One of the biggest and most popular announcements at all the Xerocons this year, worldwide, was the introduction to BOMA. This is a marketing system that integrates with Xero HQ, and also provides you with actual content for emails and social media posts that your accounting firm can share.
I’ve had many accountants asking me about BOMA. Is it any good? Is it worth looking into? What about the provided content? Some asked the genuine question of whether BOMA is a competitor to PF, and if it’s a choice of signing up for one or the other.
The entire PF team are passionate about the fact that content marketing does not simply mean “words”. I’ve preached for years against the evils of generic content, the stuff you buy in and stick your logo on so that you can get marketing done as quickly as possible with no effort whatsoever.
I hold to those opinions. I’ve written another article about the three levels of content, and summarise them here:
- Premium level: content that you (or your team) produce personally. You write the blog post. Your team member creates the tweet. You record the video yourself. This is the highest value content and that which we recommend you strive for as your ultimate content marketing goal.
- Middle ground: someone else generates the content based directly on raw material you’ve provided – bullet points, notes, a phone call, direct information from you and your team. This is good solid content, and it happens to be the kind of content we produce here at PF for the firms we work with. Our highest performing firms usually use a combination of 1 and 2 level content.
- Lowest level: generic content that has been written by someone else as a one-size-fits-all. The only way this is truly effective is if you adapt and edit it to add some of your own personality and style. Sending it with no edits whatsoever is generally ineffective.
At first glance, it might appear that the content provided by BOMA falls into category 3.
I’ve been pleased to discover that it’s actually closer to the level 2 category, and that the BOMA people themselves agree entirely with us that level 1 is the highest and greatest of content, and what accountants are to strive for as their ultimate goal. Even the system itself is crafted to encourage this.
I want to help you understand what BOMA is, how it works, and how it fits in with this entire content marketing game, so you can decide whether it’s something that would help you actually move your marketing forward.
To do this, I had a conversation with BOMA’s founder, Ian Christie, followed by several Zoom chats with their Charlie Clark, their Marketing Director, and Liz Studholme from the marketing team.
Here’s the lowdown for you.
What BOMA actually is
It’s a miniature marketing hub for those of you who don’t have one yet. If I had to describe it by comparing it to other systems you may be familiar with, it’s like a combination of Mailchimp, Buffer, and Shutterstock, with some Xero content added in.
Here’s how it works:
- An email marketing system that integrates with your Xero contacts. It’s very similar to Mailchimp in its functionality, and they’re adding to it every week.
- Prepared Xero content that has been written by the Xero team and is provided for your use. Ideally you will edit and adapt it before sending (read on!).
- Social media posting – Take the content you’ve prepared for your email and send it out to your social media channels, along with an image.
- Image library – There are around 250,000 images in a stock library which are pre-cleared for you to search and choose from. (This is pretty important, because copyright infringement and licensing issues are serious business.)
From my conversations with them and review of the product, there are updates being made on a continual basis. Some of the things I asked about were in development as we spoke; others were updated from one week’s call to the next.
The Xero content provided within BOMA: Is it generic? Is it any good?
“At its rawest point, this is for accountants who don’t have access to content,” Ian said. “We have an entire library of high quality content that is created by Xero, and it’s customisable so you can put it across any channel – email or social. It empowers firms to put out quality content that they couldn’t do themselves, guides them through the process, and actually gets it out there.”
There are a few reasons I’d suggest that the content provided within BOMA is closer to a level-2 content rather than a level-3:
- The content is Xero-focused. In our Content Marketer programme, the first two sessions direct you to think about your audience, and their issues. Your content is about them, not you. Their issues, not your services. Their needs, not yours. So, the content that has been pre-written for you has already asked the questions “Who is this for?” and “What are their issues?” This is content for people who use Xero and want to use it better. For those who have heard of Xero but aren’t using it yet. For those who aren’t sure about Xero and have some questions. It doesn’t mean that every content item is a sales push for Xero – much of this content is developed to help your clients run their businesses better.
- The content is segmented and targeted. There’s a variety of content to choose from. It’s still broadly scoped, but you can choose different content depending on your audience and their needs. There’s even content for certain industries, which allows you to begin looking into niche content. (As you’ll know I’m equally as passionate about niche marketing, as it’s one of the best ways for an accounting firm to set itself apart in a sea of competition.)
- The content is written by Xero. Most of you know by now that Xero writes some good stuff. (If you don’t, I can confirm it.) It’s highly readable, manages to be relevant to multiple types of businesses (a tough job), and as often as possible is niched down by industry or area. So, if you’re going to start with some content, at least you’re starting with decent stuff.
