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Treat your partners & the rest of the firm as potential clients, to get their buy-in to content marketing

You’re all in with this content marketing concept: but some (or all) of the partners or the rest of your firm aren’t.

What do you do?

How do you get across to them the amazing truths that you’ve learned? Bring them into the fold and get them excited about what’s really possible? Things like…

  • Not perfect but done: Even spelling mistakes aren’t the end of the world.
  • The long game: It can take 30 months or longer for your content marketing efforts to really kick off
  • Engagement, not views: Having three people comment is better than having three thousand people click ‘like’. And social media is not for sales.
  • The power of niche: Choosing a niche or focus area is one of the best ways to make your marketing ultra-successful (and yet it, too, plays the long game)

And yet when you share them, others don’t seem to take them on board in the same way. They find them vaguely interesting, or show interest but then cancel because they have client work to do, or (worst of all) ask you to prove the amazing results yourself, without support from the rest of the firm.

How do you get them as excited as you are?

First, you’ve got to remember that you’ve taken in these lessons over months or years or even longer. You’ve read books, listened to webinars and podcasts, talked to like-minded accountants, seen what’s possible for accountants in marketing. It’s been a slow burn for you.

Second, you are in a position of double difficulty. You’re trusted, as a team member or fellow partner…but you’re also internal, rather than external. I’ve had meetings in which I’ve shared content marketing concepts with a group of partners, and afterwards one person has said, “That’s what I’ve been telling them for years! And you say it once and they suddenly get it!”

In order to get the rest of your firm on board, you’re essentially doing the job that I, and we all at PF, do every single day.

We do everything we can to help educate accountants about the power of content marketing for their firms.

If you’re going to get the rest on board, you need to take everything you’ve learned about content marketing, and apply it – internally – to your partners and the rest of the team.

Remember the progression model?

There we talk about how your prospects don’t simply decide to buy from you instantly today because you have a new website. Or because you ran a Facebook ad. It’s a long term, drip feed of information, education, support, help, ideas, case studies, stories, wins.

The same progression applies to those who are still learning (or even closed-minded to) content marketing.

Think of your partners and team as a potential buyer: not of your services, but of the concept of content marketing.

And in this case, you are the salesperson.

You have the position of trust.

You’ve shared a little information with them, and it’s sparked a tiny flame of interest (or perhaps none at all yet).

As we know from our studies in content marketing, “being the salesperson” does not mean shoving it down their throats and pressuring them to buy (or to embrace content marketing and social media for the entire firm). You do that, and you’ll only push them away further.

You share good content. You encourage. You support. You invite them to events they would benefit from. You be present, and you wait, and you let them come around in their own time.

Here’s what I recommend you do:

 

1. Regularly share helpful content that is specifically relevant to what they need to learn about content marketing.

We have truckloads of it (digital ones) at PF. Here are a few things you can send regularly:

You’ll notice I’ve picked out the ones that have the words and concepts of interest to lead-hungry accountants. New leads. Xero. Social media. Website. Winning awards. SEO.

Those are all things that they care about as a concept (or have a vague notion of) so it will be far more appealing to send them something about SEO than it will be to send them blogs about how long things will take (i.e., a very long time).

 

2. Share case studies and stories.

These are extremely powerful for potential buyers, because they give proof. Your buyer can read a website page or like a social post or watch a video, and be impressed by what you say. When others are saying it too, that adds impact.

In the same way, share stories of accountants successfully doing content marketing, or social media, or a rebrand – whatever it is that your firm most desperately needs to be doing (but isn’t).

We have a host of stories on the Our Clients page – each one explains how that accountant (or firm) went through an education process of their own.

Every time you hear of an accounting firm doing something amazing – especially if it’s along the lines of what you would love to see your firm doing – share it. Not in a salesy, pressured way, but simply sharing it.  “Hey, look at this firm’s new rebrand. It’s really bold!” or “I love this blog post – what a great perspective on MTD.”

 

3. Start measuring everything so you can share your own amazing results.

If you want to show the power of content marketing, start by tracking all the numbers so you can impress them with the results you get when you start taking action.

Here are some numbers you could be tracking:

  • Website: What website pages are visited by new visitors, and how long do they stay? What’s the bounce rate (how quickly they leave) and on what pages?
  • Blog: How many blogs are written each month? How many times are they shared on social? What social platforms? How many likes, shares, comments?
  • Social: Which platforms are you on? Which platforms are you NOT on? How many followers? Likes each month? Shares? Comments? DM’s?
  • Videos: How many videos are produced? How many views are they getting on YouTube or Vimeo?
  • Enquiries: How many do you get each month, or week? How did they make the first enquiry (phone, email, twitter DM, linkedin message, text)? What did they enquire about? What did they eventually buy?
    • Side note: I wouldn’t stress out too much about ‘source of enquiry’, because it’s a misleading category. You can identify at what point they finally decided to get in touch, but when you do content marketing well, there could have been years of connection first, in so many different ways.
  • Proposals: How many did you send out? What was the response rate, and within what time frame? What’s the number value of the proposals sent, and of those accepted?

