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How do I launch a new service for my accounting firm?

How do I launch a new service for my accounting firm

Your accounting firm is launching a new service and you want to tell clients and prospects ALL about it.

You’re tempted to email your database and tell them about your new service. Hurry, we have a new service! It’s great! Buy now! You think you’ll craft an email to tell them what it does and why they need it – maybe a website page or a video, and you’re good to go.

If you try that approach, you will be disappointed with the lack of people who flood into your inbox saying they want to sign up immediately….because it doesn’t have the impact on them you hoped. They aren’t seeing the value of it straight away. You have to talk to them or meet with them or explain more for them to get it.

After all, you’ve put weeks (or maybe months) of thought into your new offering. You’ve invested your time, energy (and possibly money) into it and are familiar with the ins and outs. Just because you understand it doesn’t mean they do yet.

This initial launch is the first time your clients and prospects will be made aware of your new service, so one email or one phone call is not necessarily going to win them over: you need to start with educating them. And I don’t mean by sharing WHAT the service actually is, but HOW it solves the problems they have and WHY they need it.

Take a (big) step back and think about what problems your clients are having which caused you to create this service

Before you start launching your service, go back to the beginning and remind yourself of the story of why this service exists. Have a think about:

  • Why did you pick this solution or create this service?
  • Which client(s) did you speak to or who had this problem and how did they feel?
  • What did you do first?
  • What did they do? What questions did they have? What was confusing to them?
  • How does the service work? How long does it take? What’s involved?
  • For those who used it, what results did they get?
  • How did they feel afterwards? What would they say to others with their same problem?
  • What have YOU learned about delivering this service?

If you’re launching your new service because “I’ve seen other accountants doing it” or “I saw a cool new app I liked the look of it” then you need to think seriously about your motivations and chat to some of your trusted clients before you get started. If you push ahead and launch without considering HOW your service is really going to help your clients, then you could cause damage to your brand and reputation. Not to mention the relationships you have already built with clients. If they feel like they’re being sold a service that “you saw someone else offer and felt you should do the same” then you’ll lose their trust, and then, their business.

This is why it’s so important to delve deeper than the ‘what’ of your new service, and focus on the solutions it provides to your clients and prospects.

Let’s look at an example: you already offer management accounts to your clients, but many of them aren’t taking you up on it. They don’t understand what it is, why they need it, and why it’s worth what feels like quite a significant fee.

Naturally, you already understand 1. What management accounts are and 2. What they do for the clients who have this service with you.

Your marketing needs to focus on point 2. Ask yourself questions to dive deeper:

  • What ARE management accounts, anyway? They’re a summary of your clients’ financials on a monthly basis, looking at the factors which impact whether they will meet their goals this month or this year.
  • What’s in it for them? How will having these help them (or not having them cause problems)? It will help them make better decisions based on current, recent information (rather than finding out months or a year later they could have decided differently back then).
  • What does this result in? Their more informed decisions will help them know exactly what money is available for personal decisions (holidays, houses, cars, children) and business decisions (hiring, new products, office space, expansions).
  • What will they lose if they don’t sign up? They’ll be basing their decisions on old data and be months behind by the time they realise what they need to do – and their competition could be making stronger decisions earlier. They’ll feel frustrated and discouraged at lost opportunities – or will have taken opportunities which would have been better to wait on.
  • How will they feel once they’ve been using this service for even a few months? They’ll be more confident, stronger, growing faster, understanding how they make profits, and not making business decisions based on how much cash is in the bank.

The final few points are the reasons a client will sign up for your management account service.

They aren’t interested in “monitoring their finances better”, or “growing their business”: they want to know exactly how much money they have to spend on the things they love in life. For their business and for themselves & their family.

Test your idea with clients you trust

What research have you done to find out whether your ideal audience wants this service? Or whether they need it? Are they willing to pay for it? Are they willing to pay their accountants for it? Have you tested how it will actually help people?

