Some accountants just want to work for anyone who can afford them and who will engage them. Some accountants have more specific aspirations. And some accountants have very specific prospective clients in mind. All are perfectly reasonable approaches – as long as you do more than simply hope and dream.
I see an awful lot of adverts and marketing messages for and about various accountancy firms. Rarely is much of this activity focused around targeting specific businesses and prospective clients. Think about your own adverts, marketing messages and online activity. Take a fresh look at your website.
Would your ideal prospect recognise that you really would like them as a client? That your approach and services would be an ideal match for what they need? That YOU are well placed to help them specifically?
In my experience, the answers to those questions are ‘probably not’. I have heard the justification for this many times: If I focus my marketing messages I may lose out on other clients who, while not my ideal clients, are still worth having.
It’s true – to an extent but only if your messaging implies you are interested exclusively in your ideal clients. This is what those accountants who have chosen an exclusive specialism or niche do. It works for them. But, for that vast majority of accountants I have worked with over the years, that degree of focus doesn’t feel quite right.
And, yes, it is perfectly possible to reference a specialism without saying that is all you do.
By the way, listing every sector in which you have clients and claiming you specialise in them all is not convincing, effective or worthwhile. It can even work against you, as it fools no one.
In any event, if you are like most accountants I talk with, you currently believe that you don’t get many new clients via your website. Which means of course, that your current approach is NOT working. And, of you want things to change, YOU need to do something differently.
NB: If you want to tell me that your current approach is working, please only do so if MOST of the leads you currently get are for you to provide the type of services you most want to provide, to the type of clients you enjoy working with and who are willing to pay the level of fees you most want to charge.
This is what I started doing myself a while ago.
When I started out as a mentor and coach, I wasn’t very specific. Indeed, initially my focus was on Ambitious Professionals. In addition to accountants and tax advisers, I was also approached by a few lawyers and financial advisers who wanted my services. Very few became clients though.
So then I made clear that I was well placed to work with Ambitious Accountants. But that still wasn’t sufficiently specific. I had conversations with managing partners about underperforming members of their teams, I was engaged to help – and did, but found this work much less satisfying than when I was supporting and helping sole practitioners – who have been my almost exclusive focus for many years now.
I like the fact that they can decide whether or not to engage me without having to get any other partners or co-directors to sign-off on my fees. And I love the way that most of them value my advice because of the impact it has on their peace of mind, on their success and on the effectiveness of their decision making.
Taking Action: Focus Your Efforts
What would happen if you too short-cut the marketing process and focused your efforts on getting engaged by your preferred prospective clients?
I suggest the steps you would need to take are:
1. Identify your targets
Which organisations or businesses would you really like to work for, work with, or be engaged by?
2. Identify the type of person you need to contact in each case
Picking your target clients is not enough. You also have to identify the key person or people in each ‘business’ who you would be making the decision. Is it the owner? The FD? or someone else?
3. What is their name?
Guess what happens if you make the effort to ascertain the name of the person you want to contact? It is generally easier to get in touch with them both online and when calling their office. You may get lucky and find their name on their website and/or on LinkedIn
4. Ask for help
You may need help in finding out who you need to contact; you may also need help in finding out their name. And the icing on the cake would be a personal introduction (with a recommendation if appropriate). Again, effective use of LinkedIn can make this all quite easy to do.
5. Decide how best to approach them
Once you know who to approach, you need to decide whether to email, call them, approach them through LinkedIn, ‘ambush’ them at an event or whether you can follow up on a personal introduction.
Often your ideal targets will not be the type of people you can just hope to meet at networking events. Nor will they appreciate being ambushed in an unprofessional way at a business event. And they are unlikely to just scroll around on Linkedin looking for the sort of content that some social media and LinkedIn ‘gurus’ encourage you to post on the site.
Embracing a New Approach
Just to stress, you may think this all involves more work than posting content on one or more social media sites and hoping that it will engage your ideal prospective clients to get in touch with you. But the 5 steps I have summarised above are far more likely to be effective than trying to create and post loads of content line and hoping that your ideal prospective clients will see this and get in touch etc.
Of course, you can ignore all this if what you are currently doing already means that MOST of the leads you get are for you to provide the type of services you most want to provide, to the type of clients you enjoy working with and who are willing to pay the level of fees you most want to charge. But if that was already the case, I doubt you would have read to the end of this blog post ;-)
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