Those are a few ideas: I’m sure you can come up with many more!

Remember: The point of tracking these numbers is to see what you’re doing now, and to see the effect of your content marketing efforts in all these areas. So don’t merely track them: take action.

If the current number on some of these is “zero”, then great! You’re in the perfect place to begin and show incredible results!

 

4. Remember that the tipping point is different for each person.

Some buyers attend an event and are ready to change accountants. Others are on your email list for years before it ever crosses their mind.

In the same way, people at your firm will cross the content marketing line at varying times. Some will attend a webinar and suddenly “get it”, and get excited and want to help support you in your marketing efforts. Others will read blog after blog and agree with you that it is true and wonderful and right, and go on their merry way doing more client work.

Don’t be discouraged if you feel like you’ve been preaching the same thing for months and no one is getting it. Keep at it with patience and persistence: and most of all, keep doing content yourself, no matter what.

 

5. Create content for yourself (or even under your own brand).

If there’s strong resistance to content marketing under the brand of your firm, you’ve still got plenty of avenues in which to share content which will benefit your firm:

  • LinkedIn: Use your own page to share posts and make comments, connect with potential buyers and strategic partners, and share LinkedIn pulse posts (it’s like your own blog post on the LinkedIn platform).
  • All the socials: Create a profile on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, at a minimum. Share things that are relevant to your niche or target audience. Connect with the type of people you want to be doing business with, and other accountants whose marketing work you admire.
  • Your own domain: One of the pieces of advice I’ve heard many times is to buy your own name as a domain. It’s a no brainer. If it’s available, buy it. It’s up to you if you want to share blog posts on that domain, but it could be a way to generate your own content under your own name.
  • Video: Create a YouTube channel and begin sharing helpful, regular content on it. Buy your own video equipment, if you have to. If you believe in what content marketing can do, put your own personal money into it.

 

6. Make sure they know the cost of waiting.

My experience, particularly with larger firms, is that it can take 3-10 years for the “bigger ship” to really turn around. (As opposed to the smaller firms who can whip round in zippy fashion and make changes almost overnight.)

Once things change – and the partners are on board and the team are more involved and there’s a marketing team to lead it all – your firm can see some incredible results.

But there are three major costs to a firm who takes a particularly long time to come round to how marketing is done now.

The first is the cost of all the clients you could have been getting.

The longer the firm delays, the longer everything will take. You could be looking at 30 months or longer from the point at which you finally all decide to really give this thing a go.

Every month that goes by with inaction is a month in which someone decides not to work with your firm, but someone else instead.

The second is the speed at which your competition is moving.

And this cost has to be combined with the first cost. If your firm waits, and everyone else stays in the exact same position, you’ve got one level of delay.

But all the accountants competing with you are not staying in the same position. They’re moving – fast. They’re recording video and rebranding and building incredible websites and hiring amazing people and even building marketing teams.

So by the time you get moving, you’ve got even more ground to cover. Your firm could be even further behind than you thought.

The third is the cost of losing an extremely motivated employee (or even partner).

I’ve seen people become incredibly enthusiastic about content marketing at an accountancy firm – everyone from marketing managers to client managers, tax accountants to partners, receptionists to directors. And yet over time, some of them get so discouraged and so frustrated with the lack of support that they decided to leave.

That’s the last thing I want for you, or for any accounting firm. I want the amazing people to stay. The excited, forward thinking, content-creating, human accountants to stay where they are and help turn the big ship around, even if it takes time.

And I trust that’s the case for the firm you’re in. They want you to stay. They value your opinion, your enthusiasm, your view of the future, your skills and potential. And despite the fact that not everyone else is on board in terms of marketing, you’re confident that over time they will be.

If that’s not true, or you suspect it might never be true, I challenge you to seriously think about the impact on your own future if things don’t change at the firm in the next 3-10 years.

That’s a high cost, and it’s a dangerous one. But it must be considered – by everyone involved.

If this struck even the slightest of chords for you or your firm, gather a few people from your firm on the upcoming Accelerator group. There’s a team option which allows one or two or twelve or fifty people to access all sessions online, the Slack community group, and all recordings forever.

We’ll address all of these issues, some great stories, and help provide a good start to getting your team enthusiastic about how content marketing really does work: for them.

It’s one more step towards getting the whole team with you on this content marketing journey!

Involving the team in marketing for your accounting firm from We are PF on Vimeo.