There are three types of accountancy practice in the UK. Those who don’t want many new clients, those who rely on random referrals and those who take responsibility for generating leads. I have long accepted the existence of the first group who tend to have established practices, are working at or close to capacity and who are comfortable with that. They have no desire to grow – often the perceived downsides of growth outweigh any perceived benefits.
Some of those I have mentored in the past were of that mindset and were fed up with the constant pressure from OTHER coaches, marketing ‘experts’ and mentors to “grow, grow, grow”.
Of course there are also plenty of accountancy firms that do want and/or NEED to grow their client base. You will know, I’m sure, that there are many and various ways you can generate leads, from advertising, marketing, networking and PR. I have addressed many of these on my blog in the past. And I have frequently distinguished the likely value of the popular scatter-gun approach from the, typically more successful, laser-focused approach.
I have also debunked the hype surrounding social media and just about any marketing activity that you hear described as the ONE thing you MUST do to secure new clients. This nonsense is only ever promoted by marketing, social media and sales people who are either laughingly arrogant or mistakenly naive.
I would never fall into that trap myself but this blog post does promote a variation on an idea I have long heard accountants reference as being very valuable. Until recently though it has required far too much time, effort and cost for smaller accountancy firms. But, in the current environment I have identified a silver lining and a relatively simple way to make this happen for you.
The original idea was to arrange a local event, at your office or in a suitable local venue. The event would typically promise a presentation that would attract an audience. In practice this also meant someone from the accountancy firm making a presentation – possibly with a guest speaker who was the real draw.
Typically such events involve inviting current clients along with prospects as well as local introducers and influencers. In practice the aggregate costs are identified as being partly client care and partly marketing for new clients.
Arranging such events is always more time consuming than you expect. You have to book the space, plan the catering, promote the occasion, work out who will welcome your guests, deal with travel and parking concerns and so the list goes on. No wonder most of the firms doing this have a dedicated marketing person. And crucially you then have to follow up afterward with all the attendees and establish how you will determine which are valuable leads.
Online events are much easier to arrange than live physical ones. Most of the practical and logistical issues disappear. And your costs could be limited either to your monthly Zoom subscription (if you’re the only speaker) or to the cost of a good speaker – who may have their own Zoom account you can use – without breaching the GDPR.
I mentioned this to some of my pals in the Professional Speaking Association and they loved the idea.
Whether you are a sole practitioner or part of a multi-office firm, there are a number of ways you could do this including:
- Plan your own event and run it on zoom.
- Identify your theme and find a suitable speaker who can contribute to your zoom event.
- Arrange a panel discussion that you chair or that you engage a specialist host to chair for you.
- Find a topic and speaker of interest and ask them to arrange the zoom side of things for you.
Whichever route you take you will still need to arrange the promotional side of things and ensure that it is sufficiently appealing to attract your target audience (clients only or prospects too). One of the most popular online event ticketing systems, Eventbrite, is free to use if you are not charging for your event.
Many experienced speakers will be able to assist with the online logistics and may be amenable to you outsourcing much of this work to them for an additional fee. You might also be able to record the event and make the recording available to those clients and prospects who cannot make it ‘live’.
This link will take you the ‘Find A Speaker‘ page for members of the Professional Speaking Association – of which I am a Fellow. I know many of the members personally and would always be happy to let you know what I think of your choice. Or, if you have a specific topic or approach in mind, let me know and I’ll see if I can recommend someone suitable.
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