A typical accounting firm relies on referrals to replenish the clients that they lose each year. Depending on the economy and other conditions beyond our control, we can grow or shrink in a given year and feel completely helpless about the change. Would it not be better to have a plan in place so that you have control and can determine the fate of your business?
Marketing is Unethical
I speak to a lot of accountants in a given year. Time after time, I am told that marketing is unethical and that professionals should not do it. I think the problem comes from the common belief that marketing inherently tries to trick the unsuspecting public into buying something they don’t need or want.
I take the stance that marketing should be about telling our own business’ story in an honest and compelling way to assist the public in seeking out our services to solve their problems. Marketing professional services should allow potential clients to decide if we are a good fit for their business needs. Ideally, marketing should also allow prospects to determine if we are not a good fit. If that’s the case, they can then move on to a more suitable professional.
Do not let your perceptions of the marketing industry prevent you from running a proper marketing strategy. If you do not know where to start, I recommend reading Accounting Clients on Tap by James Molfetas. James is a best-selling author, speaker and educator in South Africa. James is also an accountant by training, and he now teaches other accountants how to market their professional services, with great results.
When you are ready to embrace marketing as a means to build your firm deliberately, your first step is to create a marketing plan. You can make this as complicated and comprehensive as you want. For the average sized firm, you can get consistent and predictable results if you consider the following:
- Assessment of current marketing efforts – How many new clients are you getting on average in a year?
- Growth plan – How many new clients do you want or need? What is your timeframe to acquire these clients?
- Ideal client – Who do you wish to serve? Can you define your ideal client?
- Niche development – Will you focus on being a generalist or do you have a target market that you wish to pursue?
- How much time, energy, effort and money are you willing to invest in marketing?
- What resources do you have for marketing? Can you do it in house or do you need to bring in a consultant?
- How will you market your services?
- What Social Media channels will you leverage in your marketing efforts?
Just Do It
Once you actually create your marketing plan, the most important step is to implement it. Create your plan and follow it. Review the results as you go and adapt your plan as needed. If you deliberately plan for growth, you can find the clients that you need to either maintain or grow your business.