2020 was one of the most uncertain years in history and the world is now a different place because of it. And yet through it all we saw something remain the same: marketing. At least, the kind of marketing which is about helping people.
That is the best kind of marketing: helping people and sharing your knowledge and expertise, so when someone needs help they come to you because they trust you.
And that’s exactly what our clients have been doing relentlessly over the last year: helping people. Accountants all around the globe have stepped up and been a constant source of support and comfort to their clients.
As PF’s financial year drew to a close, our team had the great idea to share a ‘Our year in numbers’ blog. Our plan was to include numbers on how many people have visited our website and how many page views we’ve had. There are so many exciting numbers to share!
Then we thought about who would read this blog, and why we would write it (always look to your audience!), and realised what you as an accountant care about may not so much be “our” year in numbers. What you care about is, how can YOU have the numbers you want? Which means you’re interested in hearing the stories of the numbers other accountants are experiencing. Seeing their victories and success over the last year, and understanding where those came from. What they did to get those victories.
We want you to get excited, not about what PF’s numbers are, but about the numbers from the accountants we serve. Our clients are the real heroes here.
Whenever a client has a win, we celebrate THEM. When you get numbers you’ve been working towards and are excited about, we’re honoured to work with you but give you credit where due. We celebrate your hard work and commitment, because true marketing is always a reflection of the values, ideas, expertise, and effort of YOU, and your firm. PF is honoured to serve accountants, because we know you are more amazing than most people realise. There’s a brand mismatch for many people about who accountants are and how many of them are (there’s no other word for it) cool.
As you continuously reassured and helped your clients navigate through some of the most challenging times that businesses have ever faced, the focus on marketing shifted for you, and for all accountants. It became less about “how do I get loads more leads?” and more “how can I help the clients I already have, and more like them?”. And that is the best kind of marketing.
We are honoured to work with the accountants who get marketing successes, and we’re proud to share THEIR victories.
These can be YOUR victories too. Every one of these accountants has followed the Marketing Map, and that’s where these numbers came from. It’s why we encourage you to start with the Map, and follow the Map, and keep on with the Map. It’s what delivers the results you want – not more leads, but better ones. Clients you love. Over the long game.
The numbers show it.
A year in numbers for accountancy firms
It takes around 50 milliseconds (that’s 0.05 seconds) for users to form an opinion about your website that determines whether they’ll stay or leave.
Your website truly sets you and your firm apart from all other accounting firms. It’s your own platform in which your clients and prospects ought to be able to find all the information they need to make an educated decision.
It’s your hub where you share your values, who you serve and how you work and all your marketing needs to be consistently driving people to this hub.
Creating fresh, unique content tailored to the types of clients you want to work with will benefit all of your marketing. And driving people to look at this content on your website is your number one priority.
That’s exactly what these accountants have been doing, and here are an average of their results from March 2020 through to March 2021:
Written a blog post? Had a PDF guide created? These need to be shared on your website and that is the place you want your audience to come and consume your content. Tracking the number of people coming to your site is key in helping you identify which marketing campaigns are and aren’t working on a monthly basis and will help you make future marketing decisions.
You can also create social media posts which include snippets of the content with a CTA to read the rest of the blog or guide on your website. Here’s a great example of this from Andy and the team at Complete HQ:
View this post on Instagram
An increase in the total number of visitors to your site is great. But it’s important to also look at how many of these visitors are new, and how many have been to your website before and have come back to get more great content. By consistently creating new content, you will be encouraging not only new visitors, but returning ones too. The more educated they become, the quicker they’ll be to make their buying decision.
Tracking page views help you spot patterns in the kind of content your audience is looking for. This enables you to create more of this kind of content, and identify gaps you may be missing.
Unpaid listings on search engines are what drives your organic search numbers. It’s one way for users to get to your website. The clue is in the name “organic” – you can’t pay for these numbers. The best way to increase your organic search is by blogging more.
70-80% of Comerford Foley’s traffic is being attributed to organic search on a monthly basis. You can read more about Colin and Ger’s success here.
While it’s great to have increased website users and page views, what do these numbers actually mean? You want them to convert to sales. That’s the long game of marketing. From doing consistent marketing, 6 of our clients have had an average increase of 389% in the number of proposals accepted each month.
One of our them has gone from 4 accepted proposals out of 9 per month in September 2020, to 14 out of 16 proposals accepted in March.
Another has gone from 1 accepted per month to 17 per month from March 2020 to March 2021.
These clients are consistently sharing content which is created for the audiences they serve so when their audience is ready to buy, they already trust them and understand their value.
