start marketing

I’m ready to start marketing now!! …wait. What? Why am I waiting?

blue sand in hourglass

You’ve read through some of our content, watched a few videos, looked through this very website. You are READY TO GO. You want to start marketing, you want your marketing done and you want it done now! No more delays!

Hooray!….oh wait.

Now why in the world would we ask you to wait, when you are absolutely keen to go? Why would we not snatch you up as a new client instantly, and make it as easy as possible for you to sign up to whatever you are ready to sign up for?

Actually, we really, really want you to start working with us….if we’re right for you. If it’s a fit. If we both agree and are on the same page and have a similar marketing philosophy.

Because if we don’t, it will cause problems for both of us – and we care about you too much (even if we don’t fully know you yet) to allow you to leap into something you might change your mind about later.

Marketing is an area for accountants which is literally fraught with anxiety, frustration, bad experiences, lost money, fear, even anger. You’ve had bad marketing experiences. You’ve worked with agencies (or designers or developers or marketing managers) who have let you down. You’ve been disappointed and even though PF looks really good initially, you’ve got some doubts or hesitations.

Those are totally okay. Your doubts and fears are 100% valid. You are right to be unsure, to pause, to think about whether we’re the place you want to do business with.

Most of those fears relate back to your own ability to choose the best agency for yourself. It’s less about “Is PF a great agency to work with” (loads of accountants would say we are), and more about “Is this the approach to marketing I want to take, and am I willing to do the hard work?”

You may be framing this right now with “will I get a good ROI” and “is this worth the money”, but ultimately what’s underneath that is believing you can (and will) make the best decision about marketing for your accounting firm.

And that means having ALL the information. More than you may even realise you need right now.

So part of why we put some, shall we say, “pauses” in the prospect conversation is not to hold you back. Not to prevent you working with PF. But to honour even the slightest hesitation you may have, to address it, bring it into the light, and give you everything you need to decide. Even things you didn’t realise you need.

Here are some of them:

1. You may not know what you need yet

When you start thinking about marketing, most likely you’ve got something specific in mind. You know your website needs updating, or your branding and logo need work. You’re considering changing the name of your firm. You aren’t using social media and you aren’t sure if you need to. You want to create content, blogs and video and guides, but you don’t know where to begin. Something has motivated you to seek out help with marketing.

If we’ve learned anything in 9+ years of working with accountants all over the world (and we have), it’s that you don’t know what you don’t know. It’s the same situation your clients are in before they start working with you as their accountant. They THINK they need bookkeeping (or don’t). They THINK they understand management accounts (or don’t). They THINK they know what an accountant does (but you know they probably don’t!). And you need to show them, help them in ways an accountant has never helped them before. You’ve got countless stories of business owners who came with a problem and three months later were literally raving about you to every other business owner (or even person) they meet. “Come meet an accountant who isn’t like an accountant!” they cry. “I didn’t even know it could be like this!”

The same is true for you with marketing. Yes, you may need a new website. But did you know that your website is so intricately connected to your brand, that if you don’t address branding first, you’ll be wasting time on your website? Did you know the words on your website are one of the hardest and most challenging elements of creating content for your firm? Did you know choosing images is far more than scanning a stock photo library and picking ones you like, but actually goes back to being clear about your audience, your values, the core messages you need to share? Did you know the call to action you think is the best one (or currently have on your website) might actually be preventing you from getting new business?

We know those things because we’ve built thousands of websites for accountants, and we know what works and where it comes from – and our process has been built to literally save you time and money. It may not feel like that at first – it might feel like you’re spending more time and money – but we’ve seen far too many accountants skip the initial stages, skip working with PF, go off and do their own thing or work with someone else who promises bigger results, or hire a marketing person for their firm….and then come back to us a year later or even two or three years later saying “I see now what you mean. I wish I’d gone the path you laid out for me – I’ve spent a lot of time and money and am even more frustrated now.”

We don’t want that for you. You don’t want that for you.

So we pause, we share our marketing map and your accountant’s marketing journey, and we encourage you to learn about how it all fits together and make sure you cover all the foundations.

