I recently read an article on the dangers of short-termism in marketing: where business owners become focused on achieving immediate results.
More often than not, I find accountancy firms expecting the same results. You want the leads coming in and clients immediately following. You want to pour your money into a new website and see the traffic increase within a number of days or weeks.
What we’ve found for accountants, and what the research proves is that you’re in it for the long-term haul with marketing. You might have a target of getting results within a number of months when in actual fact, you might have to double, or even triple that expectation!
One of the reasons is that your buyer has changed, and the way they look for an accountant has changed.
But the main reason is that the way your clients behave is reflected in the way you do your marketing. Especially in the accounting industry, your clients should be in it for the long haul. They’re coming to you for help in growing their business and sorting out their problems. But in order for them to do that, they need to trust you.
Trust can’t be built overnight
You’re building trust, and that means you have to develop that relationship.
InfusionSoft expert James Ashford, who works closely with accountancy firms, said one thing which has stuck with me: “The way you develop one relationship is the way you develop all relationships”. It couldn’t be more true.
And if that level of short-termism underpins your marketing, then the reality is you’ll end up with short term clients. Which isn’t what you want. You want the lifelong clients – those that will stay with you for years, refer other business to you, the ones whose lifetime value increases exponentially!
So I’ve got the new client, so that’s it, right?
Your marketing isn’t just for your prospects, it’s for your clients too.
To go back to the point about building the relationships: you have to maintain them. If you’re thinking short-term when it comes to marketing, then you’re focused on simply bringing the new clients in.
But by doing that you’re actually doing your clients a disservice by neglecting them.
You need to maximise the lifetime value of the client and continue to provide value to them, whether this be through your marketing or through the services you’re providing them.
If you don’t do this, then you’ll end up in a downward spiral and endless cycle of generating new leads on a short-term basis and only keeping the clients for a short-term period.
As an accountant this isn’t what you want.
Delivering the long term value
Content marketing is your main driver for providing value to both your clients and your prospects. This is where you’ll continue to provide value for your audience on a drip-feed: keeping them engaged and informed from the moment they become a prospect to months, even years after they become a client. This could come in the form of weekly blog posts, monthly emails, case study videos, webinars, and so on.
By doing this your audience becomes more educated and more engaged with you and more often than not, you’re marketing will begin to address their needs and concerns. Identify problem areas you weren’t even aware of.
So by using content marketing, you can identity the needs of your clients and begin to address them: providing more value to them and maximising the lifetime value of the client.
To put the notion of long term into perspective, Karen recently attended an event where one of the keynote speakers, Mark Schaefer, revealed a statistic suggesting that the turning point for content marketing was an average of 30 months. That’s almost two and a half years of constant high-quality marketing! Now that’s not to say it can’t be shorter than that, but we’ve often found it takes time for the high-quality leads to appear on the drip-feed if you’re blogging regularly, posting daily on social media and constantly adding to or updating your website.
Consistent content marketing combats short-termism, and gets you value in the long run.
Content marketing combats short-termism and brings the focus back to providing value for your target audience.
When you focus on them, their needs and their problems, not your products or services, that’s where the results really start to happen.
So instead of simply trying Facebook ads because they’re the new thing, or sending one email and hoping it will work, we suggest:
- Investing in multiple areas for a minimum of 12 months – The time it takes for a buyer to come to you is must longer than it used to be, and you need to have the marketing to reflect that and continue that process of nurturing them. Whether you start with blogging once a week, posting to social media daily, creating a new video every month and building a new landing page each month, investing in those areas for that longer period encourages you to keep going, to keep it consistent and focus on the long term.
- Investing personally in your marketing – People do business with people, in fact they come to you wanting to do business with you. That’s why the best content will always come from you, because you have the front-line experience to what problems your audience is facing, and you can turn your advice into content to draw more of your audience to you.
When you get that nailed, you’ll find that you are building stronger, more collaborative relationships with your clients – which means those long-term relationships which are more productive and more profitable!