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The typical accountant marketing spend in a 12 month period, and why it doesn’t work

Jul 25, 2014

Having worked with (and for) accountants for nearly 20 years, I’ve learned a little about your marketing habits.

Coins in a Glass JarOne of them is that you would rather spend a little bit in dribs and drabs over a longer period, and hope for the best, than really go for it and splurge on the ten-grand or the two-grand-per-month.

Now, in case you’re suddenly switching off, thinking brilliant comebacks like “So???” and “Yeah, well….”, here’s a handy dandy chart which is based in reality.  This is taken from my experience of multiple accountants, so it very unscientifically represents the average accountant spend on marketing in a 12 month period.

See if this “Accountant Marketing Spend” sounds familiar, and then read on below for why this doesn’t work.

Marketing Conferences = 3 x £300          £900
To get inspiration and enthusiasm.
Come away exhausted and overworked.

Random SEO boost                      £200
Because, why not. May as well.

Advertising in local paper             £325
“because we’ve always done it”

Website changes 5 x £60                £300
(with template website provider)

Webinars on various marketing topics
Direct cost = £0
Time cost = 10 webinars x 1.5 hours x £150=     £2,250

Online banner ad/advertising            £500
It seems like it might help.

Miscellaneous marketing                £375
This cost has been in the books for years.
Not quite sure what it is.

Meetings with marketing people
Direct cost = £0
Time cost = 8 hours x £150 =             £1,200

Email newsletters                    £600
Generic content that can be churned out
to clients and prospects

New mobile app                    £800
Because they said everyone was doing it

Total direct cost                    £4,000

Total direct + time cost                £7,450

On purpose I have split out the time cost, because some of you will say “well, yes, but I only spent 6.3 hours, so it’s really not that much”.

The point is, you’re looking at around five thousand pounds spend on little bits and pieces that you just picked up on the way.  Much of it you’re not sure of, and most of it hasn’t really returned anything, but you figure you haven’t lost much, because it was only a few hundred quid here and there. (Or dollars. Same principle.)

My point is not that you should leap in and spend lots of money. We actually have a philosophy here at the Profitable Firm that if you’re not ready to spend the thousands, don’t.  Just spend a little until you’re comfortable or until it saves you valuable time or until you get a return. It’s no problem.

But when it comes to online marketing, you get a little tiny result if you spend a little tiny money, and you get a huge result if you spend huge money. It’s just the way it works.  You can dip your toe in here and there (don’t even get me started on generic “apps for accountants”), but if you really want to churn forward, you’d be better putting all your marketing spend in one focused basket, rather than seventeen little ones.

My recommendation for the big basket is:

Website. It’s your marketing hub, it’s where everything points. You go to a networking event, you follow up with a link to a specific landing page.  You share on social media about your target market, then share a helpful resource you’ve created for that target market.  You create a video, it goes on the home page of your website.  If you’re going to invest, it’s a winner.

Content Marketing Strategy.  No point in developing this amazing-looking, shiny, modern, clean website that is basically a repeat of your boring template one, but with better imagery.  Figure out who your target market is, and what their issues are, and plan your content around them.

Outsourced Marketing.  One partner I spoke to had spent 3-4 hours on every blog post he wrote.  He even started with generic content – but then he edited it, added links, logged in to the site, created the post, played about getting it to look right….I don’t care what your chargeout rate is, that’s a lot of time for something that would take an outsourcer about 20 minutes.

Pay per click and adwords.  (Don’t do this if your website isn’t sorted out first.) If your research is done properly, and your website landing pages are specific and relevant to the target market you’re going for, this can be a huge win.  Just don’t throw around little bits randomly – get a strategy for it and some good outside opinion.

Naturally you’re thinking, well, how convenient that the Profitable Firm offers just those things that she recommends.

Of course we do.  We built those around what you need. Simples.

Have a great Friday!

Image courtesy of Microsoft