That’s why you start here:

  1. Accelerator (group coaching, 12 weeks): This is where you learn, on a drip feed over a 12 week period, how all your marketing fits together. Instead of randomly getting a new website built or writing blogs or doing Facebook ads, you see the whole marketing structure and your part to play in it. You create some content yourself and we review it. You get a one to one call with the owner of PF to deep dive into how it all applies to your firm. And you build community with other accountants who feel just like you do. This isn’t forced training to hold you back: it’s literally the fastest way to get you in the right place doing the right things. Without it, you’ll fire ahead in enthusiasm and then have to backtrack.
  2. Foundations workshop (one to one, 6 weeks): This comes after (or even during) the Accelerator group. Because once you’ve seen the big picture, and started to explore who your audience actually is, what your firm stands for, what your cornerstone content is, how your website needs to change, what content you love creating and what you don’t….that’s when it’s time to dig in to how all this applies to your firm specifically. There are four areas which you must explore in detail before you fire on all cylinders – because every single time we do one of these workshops, the accountant going through it has some kind of an epiphany or brainwave or new perspective, and you are so relieved you didn’t leap into building a new website when actually your logo needs refreshed first. Which changes the colours or the style and changes the whole look of your site. Or you want to fire ahead with an exclusive audience or niche, and discover during foundations that there are actually three audiences you want to experiment with until you find the perfect one.

So if you’re ready to fire on all cylinders, sign up for Accelerator AND the Foundations Workshop. It’s the fastest way to get going.

If you’re ready but want to take it more slowly, just sign up for Accelerator first. You can always sign up for Foundations once you’re ready.

2. You know you need marketing help, but what you’re figuring out is whether PF are the people you want to help you with that

In a sense, marketing has “sold itself” to you already. We don’t have to explain to you how important marketing is, how it helps bring you the best clients, or how you need to be doing something (if not a lot of things) differently to change what you’re getting now.

The question is not, do you need marketing (because after all every accounting firm needs to be doing and learning about marketing), but, is PF the agency you want to be working with?

And that’s why we take seriously the preparation – the diagnostics you fill in, the calls we have, the Accelerator group you join, the onboarding sessions, the Foundations Workshop you go through – because all of these will help you answer the question of whether WE are the agency you want and need and is the best fit.

If you decide you want your hair cut (or extensions put in, or coloured or highlighted or changed), there are countless hairdressers and beauticians to choose from. You’re not deciding if you want to get your hair done, you’re deciding which hairdresser you’ll work with. You may read their website, look through their Instagram before-and-afters, read testimonials and reviews on Google or Facebook, but you’re still going to go in and meet them. Maybe even have them do one thing before you decide to do something more dramatic. The product has sold itself to you, but who you’ll work with is still being confirmed.

The same is true for a fitness coach, a book coach, a life coach. Or a venue for a wedding or a nanny for your children. You’re determining how the fit is for you. Sometimes accountants think PF are great, and enjoy the Accelerator, and work with us on a small project, and then go do their own thing for a while. Sometimes they enquire and discover we’re expecting a collaborative, interactive process and they decide to pull back, because that’s not what they want. Sometimes an accountant simply signs up for Accelerator to learn a few things about marketing, and before they know it they’re getting a full rebrand and a custom built website and loving the entire process and going at top speeds.

Our marketing map has been crafted to give you enough time to make this decision without having only a few things to base it on. By the time you’ve learned about marketing in Accelerator, met and interacted with the team, submitted & got reviews of the content you’ve created, and gone through five intense sessions of a Foundations Workshop, you have a pretty good idea if we are your people. You get to see patterns of what it’s like working with our whole team: and we get to see patterns of how you’re involved in your own marketing.

3. You have expectations we need to know about (and you may not even know you have)

Expectations are the unknowns which can destroy a relationship. The more we know about what you’re expecting, and when, the more we can have honest conversations about what this looks like and how it fits with your reality.

Again, you’ve seen the same with your own clients. The prospect meeting is the most exciting ever! They have three businesses which are all doing really well! They’ve got tons of cash and are going to rule their corner of the world (or the whole world)! This is going to be the best!!…until it’s not. Until they get frustrated because they thought their self-taught bookkeeper (who happens to be the business owner’s partner, or an aunt or sister or family member) was doing everything right, and then you both discover they actually weren’t. And there are deeper problems than they knew. And they expected a lower tax bill or even a lower accountancy fees bill. Or they expected you to jump on a call with them any time day or night. Or you expected them to show up to meetings, and after a while they don’t. Expectations can destroy a business relationship and it’s so confusing and frustrating to deal with those later in moments of stress, rather than calmly at the beginning.