Start off by selecting 3-4 clients that you know and trust, ones you’ve got a strong relationship with and you know will give you honest, helpful feedback. You could consider offering the service to them at a lower rate than you’re going to charge when you launch, but be careful with this. You don’t want to devalue the service before you even start. And definitely don’t offer the service for free – this sets the tone of the value you place on the service before you’ve even launched it. You could consider offering “extras” to the beta-testers, extras you will eventually charge people for in addition to the core service. That way they truly get a bit more, you get to test the service properly, and they still see the value of it.

As you deliver the service to these few clients, gather their honest feedback by asking questions so you can really get to the heart of how it helps them:

  • What is this service helping you with – in your business and in your life?
  • How did you feel when we shared what the service was? What expectations did you have and how are those different now?
  • How was the customer experience for you?
  • Did it cause any problems, rather than solving them?
  • Was there anything you thought it would do it hasn’t yet?
  • Where do you think it could be better?
  • What would you say to someone who has the same problem you had at the start, who needs this service but doesn’t understand it yet?
  • What’s the value of this service to you – in money as well as in time, energy, business potential?

The answers to these questions will help you make changes in how to launch and market your new service.

Be prepared for things not working as well as you thought they would. We get excited about our own new services and so we feel positive and optimistic about them. This is when your professional scepticism needs to come into play and you must ask yourself what could go wrong and how you will plan for that outcome.

Create a launch plan to help organise your ideas and set achievable timelines

You already offer a wide range of accounting services so you need to think about how you will help your clients remember this one. Consider how the launch plan for your new service fits into your existing marketing strategy. You can’t be marketing different services every day of the week. If you do, none of them will have any impact and you’ll be spreading yourself too thinly.

Here’s what your launch plan needs to include:

Message – what do you actually want to say?

Your messaging needs to educate your audience on how the service will solve a problem they may not even be aware they have.

Whenever you are thinking and writing down ideas about your messaging, have these two questions to hand and refer back to them as often as you need to:

  1. Who is the message for?
  2. What problem does the service solve?

When we launched PF Lab at the start of the year, we went through this exact process. When it came to thinking about the messaging, we could have gone for:

“The PF Lab is our new membership offering and it includes training and coaching from the PF team.”

A completely true statement. That is what a membership to the PF Lab includes.

But if an accountant like yourself (our target audience) saw that, you’d probably be thinking “that’s great for them. I don’t have a clue whether that’s something that would be useful for me”. And then you’d keep scrolling down the page and that’d be it, it’s gone from your mind. That’s the best case scenario. The more likely is you wouldn’t even notice the message at all.

You would be more likely to notice:

“Two things which you need most in your marketing are consistency and accountability”.

This would pique your interest. This would make you sit up and think “yes, that’s me, that’s exactly what I need. How do I get it? Oh, I can join the PF Lab!”

The first example puts the service and what it includes as the main message. The second example puts the focus onto our target audience and shows that we understand you and what your problems are.

I do marketing as my full time job and have done for several years now. And even I don’t get this right the first time I draft marketing emails or social posts. It’s still a work in progress for me and I also come back to those same two questions again and again when drafting content.

It’s natural for you to feel excited to share your new service and want to tell everyone what it is and how great it is. But we must remember to focus on them and their issues.

Audience – who is this new service for?

Your new service is for both your clients and prospects. Consider the different journeys and individual progression models these two groups will follow.

PF Progression Model

Clients

Just because someone is already a client, don’t presume they’ll instantly sign up for your new service. Granted you’ve already built a level of trust and relationship with them, but there is still work to be done. Depending on where they are in their client journey, you also don’t want to overwhelm them with too many services at once. This could cause them frustration and confusion and damage the relationship.

Also, remember your client might not be ready for this new service. Their business might not need it or won’t benefit from it at this stage. This doesn’t mean you can’t make them aware of it, and start planting the seeds for the future. Set up a waiting list (more on that later) and have an email sequence running that drip feeds them content so your new service is kept in their mind and when they’re ready for it, they’ll buy without any hesitation.

