The top 11 emotions of the accountant faced with new marketing opportunities (Part 2)

Last week I covered the 11 emotions many of you feel when presented with a ‘new’ marketing idea.  We talked about the first 6, and today we’ll cover the last 5.

Here’s a recap of the emotions:

In response to “Taken Advantage Of”:

You’re right, and I’m sorry.

I’d like to apologise to you on behalf of every marketer, consultant, coach, developer, snake-charmer, or circus ringleader out there who has taken your money and done nothing with it.

These people do exist.  Sadly, in the world of online marketing, because it involves technology that moves at lightning speeds and people who are excited about change, that simply means that everyone is on the bandwagon to make a quick buck. (Or pound. Or Euro. Or anything they can.)  We constantly get emails from “SEO Experts” and “Good cheap website designers” and “Social Media Consultants” who are not at all what they proclaim to be.  And the accountancy market is ripe for those peddling snake oil because many accountants are confused about what works and doesn’t work in their industry (or in any industry) when it comes to online marketing in particular – and because you’ve got a bank of clients who are loyal and faithful and will stick with you until Kingdom Come. Literally.

You’ve become pretty good at weeding out the obvious spammers – but what is harder is deciding whether to work with those who “specialise” in the accounting industry.  Or whether you should go with your local website designer rather than someone who does specialise.  Or whether that speaker who is a CA or CPA or CMA or MBA or some other important acronym actually knows what they’re talking about.

A few suggestions:

1. Get to know the company personally.  One of the reasons our clients work with us is because they discover that I, personally, know the accounting industry. I’m a Certified Public Accountant, yes. But even more than that, I worked as an accountant, auditor, business development director, and marketing director for an accountancy firm in the UK for many years. I ran seminars. I tried advertising. I created and ran business seminars for four years.  I consulted with business owners.  Then I moved on to a global accounting network where I advised and helped and supported accountants and accounting firms for years.  I know how IRIS works (I’ve struggled and sweated and sworn over the Practice Management module).  I’ve tried purchasing databases and marketing to them.  I’ve signed on new clients only to see them change their minds.  I’ve created customer surveys and Menus of Services and leaflets and website pages and emails….all from your end of things.  Now I’m on the other side, and believe me when I say I know what you’re going through.  The other owner of the Profitable Firm is Shaun, who is a Chartered Accountant who still does Finance Director work. He uses Xero and ProfitSee and WorkflowMax and Practice Ignition and a hundred other tools you’re thinking of or using yourself. We’re not in the snake oil business.

2. Get to know the people you’ll be working with. Many of our clients do work with me directly – but some deal more with Rose, our Client Manager and BFF.  Or with Lori, or Ben, or Rob, or Adrian, or any number of other people who are brilliant at their tasks.  One of the reasons we have live chat on our website is that you will actually talk to a real person who works for the Profitable Firm. It could even be me.

3. Ask questions.  We’ve even got a page of Frequently Asked Questions, but if your question isn’t on there, ask away.  We’re not afraid of saying, “I don’t know, but I’ll find out” or “Possibly, it depends” or “You know what? This might not be for you, after all”.

4. Go slow at the start.  You need and want to do a little research and investigation and thinking before you jump in. Good! You’re absolutely right to do that.  The last thing in the world we want is for you to jump in to the highest level website with the most customised monthly packages added on, right from the start. Matter of fact, we probably wouldn’t let you do that, and we’d explain why.  Our role is to give you either results, or more time, or both – and only at the rate you want to go.  This is not a license to do nothing – as we’ve discussed you need to start somewhere – but feel free to start small, and build as you go.  Read on.

In response to “Impatient”:

Good results take time.

Sorry. I know you want to hear me say “If you sign up for this SEO package you will get 3 clicks in the first day and 13 clicks in the first week and 1 new client every month.”

I won’t, and it’s not true, and anyone who tells you different is definitely selling something.

