Many of the accountants who take up the opportunity to book a call with me start with variations on the same question:
How can I attract new clients? How can I grow my practice? What can I do to get more clients? I need more clients, what should I do?
I never know if it helps to know that that are not alone. It’s a common question and concern.
Unlike some advisers I rarely offer advice however UNTIL I have found out enough about the accountant, their firm, their services, their likes and dislikes and what they have tried previously.
The simple reason is that the best answer for one accountant may not be the best answer for you. And no one can realistically do EVERYTHING. You need to focus on what’s best for you.
Sadly I always have to explain that I cannot just wave my magic wand. There are NEVER any quick and simple solutions that will work for anybody. There is rarely ONE thing you can do which will immediately lead to a flood of new clients. You will be both disappointed and out of pocket if you believe otherwise.
Where to start
The best starting point is always to clarify who would make a good client for you? And, at the same time to be clear why you would be a good accountant for such clients.
I entirely accept that you could provide your services to a wide range of people and business owners. But that’s not the point. You have to think about what those prospective clients are looking for. How can you make yourself (and your firm) the obvious choice?
This requires far more than simply posting adverts, online content or marketing flyers.
Yes, sometimes the generic stuff works. But I know it’s not working for the accountants who call me as, if it was, they wouldn’t have called.
When you are prepared to be more focused on a specific type of new target clients you will be more attractive to them.
You also need to be able to explain why they should choose you to be their accountant.
It also helps being clear who is your competition for such clients? It is never ‘all other accountants’. And it’s rarely even ‘all the local firms’. The more you know about your target clients, the more easily you can formulate messages that will help them want to choose you rather than anyone else.
On the plus side you don’t need to start blogging, paying for SEO work, social media campaigns or a flashy new website. At least there is little point in doing any of these things until and unless you have done enough preparatory work.
- 5 stages
You will need to raise awareness with your target audience of who YOU are and what value you can deliver as distinct from other accountants. You will get better results faster if your efforts here are targeted on the right people. Typically that will be specific to your local area or to a specific niche market place.
- You will need to be able to give your target audience the confidence that you can help them with their specific issues, challenges or problems. This may mean playing a long game. It means referencing your past successes and experiences that are relevant to the people you are targeting.
- You will need to spend enough time with prospective clients to find out about their issues, challenges and problems. Only then can you quote fees that will seem good value for the service and solutions you will provide. Learning how to structure such conversations and meetings is key. If you can’t convert new business there’s no point in generating new prospects.
- You will also need to be able to discuss your fees with confidence so as to be able to ‘complete the sale’ with the prospects you WANT as clients. This is key as there’s little point in spending time with prospects only to find out later that they don’t feel you offer value for money.
- You will also need to develop systems and processes to bring the new clients on board and start providing the services they need in such a way that they tell other people about you too. You’ll have to work even harder if you can’t keep new clients happy such that they want to stay with you and recommend you to family and friends.
Only now should you start thinking about spending time, effort and money on specific marketing tactics. If you do this without addressing the 5 stages above you may make the mistake of thinking that a specific tactic doesn’t work for you. You may be right. But the reason the tactic doesn’t work for you, could equally be because you didn’t do enough prep work.
This is often why attending business networking events doesn’t work, websites seems to be a waste of money and social media just takes lots of time without providing any real short-term reward.
These are all tactics that work for SOME accountants. But simply copying them without understanding why they work for THEM is going to be a waste of YOUR time and effort.
The most successful accountants have found what works best for them after first doing their prep work and then experimenting and concluding which specific tactics are most likely to work well for them.
Three quick examples:
1 – One accountant I know has done very well using Facebook as a tool to reach her target audience. She wants to work with home-based hobbyists who are building their business from scratch and who she knows are active on Facebook. The same approach might not work for someone targeting high growth tech businesses.
2 – Another accountant I know, in his 20s is building his practice via Instagram – because the start-ups he is targeting are active there.
3 – This accountant has followed my advice to use Linkedin to short-cut the business networking process when reaching out to the owners of growing commercial businesses.
The best way for YOU to win more clients will depend, as I said earlier, on your background, experiences, focus and approach.
Who can help you
There is at least one key difference between the way I work and the way so many marketing and social media consultants work.
I help accountants to clarify and focus their strategy. They often then continue to seek my advice as they know they can trust me to be objective. I’m not trying to get them to buy my marketing support services, I’m not trying to persuade them to outsource their marketing effort to me and I’m certainly not offering to write blog posts or social media posts on their behalf.
My approach is to help my clients focus on what works for them without spending a fortune as this really isn’t necessary and is often not a cost-effective approach for sole practitioners.
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