Accounting firms have a relationship with their clients that is pretty unique - you'll find a similar pattern in only a handful of other professions. It's a working partnership tempered with a high degree of trust, and often goes on for a long period of time. Because an accounting firm is built on these long-term, trusting relationships with clients, there's also a whole lot to say for how much of an impact customer referrals have on the business. Often, these referrals are one of the chief ways that a firm will bring in more business.
This pattern is functional, but it has its limitations. While customer referrals are a powerful way to bring in more clients, relying on it as the primary method of lead generation will ultimately restrict a business' growth, since the firm would only be bringing in a small pool of clients from a local area.
Of course, referrals aren't the only way that accounting firms grow their lead base. Networking is one of the other traditional ways that new clients are sought out, although in a lot of ways this can end up being time consuming and expensive (in lost billable hours). Another way that accounting firms grow their lead base is by purchasing clients from other firms. This method might have a slightly higher success rate, but it is often the most expensive method that exists, with the firm working that price off for 4 to 5 years per client.
Although these methods are popular and more commonly used, it is becoming clear that there are diminishing returns from these ventures. In this global and online economy, you need a method which taps into the way people buy and allows for growth on a local, national, and even international scale if need be.
Today, I'm going to show you how content marketing can grow your accounting firm, bringing in new and highly qualified leads and clients for your business.
What does your business need in order to grow?
In order to grow, your firm is going to want more clients (obviously), but have you worked out what you need in order to make this goal happen? To grow your client base you need to:
- Improve visibility of your business
- Generate more new leads
Use strategies which build trust with your leads.
In addition, you're going to need a way to measure the return on your marketing investment to ensure it is an investment and not a cost.
When clients think of accounting firms, you want for your name to be on the list of people they consider first. Visibility is one of the top priorities for an accounting firm when attracting leads who haven't been recommended or introduced already. And it's not just standard high-vis you're after as a firm with a physical location - you want to be specially visible to potential clients who are in your local area, since the ability to meet face to face is still necessary for some clients.
The Internet has created many new ways to do business and more and more people don't need to meet face to face to work with someone. To get these clients, you're going to need to widen your visibility - reaching your ideal clients on a national scale, as well as those who are in your local area.
Referrals and networking produce limited leads. However, they are highly qualified and often ready to become your clients. These leads tend to be mostly local and are too few to really grow your business.
A new way to generate and qualify more leads both locally and from further afield is required for real business growth.
Developing trust with leads produces clients
The great thing about referral leads is the trust comes from the referring client. These are the best leads - when you can get them.
You have to work to develop trust in leads generated from other sources such as online leads, walk in leads, or leads generated from your advertising. In most of these cases you have to work with the lead personally to develop that trust and get them over the line. This can be costly.
To generate new clients efficiently, you need another way the develop trust with your leads.
Documentable Return On Investment
Your accounting firm is, more likely than not, all about efficiency. If you're going to make an investment or venture, you're going to want to see a return, and be able to have a tangible appreciation for the given return on investment. This is one of the reasons for accountancy as a profession not changing a whole lot in its method of client acquisition over the last generation or so. With nothing in the system broken, why would there be a need to fix things?
Given, though, that there are methods of client acquisition and lead generation that are more efficient and effective than the current methods, which are beginning to see diminishing returns, it would pay to consider a new way to bring in leads that will be long-term sustainable and efficient to boot.
Enter Content Marketing
Content marketing isn't a new idea when it comes to attracting people to your business. It's tried and tested, and hosts a swag of benefits that can give a significant boost to your website, and consequently to your client base.
In fact, Content Marketing, or Inbound Marketing, is now the most common marketing practise used by small and medium businesses. As of 2015, small and medium businesses are spending up to 5 times more on content/inbound marketing than on other marketing methods. If you use the actions of your contemporaries to form an opinion of a method, then this is worth taking into consideration.
This method of marketing your business generally consists of creating and curating content on your website (e.g. blog articles, reviews, industry reports, short videos, infographics). This content will be targeted at your ideal clients, addressing their concerns and problems, and is able to do many things for your website.
By regularly updating your website with information that is relevant to the needs of your clients, you're not only proving to search engines that what you have to say is worthwhile so they send you more visitors, but you're also able to build trust with people who aren't clients now, but could purchase from you in the future. When you honestly address the needs and concerns of your ideal clients in the form of easy-access content, you assure people who've come to your website that you are capable of solving their problems, building the trust that's necessary for an ongoing accountant-client relationship. Furthermore, by proving to search engines that your content is useful and unique, you'll reap the benefits of a higher ranking on results pages, and as a result become more visible on both a local and a global scale.
In addition, the content that you place on your website offers something of value to the 97% of people who visit your website but aren't ready to become a client just yet. You could just focus on the 3% who are keen to contact you now, but by adding in content that is relevant and helpful to a wider range of visitors, you'll be able to get that vast majority to keep you on their mind and keep on coming back until more of them are ready to start talking numbers.
The marketing automation software used with content marketing will automatically stay in touch with the 97% of people who aren't ready to become your clients just now to ensure you stay top of their mind. On top of that, the marketing automation software will score these leads, eliminating the tyre kickers, and bringing the serious buyers to your attention so you can follow up with them.
These won't just be the locals in your city, either. Content marketing allows you to broaden your horizons when it comes to reaching your clients, and making your business highly visible online extends your reach from a local yellow pages to a national and even global scale.
Because content marketing from your website is conducted entirely online, this provides the ability to easily measure the return on investment. The content marketing software will make it easy to track your marketing and allows for fast and continuous improvement.
Why Consider Moving To Content Marketing?
- The traditional methods of client acquisition are expensive, and are seeing a diminishing return. The payback on purchased clients varies, but it generally sits at the 5 year mark. The payback from a client gained through content marketing in contrast only takes 1-2 years at most.
- Content marketing allows for local businesses to become more visible online - the very space where more and more potential clients are now searching for the services you offer. By incorporating content marketing bit by bit into your business, you'll be able to build trust with people searching online, and give new people more and more reasons to seek out your services.
- Content marketing is a proven way to build your brand presence online and it has a great impact on your SEO, as well as growing trust with readers who will become your clients.
- If you're a little concerned about changing too much too fast, don't worry - you can add content marketing to your traditional client acquisition methods, and then as it proves to be effective, start to reduce the traditional methods as you see fit.
- Unlike traditional advertising and marketing, content marketing builds assets that continue to work for your business. A single piece of well-written content can continue to generate leads and clients for years after publication