How to Make an Effective Marketing Plan for Your Accounting Firmby
Whether you’re a newcomer to the process or a seasoned veteran, the latest tips from Lee Frederiksen will help you boost your firm’s visibility in the marketplace, build a positive brand identity and attract new business.
Successful marketing is a disciplined affair. It requires a systematic approach that includes marketing goals, a strategy for addressing your target audience, appropriate outreach channels and messaging and a schedule. In short, it requires a marketing plan.
Whether you’re a newcomer to the process or a seasoned veteran, the following tips will help you boost your firm’s visibility in the marketplace, build a positive brand identity and attract new business:
1. Make Your Plan Flexible
A lot can happen in a year. What’s been happening in your market? Has the competition changed or altered their strategy? Have new trends appeared? Have your sales, revenue and services changed? Any or all of these should trigger a revision to your marketing strategy to ensure that you’re using the right tools and techniques to reach and engage prime new business prospects. Research conducted for our 2019 High Growth Study reveals many of the marketing solutions other highly successful professional services firms utilize to significantly boost visibility, sales and revenue.
2. Research, Don't Guess
It’s remarkable how many accounting firms still market by the seat of their pants. Knowledge is power, and there is lots of information readily available to power your marketing plan. Learn as much as you can about the marketplace, competitors and target audience and the problems they face. Then, focus on those problems and how you can effectively solve them. Don’t waste your time and money simply tooting your own horn. Show them that you understand their issues and how to address them. Remember, they’re not buying your services. They’re buying your solutions to their problems.
3. Increase Your Expertise
Experience and expertise win new clients and attract top talent to your firm. No one wants to work with an amateur, and this includes client prospects and potential employees. By making your expertise visible and valuable you’ll win more new business and attract the best employee talent. Everyone wants to work with an expert. The more your firm’s experts are seen and heard making complicated topics understandable and offering effective solutions, the more new clients and new business you’ll attract. We call these people Visible Experts®, and our research shows that buyers seek them out when they have a specific problem or challenge that requires a solution fast.
4. Select and Implement Effective Techniques
Here’s where your homework can pay off big time. Your research should uncover how your target audience prefers to receive information. Use those preferred channels to engage your prospects and direct them to your up-to-date website or other platforms where you can initiate a dialog and begin the process of turning prospects into clients.
It’s important to note that even the best-laid plans can go awry if they are under-resourced, under-funded and poorly implemented. If you don’t have the experienced marketing professionals and in-house resources to successfully implement and maintain your marketing program, it is well worth the investment to partner with an outside service provider.
5. Focus Your Efforts and Resources
To reach your target audience, do not confuse quantity with quality. It’s easy to hedge your bets and try to a wide range of channels and techniques to “see what works.” The results are almost always a waste of time and money. A haphazard, on-again-off-again, shotgun approach to marketing will not yield the kind of substantive, measurable results that a focused, disciplined and sustained program will provide. Do less, but do it better.
6. Monitor, Measure and Manage
When implementing your plan, it’s critical that you track each stage of the marketing pipeline. As you guide prospects through the process of becoming clients, analyze each stage to ensure that you have the right messages and offers in place to ensure that each prospect is receiving the information and encouragement they need to stay engaged. Think of your marketing plan as a “living document” that evolves with changes in the market, competition and business environment. Online marketing gives you the power to recognize what’s working and what isn’t, and you need to be prepared to make adjustments on the fly.
The right marketing plan can help your firm gain visibility in the marketplace, achieve recognition as an industry leader, and win new clients as well as gaining more business from your current ones. The trick is to take a thoughtful, step-by-step approach in developing and implementing your program with clarity and consistency. If you embrace the tips provided here, you’ll be well on your way to creating a successful, sustainable marketing program.
Lee W. Frederiksen, PhD, is managing partner at Hinge, a marketing firm that specializes in branding and marketing for professional services. Hinge conducts groundbreaking research into high-growth firms and offers a complete suite of services for firms that want to...