Karen Kennedy is an accountant who has always loved living in the Scottish Highlands. She feels uniquely connected to the small village of Ardelve where she’s raising her two children and spends Saturdays cheering on the local shinty team. After almost a decade of working in the accounting world and qualifying as a CA, Karen realised she had a unique opportunity to support the community she loves so much.
In 2020, she founded her accountancy firm in order to help local business owners make a real contribution to the place they call home. She reached out to a friend to help create her logo and named her business Kennedy Accountancy and Bookkeeping Services, or KABS for short.
There are so many things to do when you first start a business. Karen felt pulled in a million different directions and it was hard to know what to prioritise. She heard from other business owners marketing was an important first step, but she wasn’t sure when would be the right time to think about it.
“There’s a temptation to focus on everything else (besides marketing) that’s involved when you start up a firm. It’s a long list.”
But then she got some valuable input from a trusted mentor who had experience in starting a small business, and he helped Karen see the process of marketing would help her build the business she wanted. Once Karen understood who she is, who she’s speaking to, and what her firm’s purpose is, everything else on her long to-do list would come quicker, easier, and better.
That same mentor, Will Farnell of Farnell Clarke, told Karen about PF. Karen did her due diligence, and spent time looking through PF’s website and social media. She felt instantly connected to the values guiding PF’s work and was already getting enormous benefit from the content and education provided free for accountants.
“PF has very similar values to me; they’re kind and honest and not a hard sell. The majority of their content isn’t ‘buy this, buy that,’ it’s genuinely helpful, and this really sparked my interest.”
Karen absorbed and learned from this content for some time, reading blogs and watching videos and (in her words) “stalking you on social!” This connection with the content eventually became the push for Karen to get help from PF with the marketing questions she had. She was confident figuring out a marketing strategy would be crucial to her budding business. Less than a month after she started KABS, Karen signed up for our Accelerator to learn the 12 steps of content marketing and how she could apply the principles to KABS.
Accelerator is a 12-week live coaching programme and each week, you’re taught one of the 12 steps of content marketing, from identifying your audience all the way to building a campaign. You’re also part of a private Slack channel with the other members of Accelerator and the PF team, where you can share wins, questions, challenges, and build community with other accountants.
Karen didn’t have any experience with marketing before she started her business and joined Accelerator. And yet in week one, Karen was pleased to discover she had already thought about one of the first, and most important, steps of content marketing: identifying your audience.
Every piece of marketing you create will be centred around who you’re speaking to. It’s not only what industry you want to work with, or the size of business – it’s also the type of person behind the business. Your client is the hero of the story you’re telling, so the best type of marketing will speak to their unique values and characteristics. For example, at PF our audience is ambitious accountants who want to be involved in their marketing journey and connect with the pillars that uphold our work.
Karen’s drive for starting KABS was supporting local businesses in her community. Her audience is the small business owners who have the same motivations in running their business that Karen does: they want to uplift and give back to their home while providing for and spending time with their families. But even with this audience identified, Karen didn’t have any means of connecting and communicating with them.
“I didn’t even have social media for my business. No Instagram, no Facebook. Nothing.”
A few weeks later, in the Social Media session of Accelerator, Karen learned the importance of being visible to both current clients and prospective ones. She especially connected to PF’s method of an 80/20 split between non promotional and promotional content. From the day she first found PF, she loved that not everything was about selling. Sharing things on social media is about forging a better relationship with your clients, and that means letting them see some of the more personal and fun sides of you as a business owner or a team, not just pushing a new product or service.
Karen decided that Instagram would be her primary platform for connecting with her clients. It’s a popular platform for small businesses in her community because it’s a great way to highlight the two values they commonly hold: home and family. Sharing gorgeous shots of a sunset over the Highlands or pictures from a family photo shoot – alongside a shout out to the local photographer who had taken them – helped people see Karen the human alongside the business she was running.
She also started sharing some quick, helpful tips for small business owners like about self assessment tax returns and Covid-19 support funding.
“When I started posting on social media, I got traction right away. People were noticing and telling me how helpful it was.”
