You can achieve great online marketing success in one of two very simple ways. Time, or money.
I was talking to an accountant this week about his marketing, and he confessed that he wasn’t making the most of all the (seemingly endless) online marketing possibilities available in the wide digital world. Blogging, Linked In, website landing pages, CRM systems, automated follow up, webinars….the list goes on and on, but instead of a neat to-do list, it felt to him like a swirling cloud of confusing information that never settled.
Yes, the possibilities are endless. And yes, it is entirely possible to begin to get leads appearing in your inbox seemingly from nowhere. And there are only two ways for this to happen.
The first is spending your time. If you want to reap amazing results from your website and other online marketing that you don’t even truly understand yet, it is entirely possible to learn. There’s a wealth of information out there, and you have to get your mind and hands on it, and practice it constantly. However, the sheer amount of time required to learn a new skill is probably mind-blowing at first. We’re talking several hours a day at a minimum, and every spare second you have being funneled into this new skill. Online marketing is a skill, not a fad, and almost every aspect of it will feel like Greek to you at first.
So your alternate option is to spend money. Choosing to invest in expert advice or outsourced help to make these things happen – someone to design a new website, write blog posts for you, take professional photos and video, set up all your social media channels and publish information to them, set up email marketing systems and send email campaigns, write website landing pages, and more. Those are just a few of the things that so many people out there do exceptionally well, and have been doing for years and years, while you’re just now getting started thinking about it.
It really is a choice between the two. And the “missing link”, the thing that enables accountants to switch from spending the first (time) to spending the second (money), is education.
Because, whether you’re an accountancy firm or any other kind of business, if you don’t really understand the value of what you’d be spending your money on, you don’t want to. It seems like endless riches simply trickling out your fingers, and for what? So you have a beautiful website and are blogging every day? Is it really resulting in more business?
That’s where the education part comes in. Once you begin to learn about what is actually happening in the background, you get that light bulb moment which helps you to either agree to learn the skills yourself, or to value the skills that someone else is utilising on your behalf. And you also begin to hear stories. First they sound like rumours, impossible, too good to be true. Then you hear more, and more, and you begin to realise that it’s entirely possible for your accountancy firm to get new leads in a simple, stress-free way – just trickling in via your website and other means while you work on what you want to.
The missing link: Education
So, here are a few ways you can begin to educate yourself about the power of online marketing, and how it can affect you and your firm. And whether you end up choosing to spend your own time learning these things and implementing them yourself, or outsourcing some or all of it to someone else, the education process will have helped you to appreciate what is happening behind the screens.
Read. Read blog posts, articles, newsletters, magazines, industry updates, books, anything you can get your hands on. Make sure it’s as up to date as possible. For example, Hinge Marketing are one of my favourite go-to places for up to date research, webinars, and great articles. One example is “7 Strategies to Generate Better Accounting Leads”. It’s specific, it’s dead-on, and it’s practical.
Sign up for emails. I get probably 10-12 emails a day from different sources with new thoughts, new online marketing tools, and great ideas for bettering my business. I pick the ones that relate to online marketing, and to the accounting profession, since those are the foundational bedrocks of the Profitable Firm. I sign up for just about anything that looks interesting, and if it continues to be so, I file it away in an Outlook folder and every once in a while flick through the emails and read them. If they email me too often, or it’s not relevant, or it’s information overload or super-salesy, I just unsubscribe. Easy.
Download e-books. Kissmetrics, another one of my favourite go-to-guys for excellent online marketing resources, have an entire page of e-books that are marketing guides for what you want to learn about blogging, Facebook, Google adwords, Linked In, and many more. They’re simple, easy to read, interesting – and if you use them, extremely helpful. You, like me, will probably download the e-book, glance at it, and promise yourself you will read it through in detail later. Either way, you’ve learned a little (and you’ve realised there is wayyyyy more to this online marketing stuff than you ever thought, and your respect for those who use it will has grown just a tiny bit).
Attend webinars. I probably sign up for five or six webinars a week. It’s less likely that I attend them all – sometimes I don’t attend any. But they always send me the recording, and when I have a chance I can re-listen. And if I do happen to be available, online, and not swamped with work, I’ll listen in and learn something new. I attended an ihubbub webinar recently and learned more about keywords and metadata than I had ever known before. And that was simply playing in the background while I sent emails, made a few phone calls, and had a client stop by. Imagine what I’d learn if I put my full attention to it. At the Profitable Firm, we run webinars for accountants on various online marketing topics every month. This month we’ve got one with guest speaker Andy Bounds on the power of referrals, networking, and presenting, and next month we’ll be talking about email marketing for accountancy firms. If you’re not sure where to start, these are a great way to do it.
Write. No matter what your online marketing plan (or lack thereof), the more content you have available to use, the more powerful your marketing machine will be. I’d strongly encourage you to write every single day – even if it’s just a short paragraph or a few notes typed out on your phone. Keep a list of articles or blog posts you’d like to write. People who could potentially be guest bloggers or speakers for you. Frequently asked questions by your clients or prospects. Topics that are interesting to you, or to your clients. I write these marketing tips every week, no matter how I feel – but it’s made much simpler by the fact that I keep a note on my iphone called “Karen’s Marketing Tips”, and I’m always adding to it. No matter where I am or what I’m doing, if something springs to mind that would make a great marketing tip, I jot it down. Then when I sit down to write an article, it’s very easy. The structure is right there, it just needs fleshing out a bit.
Ask others for help. If there’s a topic you want to learn more about, don’t be afraid to ask someone who’s been doing it for a while. Chances are they’re more than happy to share their ideas, thoughts, failures, and successes. I always love sharing what I’m learning with those who are new to the online marketing arena, because I’ve been there, and I know how confusing it can be. Drop someone an email, or give them a call. An accountancy firm partner we work with once jumped on a plane and flew to Australia to meet with someone who was an expert in his field, simply to learn about how he did business. What Steve learned on that trip changed things in a big way for his accountancy firm.