Don’t be discouraged when you don’t get lots of clients immediately signing up for your new service. Selling your new service won’t happen overnight and you need to be prepared for that. It will take time.

Your clients progression model looks like this:

  • Awareness – relevant blogs related to your new service; share these in catch ups or email comms with client
  • Free stuff – free demo of your new service and information on your website page
  • Small paid thing – consultation call specifically about your new service
  • Bigger paid thing – commitment to your new service

Prospects

There are similarities between your client and prospect progression models when it comes to launching a new service, as both need to be educated on how it will help them. The main difference is you need to build that foundational awareness with prospects (you already have this with your clients).

Your prospect progression model looks like this:

  • Awareness – relevant blogs related to your new service, be visible and active on social media
  • Free stuff – free demo of your new service and information on your website page
  • Small paid thing – strategy/discovery call to share more about how the service will help them
  • Bigger paid thing – commitment to your new service

And remember, don’t get so excited about new clients that you forget your existing ones!

Content

Blogs, guides, videos, webpages, forms, social media posts. These are all types of content you could create as part of your launch plan. Thinking about ALL the options feels pretty overwhelming, so choose two that will be:

  1. The most helpful to your prospects: think about how your target audience consumes information. Are they detail oriented? Are they creatives who are more visual?
  2. The fastest for you to create: if you know you’re going to put off recording a video for weeks, then choose a blog to start with

Here are ideas for content you can create, using management accounts as the example service you are now offering:

1. Write a blog: you’ll need to build awareness with your prospects and blogs are a great way to do this. Consider topics you can write about which will make your target audience want to have a discovery call with you (and that’s where you can sell them your service). Remember, the title of your blog is not “Our new management accounts service”. Your blog is about the issue, the problem.

For example: “How can I better plan my finances for the future?” or “Why running your business from your bank account doesn’t work”

2. Turn your blogs into a guide: you may start writing your blog and discover you’ve got loads more to say than you thought you did (winning!). You can then turn your series of blogs into a guide and have this as downloadable content from your website. You could gatekeep it by requesting an email address so you can market to them at a later stage, but you don’t have to. In fact, gatekeeping can prevent prospects from reading it, so consider just giving away the guide. They’ll get in touch when they’re ready.

For example: “5 things you can do to help plan your finances better”

3. Record a video: don’t talk for 5 minutes about how great your new service is. Instead tell them the story of why you’re now offering this service by focusing on the problems it solves for them. Here are helpful tips on how to DIY your own videos.

For example: Here Karen shares how Accelerator helps accountants to attract the right types of client for them

4. Create social media posts: this is your opportunity to have a bit of fun with your content and try different things to see what works for you. I’d recommend punchy statements and questions that will really grab your audience’s attention and make them think “that’s me! I can totally relate to that!”

For example: Image with wording “Do you like gambling with your future?” or “Why management accounts aren’t actually boring”

5. Demo video/graphic: show them exactly what they will get. Record a demo video of you showing the new service and how it will work.

For example: for our Co-pilot & tracking service, we created a mock report so clients can see exactly what they’ll receive each month as part of this service

Co-pilot demo image

Systems

Webpage

This is one of the first things you need to create when launching a new service. It doesn’t matter if it’s not quite perfect or needs updating at a later stage. It’s more important that you have somewhere to send prospects and clients to, where they can find out more about the service (seeing as your marketing will all be focused on WHY it’ll benefit them).

Your web page needs to SHOW them exactly what they will get and make it really easy for them to buy.

At the end of every Foundations workshop we deliver at PF, every client receives a ‘Compass’ document – a summary of your goals and agreed actions for your brand, website and marketing plan. We show this on the webpage beside a video explaining what you get as deliverables from the workshop.

