As one of the most recession-proof industries, accountants have been able to rely on recommendations and word of mouth to gain more clients – after all, everyone needs an accountant at some point so it’s just a matter of waiting for new enquiries to come in, right?
Whilst word of mouth will remain one of the most reliable ways to generate new business, increased competition and digitalisation have meant that accountants have had to explore new ways of finding and communicating with their target audiences. The advent of digital marketing has opened up a whole new host of possibilities to tap into, but with it comes a certain amount of confusion about which channels are relevant and what actually works.
Reasons why people switch accountants
People don’t choose or switch accountants on a whim and the purchasing process can take time. They are likely to research different firms (hello Google), ask their network for recommendations and obtain quotes from different firms before finally deciding on one. Although price plays an important role, the perceived ‘fit’ based on expertise, skills and trust plays a major part in the decision-making process.
So why do people switch accountants? Usually, it’s due to one of these reasons:
- Their current accountant is retiring
- Their business model has changed and their current accountant is no longer the best fit
- Bad service from their current accountant
Tips for attracting more clients
- Have a marketing plan/strategy
This forms the basis of any marketing activity. In a nutshell, a marketing plan should cover:
- Situational Analysis
- Competitor Analysis
- Identifying the target audience and strategies to target them
- SWOT Analysis
An effective marketing plan should set out specific objectives, timeframes and assign responsibilities which individuals can refer back to at various stages.
- Maximise the website
Your website is your shop window; as such it should be visually appealing and provide useful information about the company, your services and key staff. Tools such as Google Analytics can help monitor web traffic and work out which landing pages are seeing the most traffic.
- Give a taste of what you do but don’t give it all away
- Lead generating forms can help capture prospects’ data and enable you to communicate more effectively with them.
- Make sure you can get found on search engines by ensuring your website is SEO friendly and updated regularly.
Our blog post Simple Tips for Keyword Research & SEO explains more on this.
- Offer free advice and content such as guides
When choosing accountants, customers buy into their expertise and skills. Demonstrate that you are best at what you do by writing regular blog posts and how-to guides. Speaking at business events or industry seminars or running a column in an industry publication will get your name in front of a range of different businesses.
People like dealing with people they like and trust. Choose networking events that suit the individual and that you can realistically commit to. Networking is usually not a quick way of generating new leads (although it can be!) but it helps you expand your business contacts, find out about current and local topics and build your profile in the business community.
- Create a database and communicate with them
Don’t just communicate with your clients when the tax deadline is coming up. Keep in touch with them throughout the year and share general information about key staff news, industry news, recent case studies, software updates or new initiatives. Email marketing software such as Mailchimp is free of charge and makes it easy to design professional looking e-shots.
- Develop your services
Keep your eye on the pulse of time and see if you can change or enhance your services to give your clients exactly what they need. Changes such as Making Tax Digital or the rise of Artificial Intelligence can offer opportunities to establish your niche and tap into new markets.
- Social media
A presence on the main social media platforms is expected nowadays and can help drive traffic to your website, promote specific marketing campaigns and events. Participating in discussions about relevant topics, offering your advice in pre-arrange ‘clinics’ and sharing relevant content and resources can help keep you at the forefront of people’s minds. Tools such as Hootsuite are often free or available at a minimal charge and help automate social media scheduling, whilst providing useful insights.
- Enter awards
Entering (and hopefully winning) local or national awards shows your existing and prospective clients that you are an industry leading business worthy of trusting with their finances. Awards are a great way to increase brand exposure and provide great PR opportunities.
- Implement a referral scheme
In an ideal world all your existing clients will become brand ambassadors and shout about how fabulous you are. In reality, although they might be happy with your service they might just need a little incentive to recommend them to their existing contacts.
None of the above points alone are likely to generate an influx of new customers at the push of a button, however when run in conjunction and following a strategic plan, they will help accountants get more clients.
If you’d like any help with any of the above points, please contact us for an informal chat on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01903 530787.