Just as we’d encourage you to slow down a little and make sure that perfect prospect is going to be an amazing client, we also will slow down a little to make sure we understand what you’re expecting and where that’s coming from. This could include your expectations on:

  • When you’ll see “marketing results”
  • Where those results come from
  • How much effort and time you need to put in
  • Who in the firm is involved besides you
  • What you need to learn
  • How deeply you need to share with us who you are and what you want out of life
  • How much everything is going to cost
  • How long of a relationship you’re anticipating building with a marketing agency

This is why we’ve crafted the Accelerator to include a group onboarding session, and the Foundations Workshop to include a personalised onboarding session (as well as the structure of the following five sessions). We know it takes time to discover what those expectations are. You may not even know what they are yet, and that’s okay. You might think you are completely open, and a few weeks or months in, discover you thought marketing was just something someone did for you. And you’re beginning to realise it’s always something which is done with you, because it’s your responsibility as a firm owner. Whatever the surprise expectations are, going slowly at first draws those out. Gives you the freedom to sign up for what you want and need and are ready for, and not more than that until you’re ready.

4. PF works differently to other marketing agencies and that will affect how you work with us

We are a creative agency, and a marketing company, and we work exclusively with accountants. But that doesn’t even come close to explaining the approach we have to marketing, and why. It is absolutely critical you understand how PF does things, and how that differs from other marketers or agencies you may have worked with in the past. Partly (again) because of expectations, and partly because the more you understand, the more comfortable you are making decisions about how much you spend, and when, and what that’s going to do for you.

A few key differences in our marketing philosophy are:

  • Collaboration: we do marketing WITH you, not FOR you. This means you will not simply sign up for a few things, tell us a little about you and your firm, agree your audience, and then hand the keys of the marketing kingdom over to us and get back to work. You and you alone own the keys to your marketing kingdom, because marketing is your responsibility. Yes, over time we’ll need less input from you on details (after a time, some of our clients have us post content on their behalf which they don’t have to review anymore because they know it will fit their tone and style and firm) – but we’ll always need to hear from you. And be talking to you, and meeting with you, and listening to your ideas. Because marketing is a reflection of the business you are doing, and you and the team are the ones who know that the best. Actually over time you’ll probably talk to us MORE, not less…but instead of this being stressful or frustrating, it will be exciting and motivating for you. We’ll go slowly at first, but if you’re fondly imagining marketing you are not involved in, that’s not good marketing, and PF won’t be a fit. (Matter of fact none of your marketing will be that good if you have that approach, no matter who you work with. But it particularly won’t work here, because we know how important you are, and we value you.)
  • Better, not more: focusing on clients you love, not just “more leads”. If you just want MORE, there are a lot of companies and tactics you can use to fill up the funnel. Lots of enquiries. People filling in forms or downloading things. But the accountants who work with PF are those who want, ultimately, every single client to be someone you love working with. Absolutely love. You enjoy their company, you’re excited to see their name on your phone or in your inbox, your team are singing their praises, you buy their product or recommend it to others, you wish every client was like them. That’s not impossible. It takes years of effort and a lot of hard work, and you’ll never have an absolutely fool-proof prospect system, but you can have a damn good one which filters out anyone who won’t be a fit. Or who won’t work the way you do. Or who doesn’t value your incredible expertise and support. Everything we do is to deliver the very best clients to you. Not simply more clients, some of whom you’ll have to fire or they’ll leave, at great cost to you, the firm, and the team. And that’s because we hold to this, too. We will only work with accountants we love – or at least who from everything we can see thus far, we will love more and more as we get to know you.
  • Marketing therapy: vulnerability, transparency, and humanity. True marketing is not “stuff you do” – social media posts, videos, analytics, efficiency, numbers, ROI. True marketing is a reflection of who you are as a leader, who your firm is and what you stand for, who your team and clients are. It helps the right people (those clients you will love) to not just say “I need some accounting services”, but to say “These accountants are my people, and I love them”. If that sounds a little too personal, too relational, too feelings-orientated for you, then PF may not be the place for you. We practice marketing therapy, which means we recognise your marketing issues and challenges aren’t simply solved by Doing More Marketing Stuff. These issues go deeper. We need to talk about who you are and why you started this firm and the clients you love. We need to hear about things you’ve tried which didn’t work, and money you’ve wasted, and what really pisses you off about prospects or onboarding or whatever. You may need to swear, or cry, or take time to think. We need to know what and who matters to you, and how you live life, and what you’re worried about or excited about or motivated by. All of this ties into marketing because marketing is, above all, personal. It must be. Or else it’s just pushy sales, and you don’t want that. (We certainly don’t.)
  • ROI: the long game. Okay, the big three letters: R – O – I. Return on investment. “SHOW ME THE MONEY!” you cry. This is a really important element of our marketing philosophy because our approach to ROI is different than others who work with accountants and other agencies. It’s not that we don’t want you to get good results, to get better clients who are more profitable to you. We absolutely do. You absolutely need to see your marketing deliver great results over time. But our approach to that result takes time. And it might take a longer time than you first expect. We’re in it for the long game, and we give you our full, undivided attention. We get to know you as a human. We involve your team. We listen. We call you out sometimes if you’re considering taking action which won’t help your firm, and we know it. So instead of looking at one-to-one ROI (“we did this one marketing action and did it deliver leads”), we look at the big picture. ALL of your marketing numbers, and some numbers you might not even think are marketing related. Not just your website analytics, but your social media numbers. Enquiries. Proposals. Average client value. Blog posts. Personal goals. Team involvement. It’s all an interconnected web of data which weaves together to deliver more of the clients you love, over time. And sometimes it takes a long time. The research shows you need to be all in for at least 18-24 months before that beautiful “drip feed” of perfect clients starts showing up. That doesn’t mean you won’t get any results at all – some accountants start seeing results really quickly once they start working with us – but it means patience. The long game. Keeping going, even beyond the point you think you’ve done it all for long enough. (You probably haven’t.) It’s going to be really frustrating for you if you get 3 months in and say “hey my social posts haven’t gone viral!” or “we only had a few likes on this video” or “we’re not getting loads of enquiries yet!”. That’s normal. It takes time. We’ll call you to be more involved, not less. And the results are so very, very worth it.

