One of the hardest things for accountants today is coming to grips with the fact that marketing now requires your time.
You used to be able to choose.
It was a choice of whether you would spend time, or spend money, on marketing.
You didn’t have to do both. You could, back in the day, choose to just spend money on it.
If you put enough money into the right people or the right experts, the leads would come – like magic. It was a big leap, spending hundreds or thousands a month on telemarketing or direct mail campaigns or event marketing or even PR, but once you took the leap and paid it, within even a month or two it would begin to pay off.
Unfortunately, that is now no longer the case.
Because your buyers want to hear from you – either you personally, or you the firm – it’s absolutely critical that you be actually involved in your marketing. That you go to meetings, and hire marketing people (either outsourced or insourced), and watch videos, and learn social media, and log in to your own CRM system, and go to conferences, and download new apps on your mobile.
Even if you hire a marketing manager for your firm, you’ve still got to invest time with them. You can’t just assign someone the task of sending out a few email newsletters and get back to working with your clients.
That doesn’t work anymore. If it’s working for you now (with literally no effort from you at all), rest assured that process will dry up soon.
- Your buyer is tired of generic messages.
They want all your marketing to reflect you so well that by the time they meet you (in person or online), they feel like they’ve already met you. That doesn’t work when you’ve paid a telemarketer to ring round and ask people if they want to save tax.
- Your buyer wants you to care.
If you’ve hired an “SEO expert” to push out tired message after tired message on your firm’s Twitter account, one glance will be enough to tell your buyer that you don’t care enough about your marketing to be personally involved in it – you’re just throwing money at it hoping something will stick.
- Your buyer can spot a sales tactic a mile away.
What works with your potential buyers is not “Here’s our accounting/VAT/tax/payroll service, buy now” – it’s the care and concern you have for them personally, and for their situation. Accountants are brilliant at this in person: now it’s time to be that way online. If you’re paying someone (or buying templates, or signing up for the latest get-rich-quick scheme), your buyer knows it. And they’ll go elsewhere.
- Other accountants are learning marketing.
They’re getting really, really good at it. They’re joining mastermind groups and learning social media and buying video equipment and working late in the evenings or early on the weekends. They’re personally involved in their own marketing efforts, and it’s paying off.
So, that’s discouraging – thanks a lot, Karen. Now I’m not only swamped with client work and tired and weary and wishing I could find a little more time for my family, but you’re telling me I have to invest more time? I have to somehow scramble around in those precious 24 hours (with perhaps a few for sleep) and carve out another 15 minutes or 2 hours or 2 days?
I get it. I really, really do. When you’ve been in a pattern for years and it has to be changed, it can feel discouraging. You feel like you’re so far behind you will never catch up.
Let me encourage you that the smallest changes will, absolutely will, begin to bear fruit for your marketing.
But there’s no way around it – you will need to make some changes.
Here are a few tips for carving out more marketing time, when you don’t have any time:
1. Do it anyway.
We all have 24 hours in the day, and people like Michaelangelo and Mother Teresa and Simon Sinek and Daniel Radcliffe all have the same number of hours to do what they do. We all know that if something matters, you’ll make the time for it. Marketing matters, and you know it.
2. Get focused.
I was reading about the production of the film Independence Day (the original one), and discovered that according to IMDB, “Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich penned the script in four weeks. It was sent out on a Thursday, and they started fielding offers the next day. By Monday, they were in pre-production.” I find the way actors and filmmakers use their time to be absolutely fascinating – the amount they get done in a 72 hour period is phenomenal, because they’re entirely focused.
3. Cut out the faff.
When you don’t know where to begin, or you have a task that you’re dreading for whatever reason, you’ll start faffing about. Replying to non-urgent emails. Checking Facebook or Twitter and scrolling for ages. Stand chatting to a co-worker for much longer than normal. There’s nothing wrong with any of these if you’ve got the time – but if you never seem to have the time for anything that is marketing related, now and then you’ll have to discipline yourself to get stuck in, whether you feel like it or not.
4. Join an accountability group.
Even though I’ve created and deliver a Content Marketer programme for accountants monthly, I still joined a content marketing group myself so that I can get continual encouragement and reminders to press on. There’s a Slack group (rather like our PF community Slack group) and people post wins and ideas and questions and links to their own content, and it’s really inspiring. Actually, to be honest, there are some days where it isn’t inspiring – it’s discouraging. I think, “They’ve achieved all that, and I haven’t gotten a single person signing up for this event or programme or webinar today.” But it all comes round in the end, and three days later I’m sharing a win because people did, eventually, sign up or attend or register interest or send a query.
5. Get a coach.
I’ve got three coaches I’m working with. One is a business coach, for the company as a whole, and we discuss strategy and team and priorities and goals. One is my accountant, who I meet with monthly to discuss results and review profits and see how my business decisions are impacting the bottom line. And one is a developer-slash-strategist-slash-everything-else who is helping me with the practical system builds of member sites and websites and an incredible new quoting and proposal tool. By the way, that is going to be so, so amazing, you guys. I cannot wait to share it with you – and best of all you accountants can use the same system to send out quotes and proposals to your prospects. I have to hold my enthusiasm in a little because I’m tempted to get carried away – but that’s a result of my calls with James, because he gets excited and that flows through to me.
6. Stop thinking like an employee.
The employee mindset says “It’s Friday at 4pm…I can start winding down” or “It’s Saturday – I never work on a Saturday”. And that’s fine, for an employee. But if you’re the owner of an accountancy firm, or ready to be invested in your marketing, it’s time to think differently. To get excited about learning the latest in video, even at 9pm on a Friday night. To attend that 6am webinar because it’s a topic you need to learn more about. To record a video when you think of it – not because you have to, but because you want to. It takes practice, but it’s well worth it.
7. Involve the team.
Marketing isn’t something you just do yourself, as the owner, and leave the team members to do accounting in the background. The more involved your team are, the better your marketing will be. A few points on this: First, if you have members of your team who groan and mutter and mumble and make your life miserable when you want to involve them in marketing, you may want to reconsider if they’re the best people for your team. Second, if your team show any – and I mean ANY – inclination for marketing, you jump all over that. Encourage them. Spend money on them. Send them to courses and conferences and let them take time to attend webinars. I cannot stress enough how important this is: I personally know several accountant team members who are ready to leave the accounting firm they are working for, or have already put in their notice, because the firm will not allow them to spend any time on marketing, or courses, or something besides the bog-standard accounts. You will lose team members if you don’t invest in what they care about. Please, please don’t let that happen.
8. Ask for help.
If all of this merely discourages you further, or you don’t know where to begin, or you’re tempted to just file this marketing tip away and “think about it later”, please ask for help. Reply to this and I would be glad to send a few thoughts or answer a question or arrange a chat with you, if that would help. Many other people are willing to help, too: but they won’t know you’re floundering unless you admit it.
9. Take a break with the purpose of rejuvenation.
If you have worked too hard, too fast, too much for too long, and you’ve even tried all of the above things and none of them have helped, then it might be time to just pull the plug for a week and go on holiday. On your own – with your family – in your own home without ever leaving the country. But don’t do it randomly and then get sucked back into the vortex on your return: plan ahead so that once you’ve had your restoration time (#restpillar), you come back ready to action one of the items above.