A few months after starting KABS, Karen pushed herself even further outside of her comfort zone and joined PF’s 100 Days Video Challenge. The goal of this challenge was for accountants to consistently record and post videos on the platform of their choosing to help them build confidence on camera. Despite her nerves, Karen showed up every day, posting short videos on her instagram feed or story. From cute clips of her kids to accounting advice and shots of her daily walks through the gorgeous highland scenery, Karen’s videos got an amazing response.
“I saw a massive boost in my business from making these videos. It helped me connect to the clients I already had and put me on the radar of potential clients. They could go back and re-watch my videos when they needed extra advice and reach out when they were ready.”
Karen couldn’t believe the growth she was seeing after just a few months of content marketing. Not only was she getting more clients – 28 in three months – but she was getting the type of clients she loved working with. They would share funny stories about their kids, or bump into each other at the shinty pitch on Saturdays.
Best of all, Karen was achieving her goal of giving back to the community. Whether it was becoming more profitable, saving on tax, or having more time to spend with their family, Karen was helping small business owners like herself live up to their own definitions of success. She was building a business that not only supported her family, but that made her feel incredibly fulfilled, happy, and proud.
Accelerator teaches you how to attract the very best clients possible for your business. To learn how to get not just more leads but better leads, sign up for Accelerator today.
The three months of Accelerator was only the beginning of Karen’s marketing journey. She then signed up for Foundations, the next step in the PF Marketing Map, because she wanted to work on her website and build a marketing plan. Karen had no intention of changing the brand that a friend designed for her at the very beginning of her business, but through foundations she discovered she wasn’t as certain about what she wanted – or needed – as she thought.
During the Accelerator Session on Branding, Karen started asking herself some hard questions. Mostly, did her current brand reflect her and her business? Did it speak to the ideal clients she was trying to attract?
Karen worried changing her brand would do more harm than good.
During Accelerator, Karen booked a one on one brand strategy call with Ash, one of PF’s Client Marketing Managers. She wanted some extra guidance about her marketing strategy, and also to discuss her resistance to changing anything about her name, logo, or brand.
“Everyone in the local area knew me as KABS. They knew my logo. I was still so new, I felt I shouldn’t be changing anything.”
There was also a personal element to Karen’s hesitation: she had worked with a friend to design her branding. She felt loyal to this friend, and worried they would be hurt if she decided to change it.
Nevertheless, Karen wanted to keep moving forward in her marketing journey. We assured her any changes to her brand would be entirely her choice to make, based on what was best for the clients she served. Karen knew her brand needed to be appealing to the businesses in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, and whilst she had concerns about change, she knew there was more to a brand than the name and logo. She needed to go deeper. After her brand strategy call, Karen signed up for Foundations to work more on her website and build a marketing plan in a series of five intensive sessions.
Foundations is divided into five sessions, and takes 8-10 weeks from start to finish. The first session is about Goals and is designed to help you dig deep into the heart of your business and your aspirations. We ask hard questions about what is really at the heart of your favourite clients, how much time are you spending on work you enjoy and what do you want most that you currently don’t have. At the end of Foundations, we use your goals to create your marketing actions list so your marketing plan is tailored towards specifically achieving your goals. (You can read more about why your personal goals must be connected to your marketing here).
Karen had two main goals: she wanted more time with her kids and to support her community. She also identified some concrete targets for her business, like a minimum salary after her first year, and more personal goals like a trip to Disneyland with her boys and a holiday for her husband’s 50th birthday.
The next session in foundations is Branding. This is where you break down the story of your business: who your ideal client is, the type of problems they face, what sort of influence you’ll be in their life, and more. Karen has always been confident in who she is, and with the PF team’s help she thought intensely about how that could come through in her brand.
She wanted to speak specifically to the small business owners who love their community as much as she does and who had non-traditional definitions of success: success, to Karen and her clients, is supporting your family and your home. It’s feeling confident in your business, and going through life with a smile on your face. Through the branding session, Karen identified she wanted to be a positive change in her client’s lives. Working with her would bring them feelings of trust, safety, and support.
