Pivoting Your Firm’s Marketing Strategy for COVID-19 and the Recovery Afterward

The COVID-19 pandemic has compressed 10 years of disruption into a matter of months, deeply impacting consumer buying behavior. As a tax and accounting professional, this manifests itself in both the front funnel (how prospects find you) and the actual service delivery experience. Moreover, you need to be more than an expert in your field.

Aug 5th 2020
DVP, Channel Strategy ADP
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**Lee Reams II, Founder & CEO of CountingWorks PRO, co-authored this article.

Your technology stack needs to make life easier for your client, but not all accounting professionals are ready for this task. From remote work to contactless interview technology to digital workflows and digital marketing footprints, tax and accounting pros have been learning on the fly.

To help, we’ve put together some of our best practices and suggestions of what thriving firms are doing within their service delivery to adapt, and how they are marketing their business amidst those changes. We hope you’ll take these tips and use them to help future-proof your practice going forward.

Adapting Your Service Delivery for COVID-19 and Beyond

1. Remote Work

Security is always a major concern for tax, accounting, and financial professionals – but even more so with your team working from home, where it’s trickier to ensure compliance and safety across the board.

Here are some best practices to keep your firm and clients safe when remote work is prevalent:

  • Don’t send clients files via email
  • Use secured E-Signature technology, with Knowledge-Based Authentication (KBA) where appropriate
  • Use a secure client portal with SSL (for your website as well)
  • Do not use unsecured WiFi networks
  • Have members of your staff use an approved VPN (ex: https://www.expressvpn.com/) for extra security
  • Use caution when clicking on email attachments
  • Consider cybersecurity insurance
  • Ensure your clients and staff are aware of your firm’s best practices for security

2. Contactless Interviews

“Contactless” has become quite the buzz word during the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s a trend that was accelerating long before the first stay-at-home order was given. Clients and prospects are increasingly expecting convenience and flexibility from their professional service providers. That includes interviews and meetings that may have historically been face-to-face.

You can offer contactless appointments through many different providers, such as Zoom, Skype, or Google Hangouts. The most important thing is to ensure that whatever platform you’re using is secure so your clients can have peace of mind.

3. Digital Workflows

A huge piece of pivoting your services to move online comes down to your workflows. If you aren’t in an office or exchanging documents with your clients, then you’ll need to find ways to make these processes digital end-to-end.

There are many options from project management and workflows, including Trello, JetPack Workflow, Asana, Notion, and more. Our favorite is Trello, which is why it’s integrated directly into our platform to streamline digital workflows for our tax and accounting pros.

As with any key decision for your business, the right answer for your firm is dependent on your specific needs. Try out a few digital workflow options until you find one that feels instinctive to you.

Pivoting Your Marketing Strategy to Meet the COVID-19 Moment

1. How to Get Found Online

In this day and age, you need more than a website to get found online. Now more than ever before, no modern practice can afford to miss out on the leads that are just waiting to be captured.

To build out a comprehensive digital presence, you’ll need:

  • A professional, authoritative website, with ADA compliance and SSL security
  • Positive, recent reviews across various platforms
  • Relevant and informative blog content
  • Optimized Google My Business (GMB) listing
  • Active social media profiles
  • Directory and citation optimization
  • Inbound links

…and more. All of these factors will work together to help you rank better in search and reach your target clients more easily.

2. Value-Based Pricing

Hourly pricing has long been a cornerstone of the tax and accounting industry, but it can also be extremely limiting when it comes to scaling your practice. On top of that, we’re living in a time of uncertainty when many of your prospects may be deeply concerned about their financial situation.

Knowing this, it’s far more effective to show them the value you can provide them, rather than simply telling them how much they’ll be paying for your time. While value-based pricing can be a big transition for your practice, it’s also one of the best things you can do to accompany a value-focused marketing message. 

Brand your firm based on the value you provide and build your pricing structure to match. Differentiate your offerings from traditional, commodity services. 

3. Specialist vs. Generalist

There are huge perks to focusing your practice on a specialty or niche. From knowing the rules and unique ways people work to finding new clients and getting referrals, shifting from being a “generalist” is one of the best ways to pivot your marketing strategy for the COVID-19 recovery.

Does this mean you can’t still offer a wide range of services as a generalist practice would? Absolutely not. It comes down to choosing one or more key groups you want to target, with the knowledge that shaping a message and brand around those specifics will make you more likely to get found online.

Here are some examples of specialties you could choose (but remember – the options are endless):

Specialties:

  • IRS tax problems
  • SBA loan and disaster assistance
  • Expat tax services
  • Payroll
  • SaaS businesses
  • Cryptocurrency
  • Virtual CFO
  • Tax planning
  • Offer in compromise
  • Non-filed tax returns
  • Wage garnishments

Niches:

  • Real estate (realtors)
  • Auto dealers
  • Photographers and creatives
  • Wine, beer, and spirits
  • Lawyers
  • Airbnb, HomeAway, etc.
  • Veterinarians

When prospects seek out a specialist, they’re looking to receive several benefits: they want someone who gets them, understands how they work, knows the challenges they face and has a ready-to-go approach for addressing those issues. Make sure your messaging reflects your understanding of these points, and you’ll be successfully pivoting your brand to be seen as an expert in that space.

Conclusion

Most of us didn’t expect 2020 to bring such massive changes across the board, but now that it’s clear many of these shifts are here to stay, it’s time to dive right in (or risk getting left behind). For tax and accounting professionals, this means shifting the services you offer and how you engage with clients, and pivoting your marketing to reflect those changes you’ve made.

Your clients – and business – will thank you for it.

Want more marketing and client retention insights? Join our FREE webinar, How COVID-19 Has Disrupted the Referral Pipeline, on Thursday Aug. 13 at 2P EDT, eligable for 1 CPE credit.

**Co-author Lee Reams II is Founder & CEO of CountingWorks PRO. He is actively involved in product development, marketing and website development. Lee has presented marketing and growth concepts to tens of thousands of tax and accounting professionals. 

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