You’re looking over your revenue projections and you know it’s time: you’re ready to open the floodgates and let the new clients flow in.
The only problem? There are no new clients knocking at your door. You don’t have a waiting list, and you don’t have new leads calling every day.
If your business has grown organically to start, maybe you haven’t needed to invest in marketing in order to launch a profitable firm. Or maybe your prior marketing efforts paid off, and new clients have kept you busy until now.
Either way, you know now it’s time to start telling the world about what you and your firm can do, and start to grow those client numbers. Today.
Where should you start?
There are two foundational types of marketing, and accounting firms need both.
First, there’s inbound marketing. Inbound marketing is when you’re focused on owning real estate on the internet, or any channel where a potential client may find you. You’re taking up space and getting attention primarily due to the value you share with the world on a consistent basis.
Inbound marketing works because potential clients may find something you say interesting, then click over to your website and find out that you offer a service they just happen to need. Or maybe, something you educate them on shows them how they need your expertise to solve it.
Outbound marketing is when you pay to get in front of potential clients, maybe through a search engine ad, a direct mailer, or a newspaper ad. You depend on the targeting in the advertising tool or the defined audience of a publication and hope that the people who see your ad are the right prospective clients for you.
Both types of marketing work, but the most impactful strategies involve a mix of inbound and outbound.
These recommendations will help you build a marketing engine that delivers accounting clients regularly - as long as you’re consistent.
One of the biggest mistakes many new firm owners make is to assume they don’t need to do marketing. Even if you have plenty of leads, you can never predict turnover rates. To keep your firm stable, you can start building a waiting list even if you’re not yet ready to take on all the new contacts that find you.
Here are 10 tried and true methods to bring in new accounting clients:
First things first: develop a niche for your practice. Business owners that need financial planning and analysis need to know that you are precisely the guide for them.
Another way to think about this is to ask yourself, “what outcome do I help my clients achieve?” Do you help international businesses run efficient bookkeeping and set up streamlined accounting best practices? Do you focus on tax accounting for IT firms? Be as specific as possible.
Put it into action: List this niche on your business cards, on your website, and all of your social media profiles. Instead of telling everyone you are an accountant, say you’re an “accounting firm to help small businesses grow and exit within five years.”
What do prospects find when they search for answers to their common problems? One of the key tenets of inbound marketing is designing your website to draw new clients in by providing solutions to their problems.
Many companies focus solely on creating a website that advertises for the business. They may list information about their background, what types of services they provide, and how to contact them.
This is essential information that you should include, but above all else, your website should add value to the visitor. Today, users will pay attention to brands they can rely on for factual advice.
If they’re deciding between two accounting firms and your website has a helpful resource center with materials they can use to help them make better decisions, it’s highly likely you’re the firm they’ll want to work with.
Put it into practice: Take a brand new look at your website. Where can you share more useful information, and by doing so, showcase your expertise?
A great place to start is by thinking about the common questions you answer on every introduction call with a new potential client. A quick hack is to record yourself answering these questions, then turn that recording into a transcript. Edit the transcript into a blog, and then post it on your site.
While blogs are great for search engine optimization (SEO), you can help people find your site by putting time and effort into content distribution.
Part of effective content marketing is understanding that no two people like to consume information the same way. Exploring different formats, such as a podcast, or a video strategy, could help you discover trends in the way your audience prefers to hear from you.
Put it into practice: Instead of just recording audio and turning it into a blog, you could record a video of you answering some basic questions, and then leverage the video content as well. Post it on YouTube, and take advantage of the second most popular search engine in the world.
The best place to look for more clients is to ask your current clients where they spend the most time. Are they checking LinkedIn every day? What about Twitter?
You want to create social media profiles for your business on all platforms, but choose which platform to double down on based on where you know your clients are already interacting with each other and asking questions. This is where you can stand out the most and contribute to the conversation.
Put it into practice: Send out a discovery survey to your current clients and ask them what channels they prefer to receive interesting content. You can also ask them about what topics interest them the most, and what topics they have questions about.
