One of the most powerful marketing actions is to give things away.
And I’m not talking generic leaflets or ‘easy’ giveaways. I’m encouraging you to give away valuable, helpful, powerful content – templates, documents, business ideas, presentations.
‘Oh no!’ I hear you thinking. ‘I can’t possibly give that away – I’ll never get any new clients!’
Quite the contrary. You’ll get more.
Generosity catches people’s attention
This very excellent article by Jeff Goins addresses this giving away concept. ‘Generosity catches people’s attention’, Goins says.
Partly because we’re used to others holding their brilliant ideas close. I had a potential strategic partner ask me to sign a non-disclosure agreement once before he would tell me what their company was up to. I happily signed it, but when we had the meeting I thought, ‘That’s it? That’s the big news?’ To me it was a nice idea and I hoped it worked out for them, but it was hardly the stuff of deep confidentiality and MI6 cover.
Goins says, ‘There’s so much noise in the world that it’s impossible to know what’s worth buying…Giving away your work will allow future customers (or readers or fans or whatever) the opportunity to hear about it, see the value, and then reward you for it.’
This applies to accountants in a big way. You’re in a professional service business. You don’t sell a product that you hope the whole world will buy in massive numbers – you sell your time, your expertise. They’re buying a result in their lives – less stress, more money, new ideas, a better organised business, a lower tax bill.
As accountants, you deal with the most important elements of people’s lives:
And in order to help people see that you are the kind of person that they can entrust with these things, giving them a way in which they can ‘test you out’ is one of the most powerful marketing actions you can take.
This is the reason accountants get so much new business – still – by referral and word of mouth. The online marketing element is still powerful (or we wouldn’t be here). Visiting your website is probably the first action that your referred prospects do. And even if your website isn’t the most beautiful thing they’ve ever seen, you can still get the business if you have proved in some other way that you are reliable and trustworthy.
Also, changing accountants is still a big deal. People hate to do it. Even if their current accountant is grumpy and overworked and gave them their tax bill at the last minute, they’re still hesitant. ‘But I’ve been with him for ages,’ they think. ‘She’ll be offended.’ ‘Maybe they’re really not that bad.’
What you’re doing by giving away valuable and helpful expertise is showing your prospective clients that you are better. You’re more helpful. Generous. Wise. Experienced.
They will not lose out when they come to work with you.
What can you give away – for free?
Here are just some of the things you can give away for free:
Suggest small actions that your prospects can implement themselves, without any help from anyone (even you). Be very specific. This could include tips on:
- Tax: Some specific area of tax such as inheritance tax, capital gains, property ownership, limited companies
- Profitability: A quick way to determine product or service profitability, so they can improve theirs
- Service: Something they could do which will endear them to their own customers
- When you run a seminar, webinar, or event, give away the entire presentation.
- You can export it to PDF to save file space, but don’t be afraid to give away the Powerpoint (or Keynote) itself.
- A how-to guide or checklist that lists out everything they need to do for success in a particular area.
- Make sure it’s specific to an area of value – no generic ‘business improvement’ checklists here!
Refer Other Businesses
- Don’t refer for a fee. The days of ‘get a 5% referral fee when you mention us to your clients’ are over. People want to know that you are making a referral simply because it’s the best thing for them to do, or the best place to go. Not because you’re earning money from it.
- Don’t give to gain …just give. I’ve never liked that phrase, ‘Give to gain’. Because if you’re giving so that you get more yourself, you’re still giving from the wrong mentality. Simply give, because it’s the right thing to do. That’s true generosity. Amazingly, the more you do this, the more business will come your way.
- Look for opportunities for others. At the recent Xero Accelerate event I attended, Andy Lark (Xero’s Chief Marketing Officer) said, ‘In networking, make it your goal to find what others want, and give it to them.’ The very fact that you are making every effort to become an evangelist for your clients and contacts will mean that they do the same for you …naturally.
A Little Bit Of Help
Before the prospect even signs on with you, do something for them. Something small and practical that in an ideal world you would charge them for, but just show them what it’s like to work with you. This could include:
- Fill in a form on their behalf
- Research a question they asked you, and send them the answer
- Connect them with a potential client or customer (see above)
Do Business With Them – As Their Customer
If it’s suitable, you could consider buying something that they offer. Do they make custom kitchen furniture? Sell coffee beans? Offer financial services? Experience their work as a client or customer of theirs. Again though, don’t do it in order to get their business – do this simply because you like what they sell or offer. If you love it, you’ll become their biggest fan – and that will benefit you both. If they’re not good at what they do, or you don’t like it, or it’s not for you, then you’ve learned your lesson. (Hopefully not at the cost of a £3,000 custom kitchen table.)
What will your giveaways say about you as an accountant?
Giving away valuable free information shows:
- Confidence. You’re not so desperate for work that you can’t give some things away. You’ve got plenty of clients, work you enjoy, and if someone wants to take a free offer and do everything themselves they are welcome to do that. You’re glad to have helped them.
- Character. You’re a generous, willing, helpful individual. We could use more of those in this world.
- Expertise. Whatever it is that you have shared will (or should) display that you know what you’re talking about. You’ve got expert advice to share, and most likely some good stories as well.
- What it’s like to be your client. Your prospects will discover what it’s like to work with you, because they’ve already been given a taste.
Take this Xero presentation, for free.
To show by example how it’s done, here’s a Xero presentation that the Profitable Firm has created (using a template provided by the awesome people at Xero). Take it. Use it. Customise it for your niche market. Give a seminar talk or a webinar.
With our compliments.