Okay, you’ve started to address your team’s marketing concerns.
You had one conversation or team meeting, and it was really positive, and you feel like you’ve taken steps to get the team involved in your accountancy firm marketing.
Three days later (or weeks or months) you’ve realised that nothing has really changed. You’re still the only one doing the marketing. Or maybe no one is.
The answer is not to get frustrated and whirl round the office telling people they need to write blogs and record video and start using social.
The answer is also not to try harder yourself, hoping that the team will see your good example and spontaneously want to be like you.
And whilst outsourcing your marketing is a great idea, there are some things you can’t outsource: like recording a quick video while the client is there in the office. Writing down notes from a meeting you held, so a blog post can be written later. Looking through email inboxes for questions from clients and prospects.
That’s called ‘raw content’. You may take that raw content and outsource the editing and shining and publishing of it, or you may do all that editing and shining and publishing in house. Either way, it’s critical to get your team part of the marketing efforts so that you’re creating content actually relevant to the type of clients you want to do business with.
Having worked with accountants for many years doing outsourced marketing with them, I can safely say that one of the things that sets apart the firms who are getting the results you wish you were getting, is involving their team.
And having helped accountants try many different things, here are the ones that work.
I know accountants like step by step processes. Well, here you go. Follow it. Tick them off one by one. And invest yourself in it too. There’s really no way to lose when you do that.
1. Buy THE book.
It’s called “They Ask You Answer”, by Marcus Sheridan. There is no single book that inspires and motivates accountants to marketing more than this one. It encourages me immensely. I used to say that I wished I’d written the book myself, but now I’m glad I didn’t. Because now I can say ‘buy the book’ with no arrogance whatsoever. It’s not an option for you, if you want really kick ass marketing. Buy the book.
Don’t just buy it, either. We all know what it’s like to click a few buttons on Amazon and feel like you’ve made progress somehow. That’s not what I’m talking about. I want you to buy a copy for yourself, and also buy a copy for each member of your entire team. The receptionist, the IT guy (or girl), the other partners. Ask them to read it, and set up a meeting date for when you all will talk about it.
You’ll need to do these things personally:
- Read it yourself.
- Make notes, jot down ideas for content
- Talk about it in the office (to the point that people are sick of it)
- Write blogs and record video and create content from the ideas you got
- Arrange a team meeting or get together to talk about what you all are learning from the book
- Remind people to read it
- Help them understand why it’s so important that the whole team read it
- Address the fears or concerns or reasons they’re not reading it
Above all….give them time to read it!! If you ask them to read it, you have to let them do it, even on company time. When you see a team member sitting in a corner reading THE book instead of working on accounts, don’t even make a joke about them wasting time. They’re not wasting time.
This is a serious point. Every joke you make has a little bit of truth in it. If you tell the team that this is really important, and then you make a “joke” that they are wasting your precious time or not prioritising clients, they’ll laugh, shut the book, and go back to client work. If you have serious concerns about a team member not using their time well, have a chat with them about that. But let them read!
2. Run a “they ask you answer” workshop in house
This is one of the easiest workshops you’ll ever run. I’ve written an entire post on how to run a workshop like this, but after I shared it I got an email from an accountant who ran one himself, and here are his tips for you. Many thanks to Chris Pickard from Bateman Mackay for these tips!
- I attached the session to a meeting they were already having, so it was less of an inconvenience
- I asked them to come up with 10 questions beforehand (not everyone did this). This helped ensure everyone had something to say, eliminated “thinking time”, and made them all a little more comfortable by being prepared
- I began with any and all questions, to get the idea across and address any initial uncomfortableness, then I transitioned to more focused questions that I wanted to be addressed, or that focus on new types of business.
- The biggest success for us was the people in the room. They were receptive to the idea, and once they got going, they really used each other as jumping points.
- While the focus was the question session, other “things that came to mind for the marketing guy” came naturally from this session.
- I planned for having an hour and ended up with 35 mins
- Trying to type the questions they were coming up with myself and lead the session became tough due to the number of questions they were sharing
- Some people did not come prepared
- Some questions will not be useful
“The result from one 35 minute session with the team was that I have about 41 questions in total, and 6 case studies.”
