Andy was bored with the way accounting businesses were run. He knew accounting wasn’t confusing and dull, but he also knew the misconception many business owners had that it was. Andy shares in this blog “I got a bit bored with the accounting scene…and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to work in the accountancy space anymore, so I decided to leave the business I was in at that time…I took the approach that I wanted to do more business consultancy than accounting, so that’s when I started Complete HQ.” Andy wanted Complete HQ to be miles away from the stale processes he was used to. No suits and ties, no fancy accounting jargon, simply providing extraordinary business with an extraordinary service.
“I’m a very different person than the formal accountant. Maybe there are some clients who like formal language, suits and ties, all that. Those are not my people.”
When Andy started Complete HQ in 2019, “it was really just identifying an area that businesses felt was a little bit stale and could be improved upon and developing better ways of doing things with those businesses that they felt was valuable and that we could charge for.” From the very beginning, he wanted to attract the type of clients he felt passionate about working with, but he wasn’t sure how to achieve this. All the advice he read about content marketing felt so formulaic: how could he make sure his true self shone through?
Andy found his answer in PF’s Accelerator group. The course spoke to exactly who he was: an accountant who wanted to be personally involved in their marketing journey, who didn’t care about bringing in just any clients but only the BEST clients. He messaged PF’s founder, Karen, on Instagram, and set up a zoom call with two of the team where he was able to learn even more about the PF marketing map, and where the Accelerator fit into that – and fit into his own journey. He liked how Accelerator wasn’t a formulaic series of lectures, but weekly live conversations with personalised input from the PF team. Andy wasn’t setting out to build a generic accounting firm: he needed a marketing coaching group as special and involved as he was.
He signed up for the Accelerator shortly after starting Complete HQ.
The first weekly live session of Accelerator is Audience, because the first step in marketing is always understanding who you’re speaking to. You need to first dig into who your audience is and speak to their needs. Whatever marketing content you create, it must be for them…but who is “them”? Andy knew from past experiences who weren’t his people, but who were?
During the Audience session of Accelerator, Andy learned the three keys to defining his audience: 1. They have to be profitable, 2. You have to like working with them and 3. You need to show experience with this kind of client. Andy started with identifying the qualities of his favourite clients he had worked with in the past: they were kind, honest, and open to being challenged. These qualities, combined with profitability potential and his previous experience, Andy decided to focus his marketing on attracting clients in the construction, digital tech, and creative businesses industries.
In the second session of Accelerator, Issues, Andy began identifying the specific challenges his ideal clients were facing and producing content that spoke to them. For example, with the help of his tax and finance partners he wrote R&D grant guides created particularly for construction businesses, using his client’s words wherever possible like Accelerator taught him, to show he spoke their language. He then worked with one of his creative clients to do the design work on the guides so they matched with the brand Andy was working hard to build.
“By showing we’re thinking of them, they start thinking of us. They come to speak to us about R&D and then they’re like actually, I need an accountant as well, because I didn’t know all of this.”
PF also helped Andy identify a pattern amongst his prospects: many were coming to him with stories of frustrating experiences with past accountants. In Accelerator, we ask accountants what their clients are most troubled about, or wish they could have. Then the accountant turns this into a message to communicate to their ideal clients. Andy’s message was simple: “You deserve better.” Today, this phrase is the first thing you see on the Complete HQ website. It’s instrumental to the way Andy operates.
In marketing, it can be tempting to try to copy what you see other businesses – and other accountants – doing. Andy struggled with a similar feeling of needing to jump on the bandwagon. He saw lots of firms posting videos and sharing content on LinkedIn, and questioned whether he should be doing the same. In the Accelerator session on Social Media, Andy learned you need to be sharing content on the social media platforms on which your ideal client is hanging out and interacting on, not the one which is necessarily your preference to use. It’s all about your clients. This helped Andy identify his ideal client isn’t spending time on LinkedIn; they’re on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
“It would be quite easy for me to see what other businesses are doing around me and go actually, let’s change the whole strategy. But what works for other businesses might not work for yours. Stick to your guns. Stay in your lane.”
