Face the marketing fear

Your team’s marketing concerns are valid

Face the marketing fearIt is unlikely that your team will get really excited about helping market your accounting firm.

Many of them will go even further and be quite annoyed or frustrated if they’re asked to participate in marketing.

After all, they didn’t get hired to do marketing. They got hired to be an accountant – and that’s what they want to do. It’s what they’re good at. They feel comfortable and confident doing tax returns or payroll or answering clients’ questions about accounting software.

But you know that involving the team in marketing is critical. You’ve been learning about “they ask you answer” and all these other elements of content marketing, and you’re ready to involve the team. Let’s get those blogs written!

So you gather the team, and you tell them how exciting it is, and you ask them to write blogs or share on social or record a video or get their photograph taken for the website.

Perhaps a few of them do it. Some are quite excited. Most are not.

How in the world do you get them to be enthusiastic about something that’s not their job?

Last week I held an afternoon workshop with a firm in Ireland. They’ve been clients of PF for years, and the partners have moved from realising that marketing is important, to a place of taking action and making investments of time and money, and now to bringing the team on board.

But how do you do it?

The very first, and most important thing you can do with your accountancy firm team when it comes to marketing is to listen to their doubts, their fears, their concerns.

And recognise that those doubts are valid.

If they feel awkward or uncomfortable about marketing, that’s a legitimate way to feel. It makes perfect sense for an accountant to be confused about why they’re suddenly being asked to write blog posts. After all, you felt the same when you started reading about it, didn’t you?

Your progress in involving the team in marketing is going to be slow at best and more likely come to a standstill very quickly if you start by trying to teach them something.

We’ve got to back up and look at why they’re so fearful.

How do they feel about marketing? What worries them, concerns them, makes them hesitate?

Unless you know those things, you can’t help them work through it. No matter how much incentive you try to give, doubts and concerns will always win through in the end unless you’ve gotten to the core first.

When we asked the team how they felt about marketing, here are a few things they shared:

  • I don’t know where to start
  • Lack of confidence
  • What would I do, and how?
  • It’s a new skill set that is alien to me
  • I’m afraid of the marketing words
  • I have no knowledge of marketing at all
  • I would be criticised
  • I wouldn’t do it perfectly

Whether you have a team of hundreds, or a team of a few people, if we asked them the same question about marketing we’d get very similar answers.

They feel confident about accounting. They know the terminology, they’re familiar with what could go wrong, and it’s rare if they hear a question they cannot answer (and even then, they know who to go to in order to find out).

But they don’t feel that way about marketing.

They’re worried. Nervous. Confused. Concerned.

So the first thing I shared with the team was that these concerns were absolutely spot on.

They were right to feel that way. It IS a new skill. It does feel completely alien, and that makes sense. They wouldn’t do it perfectly at first.

But then we turned it around and looked at the one primary focus of marketing:

The client.

How do you think the client feels about accounting?

What doubts and concerns do they have when they’re presented with a financial problem? When they realise there are forms to fill in that they haven’t been doing for years? When they need to put together documentation for grant or funding and it all looks alien to them?

They would say exactly the same things:

  • I don’t know where to start
  • Lack of confidence
  • What would I do, and how?
  • It’s a new skill set that is alien to me
  • I’m afraid of the terminology
  • I have no knowledge of this area at all
  • I would be criticised if I tried it
  • I wouldn’t do it perfectly

So before you get to involving the team, and getting their buy in, and asking them to write blogs and record video and post on social media, talk about the fears first. Go through all the doubts and concerns which are 100% spot on.

And then you can turn the conversation around to what marketing actually is.

It’s taking all that knowledge and confidence your team have about accounting, and getting it across to people who don’t know you yet, so that they trust you and want to work with you.

Marcus Sheridan says that marketing is about “teaching and problem solving to earn buyer trust.”

That’s really all it is. Facebook or Instagram or video or blog posts or infographics – those are merely different formats and platforms to share all this knowledge. To teach, and to problem solve.

And to be human as you do it.

The thing to point out to your team is that your clients (or potential clients) feel the same way about accounting as your accountants feel about marketing.

And if that’s true, you can open up a new pathway to confidence for your team.

Yes, they feel uncertain about marketing. But if marketing is simply “answering questions that your clients have”, and they know most of those answers, then there isn’t so much to fear.

They don’t necessarily have to write a 1500 word blog post yet. It would be a good goal to strive for eventually, but what can they do to start? Can they write down some bullet points relating to a question that clients ask all the time? Or tell the marketing person at your firm a story about how this particular issue could go very wrong or very right, if dealt with properly?

Of course they can.

That’s the easiest thing in the world. They’re confident. They know the answer. It’s all in their head.

All they’re doing to contribute to marketing is sharing it so that more than simply one client gets to read about it. And that builds trust. And that makes for the best possible relationships with the very best clients – the ones you enjoy working for, and with.

Next week we’ll look at the two (very easy) areas your team can contribute to marketing – with no fear or pressure of any kind. It’s stuff they deal with every single day, and it will help to break down the doubts they have right now.

The doubts are valid. The fears are real. And yet most of them can disappear very quickly, when you start there and move slowly.