Having worked with (and for) accountants for nearly 20 years, I’ve learned a little about your marketing habits.
Here’s how many of you feel when presented with a ‘new’ marketing idea:
Exhausted. “Ahhhh!! Another one??”
Confused. “Why is this one so much better than that one?”
Disgruntled. “That other company told me it would be amazing, and it definitely was not.”
Discouraged. “Look what everyone else is doing, and we’re not.”
Guilty. “Maybe it’s my fault.”
Annoyed. “Leave me alone, I’m too busy trying to run this practice.”
Taken advantage of. “They think all accountants have these deep pockets.”
Impatient. “I’ll just buy it to get them to leave me alone.”
Despairing. “It will never work.”
Too calm. “Eventually it will all work out.”
Lethargic. “It doesn’t matter.”
First, let me say that these are just emotions, or feelings – and so they’re justified. I don’t know how many of you I’ve talked to who have been taken advantage of, lied to, discouraged, frustrated, and generally ruined for all good marketing because of suppliers who came with their intents and sales in mind, not yours.
Well, shame on them.
But you don’t have to keep feeling this way about marketing – especially online marketing. Because not only is it actually quite amazing, it does get you new leads. It gets you new leads of the kind you want. Most importantly, it is, it IS, the way your prospects search for new services.
Uh oh, I’ve just triggered numbers 4, 5, and 9.
Here are my tips for combating those very genuine emotions, and getting on the path to (most importantly) some new business.
In response to “Exhausted”:
Remember there will always be “another one”.
That’s actually the beauty of marketing – and particularly online marketing. Its nature is creative, which means it changes constantly. Tries new things. Wonders about a new possibility – and then takes it.
I realise this mentality is in direct opposition to the skills and tendencies of many accountants, but please don’t despair. Rejoice that others are doing all the testing and trying and creating, and pick the one that fits you and your firm.
In response to “Confused”:
Do a little bit of research.
When you’re wondering why one marketing tool (or style, or idea) is better than another, it’s often because you’re not as familiar with the possibilities, or the current trends.
I’ve said this in a previous blog post, but I’ll repeat it:
We provide free webinars each month on online marketing, but loads of other organisations do too, and we think they’re great.
Xero University – live sessions on promoting and using Xero in your firm, as well as recorded ones (Xero TV)
Social media training – free training webinars from Hootsuite
Hubspot – free marketing materials and templates
Analytics – KISSmetrics has webinars on tracking stuff
Or drop a quick email to someone you know and respect in the business world and ask them the top 3 email lists they’re on. Your learning will zoom ahead. (Feel free to drop me a note about mine.)
In response to “Disgruntled”:
Let it go. It’s a sunk cost.
If there’s anything accountants should understand, it’s the concept of a “sunk cost”. It’s gone, it was spent, the brilliant idea did not work.
Rather than getting really annoyed, and holding that annoyance close to you, and petting it and soothing it and encouraging it, let it go. You don’t have to work with that company again – or that supplier – but why should they ruin marketing for you?
(And on the off chance that it wasn’t amazing for reasons unknown to you, feel free to get in touch with them, and try again.)
In response to “Discouraged”:
Other accountancy firms are not you.
Just because another accountancy firm is doing ‘something’ in the world of online marketing DOES NOT NECESSARILY MEAN YOU SHOULD.
I’m putting this in capital letters because it is a classic accountant trend to look around at everyone else in the industry and say, “Oh, that worked for Simon/Mark/Tom, so therefore it will work for me.”
It is possible that Simon’s brilliant idea will work for you – but only if it is a fit for you and your firm, and it so happens that you and Simon are quite similar. But if Simon has a decent sized firm with 70 employees in the heart of London, and you have a one-man band in the highlands of Scotland, you may want to give this a bit of a think.
Remember, the key with marketing is to stand out. Not by saying “We are different, we are unique, we do more than just the numbers, we are proactive.” (I could quote these bland phrases all day long.) You have to actually stand out.
One of my new brilliant ideas on Twitter was for an accountant to be the “Mad Hatter Accountant”. I follow this account called Mad Hatter Tea, and I just think it’s the coolest concept ever. Imagine being the funky, slightly odd, well-dressed-in-an-eclectic way accountant. This strikes terror into some of your hearts. Not to fear! That is an indicator it is not for you. Mark Lee agreed with me, saying “Could appeal to any accountant looking for new STAND OUT branding. BUT rarely good idea to squeeze firm into branding idea.”
I could not agree more! Don’t decide to be the Mad Hatter Accountant as a branding ‘trick’. Be it because you actually wear a green top hat most weekends, and you think nothing of tipping a little whisky into the tea.
In response to “Guilty”:
Take responsibility for your actions, not the world’s.
Okay, yes. Some of your marketing failures may be a result of the fact that you would rather stick your head into the fires of Mordor than spend another £600 on marketing, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
In many circumstances, you’ve been overwhelmed, lied to, and/or expected to do half of the work yourself.
I couldn’t disagree with that more. Accountants should not write website copy. You should not have to write emails, sign up for Mailchimp, learn about WordPress plugins, or figure out how to use Hootsuite.
That’s our job. Or any expert’s job who knows what they’re doing.
In response to “Annoyed”:
Outsource and delegate.
If you’re too busy running the practice, something has gone very wrong. I chatted this week with Simon Chaplin of Socks up Simon, who meets with a group of 10 business owners every month to help them actually turn things around in their business. 6 of these business owners are accountants, and it’s a beautiful thing to read about them going from stressed-and-annoyed to happy-and-relaxed.
If you’re stressed and exhausted and easily annoyed, you need to delegate the stuff that others could do, such as:
- Email campaigns
- Proposal preparation
- Appointment scheduling
- Generic tax work
- Basic accounts review
- Lead warm-up (ie emails and contact with prospects who may or may not be interested)
- Presentation writing
- ….and loads more.
As an example, some of the firms we work with have a 20 minute call with us once a month, and we churn out blog posts based on their expertise, their content, their words. 20 minutes for you, and then blog posts magically appear while you’re working with clients. If that isn’t a win, I don’t know what is.
This marketing tip has gotten so long I’m going to split it. Tune in next week for how to deal with “Taken advantage of”, “Impatient”, “Despairing”, “Too calm”, and “Lethargic”.
Sounds fun, eh??