5. We want to give you our full undivided attention

As you’re starting to see, the way PF works with you is not to just churn out some content. Or hurry you through one strategy session and then get on with Doing Marketing Stuff. We take our time – and encourage you to take yours – because we really want to get to know you. The better we get to know you (and your firm, your values, your team, your clients), the better your marketing will be.

Think of it like hiring a marketing person or marketing manager for your firm. You would not simply hire this person, hand them a list of some marketing actions, and then go on your merry way doing accounting things while they magically make all the marketing happen. (If you do, it’s a recipe for disaster for you and for them, and they’ll quit or you’ll fire them. Lose lose. Don’t do it.) No, instead you will onboard them. Train them. Help them understand your firm, your culture and values, the way you speak and think and do business. The words you use and don’t use. The approach you take. You’ll review everything they create – blogs, videos, social posts, PDF guides, website pages – and give feedback. You’ll meet with them at least weekly at first, and maybe for quite a long time. They’ll get to know your team. They’ll pull together the marketing numbers and share them with you and the team so you can all agree together what’s a priority and what to change and what to start or end. They’ll run events and you’ll debrief after. They’ll listen to what the team are discussing with clients and bring that into your marketing.

That’s how it works with PF, too. We’re essentially your outsourced marketing department – whether we are the sum total of your marketing, or whether we support the existing marketing person or team who already work for your firm. Either way, we need to be involved. We set up a slack channel so you and the team can share quick ideas, or pictures of real things and real people and real happenings in the firm. We’ll run all-team sessions to gather content ideas and questions your clients and prospects are asking. You’ll involve your team in the Accelerator or PF Lab sessions so they understand how their contribution to marketing helps them enjoy their job more. We’ll be available to you when things go wrong and you want to bounce some ideas off your marketing people, or when things go really well and you are excited and get support to make more things happen. We’re your people. We’re here for you. So we need to prepare well to make sure we can be (and are not so swamped randomly signing up new clients that we’re not able to give you our full attention).