Look at that result!! 41 blog post titles. 6 case studies.
This is the kind of stuff accountants need and want to gather but it takes too long. It’s too hard. You don’t know where to start.
Now you do.
Amy Larman of Farnell Clarke had a similar experience.
The only challenge you’ll face, like Amy and Chris and everyone else who does a workshop like this, is, “How in the world do I create all this content now??”
That’s a brilliant problem to have. We’ll help you out with that. You do the part that only you can do!
3. Share free marketing training with the team
It is not only the ‘marketing person’, or the partners or owners, who need to learn something about marketing.
There is SO much free content out there to help your team understand how marketing works, what their involvement can be, and how it will help them in their job (not simply help the firm).
One thing I will caution you on: make sure that the free content you’re sharing with the team is really good content. Watch it yourself. Evaluate it. Think about it. Consider the results accountants (or other businesses) are getting from this advice.
It will be really tempting to get an email with a link to a webinar and think “oh this will be great because it has the word marketing and the word accountants in it – I’ll forward it to the team, job done”.
Don’t be lazy.
There’s some outdated, old school, not so useful stuff out there. Things that have been shared with accountants for years and years, and are based on an outdated understanding of how your buyers buy.
We are doing a series of in-house team trainings on all the social media platforms, and two of our team members were on maternity leave and just got back in June. Both of them said that all the social platforms, but particularly Instagram, had changed so significantly during that time that everything felt brand new.
That’s how fast marketing changes. It’s not enough to find some random training that purports to help accountants with marketing. Be careful with the ones that promise to share the secrets of marketing, show you tricks and tips that no one else knows, get you rich quick. You know that the best results come from steady, focused, consistent content delivered in the same direction, month after month, year after year.
Here’s a bunch of free content from PF. We give away as much as we possibly can. There’s paid-for stuff too, but you’re welcome to every free thing we have on offer.
And if there’s anything missing, or a topic you can’t find, drop us a note.
We’ll find it (or create it) and send it to you.
4-session Marketing Masterclass (with Chris Marr):
- Return on Investment: What’s the ROI for content marketing? How do you measure it and how long does it take?
- Getting buy–in from the team: When your entire team buys into marketing, your return increases exponentially.
- Getting it done: Time is not the reason you’re not seeing results yet. It’s always something else. This session covers small things that will help you and your team actually get marketing done.
- Building a marketing team: Your ultimate goal is to bring marketing truly in house, like the best businesses do. But how does this process work? What if you’re not ready to hire a marketer yet? How do you get there? This session takes you through the journey step by step.
Traits of the Entrepreneurial Accountant
This guide will explain how to think like a business, not an accountant. It will help your team start to see that there’s a bigger world for accountants out there, and they can be part of it! Includes quotes from 17 amazing entrepreneurs, some of them accountants and some not!
Free social media training
When we look at the aspects of social media that you need to know as an accountant, there are five areas that come up again and again. Watch the videos yourself, use them as team trainings, talk about how to implement them. The 5 areas covered are:
- Introduction to social media for accountants: Why is it so important?
- What social media channels will you be on? There are so many. How do you choose?
- Building a targeted audience: How to get the right people to find you
- Build trust and relationships: You don’t simply “get leads”. You make connections first.
- Generating leads: Now we get to the good stuff!
Tons and tons of more free stuff
It keeps coming and coming! Register for the Customer Hub so you have access to all the free things.
4. Join the 12 week Accelerator
This is a shameless plug for our 12-week course for accountants who want to learn marketing, and do marketing, with confidence.
The feedback we’ve been getting is incredible. Accountants are writing blogs. Signing up for social platforms. Getting team members to get their photograph taken, or record a video. And most of all, they’re seeing how all of this marketing ‘stuff’ is what delivers to them the better quality leads they’ve been looking for.
