Why Strategy is An 8-Letter Word for Accountants

Lately, I’ve been discovering that strategy is an 8 letter word for accountants.

This is my way to describe the fact that strategy has the power of two 4-letter words together.

Many of you accountants are sick of strategy.strategy-8letterword

You’re tired of consultants and marketers and salesmen and conferences and training sessions and online courses and presentations.  Some of you have even sworn off going to any kind of event or conference for the next year, or three years.

You just want to get stuff done.

You have brilliant ideas. Really good ones, that came to you when meeting with a new client or attending one of the many conferences or that resulted from a half decent strategy session.

But you’ve got ideas coming out of your ears and still most of them haven’t been actioned.

There are a few legitimate reasons for this:

  • Marketers and consultants and strategists who are there to help you come up with ideas, but are not capable or willing to help you action them. (Sorry about that.)
  • You may not have been willing to invest the money in hiring someone to action these items.
  • You’ve invested some money, but you put it into generic templates and pre-purchased options and one-size-fits-all solutions that don’t actually fit you and your firm.
  • You invested a lot of money, but it was with the wrong company or the wrong people, and they didn’t understand what you wanted.
  • You yourself aren’t quite sure what you want, specifically, and it takes too long to try to explain it.
  • You’ve started to doubt whether your ideas are really that good.
  • You’re so busy taking care of clients and team issues and keeping your business afloat that marketing always takes a back seat.
  • Some of your ideas require so much time and investment that you know the results will take a long time, and you would rather have instant results that you can measure.

Some of these are not your responsibility.  You tried and hired and attended and actioned, and you didn’t get what you thought you would.

Two Reasons Strategy Isn’t Working For You

But much of why you hate ‘strategy’ is down to two things:

  1. A misunderstanding as to what strategy really is
  2. A hesitancy to invest in anything that will have long term (not instant, short-term) results.

The first one I can clear up right now.

The second one, of course, is down to you.

What strategy really is

We’ve got this idea that strategy is the fluffy, wordy, non-action work that goes round in circles and doesn’t really achieve anything.

What’s hilarious to me about that, having worked with accountants and in the industry for over 20 years, is that most of you would be constantly explaining to your clients that is not the case.

They need a strategic business plan.  A strategy for their succession. A cash flow strategy. And you have to explain, over and over, why it’s so critical to get that right first before your client goes sailing in and buying a new business or hiring new staff or naming their son as successor.

When it comes to marketing strategy for your accountancy firm, you’ve got to preach the same thing to yourself.

The recent Growth Vouchers programme has really showcased this to me.  We’re Growth Voucher certified, which means that if you have a Growth Voucher, you can get £4,000 worth of “strategic advice” from us at a cost of only £2k to you.

The problem, of course, is that most of the accountants I talk to don’t want strategic advice. They’re sick of it. They just want us to write them an ebook or start sending out email campaigns or run a webinar for them.

Which of course we can do.

But the problem I’ve discovered is that many of you have an overall or a generic strategy, but you haven’t narrowed it down to the very specific, individual items, in order, that need to be done – so that you can action them immediately.

How specific is your strategy?

For example, perhaps you decided that you want to run a series of webinars to get more clients on Xero. Excellent.  But that’s not a product or a service or a marketing strategy – that’s just one item from your overall business strategy to get 100 clients on Xero by the end of the year.

The specific strategic actions that would enable you to achieve your action could be:

  1. Identify how many clients you have who could be using Xero
  2. Identify how many have signed up for Xero
  3. Segment your database appropriately so emails and invites will go to the right people
  4. Ensure your team are ready and able to go through the onboarding process for new clients
  5. Prepare six webinar presentations on how Xero makes their business and lives better
  6. Write content for associated blog posts to go on your website and to be shared on social media
  7. Create a landing page on your website about Xero (perhaps multiple landing pages for different industries)
  8. Set up a webinar system
  9. Schedule six webinar dates
  10. Identify a speaker for each webinar. Practice and review presentation
  11. Add the webinar registration pages to your website (events or blog)
  12. Prepare the follow up that will go out after the webinar (ie, a sign up form for those ready to use Xero)
  13. Prepare automated follow up in your email system so that a series of emails will go out
  14. Write content for the email invitations and follow up emails
  15. Schedule and send all email invitations

See? That was just off the top of my head, but there were 13 steps before you got to writing and sending emails.

And most of steps 1-13 are still strategy. (Excepting maybe 5 and 6.)

Before you start your Outsourced Marketing

The same thing applies when it comes to our Outsourced Marketing packages.  Although you could just sign up and get going in month 1, we very often find that what you think you have ready in terms of strategy is not quite strategised enough.  You know you want to get more clients on Xero, or run a seminar series, or provide online training, but you haven’t distilled it down to the specific actions – partly because you’re not quite sure what these would be.

Which is the reason we usually insist on a Content Marketing Plan, first. It’s not ‘strategy’ the way you know it – and much of what you’ve done already will be very helpful as your plan is developed.  But it needs to go a little further, and if the word ‘strategy’ puts you off, you may never begin.

I won’t lie to you – online marketing tends to be a pretty slow burn. Unless you’re ready to spend at least a thousand pounds a month (and probably more) on content, strategy, marketing automation, SEO and paid search, and more, it’s going to take you some time before the leads are more than a trickle.

Part of this is because of the constant Google algorithm changes, and part of it is because digital marketing is changing at such a rapid rate that there are new opportunities every month (if not every day).

But the great news is, it really does work.  Building up good content, a niche market, specialisation and areas of expertise, clear packages and pricing, and good follow up will put you far ahead of most other accountants.  Believe me – I know.  I know what’s out there when it comes to marketing by accountants.

Back to Our Two Reasons Strategy Isn’t Working For You

So, back to the two reasons you want to steer away from “strategy”:

  1. A misunderstanding as to what strategy really is
  2. A hesitancy to invest in anything that will have long term (not instant, short-term) results.

Hopefully I’ve cleared up the first a bit.

But the second one is up to you.