- The content is region-specific. Whatever region you select when setting up your BOMA account, that’s the content which will be available to use. This means that terminology, currency, and trends are all accounted for already in the content you start with.
- The system is built around the presumption that you will edit the content. I’ve seen many companies provide generic content to accountants, and when it’s provided in a Word document, or a PDF, or a pre-existing landing page, the inference is that you simply copy and paste, job done. It encourages me that BOMA is not primarily in the business of selling you content: they have built a simple marketing system, and then they’ve recognised that not everyone knows where to start, so you now have something to start with.
If you use the provided content with no edits, no personality, no humanity, and no changes, it will probably be pretty useless to you.
What BOMA doesn’t do, and who it’s not for
There is no product in the world that is a fit for everyone. BOMA will not suit every accountancy firm, and here are a few reasons why:
- It’s not an end-to-end CRM system. The system has been built with the critical elements, and there are new releases each week. Who knows how it will grow over the next few years, but for now it does the basics.
- You only get Xero content if you’re a Xero partner. (I figure that’s pretty obvious, but hey, may as well state it.) If you don’t have access to Xero HQ, you won’t get the Xero content.
- It won’t magically fix your marketing problems. When you do content marketing well, you integrate great content with all your marketing efforts. You involve your team. You are personally active on social media. You go through marketing training and provide it for your team. You try new things. Just as Xero itself doesn’t make you a great accountancy firm, BOMA doesn’t make you a great marketer. It encourages those who aren’t doing anything, or whose marketing isn’t very coordinated yet.
- You still need to edit the content. I can’t recommend this more highly: if you use BOMA for a ‘click and send’ job, you might get a few people reading your content and engaging with you at the start. But without editing, without personality and humanity, they’ll eventually tune you
- It doesn’t represent the sum total of your content marketing. Sending out a few emails and social posts does not represent a fully strategised content plan for your firm. You need to be looking at new website pages. Video. Events. Custom graphic design. Printed materials. Speaking engagements. The list goes on and on.
Some accountants I speak to have become a bit jaded when it comes to marketing solutions like this, and I don’t blame you. There are some pretty terrible options on the market, and it can be hard to determine which ones are good and which ones aren’t.
How do you use BOMA well? Is it a case of BOMA v PF?
So if you do decide to try it, how do you use it well? How do you take advantage of what’s good and integrate it into the marketing you’re doing for your firm?
Here are a few suggestions:
- Think about your audience. With every piece of content you choose to use, think hard about who this is going to, what they need, and how it will apply to them. Think specifically about your own clients and contacts, and the conversations you’ve had with them recently. Adapt the content accordingly.
- Add some humanity to the proceedings. Include a piece of news from the firm. Have a team member look it over and change it, choose or change the image, or write the introductory paragraph.
- Develop your firm’s “tone of voice”. I’ve previously shared our 7-step process for developing this, if you haven’t done it already. I highly recommend you go through this exercise and apply the results to the content you’re editing.
- Include stories or quotes from your clients. There is a gold mine of content available to you in the person of your clients. When they say things like, “I dreaded bookkeeping and could never get on top of it, and then we started using Xero and ReceiptBank”, write it down. Save it. Use it for later as a quote or a story at the end of an email you send out. It enhances the provided content in a personal way.
- Get started using social. Many accountancy firms we talk to are still not really using social media much. They may have a few accounts (usually Twitter and LinkedIn at a minimum), but they’re not updated and content isn’t delivered regularly. Use this as your opportunity to step into social a bit more.
- Get the team involved. I don’t mean simply choosing a team member and saying “Right, you’re the BOMA person, I want you to sign up for it and use it and figure it out for the firm”. I mean, share it with the whole team. Use it as a base for regular trainings. Invite them to try it. (Even if they try something that fails! Gasp!!)
- Invest in content marketing or social media training. There’s no system in the world which will sort your content marketing for you: it’s critical to understand how content marketing works. How the buyer of professional services, and the buyer of accounting services particularly, thinks. How content and social are integrated. Whether it’s paid-for training or free webinars (we’ve got some coming up soon), use this as your reason to step it up a level.
And no, it’s not really a case of “do I use BOMA and do my own marketing or do I hire PF to do my marketing”. We do generate custom content for accountancy firms – but the firms getting the best results are those who work together with us, and often with a variety of other suppliers and systems to generate marketing that works for them.
We’re excited to share with you some free webinars in 2018 in conjunction with ourselves, Xero, and BOMA. Those are coming soon. Don’t worry, they’re not software demonstrations: all of us want to help you improve your own content marketing and social media marketing, no matter what system you use to do it.