Build content for one or two channels specifically, and focus your messaging around a few central themes. If you’re marketing to other businesses? Keep in mind LinkedIn is the preferred platform for social media marketing for B2B lead generation.
Social media isn’t just good for consistent content publication and promotion. It’s also a place where you can act individually as a member of communities. The key difference in this type of marketing is you’re participating as yourself, under your name, not your business.
You have to be comfortable putting yourself out there. You also have to be consistent - when people can recognize your name and face and associate you with the right domain expertise, that’s when you know your personal brand is acting as an asset for your business growth.
Put it into practice: LinkedIn has several groups you can join. When members ask questions, you can provide answers that demonstrate you’re an experienced professional. There are many Facebook groups you can join, Slack communities, Twitter hashtags to follow, and so many more opportunities.
One interesting way to continue building your expert brand is to sign up for “help a reporter out”, also called HARO. When reporters have questions about accounting trends, they’ll reach out to you, and you may be quoted in their article. It’s a great way to get a link back to your website and continue building your online presence.
There are several places people go to look up businesses when they need help. A marketplace, such as a local Chamber of Commerce directory, could be a great place to put your business information.
Put it into practice: Do a search in your local area for “accounting firm near me,” and see what comes up. Make sure you have a valid Yelp and Google Business listing and add your company to any other directories that show in your area.
Think about it: you’re more prone to try out a service or product if there is very little risk involved.
How could you make your services more accessible upfront for potential clients?
Design an offer that makes them realize it would be foolish not to try working with you. For example, a one-time tax audit could help someone see how much they’d save by leveraging your services in the next tax season.
Ideally, you’ll think about this offer and get it ready to go before you start investing heavily in outbound, paid marketing.
Put it into practice: Think back to your niche and the problems you’re solving for your clients. How can you help them in a small way? How can you package up personalized advice that will instantly make an impact for them? That can be your initial offer.
Partnerships are one of the most impactful ways to quickly expand your client base. If you’re looking for bookkeeping clients, connect with lawyers who help small businesses incorporate. When they ask their lawyer for a trusted resource to help them manage their accounts, their lawyer may recommend you and your firm.
Put it into practice: Every good partnership has a mutual benefit to both sides. Think about the unique way you can add value back to a potential partner. For example, maybe you offer a discount on bookkeeping for a lawyer who refers a set number of prospects. Or maybe you offer a referral fee. Having an offer ready to go for future partners can also help you before you begin those conversations.
Do you have an existing client who can’t stop talking about how excited they are that they’ve found you? Sometimes a simple email campaign to your current client base asking them to refer any potential new prospects is all it takes to bring in some warm leads.
Put it into practice: Use this outbound strategy as a standalone request, or you could insert this into mailings you already send. If you have a monthly newsletter that goes out to clients, add this request in. You could also include an incentive, such as a gift card for every existing client who makes a successful referral.
When it comes time to devote energy and funds to outbound marketing, don’t get lost in a sea of sameness. You can stand out when you understand a few basic psychological principles and apply them to your marketing. Here are two powerful tactics:
- Scarcity: this implies there is a limited supply of a product or service, and people need to act fast to take advantage of the offer. In outbound marketing for your accounting firm, this may look like an opportunity for a free 1-1 business growth consultation - but you only have 5 slots available. This encourages people to sign up quickly before it fills up.
- Social proof: Also called “fear of missing out,” positioning your firm as the one that everyone else chooses to manage their accounts could prompt new clients to want to retain you as well. Testimonials from happy customers about how you’ve helped them and how they wouldn’t choose any other firm - these work like magic on landing pages and in email marketing.
There’s no doubt. Incorporating these 10 tips into your new client acquisition efforts going forward is going to pay off. Looking for even more advice on how to add new clients?
Get the free book, “Double Your Accounting Firm” from Jetpack Workflow. It’s based on hundreds of interviews with real accounting firm owners who have found success using these tips and more to grow their business.
And if you’re looking for the best accounting practice management software to manage your new influx of clients, keep Jetpack Workflow in mind.