We all know that the majority of practice accountants have little time to consider the steps they need to take in the new year until after February 1st, their very own New Year’s Day. Once they have fallen, crumpled, into bed on their New Year’s Eve of January 31st, they all deserve a little ‘me’ time before they start thinking about work again.
Thank goodness they have a weekend to recover!
And yes, while it is vividly fresh in their minds, they can certainly look at plans to get those tax returns started and finished earlier in the 2019-20 financial year, but therein lies the problem as they cannot do that under their own steam – they need you and me to play our part too. And that takes me to the first step they should include on the ‘to-do in 2020’ list:
1. Develop your client relations
some, it really will be an annual review, and they are on their way, neither needing nor wanting any more intervention than that.
Then there are others where you would think there is something wrong if you didn’t get the weekly call, email, text or visit.
Not all companies have a clear client relationship management plan in place, tending to focus on the work in hand rather than gaining a clear understanding of:
- How frequently your client would like to have contact with you and the format of that contact
- What they are expecting you to deliver
- How you can help them to achieve their business ambitions
- How you can develop them as a client
- What they are like as a person
The better you know your client, the better relationship you will be able to build with them, and the better they will understand when you ask them to get their tax return information in months before January 31st.
2. Review your marketing plan
Now I can accept that for many practices, that line should read ‘Write your marketing plan’ – well, you need to start somewhere.
Whether you are looking for growth or maintenance, a marketing plan is essential to get on top of market changes, to review growth strategies of last year, assess the effectiveness of marketing services for accountants marketing services for accountants, and put new plans in place for the coming year.
As I always say, if you don’t have a plan with a destination (or result), then how will you know when you get there?
A marketing plan doesn’t just look at marketing for accountants, but rather, it takes you through some of the critical elements you need to consider to take your business forward.
Start with an objective SWOT (Internal – strengths and weaknesses; external – opportunities and threats) because it can highlight areas that you need to focus on.
For example, if you have some ‘fabulously skilled accountants’ in your strengths section, but you also have ‘poor staff management’ in your weaknesses, you could be heading for an even greater weakness which is too few accountants to provide a service.
Considering the opportunities and threats to your business will make you think about what is going on in your industry or the industries your clients operate within.
IR35, for example, has had a significant impact on the numbers of freelancers. If that is one of the areas you specialise in, then the changes about to take place in the private sector could have a hit on your client numbers or profitability. Forewarned is forearmed as they say.
Completing a content marketing plan for accountants will set you up for the year and help you to focus on areas that will bring growth and mitigate against slower sales or downturn. It will enable you to understand how to change your messaging to attract clients in target markets/sectors.
It will also help you in your external messaging, brand position and coordination; it could, for example, identify whether you need to bring in some help with marketing for accountants and messaging, perhaps by outsourcing it.
3. Upskill yourself and your team
We are all busy, but it is worth putting your head above the parapet to see what is happening in the world of accountants. There are numerous industry events, either independent or ones run by software suppliers, that are free to attend and will provide an excellent opportunity to review current and forthcoming developments. How are you doing with cloud accounting, for example; or how are you set up to help companies with MTD – there are still some major ones out there using CSV files! Or better yet, combine staff development and motivation and have a team trip to one. If you cannot get out of the office, there are plenty of webinars and online courses that you and your team could participate in – some of which are specifically on marketing for accountants. Put a plan together and apportion some time each month for this. There is a pretty good list here solely for accountants.
4. Review your website
An out-of-date website can be damaging indeed. First of all, the search engines won’t find it. That will be harmful to your credibility and how people judge your capability. And finally, it will take prospective clients to the websites of your competitors.
Our blog ‘What does an out of date website say about your company’ highlights some of the main issues regarding websites for accountants, and what you can do to remedy them.
Even if your website is relatively fresh, thinking nowadays is that pages should be updated every six months or so in addition to including regular content in the form of blogs and articles to be sure it will be picked up by search engines.
Consider too the growing move towards voice search. We offer marketing services for accountants, and we assure you changes are going to be required for many sites to ensure they are responsive to voice search. Talk to us!
5. Develop a local SEO strategy
Chances are, if you are not registered with Google My Business, then you are missing out on the business right on your doorstep. In fact, the statistics around local search are pretty staggering as this post from Social Media Today clearly shows. So number five on your list of things to do really should be to develop a local SEO strategy to bring that ‘low hanging fruit’ right to your doorstep without you having to do too much hard work to make it happen. After all – marketing an accounting firm is successful when done consistently.
There is also the sixth point, i.e., stop, have a rest, gather yourself up and get ready for the coming year – it is going to be a good one. And if you need any help regarding marketing your accounting firm, you know you can count on us. Book your free consultation here.