We take signing up new clients very seriously. It’s your decision, and it’s our decision too. Pretty much any accountant can sign up for the Accelerator of a Foundations Workshop: but past that point, when we get into considering monthly retainer work where we’re meeting with you regularly, getting to know your team, sharing your marketing copilot numbers, helping educate you and the team, and delivering custom content & design uniquely crafted for you….that’s too important to us to simply leap into. We don’t just take anyone who is ready to sign a quote: we follow a process to make sure it’s a fit for both parties. It’s like a hiring process. Just as there are potential employees who are lovely people, who have the right skills, but who also wouldn’t fit well or enjoy the PF life…the same is true with accountants. You can be a really nice person, who likes PF and wants to do good marketing, but you’re not ready to invest your time. Or you want to go through Accelerator again. Or you have a few things going on in the firm which need sorted first (like an issue with a business partner, or you’re deciding if you want to scale up or sell). Sometimes those issues are merely a reflection of how much you need and want marketing help (because every business problem is a marketing problem, and vice versa), but sometimes they mean it won’t be a fit, and we have to be honest about that. To be fair, whenever that does happen it’s usually a friendly, amenable conversation we have about it, or you park things and come back later. We’re always here if now is not the time.

So at the end of the foundations workshop (while you’re deciding whether and how much you want to keep working with PF), we consider on our end, too. We consider things like, are you willing to collaborate? Have you shown transparency and vulnerability, at least in small ways? Are you committed (and not going to give up a few months in)? Are you willing to listen and take our advice and expertise, and to ask questions to make sure you understand why it’s best? Do you have other advisors who give conflicting advice, who could make things a bit rocky? We make sure this relationship will (to the best of our knowledge) work, and work amazingly well – because we care about you and your marketing.

And for those of you who are excited, enthusiastic, willing, creating your own content, beginning to involve your team, looking for how you can be more involved with marketing instead of less, ready to have your marketing reflect the TRUE you, the real you….let’s do this thing. NOW we move fast and break things and step up and go all in. Because you’ve done the foundational work, and it’s time.

6. The number one reason people choose not to work with us, or stop working with us, is lack of collaboration

Ultimately, marketing is YOUR responsibility. We’re just here to help support you on your journey. And over time you’ll spend more and more time with PF, because you’ll have a team on your side who understand how you think. How you work. Who your team are. Your values. The way you write and talk and create content.

So that’s why this process exists: to help you feel more and more comfortable sharing who you are. Who your firm is. What matters to you. Why you’re doing this. You don’t have to share everything right from the beginning (transparency means sharing the right things at the right time to build relationship), but it does need to increase and deepen over time. If it doesn’t, and you find yourself pulling away from marketing or pulling away from PF rather than leaning in, then we need to chat about what’s missing or what you’re struggling with.

We’d love to be able to say that every accountant who ever works with PF stays with us for life. But that’s not reality, and it’s not real life. You go through seasons in your business: times when you feel like you’ve got this but you could use a helping hand; times when you feel lost and need loads of extra help; times when you have so many opportunities you need help prioritising what to do first and when.

You also go through seasons personally. A family issue, a health issue, your own mental health, challenges with the team, financial difficulties. Because marketing is so connected with yourself as a person (either just you, or your fellow partners or owners and your team), what you struggle with personally will absolutely impact your approach to marketing. The time you give to it. The questions you ask. The fears you hold. The experiments you are willing to try. The money you allocate to it. The content you create and the review time you designate. When that happens – and it will – you need to know you’re working with a company who has your back. Who will listen, and text you or phone you or just get on with the marketing work for you for a time.

All of that is possible because of the collaboration you’ve already put in, and are willing to continue to put in. You don’t have to share everything with us, but having a trusted relationship makes sure that marketing is the one thing in your life and business which is not a burden, even if everything else is. We saw that during the pandemic, when accountants we’d been working with for years needed blogs written and website pages and resource centres created and help with webinars. We were able to step up instantly and help serve in a difficult time because of all the collaboration and relationship which was already built. You saw it yourself with your clients: the ones you knew best, who communicated the most with you and shared how they were actually feeling, you were able to support in a deeper way even when the rules and regulations kept changing day after day, week after week.

This is why we don’t simply sign you up to a monthly retainer on day one, even if you feel right now like you really want that. Because the truly collaborative approach, the one which is supportive and encouraging and understands how you think with only a few words…that’s the one which delivers the dream of “marketing on a drip feed”. The one where you suddenly look back and realise after a few years you’ve refreshed your brand and built a new website and created new content and answered clients’ questions and clarified your audience and are getting better leads which come to you seemingly out of nowhere….and marketing doesn’t feel hard anymore. It’s not a burden. It’s not an obligation. You love it, and you love PF, and we love working with you, and you are consistently getting clients you love.

That’s good marketing. That’s worth a little waiting for.