“It was effective at making sure that we did what we need to do rather than sitting back. I’ve been to a lot of ones where I sit back and say that was very nice, I should be doing that….and 2 months later you’re back to the beginning! I have taken action and want to continue taking action.” Doug Stansbury, Stansbury & Co
“After the session on campaigns, we started to put things onto Infusionsoft. We mapped out a few campaigns, which is really exciting and already saving us time. We’re beginners, but we’re getting more knowledge and are getting internal processes automated.” Guy Robinon, Xebra Accounting
“It’s helped me put the point across to the partners in the firm. I do know what I’m talking about. I am in the right place, and what I’m doing is right. It gave me confidence, and helped me to see I’m not a bit of a fraud (I’ve listened to that voice in the past!). This is what everyone is doing and where we need to be going.” Paul Atkinson, Lawrence Grant
If you have been wanting to get marketing done, yourself and with your team, this will help you do it. No question.
There’s even an “unlimited” option where you can sign up your entire team. Anyone in your accounting firm gets to be part of the 12 week course, with no limit. You have 10 people? Send them all. You have 100 team members? Bring them all.
(Oh – and if you’ve already gone through the Accelerator, you can do so again at a super-special offer. Some of our members are going through it for the third time. Drop us an email or DM on social and we’ll send you the secret link.)
5. Attend CMA Live (2 day content marketing conference)
This is the single best way to get your team involved, excited, and enthusiastic about content marketing.
If PF were going to run an event on content marketing, it would be like this. And since this one is so good, we figure we’ll simply send you along to it.
The event is run by Chris Marr of the Content Marketing Academy, who helped deliver the four sessions of the Marketing Masterclass mentioned above. (Watch all those sessions to realise Chris knows what he’s talking about.)
The event is like no other – the closest example I can give you is Xerocon, but even that is still different because it’s so big (3000 last year and more this year I’m sure). CMA Live is smaller – usually 150-200 people – so you get to talk to everyone. The speakers hang out and chat. You can get books signed. You and the team will engage with the entire event and learn more about marketing than you ever did in the year before you came.
I’ve been following all these steps myself in PF. I bought the team copies of the book, we’ve run workshops in house, they get training regularly, and they’ve all attended the Accelerator. But when I brought at least half of the PF team to CMA Live last year, it was the single biggest bound forward in terms of team involvement in marketing that I’ve ever seen.
Tom is recording a video every single day for 90 days.
Chryzia wrote her first blog ever, with incredible sketchnotes.
Jenn is posting on Twitter.
Jill is writing blogs on client questions.
Simply going to the event isn’t a one-off thing you do: send one person, get them enthused, everyone else focuses on accounting. It’s important that you do all the other steps first, so when they get to the event they are ready. Primed. Excited (maybe a little bit nervous).
Best of all, this is not an event of accountants.
This is best because it will open your eyes to the fact that:
- Everyone struggles with content marketing. It’s not because you’re an accountant that it’s hard…it’s hard for all of us.
- So few accountants, still, are actually doing this consistently. You want to stand out amongst the competition? This is how to do it.
- You CAN do this. Although the very traits that make you a great accountant can betray you when it comes to marketing, you can still triumph over them. And you will.
Get on the waiting list for CMA Live 2019.
6. Build a content calendar with the whole team contributing
This is your ultimate goal. It’s where you’re going with all of this training, and building, and team involvement.
Having a 6 month content plan will help immensely to plan out all the marketing you’re going to be doing. I wouldn’t recommend it be longer than 6 months – things change too fast!
If you have (like Chris) 45 blog post titles and 4-5 case studies to write, when are you going to write them? When will they be published, and in what order? Will you write blog posts only or record a video to embed with some of them? How will they be shared on social? What custom graphics do you need to create?
Now that the team are trained, enthused, and best of all in a habit of creating content, put it into a monthly calendar. Depending how many team members you have, if one of them creates a new piece of content every week, their turn might only come round every few months or so (or longer). It’s a small investment of time per team member, and the impact for your firm will be huge.
You can of course outsource some or all of that content calendar. Once you’ve got the raw content from the team, getting it actioned on a monthly basis can be something that happens in the background while you’re continuing to meet with clients and prospects, and getting accounting work done.
An in-house marketing planning workshop will help you create this plan, or you can give it a bash yourself. Let me know how you get on!
You’ll notice that the first five steps would be spread out over a 12 month period. It usually takes firms 2-3 years before they get to a place where the team is trained, involved, enthused, and contributing content on a regular basis.
Take it one step at a time!