My personal goal for the year ahead is to seriously up my fitness, like most of the world in January! It got me thinking about how easy it is to say we’re going to do this: but actually following through, consistently can be pretty tricky to start with.
Guess what.. the same applies to your marketing goal.
Everyone has a jam packed day with clients calling and emailing, meetings to contend with then actually getting stuck into the accounts. On top of that you need to squeeze in family and friends, travel, eating and exercise.. or whatever you like to do. It can feel overwhelming to then add to the load, especially with a new skill.
So how on earth do you get started? Here’s a few tips to make it a little bit easier, and get you rolling.
1. Build a plan.
We all know we need a plan but why don’t we create one? Why do we just do a blog here and there with no consistency? The main reason is people are daunted at the thought of building a plan.
Well, you don’t need to be. It doesn’t need to take forever to write or be a huge complex document to show off. It’s sole purpose is to help keep you on track with your marketing, and be easy to follow so you know what needs done next. It must make sense to you.
When you start your plan think about your marketing goal, and what steps you need to take to reach it. Set yourself a timescale, and note all the elements you need to complete to write a piece of content for your firm, or to have regular blog posts to share. A Google Sheet is ideal for creating the plan so you can share with others too.
Here’s an example:
Also consider what tools you need:
- A blog on your website to add your posts on (or try writing a LinkedIn article if you don’t have a blog).
- An image to go with your blog. Here’s a list of some great free image sites we use.
- A social media profile for your firm on a platform that your clients and prospects are on
- An email tool (if you want to send out the link), but you could also do it on a one to one level from your own email account.
You can go into much more detail if you want to but this basic structure will help you get started.
If you already have content and social media is your goal, take a look at what you need to include in your social plan.
2. Block out time in your diary every week OR after important client meetings.
There’s two options other accountants find helpful when it comes to setting time aside in your diary for marketing (so you actually do it).
The first is to block an hour (or however long you can spend) out at the same time each week. This is your ‘marketing time’, don’t move it. When your reminder goes off, get started with your plan. You’ll soon get into a pattern where this time is a natural (and creative) part of your week.
The second is to block out half an hour after what you know will be a really important/good meeting with a client. Use this time to document what they said or the questions they asked, and turn it into a blog post. Integrating this time with the work you are already doing is a good way to capture the exact phrases or words your clients use, so your content speaks right to your target audience and triggers them to take notice.
“After graduating from the Accelerator i’ve kept the time I blocked out for the weekly sessions in my diary and use this to focus on my marketing. It helps me commit to doing something regularly.” Barb Brady, Simplified Accounting
3. Get the whole team involved.
The more people within the firm that embrace marketing the better your results are going to be. How great would it be to share ideas on topics for content, or posts for social media, as well as get feedback on your own content. It’ll help keep up your moral as you continue learning new skills.
Now I know it’s not always easy to get everyone excited about marketing, or something new for that matter. They might feel they’re too busy, and will have their own priorities. But guess what, you can overcome this. Show the team how valuable their first hand knowledge of the clients is to creating custom, quality content: that then helps other clients, and grows the business. There’s a few tips here on how to get team buy-in.
4. Take a course.
To spur me on with my fitness goal I signed up to a Fitness App to teach me to lift weights correctly, and build up from there. What I love about following a programme is the structure it gives: meal plans, shopping lists, exercise circuits – all broken down each day to coach me to make this a regular routine. If i skip a session i’ll be behind so it encourages me to just do it!
The same works with marketing courses. A programme like the Accelerator gives you the same accountability, education and expert advice so you know it’s worth turning up each week. In the long run you’ll save a lot of time as you’ll pick up how to do everything well rather than spend twice as long muddling through.
It pushes you to commit to marketing for those 12 weeks: then you’ll be in a routine to confidently continue yourself. You can get a glimpse into the session in these beautiful sketchnotes, and we have a new group starting in March.
“I feel really good about my 2019 marketing with the knowledge and confidence i’ve gained from the Accelerator.” Tim Sernett, Virtual BeanCounters
5. Join a community.
There’s a lot of great online groups where you can chat to other like minded accountants. Share issues, ideas, tips and ask for feedback, but also offer your opinion.
We have a PF Marketing Community with a global membership of nearly 400 accountants. It’s a safe place to ask anything you like!
It’s really refreshing to get different point of views on topics which your clients could be facing too: and you’ll get fantastic ideas to use in your marketing.
Go Proposal also have a thriving group on Facebook, you can request to join here.
6. Make a list of all your clients’ questions.
The “they ask you answer” concept is going to help you craft content that appeals and touches the pain points of you clients (and potential clients).
When you are speaking to clients, ask what issues they have – perhaps in a particular area. Do they need guidance on Xero? Or advice on which App can help them best with expenses that can link into Quickbooks?
When you’re sitting there during your ‘marketing time’ wondering what to write about, you can then go to this list, pick a question, and write away.
You’ll be amazed how much content like this will ramp up your website and social media traffic.
“I wrote a blog post as part of the Accelerator course and another local accountant sent my post to their client! Turns out this client was a prospect of mine from last year and they couldn’t believe it. They already had one foot out the door and their accountant was pushing them out! Big win for content marketing!” Paul McCann, McCann Advisors
An added bonus is that you’ll save a lot of time replying to other clients who ask the same question, as you can just pop over the link to your blog post.
7. Follow influencers on social media.
Have a look on social media (whatever platform you use) for anyone who inspires you, that you’re on a mailing list for or you’ve heard good things about. It doesn’t have to be accounting, software or marketing based – it could be someone in any industry that you feel shows their brand well. That inspires you to give things a go, and ignite some ideas that you can try in your marketing.
I love Instagram for this, especially the video stories. Here’s a few people I follow on social that are fun, honest and share some great stuff:
- Karen Reyburn, MD of PF
- Mark Schaefer, Social Media expert
- Ashleigh Lambert, Marketing Manager at Xero
- Chris Marr, Founder of CMA
- Gavin Bell, Facebook expert and Vlogger
8. Track your progress.
To check how well your content is doing you need to know where you’re at just now, then keep track every month.
When you start seeing results you’ll get a boost to continue, and see it’s working. Or make tweaks and test again.
You can track your website traffic using Google Analytics. First of all it needs to be linked to your website and from there you can get a load of information.
It can be quite overwhelming at first but play around and look at some of the key numbers like number of new users, page views and traffic source. Keep an eye out as we’re going to share another blog about Google Analytics soon.
Social media numbers are easier to track as you can see the growth in number of followers/connections easily on the profile page. You can also get more indepth stats directly on each of your social media profiles when you login . For Twitter visit here.
If you are running some social media campaigns this article will give you some tips on what to track.
“The Accelerator forced me to start tracking my marketing activity. I can see a steady increase in website page views as i continue to share 2 blogs per month, answering questions people ask.” Toni Cameron, TL;DR: Accounting
So come on, let’s get started. Keep in mind that you don’t need to do everything at once. Focus on being realistic and consistent.