YouTube is the second biggest search engine after Google and posting on it regularly will help you bring more awareness of your accounting firm and help the right people find you. Avalon has done exactly that. There aren’t loads of accountants on YouTube at the moment so the low supply and high demand means Avalon has positioned themselves well in drawing in the right audience.
Since September 2020, Avalon has grown their subscriber base from 163 to 1,420 [as May 2021]. Their number of website sessions has also increased from 28 sessions to 80 sessions due to YouTube users coming to check our other resources.
Force Accounting increased their referrals from social media from 0% to 29.50%
Your prospects love to see the more human side of their accountant and enjoy seeing your life outside of work. Sharing a mix of promotional and non-promotional posts on social media helps people to engage with you and interact with your posts.
That’s exactly what happened for PJ, owner of Force Accounting. Through regular posting and interacting, PJ has seen an increase of 29.5% since October 2020. Read this blog to find out how often posting on social media is “enough”. Short answer: 3 – 5 times a week. Long answer: It depends.
Sharing your client’s stories and victories is the best kind of marketing
Being a part of our client’s marketing journies is what brings us the most joy at PF. And sharing their successes stories and victories is one of the team’s greatest pleasures.
“Marketing is not just external, about getting new clients, it’s making sure the people you sign up are happy and the people you’re already working with are kept happy. It’s a whole lot more than I thought. So because of that, it’s one of the most fundamental things you can invest in as an accounting firm owner. There are only a few things now I would borrow money in order to be able to keep going with, and one of those is PF. It feels like it’s business critical, not something which is fit in around the edges trying to get more stuff in, but a fundamental part of changing the business.” – Georgi Rollings, Starfish
PF practices these marketing principles too
We practice what we preach at PF and create content that appeals to our niche: accountants who are willing to be personally involved in their marketing.
Over the last year, we have…
Answered 71 questions from accountants in our blogs
Creating original content which has the “They Ask You Answer” principles at its core is what leads the right clients to you and blogging is a huge part of that. It gives you a platform and opportunity to build trust with them so when they are ready to buy from you, they come educated, informed and willing.
We practice what we preach and our weekly marketing tips are focused on answering the questions accountants commonly ask us. The team has been writing these tips for the best part of 9 years and they’ve become so much more than a “tip”. They are actually very well researched, in-depth articles. Each team member chooses their topic from our ‘They’ Ask You Answer’ list at least 6 weeks before their blog will be published. It then takes 3 week to write up the tip (albeit in amongst other work) and each tip is typically reviewed twice before it’s published. We estimate each team member spends 4-6 hours on every marketing tip. And we post one every single week.
The result? We have a total of 627 blogs on our website which answer the questions accountants commonly ask us. So next time a prospect gets in touch with the same question, we have content ready to share. You can sign up to receive our weekly marketing “tips” here!
Welcomed 4 new people to the PF team
Our clients have been working harder than ever this year and by investing in their marketing, they’ve taken on new, ideal clients for them. The PF team has grown with them and in the last year, we have welcomed: Katie Stouffer as our 2nd Graphic designer; Elaine Reid as Client Marketing Manager, Stephanie Irving as our Marketing Manager and Amy Reid, our first ever Assistant Client Marketing Manager. We’re excited to welcome some more new team members to PF soon! If you know anyone who is looking for a role in marketing and who fits the PF pillars and values, send them to our careers page!
Connected with each other on 2 virtual team retreats
A lot of things have gone virtual this year… birthdays, anniversaries, weekly catch ups with friends and so it was the same for our twice yearly team retreat which would usually be in person.
With a remote retreat, it felt harder taking the time away from day to day work. For a lot of it, you’re sitting in the same spot as you would be when at work. It’s so tempting to open up emails and Slack and just get on with the work that’s sitting there. We didn’t have the same separation from work as we would usually and that was difficult. And most of the team shared how hard they found taking the time away.
With it being the first virtual retreat, we made a plan for what we thought it’d go like. And mostly, we followed the plan. We agreed after the first one that we had spent too much time on Zoom and would make some of the sessions shorter for next time. These were great learnings and we were able to apply these to the next one which involved less meetings, and more outdoor time.
Our team retreats involve a combination of in-depth discussions on a book we’ve all read beforehand, brainstorming ideas, sharing stories, and playing games. We focus our retreats on #creativitypillar, #restpillar and even despite not being together physically, there is always a whole heap of laughter.