The whole Foundations process felt like “marketing therapy” to Karen. She couldn’t believe how much she was learning about herself, and it helped her realise her current brand didn’t fully reflect all of who she is, and wanted to be.
As Karen continued to work through her sessions, she recognised that Foundations is about way more than marketing.
“I was doing my homework every week and really thinking about my “why”. I realised the values and culture of my firm had to be reflected everywhere.”
Values are integral to every part of your firm. They’re not merely something you stick on a wall and never think about again. They’re represented in the way you speak, the images you use, the messages you share across social media and the way you make people feel.
We discuss values in depth in our fourth session of Accelerator, Branding, because they’re such a vital component of your brand. We are all motivated by what we believe in and it’s energising to have a brand that speaks all of this for you. It’s not enough to say one of your values is positivity – you want your clients or prospects to sense that positivity on every page of your website, every post on social media, and every conversation they have with you.
In the branding session of Accelerator, Karen started thinking about what her company values are by considering a few questions: what do you love? What do you want to add to the world? What words define you now and what words do you want to define you in the future? In Foundations, she continued processing these questions and landed on four core values: tenacity, honesty, happiness, and consistency.
After all the marketing therapy she got in foundations, it was clear to Karen her old brand didn’t tell the story of her or her firm. The elements she holds most central in her life, like her passion for community and her desire to make a positive change, weren’t being communicated. She knew she couldn’t control how her friend would feel about changing her logo, but it was more important to be true to herself and create a brand that really represented her business.
Because of this, Karen realised she needed to review her name. The current name, KABS, was causing too much confusion. People were constantly asking what it stood for and didn’t immediately link it to her. She decided with PF’s help to slim it down to Kennedy Accountancy. This way, people would immediately connect Karen with her firm, and yet there was potential for it to be more than only Karen on her own. Businesses in her local community would know they were in safe hands because they trusted Karen, and her firm was an embodiment of her.
After changing her name, the next step in Karen’s rebrand process was to change her logo. A logo has the ability to communicate so much about the character of a business and the experience prospective clients can expect.
The line through Karen’s old logo was meant to represent the Highlands, but at first glance it seemed to be a graph on the decline. Karen wanted prospective clients to associate her with growth and a feeling of being uplifted, not in anything going downhill. The navy and green colours didn’t have any of the unique character that made Karen stand out.
One of our graphic designers, Katie, watched the recordings of Karen’s foundation sessions so she could understand Karen’s character, goals, and the messages she wanted to communicate to her clients. From this, she identified four key themes the new logo needed to embody: growth and change, the highlands, community, and being friendly and direct. Then, the brainstorming began.
When designing a new logo, our designers will go through many drafts, iterations, and ideas. But, when it comes time to present something to a client, they’ll come with only one, black and white design concept. Often, clients expect to get anywhere from five to 10 different “pitches” or options of what their logo could be. But one logo – that has hours of work put into it of discussions, meetings, research into you, your competition, brands you liked and didn’t like, and sketching and re-sketching and re-sketching again – is 100 times better than ten logos someone spent twenty minutes on each. This blog, on why it’s better to get one logo design concept (rather than many), was written by another of our designers, Chryzia and in it she explains more in depth why it’s better to get one logo design rather than many during a rebrand.
You also first see your draft logo concept in grayscale. Colours are powerful, and it’s hugely important to choose the right colours for your brand, but you need to have the concept down first. Because colours influence mood and impressions so much, seeing your draft concept first in black and white gives you the opportunity to see the story it’s telling without being distracted by whether you like a certain shade of blue or not. Once the concept is confirmed, then we can get to the fun part of adding colour to bring out even more of the messaging which was developed in Foundations.
After hours of hard work and collaboration with Ash and Elaine, our two CMMs who had been working with Karen from the start of her journey, Katie was ready to present Karen with her first black and white logo design concept.
Karen’s whole reason for creating her firm was to give back to the community she loves so much. The mountains of her logo represent the Scottish Highlands where she and her clients live. The mountains are not solid blocks of color but composed of upward lines to symbolize growth and change as well as to symbolize the transparency and honesty that Karen values. The logo is outlined in a circle to represent community – the unity and connection Karen and her clients feel with their home and with each other, and how they strive to give back to the community that gives so much to them.