Foundations Workshop

Your webpage could include:

  • A video explaining (briefly) what the service is, who it’s for and how it will benefit them
  • A sign up form
  • A demo video
  • Downloadable guide on relevant content

Going back to my earlier PF Lab example, we officially launched it at the start of 2021 but had started drip feeding content late 2020 and so put together a webpage just before we broke up for Christmas with the intention of developing this in the new year. Thanks to our sign up form, we were able to have people join over the Christmas break.

‘Join the waitlist’ form

As an accounting firm, having a waitlist for your services will make you think “I need to do less marketing so I can deal with all the leads I have.” If you do this, you’ll be missing out on an incredible opportunity. You can read more about this here.

Creating a waitlist for your new service builds excitement and creates exclusivity. As humans, we often want the things we can’t have straight away more. Use this exclusivity to promote your new service. You can then send marketing emails to this waitlist group so by the time they’re top of the list, they are ready to buy.

Timelines

There’s lots you want to do. And you want to do it all as quickly as possible as you’re SO excited to get your new service out there and have ALL these people sign up. If you do that, you’re going to burn out and launching your service will become a burden. Marketing is never to be a burden for you: it’s meant to relieve your burdens, not add to them.

Break down all the tasks you want to do into small achievable steps so you don’t get overwhelmed by it all. Set yourself milestones that you can work towards.

Give yourself as much room as you need to. This is your service you are launching so you can do it within your own time frames. Don’t give into the pressure of feeling you have to deliver something just because someone needs it. If they’re the right client, they’ll wait for it. And it’ll be a better experience for you and for your clients.

Execution: share your content across different platforms for maximum reach

You’ve thought about your audience, your messaging and the strategy behind how you’re going to launch your service. Exciting!

People consume content differently so it’s important to vary the types of media and platforms you are using. Don’t jump straight into sending loads of emails.

You can share your content across different platforms in these ways:

Publish blogs on your website: add these to either your blog or resources section and at least think about the basics of SEO – you can read more about these here

Share your video across social media platforms: humans have really a short attention span so keep your video between 5-10 minutes and add subtitles

  • LinkedIn – upload your video natively rather than sharing a link to YouTube or Vimeo. This will get you the most reach (LinkedIn doesn’t like it when you try to send people away from LinkedIn). Include subtitles and keep your video to 10 minutes or less
  • Twitter – you’ll need to snip out a clip that’s 2 minutes or less
  • Instagram – you’ll need to snip out a clip that’s 1 minute or less for your grid, or alternatively you can upload a longer clip to IGTV

Social media posts: do some research into which social media platforms your target audience prefers using. Don’t just opt for your favourite one – it might not be the same as your audience!

  • Create visual posts for Instagram using punchy, eye catching statements

Instagram

  • Twitter has a 280 character limit so you’ve got to get to the point quickly

Twitter

  • Write a longer post for LinkedIn summarising a few key points

LinkedIn screenshot

Email marketing: create an email campaign for your waitlist sign ups and make sure to include your video and demo in one of the emails

  • First email = “thanks for signing up” CTA = download a guide
  • Second email = “here’s a useful blog” CTA = watch the demo
  • Third email = here’s our new service CTA = sign up for service

Keep creating and sharing content even after you’ve launched your service. It will continue to build awareness with prospects and show them you understand their problems and address these through your services.

You might even be reading this thinking, “I didn’t realise how much I need to learn about digging deeper into the issues my clients face, and how this impacts my marketing”. That could be a sign you need to join the next Accelerator coaching group. It’s a 12 week group walking you through the elements of marketing in order, so you can ultimately create a campaign for a one-off service, or for all the marketing for your whole firm. (Campaigns are the 12th and last session, because they bring together everything from audience to issues to website pages to emails, all in one.)

The last piece of advice I have for you is to remember how good you are at what you do, and you can be proud of what you’ve achieved. You’ve worked hard to launch your new service so take the time to recognise your hard work and enjoy showing your clients that you are worthy of their investment.