Thoughts on ICON14 for Accountants: Culture Matters

2014InfusionSoft-logo2After 3 years of using Infusionsoft for our marketing and CRM system, this year I went along to ICON14.  Infusionsoft holds their annual conference every year in sunny Arizona, which is really handy since my family lives in Phoenix, and also because it’s an average of 24 degrees in April, with blue skies.

For those of you who don’t know what Infusionsoft is, here’s the very quick low-down:

  • It’s a sales and marketing system.
  • It’s all online.
  • It allows you to automate your marketing and follow up, so that things happen behind the scenes while you are working on other things
  • It plays nice with everyone else – you can link it to your website and other online systems super-easily (in developer language, its API is really good)
  • When it comes to online marketing, there’s pretty much nothing it can’t do.  I’d say we use about 60% of its capabilities, and it’s still incredibly awesome.

If you can’t tell, I am a die-hard Infusionsoft fan.  I was interviewed for a short video at ICON14 and they asked me, “What has Infusionsoft done for your business?” I just stared at them for a second and then said, “We wouldn’t have a business without Infusionsoft”, which is absolutely true.

I’ll be writing another post on how and whether accountants should use Infusionsoft, but in the meantime here are a few thoughts that I picked up at ICON14.

Culture matters.

As I wandered around the Phoenix Convention Centre (an entire building of which had been reserved for – or taken over by – Infusionsoft), I was blown away by the attitude and mindset of everyone there.  Small-business Infusionsoft users, Infusionsoft team members, speakers – every single person was friendly, helpful, interested, eager, focused, driven, and real.

Being Real Matters.

Clate Mask (CEO of Infusionsoft) got up to give the introductory talk, and after the first 5 or 10 minutes of proclaiming those who had bettered their businesses and their lives using Infusionsoft, I started to feel a tad downhearted. “We haven’t quite done that much,” I thought, and slumped in my seat a bit.  Here I was, the only Infusionsoft user not making millions within a year.  But as though he could read my mind, Clate’s next words were, “But make no mistake – running a small business is really, really  hard. None of this came easy for any of these users, and it doesn’t come easy for you, and sometimes you’re trying really hard and it’s just not succeeding.  That’s real life, and real business, and we get it.” (I am paraphrasing slightly, but that’s what I heard in my head!)  The point is, this is not a “rah-rah” conference to say that everyone there is an absolute millionaire legend and you can be too. They actually worked hard to debunk that notion.  “If you want to make five figures and work on your own and maybe have a virtual assistant, that is totally fine. The point is not that you make millions and be the biggest company out there – but that you have the kind of business you want to have.”

Now this is my kind of talk.  I, too, don’t care if you have 200 employees and a global organisation, or one assistant and a home office, or whatever.  But I do care that you get what you want – and that’s the attitude Infusionsoft has, too.

Your team members reflect you and your culture.

All the Infusionsoft team at ICON were out-of-this-world friendly and helpful.  My sister, who came a few times to pick me up or meet me during the conference, pointed out that not once during the 3 days did she ever see an Infusionsoft team member staring at their phone as they walked around the conference. Their heads were up, their eyes ready to make eye contact and be helpful. In a world in which no one looks up anymore, this is phenomenal.

So, what does this mean for accountants?

When your prospects are considering whether they’re going to work with your accountancy firm, culture matters in a big way.

(And for you as the accountant, if you’re considering a product to use or a company to work with or a strategic partner to connect with, it’s also true that culture matters in a big way.)

It matters because:

If you think alike, you’ll work alike.  The mental attitude towards life and business affects what work is done, when it’s done, and how it’s done.  If you are uber-energetic and want to make truckloads of money very quickly, you may not work at the same speed as someone who just wants to get enough money to live on and have a house in Spain. It’s fine either way, but it does affect what gets done and when.

You talk the same language.  I love Italy.  I love the food, the way the sun shines across the grape vines, the way that wine is quite literally cheaper than water.  And I love the language, too. But when I have been in Italy for a few days and I run into someone who is from the UK, it’s as though my mind just sighs with relief, because I don’t have to think really hard about what to say and how to say it and how to get across what I mean.  Talking the same language with your prospects means that the phone call or contact is really, really easy. Like a walk in the park. (Or a walk through Italian grape fields.)

You use all the same systems. I’m a die-hard Apple fan, and pretty much everyone on our team is, as well.  So we send imessages and arrange FaceTime calls and use Mail and Keynote and it all makes sense and makes things easy.  Granted, you can still work with a prospect or a client if they use Kashflow and you use Xero – but isn’t it much better when everyone knows and uses the same system?

They’ll be more understanding if something goes wrong.  Of course, something will go wrong. At some point.  Either a very tiny thing (you miss a call, you forget to file a form, the wrong password is provided), or perhaps even a big thing.  But if you talk the same language and have the same culture, they will not immediately think, “I’m never working with this person again!” – they’ll be more likely to be patient and to talk with you about it, so you can sort it.

They’re motivated by the same things you are. If their genuine purpose is to help people and make their lives better, and so is yours, then you’re facing the same direction and will get there quicker.  I’ve connected at times with people who are keen and eager – and motivated by greed.  They have all the right connections and, in a sense, say all the right things…but I just don’t take any joy in doing business with them.  The people and businesses whose culture matches mine are the ones that will last long term.

So, if culture is so important – to you and to your prospective clients – your website should address this culture element.  Here are a few quick tips on how to do that:

Share short videos that reflect your true culture:

  • Clients talking about what they like about working with you
  • Team members sharing their thoughts on being part of the firm
  • Why you started the business
  • The type of work you enjoy the most
  • A recent success story
  • What you love about helping clients

Talk like a real person – and like yourself.

  • Use the words and phrases you use each day.  Don’t try to be someone you’re not – prospects will notice and be put off.

Images:  Use real photography instead of stock photos

  • Hire a local photographer. They’re often extremely talented and don’t charge the earth.
  • Give a student or budding young photographer an opportunity to build their portfolio. They’ll love you for it, and you’ll love the results. (If you don’t, they’ll likely do it again until they get it right.)

Get custom design work that reflects your branding and culture.

  • It really isn’t that expensive, and it makes a huge difference to those visiting your site.  Enquire about branding or design work.

For fun or ideas, peruse some of our recently designed accountancy firm websites.  We enjoyed the process!