I will say that investing in one particular area of your firm will have results over time.  If you are not getting results, it is because:

  • Your copy (the wording) is wrong.  The words are not crafted in a way that draws people to take action, even though your action (signup, webinar, event, whatever) is good.  This can apply to Google adwords, webinar invites, email newsletters, website landing pages, and more.
  • Your call to action itself is wrong.  Developing an ebook is a great idea – but if your target market is farmers, that’s probably not going to draw them in very quickly.  A video of one of your clients who is a farmer, talking about how you helped them figure out whether to buy that new house or not, will work better.
  • Your placement is wrong.  You can have the greatest call to action in the world, that suits your target market, and with the best copy you can get written.  But if it’s on a landing page that no one sees, or the link doesn’t work, or the image isn’t displaying properly, the results won’t come.
  • Your timing is off.  If most of your clients are stressed-out business owners who are worried about their tax bill, sending them marketing materials right at the end of tax season is not going to get seen.  If your best clients are hotel owners, and you ring them up on a busy Saturday evening, your brilliant new effort will be forgotten.  Think about it from their perspective.
  • Your investment is too little.  You hate to hear this (“look, she just wants me to spend more!”), but I speak the truth. When it comes to online marketing, especially lead generation, the more you spend, the more you get.  If you spend £200 a month on a few pay per click ads, you may get a little return. If you spend £800 (and spend it in the right place, see above!), you’ll get more return. If you spend £8,000, you’ll get loads of return, of the kind you want, very quickly.  It’s a simple equation.

In response to “Despairing”:

Some things will work brilliantly for your firm – and some won’t.

The reason it’s easy to despair is that you have perhaps put effort (and time, and money) into something that will indeed never work for your firm.  Remember that we discussed last week the fact that your firm, being different to anyone else’s, is not going to have the success of another firm.

For example, several of the firms we work with have put Live Chat on their website.  They get leads and new business from it, because they’re on the computer and logged in and available for a quick chat with prospects if they appear.  That works – and works brilliantly – for them.  That could also be a success for you….but it might not.  You might have no one on the team to manage the live chat.  Your clients may not like to use live chat.  Perhaps you haven’t addressed SEO properly, so leads are not getting delivered to your site in the first place.

Whatever the case, don’t despair that this particular marketing element will never work.  Find out.  If it doesn’t (over a period of time), move on to something else.  But I guarantee you that something will work really well – you just have to test it out til you find what that something is.

In response to “Too Calm”:

If you do what you’ve always done….

We all know the end of that sentence.  “It will all work out” simply means “I don’t care, and I’m going to keep doing what I’ve been doing.”

It’s your business, and you’re absolutely within your rights to do so.  And at least in this scenario we can guarantee, 100%, what your results will be.  They will not change for the better.  Your leads and new business will slowly deteriorate while your competitors and all the other accountants wake up to what’s available for their website, their clients, and the market in general.

The great news is that if you change something – anything – you’ll see results, and most of them initially will be within yourself.  I see it all the time in our clients. They go from thinking “social media is a waste of time” to “Hey, I could try this on LinkedIn” which results in “Oh look, I just got a new client because of those messages I sent”.  True story.

In response to “Lethargic”:

It matters for your profit, and your time.

Online marketing – or any marketing, really – is not a fad, or a choice you can make about whether you want to get into it or not.  You do, and you will, market your business – the only question is how.

The best thing you can do to address lethargy is to determine which of two focus areas will get to you to a better place more quickly: Return on Investment (ROI), where your marketing generates leads immediately, and thus more business; or Time, in which marketing elements are done in the background while you spend your precious time on that which only you can do.

Naturally, you’d love both: but my tip is to choose one to begin with.  Do you want leads, more of them, and quickly?  Then put your efforts into lead generation, pay per click, adwords, Search Engine Optimisation.

Or, do you want blog posts written, landing pages created, ebooks designed, webinars run?  In that case, outsource the work and see it happen while you do what you do best.