Marketing 101: What Every Small Firm Should Know

There is a huge competition in the accounting field to get more clients. Large firms have in-house marketing and PR teams to take care of business development. Small firms, however, need to be strategic in their marketing efforts.

Here are some ways accountants can market themselves:

Develop a Marketing Plan

A business plan outlines the entire business and helps develop services that meet your target market. A good marketing plan can help you reach the target audience and increase the bottom line. Developing a plan requires a lot of research and time, but it is a valuable process for your business success.

  1. Know your clients. Know who are good clients for your firm. Establish criteria to determine this; it may include company size, market niche, and sales volume. For example, if you are targeting SMBs with fewer than 50 employees, make a note of it.
  1. SWOT analysis. Doing a SWOT analysis (Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) will not take much time. Doing this will force you to think about business opportunities in an entire new way. Strength and weaknesses, which are internal to the company, can be changed by working on itthyem You cannot change opportunities and threats that are external to the company, but you can always keep track of them.

Create Referral Plan for Existing Clients

Referrals are amongst the top ways to get new business. When a colleague, associate, or friend recommends a service to them, half of the job is done. It saves time, minimizes marketing efforts, and enriches your relationship.

Make a referral plan for existing clients. This is free and doesn't require much effort.

  1. Refer-a-friend program. This program requires investment but can quickly pay off. With this, you can offer a discount to your clients for referring a friend. It could be something like 10 to 20 percent off on a particular engagement. You can also offer the referred client some discount for the first time, to encourage them to try your services.
  2. Email signature. Suggestions and information in your email signature is a good way to keep referrals on your clients' minds. Keep it short and non-invasive, something like: "Referrals are much appreciated and welcomed."
  3. Sales strategy. You don't need to wait for new customers to fall into your lap. Ask your current clients if those they know need similar accounting services. Set up informal meetings with your clients and their referrals.

Capture Leads through Your Website

Each accounting firm is different and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to creating a website. While creating a website, keep in mind the issues your clients face and the solutions you can provide. Online marketing tactics can also bring in business.

Take care of things below while building a website and maintaining it:

  1. Capture visitors as soon as they visit your page. Keep your page simple and to the point. Don't try to lure visitors by talking about your services. Instead, concentrate on the benefits your services could offer them.
  2. Don't make it difficult for them to find what they are looking for. Once you have grabbed the visitor's attention, you need to keep it. Use subheads and proper formatting. Also include images and graphs related to your content. Quickly show what's in it for the customer.
  3. Call to Action. Every website should have a call-to-action page, a response you want from users. Keep the number of steps users have to take to a minimum. This will help a lot to improve conversions. Just ask for the essential information for initial sign-up.

Social Media Marketing

Despite initial skepticism related to social media, many accounting firms are now implementing strategies that include social media platforms. Indeed, research done by Grant Thornton found that more than half of executives feel social media will be an important component of the corporate marketing efforts going forward. And according to a Forbes article, 71 percent of consumers that receive quick brand response on social media platform say they are likely to recommend that brand to others.

Posting helpful content on major social media networks allows you to build a relationship among people in your domain. You can reach new clients and strengthen loyalty with the existing ones.

Some tips to get you started on this:

  1. Share and re-share ideas. Share content that actually advances professional knowledge.
  2. Ask employees to follow you. Once you have created social media profiles, let your employees and partners know and ask them to follow and share.
  3. Follow industry leaders. Follow the leaders and experts in your niche, to make sure your social media marketing efforts are effective.

Social Media Platforms

  1. Twitter best practices. Anything you share on Twitter goes public, making it a good way to approach your potential clients directly.
  2. LinkedIn best practices. LinkedIn is a professional social network that promotes networking. It is a great source for accountants and it is possible that you will get your next client from LinkedIn. There are niche-specific groups on LinkedIn which encourage users to share and promote related content.
  3. Facebook best practices. There are no hard-and-fast rules in Facebook. Sometimes, just an engagement with the audience works well for a brand. The "Like" and "Share" options are a good way to engage with your brand. You need appealing content: ask questions and post helpful tips that users will like and share.

Accountants are considered among the most trusted advisors. Why not use it to your advantage, and get the word out there.

About the author:

Renuka Rana, editor at AceCloudHosting.com spends considerable part of her time writing about technology, including cloud computing, smartphones, accounting and hosted PBX. When not writing, she loves to dig deeper into knowing the best and the latest technology in industry.

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