There are two elements to marketing that will deliver results for accountancy firms – two branches of the same tree…
And for true success, you need both.
The first is a foundational content plan: a calendar of consistent reach that will happen day in and day out, month in and month out. This ensures that your marketing is not sporadic, or random. (It also helps prevent Shiny Object Syndrome, which all business owners are subject to when it comes to marketing. Having no clear target audience and being easily distracted are two errors which will deliver poor results every time.)
The second is one that most accountants get a bit more excited about: the campaign plan. A campaign could be as small as a few emails and social media posts, or it could be as complex as a full event plan for hundreds of people, or an exhibition you’re a part of.
Accountants tend to get more excited about a one-off marketing campaign, more so than the foundational content planning.
That’s because a campaign is focused. There is one solid goal, and you know if you’ve achieved it or not. It feels easier to evaluate the results – whether Twitter was worth using, whether your emails got a response, whether people signed up for your event or service or product straight away.
But the foundational content – the blogs, videos, social posts, events, emails – are what keep you top of mind in front of your prospective audience. You’re keeping these potential clients ‘warm leads’, instead of cold ones. Yes, sharing the registration link for an event on social media could cause one or two people to register. But sharing it with people who have been connecting with you for months (or more likely years) drives bigger results, every time.
I’ve spoken to many accountants recently who want to “push” something like Making Tax Digital, or auto enrolment, or payroll services, or management accounts, or a Xero training event. And that requires a campaign plan.
Now, before you get all excited about your campaign, please make sure you’re doing these things first:
Have one central database for all your contacts. It is remarkable to me how many accountants still don’t have this. I don’t care if you use Mailchimp or a Gsheet or Infusionsoft: have a big list of everyone you know – clients, prospects, strategic partners, even friends and family. It’s critical for your marketing success – particularly your campaign.
Segment your list. The more segments you have, the better marketing you can do. It’s complex.
It takes time. It’s detail work. No one has time to do it. And that’s why doing it is going to make your campaign so much more valuable. You can send a targeted, focused email about payroll services to the 42 people who are doing their own payroll. That’s far more effective than one big email to 420 people, most of whom will delete it (and then be more likely to delete future communications from you).
Make sure you have access to everything: editing capability for your website, logins to all your social media, a YouTube or Vimeo account, an email marketing system, the works. Be ready. You’ll need it.
Keep the foundational content coming. Before you even begin your campaign – or your plan – make sure you are consistently delivering helpful, relevant content to your audience.
Now it’s time to build your smaller campaign plan. In a way, once you’ve done the foundational items, it really is quite simple.
Here’s how to do it:
1. Decide on one clear call to action
Choose a call to action that is simple, and doesn’t feel like you’re pressuring them. “Call us today” infers that there is a solid relationship already. Most people are not ready for that. What else can you ask them to do? Register for a webinar? Send a message? Book a discovery call online? Fill in a questionnaire?
Your call to action can change at different points in your campaign.
It could begin with encouraging people to follow you on Facebook, and end with everyone watching a Facebook live session in which the call to action is to register for an event.
2. Create a landing page on your own website
Your website is your marketing hub: and this landing page you create will be your campaign hub. A few things to consider for your landing page are:
• One key message. What’s the story in three or four words?
• Minimum supporting wording. A sentence or two, a few bullet points.
• One clear call to action. Not twelve different buttons or links or contact details.
• Good graphic design, or high quality stock imagery.
• Video. Explain why you’re running this campaign, and what’s in it for them.
3. Provide a helpful item or free download
Not everyone will sign up for your paid event, or buy your services straight away. Create a specific helpful item that relates directly to the topic you’re discussing. Exhibiting at a not-for-profit exhibition? Create a guide that will help charitable organisations use cloud accounting better. Promoting your new financial dashboards? Offer a benchmarking summary for their industry.
Whatever your item is, link to it on your website page, add it to your marketing materials, share it on social, and make use of it everywhere!
4. Write blog posts about the campaign topic
Start writing blogs on the topics related to your campaign. If you really do want a campaign around Making Tax Digital, stop and think for a moment. What do your clients care about? What will really appeal to them? Is the root issue cloud accounting, or online tech software, or having an accountant who really helps with profit and growth? Write about those things.
And now all your content begins to come together: you can embed your intro video into your blog post.
Link the post to your landing page.
Share the blog post on social, so that those who read the blog will then go to the event landing page and then back to social, full circle.
5. Send emails
Email is still very much alive. This is where your database and segments come in handy: you can send targeted emails to the right people.
Make sure to:
• Keep the wording to a minimum.
Get to the point, and direct them to your website page, blog post, registration page, whatever.
Make it clear what you want them to do.
• Write like a real human being.
The more “professional” you try to sound, the more boring it usually is.
• Include video. That way they can read the email, or watch the video, or both, and you get the chance to engage with them more closely.
• Send a series of emails, rather than only one. If you’re sending follow up to an event, you could send an email the day after the event, then a week after, then two or three weeks after, and even a few months after.
• Send personal emails now and then. The group emails can be really effective: but nothing has more power than a simple email to someone who already knows and trusts you. They’ll take action faster.
6. Engage on social media specifically surrounding your campaign Social is particularly useful for events (because of the community element), but it’s of great use no matter what your campaign is. Here are a few things you can do:
• Create a hashtag, or use an existing one. Use it in every post relating to the campaign. It will help people find what they are looking for.
• Actually talk to people about stuff. So many accountants expect social to “deliver new leads” without actually using it like human beings. Reply to comments. Thank people. Ask questions. Re-share their content.
• Get your team involved: the more people with their own accounts who are sharing, posting, and engaging, the more you’ll get from it. (It needs to be real, by the way. Requiring the team to retweet and share your stuff will be obvious, and not helpful.)
• Train your team on social: Make sure everyone knows what to post (and not), and how to connect with people well.
• Use platforms that match your target audience. If all the creatives are on Instagram, use that. If the plumbers use Facebook, get on there.
No matter how many campaigns you run, keep them integrated with your overall content plan. These two branches of the one tree deliver the best results.