Once Karen was certain we had the story of her brand down, we got to work on finding the right colours.
The navy blue conveys trustworthiness and confidence while the fiery punch of orange adds an energetic and unique touch. In our presentation to Karen, we showed her how this new logo would look on business cards, as her header or profile picture on social media, and on various ‘swag’ like water bottles and sweatshirts.
After presenting her design process and the different messages of each component of the new logo, Katie asked Karen for her thoughts.
We tell clients not to expect to immediately fall in love with their new logo or brand. This is because your brand is not for you; it’s for your clients. Our CMM Ash discusses in this blog why you may not be wowed by your logo and why that’s okay. Your clients are the hero of this story, and while your branding flows from you, it’s ultimately designed to speak to your client.
But, sometimes, that wow factor does come right away. Karen felt instantly connected to her new logo because she could see how it tied back to her values, her clients, and the core value at the heart of her business: community.
“You have really nailed down the concept and my values. I didn’t think it was possible to capture what I’m about in a logo so well. PF totally gets how strong my community is. It takes a special kind of marketing agency to do that – to really get to the heart of things – and that’s what you did. I’m beyond delighted.”
She also got great feedback about her brand from everyone – friends, clients, prospects. They told her they loved it and not simply because she loved it, but because it really felt like her. It’s a true reflection of her as a person and the values Karen lives her daily life by.
With her logo nailed down, it was time to start building Karen’s new website. Karen decided on a core website, which is made up of five pages:
Our Head Content Writer, Camilla, joined Karen on the Website session of her foundations workshop. In this session, you’ll start defining things like your onboarding process, how clients usually find you (through Instagram, Google searches, referrals) and the answers to questions like, “what do you wish your website did that it doesn’t right now?” and “What’s the one thing you want people to do on your website?”
Karen wanted her website to communicate all the values and characteristics she had just worked so hard to define. She wanted the right people to get in touch with her right away and to set their expectations for how their journey with Karen would look. Camilla centred all the content on the website around Karen’s core message of community. In addition to the words, Karen’s site is filled with pictures of the Highlands, from misty mornings to beautiful sunsets.
The new site shows off everything that Karen and her ideal clients will most value: family, community, and positivity. From the pictures to the integration of Karen’s new logo down to the title of the Get Started page being changed to Get Support, every little detail of Karen’s new website embodies her brand.
You can check it out for yourself here.
Karen saw extraordinary growth after Accelerator and Foundations: She got 28 new clients in three months and was a finalist for two different awards in her first year of business: New Firm of the Year in the Accounting Excellence awards and New Business of the Year in the Highland Business Women awards.
Now, Karen is taking more steps to grow her business. She’s hired her first employee, a Digital Finance Trainee doing an AAT apprenticeship. An important part of Karen’s culture was providing opportunities for the local community, and she couldn’t be happier to bring in and train someone who understands her love of home. And on Saturdays, when she goes to cheer on her local shinty team, there’s a banner for Kennedy Accountancy on the pitch.
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Beyond the new success in her business, Karen also gained a level of confidence and self-assurance from Foundations she never expected.
“Foundations wasn’t just business changing. It was life changing.”
Karen’s advice to other accountants like her is simple:
“Do it. You don’t need to wait until everything else in your firm is in order. Marketing can help with all of those things and PF will guide you through it all. Don’t wait.”
Karen didn’t know what she wanted – or needed – when she first came to PF. And that’s okay. It’s why we start Foundations with a Goals session so you can dig deep into who you are and what you need. It may be completely different from what you expect, and that’s okay too. You may love your current brand, or be worried that changing it could hurt rather than help your business. But building a brand that represents you, your team, your values, and the type of support you provide your client is the best way to find success.
Whether you’re starting from scratch or have had the same brand for years, Foundations can help you uncover exactly who you are and who you strive to be. Read more about how Foundations lets you move forward with confidence on your marketing journey, and sign up for your Foundations workshop here.