The 3 factors that will determine your social media success

It’s all too easy to get caught up in the game of chasing followers, likes, connections and social media klout. It may be fun to keep track of these metrics and to keep increasing them. But, in real life, they are not important by themselves.

There is little point in simply pursuing these metrics. You need to have key business focused targets instead. It may be that you want to raise your profile and to become a go-to person for media comment in your area of expertise.  Most accountants and lawyers for example, are experimenting with social media to generate additional fees.

And that is the key metric that you need to measure. How much of the additional fees you generate can be attributed to your online social media activity? There will rarely be a quick or short payback in this regard.

It is also important to note the 3 factors that will influence the speed with which you can gain a payback. These factors are all relevant whether your social media activity is focused around facebook, online forums, blogging, twitter or Linkedin.

The 3 factors are:

1 – Effective use

How effective is your use of the social media platform? How consistent and congruent are your messages, your profile and your online activity?

2 – Your website

Most accountants using social media will include links back to their website.  Your social media activity may be exemplary but your website could be a turn off. Does it reinforce the messages you have been promoting on social media? Does it engage visitors? How easy is it for them to get in touch with YOU (as distinct from a faceless ‘admin’ person)? Does your website even reference your name and profile?

3 – Offline follow up

Just like with any other form of networking, personal contact is crucial. If you are not leveraging your use of social media to meet with people face to face or at least to speak with them on the phone, you will wait longer to secure a valuable ROI.

Agree? Disagree? Are there any other factors that will determine your success of your social media activity?

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Lessons for accountants from…. hairdressers

The question of how to set professional fees is an old one. I’ve talked before about easyjet pricing and referenced the way that we pay upfront for most forms of transport and holidays.  But we are not used to doing this when we are engaging someone to provide a personal service – such as hairdressing.

Nevertheless some entrepreneurial hairdressers do operate pricing policies that could be adapted by accountants. Many accountants already replicate the concept of a menu of services and extras – in the same way as these are set out whenever you visit a hairdresser.

Some hairdressers also offer special rates for senior citizens and other favoured categories of customer. I’d like to think this is sometimes simply due to a willingness to help people who cannot afford the hairdresser’s normal rates.  But even then these rates are generally only available at times that suit the hairdresser. And this will typically be when they aren’t otherwise expecting to be busy. If you want your hair cut during the busiest time of the week you’ll have to pay the normal rate.

By offering the special rate the hairdresser gets to move some of their trade to days/times that are less busy. They might not be able to get their normal rates but overall they generate more money than if they charged the same rate to everyone, every day of the week.

Do you offer special rates to new clients who are willing to let you do their accounts/tax during your quiet season?  I say ‘new’ clients as moving existing clients to a lower fee scale would reduce your income so may not have any appeal.

Another variation on this idea is to offer a ‘Stand-by’ service.  I saw a sign offering this facility outside a local hairdresser recently.  It said terms and conditions apply. But the inference was that if you were prepared to take your chances re how long you waited, you could have your hair done at half the usual price.

I suspect that plenty of accountants could offer a stand-by service. You would need to ensure that clients who opt for this appreciate the difference from your usual service. It won’t be much help if you already only service clients in the strict sequence in which you receive their paperwork. Turning this around, you could offer a premium service whereby clients can book in and pay extra for for a special speedy service at certain times of the year.

As I have long pointed out, there is no legal or other obligation to charge all clients on the same basis. Experiment and find what works for you.  I suspect that’s what hairdressers do. Why not accountants too?

 

 

 

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How much experience do you have, really?

One of the 7 ways in which professionals can look to STAND OUT from their peers is through their different experiences.

Everyone’s experiences are unique. One of the keys though is to ensure that the way you reference your experiences is relevant to those who are hearing or receiving your message.  This is a point I often stress during my talks and mentoring sessions.

There is another related issue that few people discuss openly. This relates to the quality of their experiences as a professional adviser. When you claim to have built up, say, 10 years of experience, do you ever consider whether this has been truly cumulative or simply repetitive? Have you been building on what you know and what you can do, or simply repeating that first year’s experiences time after time over the ensuing ten years?

In some respects this is as much a question for prospective clients to ask before choosing a new adviser. It’s also one of the reasons why they might notice a big difference if they move from one adviser with limited experience (despite their years in practice) to another adviser who has built up a wealth of knowledge and experience through a varied client base that has prepared them for all manner of issues, challenges and problems.

Whether this distinction is important to you depends on what you do and who you look to serve as clients. Where clients want a pretty simple service they may well prefer someone who has done that for dozens or hundreds of clients over the years. Such clients may not be prepared to pay extra for someone with wider experience.

This is all quite distinct from the question of whether to focus your marketing on a specific niche. Although if your experience is quite limited then maybe you could reference this as a strength when pitching to prospects who fit the same criteria as your previous clients. Another solution could be to collaborate with someone who has wider experience than you – or seek out a mentor who can help you to fill in the gaps.

How much experience do you have, really? What is important I suggest is to be honest with yourself, honest in your marketing and honest with your clients. Also to know what is your back up plan if a client should require advice that goes beyond your experiences.  That, in itself, can help you to STAND OUT from competitors who are less trustworthy and who will found out eventually.

 

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Resolving issues with problem clients

This was the main topic for discussion at last month’s meeting of The Inner Circle for Accountants.

Once again Members of <a href="http://www this hyperlink.bookmarklee.co.uk/inner-circle” target=”_blank”>The Inner Circle benefited from the willingness they all had to share their experiences and insights during our round table discussion. In accordance with one of our key membership principles everyone agreed to abide by the Chatham House Rule.

As usual I have prepared a follow up summary including members’ selected key learning points and some useful links.

What follows are simply some of the opening comments that set the scene for our round-table discussion. We started by considering the various issues that contribute to problem clients:

  • Lateness – supply of info, payment of fees
  • Rudeness – to you, colleagues, contractors, staff
  • Unreasonable demands/expectations
  • Tried to do it themselves
  • Quibblers – overly price conscious
  • Fudgers – over claiming and under disclosing
  • Time vampires – be this the client or their in-house accounts staff
  • Needy, sad and poor
  • Those who no longer fit your ideal client profile (if they ever did)

Possible solutions varied from those requiring courage to those that could generate more income even if the problem client took their business elsewhere. Members were amused but unsurprised to hear how they all had similar problem clients. The real benefit of the meeting came from the round table discussion and ideas as to how to resolve specific situations.

The Inner Circle is for the owners of smaller accountancy practices who are keen to be more successful without spending a fortune on marketing and branding. To find out more just click the link>>>

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