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How to make sure the marketing manager at your accountancy firm brings in the business you want

Apr 21, 2017

It’s tempting for accountants to hire a marketing person (either in-house or outsourced) and presume that they can be left to get on with things.

You’ve decided to invest the money – now they can go out and bring in new business for you. 

Nope.

The buck stops with you. You’re the leader, the owner, the managing director, the partner.

You are ultimately the one responsible for ensuring that the business is consistently and regularly bringing in new business: and simply hiring a marketing person and leaving them to get on with it will not achieve that goal for you.

One of the reasons many business-owner-accountants don’t manage their marketing person well is that you don’t know what to do. What to tell them. What to expect. How to determine if they’re doing a good job. If you’re getting the ROI you could be.

First, let me encourage you that you’ve done an amazing job at bringing in someone to help your firm with marketing. Whether in-sourced or out-sourced, it’s a decision many accountancy firms have not done, and great job for recognising that this is the right thing to do.

But now that you have this person, you can’t leave them alone and hope it all goes well.

Because if you do not properly manage them, here’s what will happen:

  • Their ideas will fade. You’ll kill their creativity if the pressure is too high and the encouragement is too low.
  • You won’t get great results. Your marketing will be held back, and you’ll both get discouraged, which will result in…
  • They will leave. They’ll get tired of feeling all the pressure of the business owner and the responsibility to bring in all the business – which is not their job – and they’ll give up and go somewhere else.

Let me tell you this: we have had three marketing managers of accountancy firms in the past month ask us if they could come work for us, instead. 

They’re frustrated.

They’re not getting support.

They got hired to do something they’re not being allowed to do.

You’re driving them away: and trust me, if you don’t want them, I do. I’ll take them from you if they want to leave.

I want marketing people who know accountants and get how hard it is to work with old-school marketing thinking and who are young and keen and passionate and enthusiastic.

But for those of you who want to keep your marketing manager, here are my tips to do so.

And I’ll support you – and them – all the way as you do this.

  • Give them budgets for things. Real cash money that they can spend. You can put limits on it – but it might surprise you. You might be amazed what they can achieve with a fiver a day on Facebook.
  • Ask them to try new things – and let them. If you say it and don’t mean it, they’ll either get frustrated and leave, or even worse they will capitulate and do what you want without giving an opinion at all.
  • Let them fail, and don’t condemn them for it. They’re not going to destroy the firm. Sending out an email that no one clicks on, or spending a few hundred quid that seemed to have no results, is not the end of the world. Failure isn’t an end: it’s feedback, and it’s a beginning.
  • Don’t pressure THEM to bring in the new business. That’s your job. I was speaking to a marketing manager at an accountancy firm recently who said the firm asked “How many clients do you think you can bring in by doing this marketing work?” The problem with that thinking is that it puts false pressure on the ‘marketing person’. Your whole firm does marketing. You, every accountant at the firm, even the receptionist. Take responsibility – don’t try to pass it off. Let the marketing person do their job, but the buck stops with you.
  • Encourage them to make the most of free training. There is a TON of free information out there – videos, email lists, programmes, checklists, templates, courses. Ask them what they’ve been learning about lately – and really listen to the answer.
  • Talk to them. Do not – I repeat, do not – simply throw them into the role and leave them to it. Ask them how it’s going. Ask for details. Meet with them as you would others in the firm. They’ll probably be able to teach you something.
  • Invest in marketing training for them. Don’t think of this person as a temporary filler who will go soon. They may very well be, for whatever reason, but if you invest in them, they will stay. I am shocked and horrified at how many stories I have heard lately of young marketing people at accountancy firms who are restricted at every turn. “Can I go on this course?” “No.”  “Can I get this training?” “Yes, but you have to show us how much new business you’ve gotten within this time period afterwards.”

Here’s a great video from Gary Vaynerchuk on taking responsibility for your business, and not passing the buck:

Oh, and here’s our Accountant’s “Marketing Team Journey” to give you an idea of how the process sometimes goes….

accountant marketing team

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