As accountants, you are natural planners and enjoy finding clarity in financial chaos. When it comes to marketing, the similar approach of finding clarity from creative chaos applies.In marketing you get to embrace your creative side. You get to experiment and try things until you find what works.
For accountants, creativity can cause a sense of fear to arise.
Fear is one of the most basic human emotions. It’s programmed into our nervous system. From an early age we are taught to stay in line and follow the rules. By not following the rules we are failing and we are taught that failing is bad and embarrassing. Our fear of failure can leave us paralyzed. Fear alerts us to the presents of danger and our individual experiences can cripple us. It can stop us from pursuing new things or reaching for more. If we continue to fear failure it will hinder us from creating good design.
We tend to believe if we make one mistake everyone will see it and hold us accountable to that mistake forever. This is especially true because mistakes in accounting are very serious. But making one slightly off brand social post or email header does not mean your whole marketing plans will fall apart or you will be embarrassed for the rest of your life. Most likely your post is not going viral and a million people didn’t see it: and also without making the mistake you would have missed out on a learning opportunity to do it differently the next time.
Sometimes we are making mistakes and don’t even realize it. As we grow we will continue to change and continue to make improvements to our marketing and to our brand. We will become more creative and continue to learn from our mistakes. Even if you currently have a website or a logo designed by a friend or family member and you aren’t happy with it or it’s not attracting the right clients for you, that’s okay. You can relook at your brand and your marketing at any time. You aren’t locked down. Your firm will continue to change and evolve. That means revisiting your brand and your marketing often. Constantly checking to make sure things are designed to benefit you and bring you the best clients. Don’t let the fear of feeling like you already made a mistake with your brand hold you back anymore. PF has been through this process ourselves. We are currently working on updating our website and have also had a full rebrand of our logo and changed some of the colors to fit us better. We did things along the way which we’ve changed our mind on, and these have caused us to always stay on our toes. This challenges us to focus on our brand – how it is ever-changing and how it speaks to our ideal audience.
For accountants who like to follow rules and not make mistakes this creative process can all seem a bit intimidating. So let’s make a plan, with small steps towards creating great marketing.
You may not know where to start or feel like you aren’t creative enough. You may not know who your ideal client is and what type of website or brand would appeal to them. Do you ever feel like you will get it wrong and everyone will notice? These are lies you are telling yourself. You are creative. These fears will continue to prevent you from moving forward. You will continue to delay your marketing until you overcome those fears. The longer you delay your marketing, the longer you will keep working with clients that you don’t enjoy. And you don’t want that.
But there is hope!
The first step to facing your fears is to understand them.
Let’s figure out why things are going wrong. Do you understand your values? Your process? Your client’s journey? If you haven’t brought these into your marketing, you are likely throwing together products and services that don’t represent your firm.
Throwing together the wrong thing could be the cause of your fear towards being creative, because the results just never work. By understanding your clients journey and your values you can better create things that speak to those clients. You can overcome your fear with confidence knowing that what you are creating is going to have a positive response and speak with the right people
The next step towards overcoming your fears is recognising you will make mistakes: and with marketing, that’s not only okay, it’s healthy and helpful.
When it comes to design one way we work through these mistakes is by creating drafts.
Drafts are stepping stones which will guide you to the end result. You do not want to miss this part. There will be mistakes. This is all part of the process. It’s ultimately better to have small train wrecks than bigger real ones. Try out the design you don’t think will work just to be sure they don’t.
Sometimes until you see a design worked out entirely in front of you it is difficult to envision what can go wrong. There are moments when I’m designing that I see an idea that I don’t feel is the best one. I force myself to design it, just to get it out of my head to refresh my mind and continue designing other ideas. Mistakes in design help us to see more clearly what it is we are trying to achieve. Designing drafts often throw us questions we hadn’t considered before. Mistakes are a way of learning. Without them we wouldn’t see the problems and therefore wouldn’t have known they needed to be fixed. Now that we know mistakes are part of the process we want to begin looking at them differently. As we better understand how our mistakes happen we can better understand how we can improve. If those mistakes would have never happened we wouldn’t be able to learn from them and move forward. Without failure there would be no originality. If we always follow the same rules and the same process we end up with the same result (which in some cases is not always a bad thing) but in design we want new results. We want to be able to play with new ideas and new concepts. Mistakes force us to dig deeper, to grow and to think smarter.
Another crucial part of making mistakes and accepting failure is setting limits.
There is power in limits. We aren’t able to try everything and need to use smarter ways to work. Most people won’t make these adjustments until they are forced to. The sooner you learn to set limits for yourself the quicker you will get to the end result. Finding a good balance for what we want vs what we can achieve will only speed up the process. Since joining PF I’ve had the urge to try many new things and use everything I know for all the things. This isn’t effective and will only cause things to slow down. Not every creative idea fits into every solution. Starting at PF, I got excited about designing clients’ websites and having the freedom to try all the latest trends and cool designs that I hadn’t been able to before. I quickly realized each client was different and had their own brand and unique strengths that set them apart. Designing for the client is not about the latest trend or new design, it is about what fits their brand best. It is about creating a design that speaks to only the best clients.
At PF we believe in bringing one fully designed concept to you for review. This doesn’t mean we never design more than one thing: it means we consider all the angles, and your purpose and perfect audience and the clients you want to work with, and design what will best help you attract those.
Initially it would make sense that getting more options would be better and give you a chance to “pick your favorite” . It’s initially exciting to have so many choices, but are you choosing what you like or what’s best for your clients? The process of choosing what you think is best can leave you confused and overwhelmed. As you bring in more options the challenge only becomes more difficult. At PF we create a design that will fit the brand and the client and requires a lot of research and understanding vs. a lot of random options. You can read more about this here.
One of the biggest challenges to overcoming your fear towards failure is creating a culture where it is accepted. The best way to continue learning from your mistakes is for your entire team to see failure as a part of the natural order to good design. Trust is one of the best tools for driving out fear. When you have a team that believes in you, you are able to gain that trust and explore all that you are capable of. This trust begins when our leaders make mistakes and can talk about them openly. By doing so we create a place where making mistakes is acceptable.
The fear of failure only makes us more prone to failure. Embrace it. Be wrong as fast as you can. Each idea that fails leads us to new ideas. We become more productive and driven to try again and again eventually bringing us closer to our end result. So get started. Start small by using a tool like Canva and try designing 5 different designs. Your PF Lab membership includes free access to all training sessions, including Canva training. It’s a space for you to try things in your marketing with the support of the PF team and other accountants. You can find out more here.
Push yourself to make mistakes and find great solutions.