Before setting out those marketing distractions that I believe accountants should avoid I need to offer some context.
Over 20 years ago, the start of the century(!) was when I began presenting talks to accountants about practice related matters. I quickly learned to avoid any mention of the M-word as, back then, it was evidently a turn-off. Instead I talked about ‘practice development’ until eventually it became acceptable to talk to accountants about ‘Marketing’.
These days, whilst most accountants recognise the need for effective marketing, there is a related 5-letter N-word that many now find a turn-off. This is why I don’t talk about finding a ‘Niche’. But I will say that failing to FOCUS your marketing efforts and messages can be a huge distraction and waste a lot of time and money.
Try this quick test. Which of these 5 descriptions is closest to how you, your website, your profile and your marketing messages promote you and your practice?
- An ‘average’ accountant – We do the same as every other accountant. We don’t even attempt to claim otherwise.
- A ‘martini’ accountant – We can do anything for anyone, anytime, anyplace, anywhere. (This is often not that different to the ‘average’ accountant)
- A ‘different’ accountant – We claim to be different in pretty much the same way as every other accountant makes such claims – not that we have checked! So we still come across pretty much the same as all the other accountants who claim to be different.
- A ‘distinct’ accountant – We stand out and are better remembered than ‘average’ accountants, but, in reality we operate pretty much the same as ‘average’, ‘martini’ and ‘different’ accountants
- A ‘focused’ accountant – We know who our ideal clients are and they can see why others like them choose us to be their accountant.
Let me be clear, having a distinct focus doesn’t mean you have to stop working for any of your existing clients who might not match your focus going forwards. How many would even be aware of your new marketing focus, unless you choose to tell them? And, having a marketing focus does not mean you have to stop taking on other new clients. Maybe it is just your current marketing focus. Time will tell.
I get it. I know how tough it can be for accountants to pick a marketing focus. I also totally get why it seems counter-productive. And yet, ALL of the evidence points to it being a faster and easier way to secure success from your marketing activities.
Almost every marketing, PR and social media EXPERT I know says the same thing. There must be a reason for this. By the way, those marketing and social media types who provide their services to accountants BEFORE encouraging you to adopt a more focused approach are INVARIABLY more interested in your money than in your success.
I set out some simple ways to choose a marketing focus in last week’s blog post: Seven ways for general practice accountants to improve their marketing efforts
The following list of marketing distractions apply almost across the board whether or not you have a clear marketing focus. Notice though that in most cases I also reference your target audience and the people you really want as clients. It is even harder to achieve success from these marketing activities if you cannot articulate whose attention you want to attract!
- Attending regular networking groups – UNLESS you enjoy them. And you find they are producing a good stream of introductions to the type of people you really want as clients
- Shiny new toys that you hope will increase your reach to attract the type of clients you want (last year it was clubhouse, this year, it’s AI-driven blogging software)
- Social Media – again, unless you enjoy it and are confident that your activity is helping you reach and engage your target audience. (Don’t believe the hype!)
- Linkedin – as for social media, but at least here you may be able to focus your efforts on reaching more business owners.
- Pursuing generic advice that is less relevant to accountants and possibly even unhelpful to YOU
- Believing that ‘how to have instant success’ marketing hype actually works – especially for accountants in practice
- Investing in random marketing campaigns that are akin to throwing paint at the wall and hoping some will stick
- Pursuing too many low value leads (unless that’s the business you really want)
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