Blake Shaffer's accounting firm, LWS Tax & Accounting, is one of the most unique you'll find. In fact, he successfully uses video marketing to both find clients and top talent.
His videos aren't boring commercials for his firm...they're much, much better. You'll have to see below.
In this episode of the Growing Your Firm Podcast, David Cristello and Blake Shaffer dive into:
- How Blake got his start in video marketing and how successful it's been
- The steps Blake took to fully remove himself from 'day-to-day' tasks and focus on the big picture
- Blake's diligent hiring process to weed out bad candidates
- Email Blake to get video help ---> Blake @lwstax.com
- LWS Tax & Accounting
- LINKEDIN - Blake Shaffer
- "Thrift Shop" Parody video
- "24K Magic" Parody video
- LWS Mannequin Challenge
- "Timber" Parody Video
- Christmas Video to help around Springfield
Blake Starts His Business During the Recession and Quickly Finds Video Marketing:
Blake Shaffer, Founder & CEO of LWS Tax & Accounting, worked at two separate firms before setting out on his own. The problem? He opened his door in 2008, right when the Great Recession showed its ugly face.
Back then, he had only 100 clients and was barely scraping by. Today, he boasts over 2,600 individual returns, 200 business clients and a solid staff of 8. Starting in the teeth of the recession forced him to be nimble and efficient with his resources, so it was a blessing in disguise.
At the beginning, it was tough for businesses and people in his town of Springfield, Ohio to trust this new startup accounting firm. Blake needed a way to stand out from the competition that was different than others. He loved shooting videos and being in front of the camera, and that's when his idea for video marketing took off.
Because he began posting videos about the Springfield community, as well as fun activities he did around the office. Thanks to these videos, businesses started trusting him. Some of his videos received tens of thousands of views.
One of his most famous was a Christmas video. In it, he posted about wanting to help people around town with anything. The video tallied 100,000+ views and he received tons of requests for help. In the end, he found eight families to help. The team went over and dropped off gift cards, money, presents, and basically anything to make Christmas a bit better for those in need.
Most of the videos you'll find at LWS are fun (see some links above). It might be a parody video or shots of the team at a cool place. Other times it's more educational to help clients. These videos helped local businesses and people trust the firm more and move business over to Blake.
It's truly a unique form of marketing.
Most think of marketing as attending networking events, dropping business cards in bowls, lugging yourself to trade shows and all the typical things. Instead, video marketing can reach a wide audience and provide a better insight to you and your firm.
Tips for your own videos:
Blake recommends not being 'fake' in your videos. If you're not a confident and comfortable person in front of the camera, perhaps do more educational videos. Maybe someone in your firm would be a great frontman, ask around.
Another way to do video marketing if you're uncomfortable in front of the camera is to shoot videos around your local community. You'd be surprised how many local business owners would love for you to shoot video inside their stores if you post it on your website. It's free publicity for them. Sometimes, they may post the video on their own social media and give you publicity.
Become a connector in your community and a mouthpiece for other businesses.
Now, you might wonder how Blake has time for all these videos. That's the secret he reveals next.
Steps Blake Took to Remove Himself From the 'Day-to-Day" Tasks and Focus on Video Marketing:
Blake first believes you need efficient tools in the firm. Without prompting, Blake recommended Jetpack Workflow so not to miss deadlines and keep workflow moving. That was number one.
Next, a few years back, he made a conscious decision to remove himself from the regular, everyday tasks of the firm so he could focus on the big picture. This technically is what a CEO should be doing. Clients used to always be emailing small questions and Blake would have to take client maintenance calls like everyone else.
He knew his job was to grow and promote the business not be doing tax returns. Over the next 6 months and beyond, he worked hand-in-hand with his team to make this shift possible.
You may have seen problems already if you're the owner doing day-to-day tasks. You become a bottleneck. Little things like responding to client emails fall through the cracks. When this starts happening, you know you have too much on your plate.
You must learn to delegate and trust your team. That starts with training and encouragement. If you're worried an employee can't close a new prospect, or get all the work done by a deadline, you haven't trained well enough. Even if they are a long-time employee, take time to train them for taking over your tasks.
Going along with them comes encouragement as mentioned. If the employee doesn't close a sale and you feel you could've done it, don't get mad. Put the blame on your shoulders that you didn't train well enough. Then, roll up your sleeves and train again. These small time sacrifices pay big dividends for years to come.
DAVID'S TIP:If you remain the bottleneck in your firm, you'll burnout. I've also seen partnerships fail, resentment build, owners sell their firm prematurely right before a massive growth spurt. Clients and employees get frustrated when you're the bottleneck and it could ultimately lose clients. Create a framework not revolving around yourself to get things off your plate.
Right now, thanks to video marketing, his team closes most of the prospects that come through the door. Most likely, they are already pre-sold on his firm and that makes the close a lot easier.
The last benefit of video marketing is on the hiring side.
Video Marketing Can Weed Out Bad Candidates:
Retention has not been an issue at LWS. Hiring is always tricky, on the other hand.
For Blake, they hire for CULTURE first and talent second. If a person is all about themselves and not the team, they will be poison to his team. Luckily, the video marketing he does for the firm projects the type of people he wants on his team. That saves time and effort interviewing the wrong candidates.
Blake's team looks for someone who loves what they do and not just "looking for a job." His firm is unconventional so he looks for unconventional accountants. The team goes to baseball games, amusement parks, they have 'fun days' where someone picks what they do. The team works toward the same goal. Team is the focus.
His managers do the first interviews with candidates. Again, they look for a 'culture fit.' Blake believes you can sniff out right away if someone is not a good culture fit.
However, he warns: If you have a bad feeling about a candidate, DO NOT hire them even if you're desperate for another body to work. It is not worth it and is only harder on you. Firing is harder than hiring.
It is then up to you to keep the culture intact. The way you do that is diligent hiring and finding the right fits.
Again, Blake's video marketing efforts help.
As you can see, video marketing can be a powerful force in your firm.
WHAT KIND OF VIDEOS COULD YOU CREATE IN YOUR FIRM?