as letters and word of mouth?

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Whether you’re the Owner or the Marketing Manager of an accounting firm – getting buy-in for your marketing strategy is vital. 

You may feel like you’re banging your head against the wall trying to get your team on board with your plan, because a displaced focus and a displaced budget is frustrating. 

Enabling your team to understand and do good marketing may require more than simply telling them what works. 

Let’s do more than get them up to speed, and actually empower them with the confidence to know and love marketing. We’re going to kickstart that by encouraging a simple mindset shift and providing you with the training they need to experience what works for themselves. 

And like everything in marketing, it all starts with your brand. 

Lead with brand – show them how important it is to the marketing plan


If you’re here, it means you’ve probably done either of these two things:

  • You’ve done the work to uncover your firm’s identity. You know who you are and who you serve, and you’ve adapted your visual brand and website messaging to truly reflect what you learned. 
  • You’ve done the work, and you’d like to take the next step in adapting your brand and website messaging to truly reflect what you’ve learned. 

In both scenarios, you see the importance of the brand to your marketing plan. You know you’ll only get a drip feed of clients you want, if your marketing is directed at only the clients you want. You know who you are, what you stand for and you’re ready to share it with the world.

Notice the theme? You see. You know. You’re ready. You

Your team may not know you’ve rebranded as ‘the tech loving accountants’ rendering letters through the door an obvious conflict with the messaging. 

Remember how long it has taken you to get to this point. Everything you’ve learned about marketing along the way has enabled you. It probably didn’t click overnight. There will have been learning, and drafting and uncovering and challenging. 

Help them through the process too. 

  • Walk them through the specifics of your ideal client
  • Show them what you discovered about your firm’s personality 
  • Ask them whether they feel the messages being communicated currently fit with these discoveries about your brand 
  • Ask ‘How might we get the right message out to our ideal clients fast?’ and encourage some brainstorming around marketing techniques

If your team weren’t involved in the brand process, they need to go through it themselves to understand why everything has changed, and why you’re suddenly telling them to write a blog, or post on social media or create a video.


Dig deeper than ‘they’re just traditional


Often when we get it, and it feels like others just do not, it’s tempting to label them as ‘traditional’ – especially in marketing. We know the accounting industry historically survived and thrived on only word of mouth, letters and referrals. 

But it may not be traditional thinking getting in the way here. 

Until I started working with PF, I had never even touched a Mac. Hadn’t even been in the same room as one. Since the first (gigantic) computer arrived in my parents’ home in the 90s, every computer or laptop I’d used had been Microsoft. I’ve sort-of known for years a Macbook would be better for the kind of creative programmes I wanted to use, but:

  • I knew it would be an investment
  • It wasn’t what I was used to 
  • I knew I’d have to learn a whole new way of working a computer

Since we all work on Macs at PF, my love for the company meant the decision was made for me. I can see now why creatives, and creative agencies use Macs. I can’t imagine doing my job without my macbook. It makes doing my job easier. 

I don’t consider myself a ‘traditional thinker’, I just didn’t have the experience, and I feared something I didn’t know. On a deeper level, I probably feared looking stupid amongst my peers being such a newbie to something everyone knew so well. 

I encourage you to dig a little deeper into why individuals on your team aren’t getting it, or why the process of bringing them up to speed feels slow and difficult. 

  • They may have tried things in the past that failed
  • They may not have felt comfortable trying videos, blogs, social media 
  • They may be afraid of what embracing it will mean 
  • They may think their learning will be a huge investment of time and money

Address some of these underlying feelings and barriers. Put it in in terms they understand. You can remind your team this is exactly how some of your clients feel (or felt) about Sage, until they were educated on Xero or Quickbooks Online. Ask them how they’ve helped clients try new software outside of their comfort zone.


Look at the numbers and assess the success of letters and word of mouth


You guys know the magic of numbers. 

You give your clients a strategy for moving forward by showing them what their numbers are telling them. 

We do the same thing with marketing numbers. We track our clients’ numbers on a monthly basis too, so we can see how all of our marketing efforts are working together, and they can make strategic decisions on how to move forward and get better results.  

When we can track our website visits, social media engagement, email sign ups, enquiries, sign ups (and more) – we’re in a better position to see what’s working, where we could improve and what we need to be prioritising. 

You might ask your team to help you track the marketing actions they’re already involved in. Can we measure word of mouth? How can we track the success of the letters? Do they know where website visits are coming from? 

They’ll likely find pretty quickly some of these things just can’t be measured in numbers. And you may need to remind the team that it’s important to be tracking actions consistently where they can see a direct impact. Just because you sent a letter and one person replied and signed up, doesn’t mean the marketing has been consistently successful.

It’s not to say these things absolutely don’t work. Word of mouth is still important to all marketing, for sure. But with this exercise you can encourage them to see how word of mouth fits into the bigger picture. 

We know on average, 70% of the buying decision is made online before someone contacts a business for the first time. So when the word is shared, the first thing your prospect will do is try to find you online. They’ll take a look around, maybe read some content, look for answers to their questions. 

You can show them where a gap needs to be filled with content you can track and assess. Give them “They Ask, you Answer” to read to show them how they can answer these prospect questions in helpful blogs. Not only will it be helpful for prospects, but it’ll save them time having to answer the same question all the time!


Get your team some training on what works for accountants


Remember those deeper issues we uncovered might be at play here. A lack of understanding due to a fear of something new. Trying marketing in the past and not seeing success. Embarrassment about ability. All of these problems can be solved with education. 

We run a training course called ‘The Accelerator’ designed to teach accountants the most successful content marketing techniques for them. You’ve identified your marketing is going to be exponentially more powerful if your whole team is involved, which is why this course isn’t just for the firm owner. 

You can sign up as many team members as you want: Marketing managers, partners, directors, trainees, receptionists. It is designed to help anyone in your firm learn the 12 elements of content marketing, step by step, and give them the confidence to apply these principles to your firm. 

We’re in the first week of our May intake, but you can still sign a team member up this week if you want to jump in with us last minute. 

And the best thing is, you’ll be guaranteed to learn more yourself, or get a refresh of what you already know. We find many members repeat the course, to go back to the fundamentals and get the group accountability of practising their marketing skills. If you put your team on the course, you may find the tables turn, and it’s your team pestering you for an improved strategy (the dream!). 

I absolutely couldn’t recommend it more. We encourage every new client to take the Accelerator course, because we see the best monthly success rates from our clients who’ve been through it. 

If you’re not ready right now, but you’d like to join the next intake, you can start by getting on our waiting list. And you don’t have to wait to start their learning – you can sign them up to receive our weekly marketing tips (like this one) here. 


Encourage understanding with positivity, not shame 


All of your team have marketing gold dust within them, because they experience clients (and their problems, stories and successes) every day. 

We know shaming someone, whether intentionally or unintentionally, for what they don’t know isn’t going to change their behaviour or inspire them to try something new. 

Share your story with your team. Feel free to tell them about my Mac experience, but follow it up with a story about a time you had to learn something new. Tell them about your marketing journey and how it challenged you! Share with them how you felt, and the success you saw. 

Inspire change by leading the way. Let them see you writing blogs and creating videos and seeing results. 

“Be the change you wish to see…” so they say.