Coached 104 accountants through the Accelerator
Our coaching group takes accountants through the 12 elements of content marketing in a specific order that shows how they work together to get you not just more leads, but better ones. We could talk all day about how going through the Accelerator will help improve your firm’s marketing and overall business but we’d rather share our graduates’ victories and stories…
“I have 19 enquiries in ONE WEEK… 11 proposals sent and 5 of them accepted!” – Max McHugh, Ocelot Accounting
“I started my firm in October and had a target to have 10 clients by December. I finished the year with 28 clients.” – Karen Kennedy, KABS
“It has made me more confident as a business owner full stop.” – Cheryl Sharp, Pink Pig Financials
“Our potential client contacted us specifically because of our blogs” – Sharon Pocock, Kinder Pocock
Guided 23 clients through their marketing foundations workshop
One of our favourite things to do at PF is take clients through their Foundations workshop. We get to dig deep, one one one, with individual firms and help them rediscover who they truly are, and fully understand their worth.
Foundations workshops are where accountants get to know us. They get to dive in deep and make sense of everything that has been swirling around in their brain. We get to know their story and the stories of their clients. We love asking questions and seeing our clients think about things they may have never considered in the past.
It’s so important because accountants, like yourself, like order. Marketing can feel very overwhelming when you look at everything you feel like you have to do. You’re not sure where to start, or what to do or if you are doing it right. This gives our clients order. It gives them a “foundation” to work from and helps them to move confidently forward with their marketing.
Doing a Foundations workshop is a requirement before we start any brand or website projects with a client because too often, the marketing thing you THINK you need to be doing either isn’t the right one, or it’s not time for it yet. If you skip one of these areas, you will be missing out on vital information that could change the entire direction of your whole brand/website/marketing. Just as you wouldn’t let a client do “all the things” before sorting out their core accounting system, fixing anything that was either done badly or which would hold them back later if it wasn’t sorted straight away, so too we want to make sure your marketing foundations are in place so you get the best results as quickly as possible. It can feel a little backwards (you may want to hurry along and do all the things and get results fast), but actually any shortcuts will cost you in the end.
“My ongoing work with the PF team started last May in Accelerator and now on Foundations and then coming soon is the website – we’re digging deep and capturing loads of stuff. It’s pretty painful in exactly the way you describe. It’s important, I’ve done research and written notes, read books and summarised notes, watched videos and taken notes, attended two Accelerators and created notes and starred points and had startling realisations. I’ve done homework for Foundations and created more notes and better refined the realisations, I’ve consulted with our team and had more breakthroughs, created more refinements and revamped our entire business model. Who we serve and what we do is clearer than ever before. We’ve never had this sort of clarity.
I’ve had to go the long way round because there are no shortcuts and we hadn’t even set one foot on the journey before. We need to be guided to do the hard work and there will be more work to do. Something new that was invisible before has gradually appeared, starting as waves of ideas that kept disappearing and then gradually solidifying into something real that can be explained and makes sense.” – Fiona McAllister, McAllisters
“This [foundation workshop] is going to solve a problem we have never solved in our business. It’s only the start of the process , it’s just the beginning. But there are some key dates in my business I will always remember and today is one of those days: because it got stuff out of my head I never knew was in my head that I couldn’t get out. I’ve tried everything. And now I see I’ve invested in this workshop and I think it would be ludicrous not to take the advice of the people we’ve hired to tell us.” – Paul Redmond, RDA
Built 7 websites for accounting firms and have 11 more in progress
Your website is your marketing hub. It’s where you consistently drive prospects to. It’s critical your website truly reflects who you are as a firm and the values you live and work by. In her own beautiful words, PJ shares her experience of her website project with PF…
“Before you did my website, I had …a website. And it was out there. But what you created was an identity. You led the foundations of who we were and what we wanted to be and what we put out there, and you created a website that really lived those foundations. When I lose my way I go back to my website and look at the colours and the messages and the foundations of who we are as a firm, and it keeps me right. So it’s more than just a website you built for me.” – PJ Tranter, Force Accounting
Collaborated on 17 brand projects
Your brand sits at the heart of all your marketing and goes way beyond the name of your firm. It communicates the main message you want to get across to your ideal client. Here Chris shares his experience of rebranding his accounting firm with PF…
“I believe that the pandemic gave us the opportunity to be who we want to be. Be the support to the industry that we want to support. And really stand out from the crowd. Everything just felt right about it. We talked and talked about where we want to be in business, how we want to be seen and who we want to attract. This and the design process was absolutely amazing. When you see it all come to life, that’s what really made it for us. It gets you really excited to actually work underneath your new brand.” – Chris Cheeney, CDC Accounting/Coterie
And there you have it! Our clients’ year in numbers (plus a few PF ones too).
We’re grateful and honoured to have victories and stories from our clients which we can share.
Keep up the really great work.
To start the journey of getting numbers like this for your firm, and create marketing which appeals only to the clients you love to work with, join the next Accelerator coaching group.