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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. 

It’s also hard.

You may feel like you’re banging your head against the wall trying to get your team on board with your plan. They don’t seem as enthusiastic. They weren’t hired to be marketers. How does this even affect their job, anyway?

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

You want to do more than get them up to speed: you want to actually empower them with the confidence to know and love marketing. Kickstart that by encouraging a simple mindset shift and provide them with the training and support they need to experience what works for themselves. 

As with all marketing, it all starts with your brand. 

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


If you want to involve your team more in your brand & marketing, you may have 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’re not there yet, but 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:

  • Talk about the specifics of your ideal client. Who are they? Why do they love working with those people?
  • Show them what you discovered about your firm’s personality
  • Ask them whether the messages being communicated currently fit with who your brand truly is
  • Ask ‘How might we show our ideal client who we truly are?’ 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 one accounting software, until they were educated on another. 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 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 help our clients track their marketing analytics monthly, so they can see how all their marketing efforts are working together. This means they’re making strategic decisions on what marketing actions to take, and in what order.

When you track your website visits, social media engagement, email sign ups, enquiries, sign ups (and more), you’re in a better position to see what’s working, where you could improve and what you 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 find pretty quickly some of these things won’t be measured in numbers alone. You’ll remind  them it’s important to be tracking actions consistently – not only where they see a direct impact, but the integrated whole over a period of time. Just because you sent a letter and one person replied and signed up, doesn’t mean the marketing has been consistently successful.

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. 

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. Many people who were referred to you went to your website, glanced at it, and left. You never knew they existed. You think 90% of your business is coming from word of mouth, but what about all the people who never got in touch?

Show your team where a gap needs to be filled with content which will help your clients and prospects get the answers they need – and save the team time. This can be tracked and reviewed so your team can see the results for their own time. (Imagine sending a blog post instead of writing out a whole detailed answer!). Give the team a copy of “They Ask, you Answer” to read, so they can learn the power of answering questions in content form. Not only will it be helpful for prospects and clients, but it will save them time having to answer the same question all the time!


Help your team understand what works for accountants in marketing


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 these problems can be addressed as they become more educated about how marketing works – for accountants. 

The coaching group Accelerator is designed to help accountants – leaders AND team – understand how marketing works, in what order, so their involvement in marketing has an impact on their job and the time they spend on what they love doing. Your marketing is going to be exponentially more powerful when your whole team is involved, which is why this coaching group doesn’t solely have to be for the firm owner. 

You can choose the team option, and 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. 

The best part is, you’ll be going through it alongside them. You will learn more yourself, or will see new perspectives on marketing elements you’re already familiar with. Many Accelerator graduates repeat the group, either to go back to the fundamentals, or to refresh their memory, or to have group accountability as they create content themselves. When you invite your team into Accelerator, you may find the tables turn, and they begin asking you about more and more involvement in marketing. 

And while you’re waiting for the group to begin, they can also sign up to receive the PF weekly marketing articles (like this one) so they can learn a little before you all start together. 


Encourage understanding with positivity, not shame 


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

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. 

Instead of telling them they’re not doing enough, or HAVE to be involved in marketing, share your story with your team. Like I told you about my Mac experience, tell them 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. Show them the results you’re getting or the kind words from clients.

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: and invite them along the journey, too. Sign up today.