Creating custom content for your accounting firm is as simple as answering the questions your clients and prospects ask you. It’s the “They ask you answer” concept and at first it’s so inspiring and even easy. Client asks question; you write out an answer or record a video and post it; others read it and you save time and get new clients; wins all round!
Only…after a while you begin to get overwhelmed with the sheer quantity of questions. Some are so simple it feels ridiculous to answer them in a blog post. Some are so complex and integrated you feel sure no one else will have this exact question, or if they do the answer will be slightly different each time, so why bother making content out of it?
Here’s how to prioritise those questions so you’re answering the very best ones – those which will accelerate a decision by your client or prospect.
Have you been asked this question before?
If you or your team have been asked this question even once before, you’re guaranteed to save time in the long run by answering it via blog post or video. That way, every time in future you get this question, instead of typing out an answer which takes you five or fifteen or thirty minutes, you simply find the link and share it. A minute, tops. (Especially if you have a document summarising all the content you’ve written, categorised by topic.)
Not only will answering these popular questions save you and your team hours of time: it also has the double benefit of enhancing the view of your expertise. When a prospect asks you a question and, instead of answering it with a personal email, you point them to a post or video or some form of content, the subtle message they’re receiving is that you’ve dealt with this before.
You know what you’re doing. They can trust you to work with them on the issues facing them and their business, because you have the expertise needed to address it. Not your first rodeo.
Look at the questions you’re considering answering, and give a higher priority to the ones asked multiple times. At a minimum, you and your team will be amazed by how much time it saves you. Over time you’ll see prospects making decisions faster, too.
Is it one of the Big Five?
In Marcus Sheridan’s book “They ask you answer”, he refers to five categories of questions which consistently outperformed the rest. “When reviewing the top performing content from my pool company, we found 5 article topics were consistently outperforming the rest,” says Marcus, referring to the company in which he first discovered the power of content marketing to drive new business. “These are the Big 5 blog article topics that drive the most traffic, leads, and sales for those smart enough to write about them.”
Here are the big five:
- Pricing: Even (or especially) for accounting firms, price is a big question your prospects want an answer to. You have a lot of options about how you present pricing on your website, but the key is to actually address the issue somehow. When you create content that recognises this is a genuine question and you’re not afraid of answering it, you build trust. Your prospect is most likely confused about how accountancy firms price their services: things like what’s required from them, how often they have to pay, what’s not included, how different services are calculated (like bookkeeping and payroll and the like). Help them get enough information to decide whether they are ready to get in touch. It will save you and them hours of time.
- Problems: What, actually, is the problem they’re searching for an answer on? Accountants may want to write content on Making Tax Digital or the new health care regulations for employers, but what problem is the business owner staring in the face? Start with that and help them understand how you help solve that sort of problem.
- Comparison: This versus that. Xero v Quickbooks. Excel v cloud accounting. DIY payroll v outsourced payroll. The key with comparisons is to be as honest as you possibly can. Don’t worry about being careful not to offend this company or that company: you’ll never please all the people all the time. Consider what you would say if someone was meeting with you and asked the question, and answer it that way. I know firms who are die hard Xero fans with reasons why; I also know firms who have used QuickBooks since day one and wouldn’t dream of using anything else. Whatever your opinion is, have one.
- “Best of”:Your prospects are looking for the best of….something. Best accounting software. Best accountant. Best approach to a management buy out situation. Some of the categories are:
- Best competitors (ie “best accountants in [your city]). Again, be honest. Who else is really good – either in a niche area or in general? So few accountants are willing to approach this even with a ten foot pole, so you’ll stand out. Wouldn’t YOU be impressed if another accountant in your city wrote on the best accountants and referenced you? Wouldn’t your prospects be blown away by your confidence and lack of fear? Think collaboration, not competition.
- Best in class: go as detailed as you like. Software, apps, tech, events…
- Best practice: look for “teachable moments” about the services you provide, and create content around that.
- Reviews: The reason TripAdvisor is so popular is that we want to get reassurance before we commit – to a hotel, to a city, to an attraction of some kind. What can you review that will give prospects reassurance about working with you? Are there questions they ask relating to honest reviews or something or someone, which will help them gain confidence?
Look again at your list of questions. If any of them touch on the Big Five, prioritise those in a hurry.
If the question is simple or specific, is there a greater question behind it?
Sometimes the question you’re asked is in itself very simple indeed. Or very specific. One of our clients said they had been asked the question, “Which bank account do I pay my VAT bill from?”
On the surface it seems like a question that’s not worth wasting time on. But we dug deeper: who was asking this question? Why?
Turns out it was a client who had recently switched company structure, from a partnership to a limited company, and their question came from that. We started talking about that greater issue about the change in company type, and suddenly one of the team members realised this was something that happened fairly frequently. “We could write a post on the typical problems people have when switching from a partnership to a limited company,” she said. “There are at least four or five of those I can think of.”
You’ll notice that now the question falls into one of the big five categories, too: Problems!
Will it help prospects make a buying decision faster?
This is the ultimate consideration to help you make a decision on the priority order of questions. One of the primary reasons you write content is to help prospects who are considering working with you. They’ve stumbled across your website, or been sent there specifically, or they’ve been referred: and they will absolutely spend time reading what you have to say.
One of the firms we’re working with had created a Gsheet list of questions to answer and he had well over 150 questions. How in the world would he decide where to begin? We talked about the big five and some of the other considerations, but when we asked this question about prospects he suddenly was enabled to set priorities much faster. He realised that nearly 50 of the questions related to brand new startups in his niche, and although he definitely wants to help them in the long run, his higher priority was getting clients who have established businesses in that niche. Businesses with income and profits who are able to pay accounting fees. “I’ll write the answers to startup questions later,” he said, “but I can see how the questions relating to the more established businesses are more urgent and will deliver results faster.”
If you’ve got your list of questions already, use these priorities to help you decide which one gets answered first. The questions ticking all or most of the priority boxes get moved to the top of the list.
And if you don’t have that list yet, start today!