You’re doing well. Keep up the great work.

Many of you who are following my marketing tips may at times feel that every tip gives you something more to do – new ideas, opportunities for change, a new perspective on your marketing efforts.

And whilst that’s (hopefully) inspithumbsupring and motivating, it’s possible you could at times feel a little discouraged.  Another thing to do, another marketing idea to try, another change that you weren’t ready for.  It can get overwhelming.

And now that it’s the 2nd of January, the joy and excitement of the Christmas and New Year season is over. If you’re in the UK, the heavy burden of the tax season is upon you. And maybe the last thing you want right now is another new marketing idea.

So today I just want to encourage you that you are doing really well.

Here are some encouraging things I’ve noticed while dealing with accountants during 2014:

You’ve woken up to the fact that online marketing is the right place to focus your efforts.

For many years, online marketing was a “new thing”.  Accountants thought about it, hesitated, considered groundbreaking new ideas like social media, even got new websites.  But for the most part, you’ve realized and accepted that online marketing is not an option anymore, but a must-have.  Some of you are stepping into it slowly, with a few blog posts here and there, and some firms we’re working with are going at it full steam – with webinars, landing pages, infographics, CRM systems, and more. It’s really exciting, and I’m proud of you!

You’re beginning to recognise the difference between foundational marketing work, and lead generation.

Accountants – and any kind of business owners – used to think that when it came to online marketing, you just tried a few things and got your analytics and hey presto! You have new leads. And if you didn’t, then it was a fail, and you would give up.  What you’re coming to realise with online marketing is that there’s so much foundational work.  Things like building a new website so you have the capability to add content.  Getting blog posts and landing pages written and created.  Refreshing or completely revamping your branding and logo.  Setting up social media accounts and email marketing systems.  All of this is needed and important if you’re going to drive your online lead generation – but this foundational work takes time and has a cost associated with it, and the “real” results (the way accountants view it, in terms of new leads and new clients) don’t come until later.  That can be discouraging, but take heart. You’re beginning to ‘get’ it, and that’s very powerful.

You’re trying new things.

There is nothing so refreshing to me as an accountant who says, “Okay, let’s try it.”  You’ve never run a webinar before, but it’s worth a shot.  You’re not sure whether having a niche will help, but you’re going to give it a go.  You’ve said okay to a new website build even though it’s a big investment.  Considering the fact that accountants have a tendency not to try anything until someone else has tried it, proved it, and made a lot of money from it, that’s impressive.

You are losing your fear of the competition.

This is so powerful. I was talking to one of the firms we’re working with, and we were planning a new campaign based on a programme that is entirely unique to their firm. No one knows about it, and as far as we know no other firm has anything like it. The owner of the firm said, “It was tempting for me to not publish it on our website because I was afraid other accountants would see it, but then I realised that if they did, by the time they saw it we’d be finished and would be getting new business, so it didn’t matter.”  I nearly applauded.  I’ve said before that you’ve got to stop staring at your competitors, and look instead at your prospects, and this is what they’re doing.

You’re taking your attention off other accountants and looking around at the business world.

Similarly, many of you are realising that looking at what other accountants are doing when it comes to marketing is not the way forward.  One of my clients told me that the average marketing investment for accounting firms his size was 0.7% of client fees. He was a little concerned because his was higher than that.  We discussed the fact that when considering marketing spend and marketing efforts, looking at other accountants is not the way to go, because so few of them are willing to branch out. Instead, you look to successful online businesses and design companies and apps and cloud software, because they are growing like wildfire, and you’d like to do that too.

You are really, really good at what you do.

I’ve been working with accountants for over 15 years, and what strikes me, always, is how incredibly good you are at what you do.  When a client phones up with an in-depth question about inheritance tax, you know the answer.  You prepare management accounts that make sense and help your clients make better decisions (and more money).  You are the go-to person for major decisions in most of your clients’ lives, and you’re dedicated to your clients in this.  And many of you are realising that your levels of expertise are giving you an edge when it comes to online marketing.  Because when your prospective clients search for an accountant (whether they ask for recommendations online or offline, use Google or look up your site after being referred to you), they’re looking for someone who understands them. Their unique issues. Their problems.  And you absolutely do that – which leads us to the next one….

You’re seeing the power of niches and specialty areas.

Instead of talking about ‘profit’ and ‘business growth’, you’re sharing your expertise using the online marketing arena.  One of our firms is getting an ebook designed for Digital Creatives – specific profit ideas for a certain niche of client.  Another firm delivered a webinar just for solicitors, on pensions. Another has benchmarking information customised for veterinarians and opticians.  Another created tips for dental practices.  And all of these (and many others) are discovering that differentiation is the way to excel in online marketing, because your prospects aren’t searching for a “one size fits all” accountant. They want an accountant who works with theatre companies. Or theatre companies on the south side of London.  Or theatre companies on the south side of London who use Xero.  The more specific you are, the better your leads will be – and the more profitable your services will be, too, because you’ll have done it time and time again. It will be systemised and efficient.

You’re learning to trust the experts.

This is the hardest one of all.  I’m incredibly honoured that the Profitable Firm does ongoing and recurring work for so many accountants, because it means that accountants are learning to trust our advice.  Believe me, I know how hard this is for you. So many of you have been burned, confused, or let down by many other suppliers – consultants, marketers, specialists, SEO “experts”.  And what impresses me is that you haven’t given up on the whole game. You’re still trying new things, testing the waters.  One of the things I always encourage our clients to do is to start small.  If you’re not ready, don’t sign up for the Customer Journey website plus the Guns Blazing outsourced marketing plus a new CRM system plus the ROI package.  You are more than welcome to go that route, and the firms who do see more results faster when they go at it full steam.  But for those who aren’t sure, taking small steps and slowly learning to build trust means that you can eventually be at the place where some of our firms are, which means we have a half hour conversation about what they want done – and that’s it. No more reviewing, no ten thousand emails, no continual edits and the final email goes out 3 months later.  When we’re in a position of trust, our clients give us the remit and let us get on with it – the emails are written and designed and sent and linked to the website and everything happens while you’re focusing on what you do best.

So for 2015, keep up the great work.  You’re doing really well.

And have a great (first) Friday!