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Stop staring at your competitors and look instead at your clients and prospects

Nov 21, 2014

One of the classic mistakes accountants make when it comes to marketing is spending an inordinate amount of time worrying about whstrategy imageat your competitors will do, or are doing.

Whilst there is some value in seeing what the rest of the accounting world is doing, I think you’re wasting a lot of time.  Here’s why:

Most of your accountancy firm competitors are not at the cutting edge of marketing, technology, or creativity.

If you want to see what’s happening in the marketing world, or the digital world, or the business world in general, why are you looking at your competitors?  You know fine well that the reason you’re getting a new website built is because you want to stand out to your clients and prospects, and because many of your competitors’ sites are old and outdated, so your new one will stand out.   If you want to stare at someone, look at Apple. Or Mashable. Or Klout. Or Pinterest.  Pick a company that is doing amazing things creatively, and think about how your firm can be like that.

If all the other accountants are doing it, you won’t stand out.

We all saw what happened with the online calculators, and the ‘accountancy firm app’ idea. Big surprise – your clients were not impressed, because your idea didn’t come from asking what they want, or thinking about their needs and wants.  It came from an email that some company sent you saying “If you have an app you will get new clients in droves”.  That’s backwards thinking.

Even if other accountancy firms are doing something brilliant, how will you stand out if you copy it?

I’m the first to get excited about what some accountancy firms are doing. There’s some brilliant stuff out there, and some of our clients are working on it right now.  But even if I told you what it was, and gave you the branding and the idea and the email campaigns, all that will do is make you look….like them. Like your competitors.  You don’t want to look like someone else, you want to be yourself. Be the accountancy firm that you actually are, not the one you wish you were or will perhaps one day be.

If you’re concerned that your competitors will steal your brilliant marketing idea, your concern is in the wrong place.

Another problem I see often amongst accountants is a tendency to come up with a brilliant idea, but not implement it because you’re afraid that your competitors will steal your idea.

Wait a minute…isn’t that what you are wanting to do to them?

Even if those other firms copy exactly what you’re doing, they’ll still be months if not years behind. By the time you come up with the idea, create the website landing pages, get a brand image designed, and automate all your follow up, you’ll be getting new leads and helping your clients while they are scrambling to copy you.  Just go ahead with your idea.  Let them scramble to copy the idea. By then you’ll have another one.

Stop looking at your competitors. Instead….

So, instead of looking to your competitors, here’s what you can do instead:

  • Look at successful businesses – any kinds of businesses – for ideas.  Great emails, good branding, a call to action that worked on you, a webinar that was interesting, a product you like.  How can you craft something similar?
  • Look at your clients.  What do they ask for? What are they interested in? What will help them?
  • Look at your prospects. What questions do they ask over and over? How can you help them better? Are your services and packages built to fit them, or to fit you?
  • Try out a new idea. Just try it, and see what happens. It could be a big fail – but it also could be hugely successful.
  • Ask for help.  Go to someone you know and trust, and run your new idea past them. Chances are they’ll say “That sounds great! Go for it!”

And have a great Friday!