Andy found creating videos especially useful for Complete HQ, not only for attracting new clients but in figuring out which ones he most wanted to work with. A mixture of videos, text and graphics catch people’s attention and drive them to Complete HQ’s website to read or download content i.e. blogs or guides, which they have created.
It also helped prospective clients see the human behind the business. Complete HQ is not merely text on a webpage. It’s Andy! And Leila, and Rob, and Tiffany, and the whole Complete HQ team.
“I do a lot of custom videos for people – just keeping in touch or sharing useful information. I would never make one generic video for everyone. It shows we’re invested in helping their business and brings them value before they’ve even become a client.”
Before an initial meeting with a prospect, Andy records a personal video for them sharing knowledge he believes will be beneficial to them. He’d ask them to watch it before they first met, and even send a few reminders leading up to the conversation. The type of people Andy loves working with would always watch the video, and comment on it in their discovery call. If a prospect doesn’t take the time to watch the video, Andy knows they won’t be the right fit.
Once a prospect becomes a client, Andy also records a personal welcome video – for every single new client. It only takes a few minutes, and he enjoys doing it personally (and the new client loves the personal attention and care!). We asked him whether he’d eventually have the team do the welcome videos. “I might do that, but for now I really enjoy doing the welcome videos. It’s a personal touch from me as the owner, and they really appreciate it. It only takes a few minutes and it has a big impact.”
As part of his marketing strategy, Andy also started focusing on using social media and campaigns to reach his ideal audience. He quickly learned if he wanted his audience to understand one thing, he had to share it with them in lots of different ways. When CompleteHQ posts a new blog, the team shares it across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, link it in the monthly email, and make sure it’s clearly shown across the website.
Andy knew marketing isn’t about quick wins but about the long game. He joined Accelerator to gain an understanding of the foundations of marketing so he could then apply it to his own accounting business. He first learned how to build a strategy, and then invested time and money into that strategy.
“Previously, a marketing budget wasn’t really a thing for an accountant. You went networking, you got referrals, that was it. Now, the digital world is so massive – you need to have a presence. For me, the three biggest areas of our budget goes to people, software and marketing.”
Andy believes the success he’s seen is because he’s taken the time to learn about marketing and invested more into it than other firms. And it didn’t end when he finished Accelerator. As Complete HQ continues to grow, so too does Andy’s marketing budget. For the year after graduating from Accelerator, Andy moved onto our Co-pilot and tracking service (you can read more about this here) so he could get help tracking and interpreting his marketing numbers and make improvements based on those. One key thing he changed based on his numbers was how he was running his paid Google ads. Andy opened up his location base and saw a significant increase in the numbers: from 130 in March to 530 in May. A 308% increase.
“I’m never going to be finished with marketing. It’s always a constant improvement.”
Now, Andy encourages all accountants to make the same commitment to their marketing. He advises setting aside time and a budget and not underestimating the results you can get with this investment.
“As an accountant, you would encourage someone to go to a business advisor or a tax advisor for the best advice. If you want the best marketing advice, you go to someone who specialises in marketing!”
Before you start publishing videos and blogs, you need to make sure the content you are creating is appealing to the right audience. To do this in the best possible way, and learn everything about who you’re talking to and what they care about, join our next Accelerator coaching group. Intakes for the live sessions start in February, May, and September each year. Just like Andy, you’ll learn things about your audience you didn’t know before. So many accountants who have been through Accelerator have a story to share like Andy’s. When you join, you’ll be one of the ones getting not just more leads, but better ones. Working with clients you love to work with, doing work you enjoy.
We look forward to getting to know you and your firm. You, too, deserve better!
Watch Andy share, in his own words, his experience of Accelerator and the impact is had on his accounting firm:
If you’d like to watch our full interview with Andy, click here to watch.