For those who are going to Xerocon London in a few weeks’ time (or if you’re not, but attending some other event for accountants), there is a great deal that can be done to enhance your own marketing and your accounting firm itself, if you approach it with some planning.
Here are a few ways you can make the event have even more significance for you, your marketing, and your team:
1. Make sure all your social media accounts are current, accessible, and up to date.
At an event like this, business cards can be a thing of the past as most people will use apps and social to connect. If you’ve got a few business cards you can feel free to bring them, but it’s unlikely you’ll be handing them out at pre-2000 levels.
At Xerocon, most of the attendees will either be using Twitter or the Xerocon app. There’s usually a Leaderboard on display showing those who are tweeting about the event (using the event hashtag – see the next point).
This will help you get more out of the event – but it will have the double purpose of helping you get more comfortable using social. Everyone will be doing it at the event: the key is to keep using social once the event ends.
2. Know what the correct event hashtag is, and use it.
Check the event website and marketing for the hashtag they’re using – and if there’s any confusion, use the hashtag(s) that are most popular. For example, there are many Xerocon events all over the world, so the #xerocon hashtag was used for the recent Melbourne event in Australia, and will be used again for the London event, and again later in the year for the Texas event in the USA.
When sharing pictures, posts, comments, and quotes, use the hashtag so your post will be more easily found – and you can be more connected to those going.
3. Connect with other attendees in advance
An event like Xerocon London will have nearly three thousand people wandering around. The sheer size and scale will likely overwhelm you a bit, if you haven’t been before (and even if you have). It’s critical to prepare for the event by knowing some of those who are going, those you want to see, exhibits you want to visit, and speakers you don’t want to miss.
If you know who is going, you don’t have to waste time on empty chit chat before you find out who you really want to spend time with. You can go straight to those you want to connect with.
4. Connect with potential suppliers, apps, and partners in advance
Similarly, there will be a wealth of opportunity available to you in the form of apps, businesses, new tech, and partners that you want to get to know better. Make sure you’re clear about those you absolutely must visit, those you are interested to visit, and even those you’re not sure of yet.
I would suggest making a list on your phone of free trials you want to sign up for, stands you want to visit, questions you want to ask, people you want to meet. Whenever you have a spare minute, you can check your list and make sure you’re staying focused – not simply wandering randomly, dazed and confused.
5. Share your discoveries with the world on social
We all know there’s no “getting back to the office” anymore. Despite your standard out of office reply, you’ll still be checking your phone and emails and making a few calls. So don’t wait until the event is over to share what you’re learning, tips and ideas, great new people you’ve met, and plans for the future.
Use an app like Canva to overlay a quote on an image you’ve taken. Use the GIFs and images native to the Twitter app to enhance the posts you share. Take notes and share those.
I’ll be sharing my discoveries via sketchnote – they’ll look something like this.
6. Make your out of office message interesting and relevant.
If you’re going to an event this cool, it makes sense to have an out of office that is actually interesting, and will help people understand why you’re not responding at the normal speeds.
Whenever we send out an email from myself or from PF, I get an entire slew of out of offices – hundreds and hundreds of them at times. And most of the time they are all so boring and so similar that I feel like I got the same email several hundred or thousand times.
Please make your out of office more interesting than ‘I’m out of the office from x date to y date. If your query is urgent, please contact this person on this number.” I know it feels “professional”, but it’s not human and it’s not unique. The second someone sees the out of office bounce back, they instantly know you’re…out of the office. Skip the obvious and get to the good stuff. Something like “I’m at Xerocon London, which is the coolest event for accountants in the UK, and possibly the world. I’m finding out amazing new tech and ideas to make your and our businesses better. I’ll get back to you and share all these new discoveries in a few days!”
(Of course if everyone uses that exact one they’ll all sound the same again, but that one is much more interesting than the boilerplate one.)
7. Share your discoveries with your clients after the event
Once the event is over, send out some official communications to share what you’ve learned with your clients. Feel free to commit to some things – ie “We discovered this new app which we will be researching on your behalf” or “We’re trialling this type of reporting and we want to offer it to a few of you”.
Whatever you discovered, decided, or will deliver, make sure it’s communicated to your clients first. Send one email, or a series of emails. Write a blog post or several.
Following the CMA Live conference in Edinburgh earlier this year, Chris (the founder) posted a blog listing all those who wrote about the event. There were at least 31 of these. Out of 160 attendees. That’s almost 20% of those who attended who wrote a detailed blog summarising what they learned, what they loved, key points, actions.
If the same thing happened at Xerocon London, we’d have well over 500 blog posts by accountants about it afterwards. How cool would that be?
8. Think about running your own event.
You don’t have to run an event at Xerocon-scale to help your clients and benefit your accounting firm – although there have been a few firms who have run their own “mini-Xerocon” after being so inspired. Think about an event not to “get people to come” or to “get more leads”, but to truly help and support and encourage a certain audience. The Xerocons of previous years had a few hundred people, and they’ve grown each year as the community has grown. Start small, with a focused event that is helpful and well-run: even if there are only 5 or 10 people there.
9. Ask someone specific to keep you accountable to the actions you identify whilst at Xerocon
We all know that an event is only as useful as the actions you take afterwards. And every event points that out. “Don’t forget to take action” – “What three things will you do as a result of this?” – “Set aside a day after the event to follow up”.
My recommendation is that you pick someone – ideally an objective person outside your own firm (ie, not a fellow partner who is going to let you slide because you have a lot of client work or new proposals that will bring in fees).
Choose another accountant or Xero partner you know well. A Xero app supplier you have a relationship with. A business colleague who’s not in the accounting industry. Or me. Drop me a line in advance of Xerocon (or even when you see me at the event) and I’ll make sure to check in with you afterwards to see how you’re getting on.
10. Have fun, be human, and let the world know about it
This is a great way to make sure your accounting firm marketing is effective: you can practice being human and having fun, and letting the world know who you are.
I’m not saying to post embarrassing pictures of yourself, or tweet things you’ll regret later. That’s not the essence of humanity the world is looking for in marketing. But if you can take what you learn and experience at Xerocon, and share it in a way that helps people feel they got to know you personally (whether they met you or not), that’s a powerful marketing concept that many accountants can really benefit from.
One of the biggest misconceptions about accountants I hear every day is that accountants are boring. Don’t need to do marketing. And yet most people know an accountant who is cool. Who wears jeans or uses the latest tech or has the most amazing hobbies or swears (*gasp!!) or is the kind of person you’d love to have a beer with.
So, use Xerocon to let this humanity get translated into your marketing – your social media posts, your emails, even your website.
See you there!