How can accounting firms elevate their marketing game? Professional services firms, including accountants offer marketers some specific challenges, including the lack of obvious visual promotion and the need to build lasting, personal relationships.
But there are successful strategies that can be used to stand out. In the latest episode of the SME Growth Podcast, Dave Parry talks to guest Mel Edwards from accounting firm Dyke Yaxley on how to craft a powerful marketing mix for an accounting firm.
You can listen to the full episode here.
What are the strategies that can be used when marketing to an accounting firm?
In the podcast, Dave Parry talks to Mel Edwards from accounting firm Dyke Yaxley. They have offices in Shrewsbury and Telford, as well operating in the USA from their Ohio office. The conversation covered marketing approaches with professional service providers, specifically accountants.
The discussion highlighted some of the challenges of marketing in a field that doesn’t always lend itself easily to visual promotion, and how innovative strategies can disrupt the status quo. Some of the key takeaways from the episode on how to approach marketing for an accounting firm include:
Embracing Technology and Innovation:
The accounting industry, like many others, has witnessed significant technological advancements. As discussed in the podcast, some firms have taken a proactive approach to adopt technology, including marketing strategies that reflect a more modern, dynamic image. Keeping pace with evolving client expectations and the changing landscape is vital for successful marketing.
Focusing on Brand Awareness:
Many accounting firms prefer to focus on brand awareness rather than aggressive selling. Building a reputable brand and maintaining a visible presence in the market is the key to attracting potential clients. The shift from hard selling to creating brand awareness aligns with the idea of being present and available when clients need accounting services, and it builds continual trust and authority in client relationships.
Adopting a Customer Centric Approach:
Accounting firms often seek clients who are aligned with their ethos and objectives, focusing on forming long-term partnerships through careful nurturing marketing. This customer centric approach aims to serve clients who are eager to grow and expand their business, and who will then utilise the range of services offered by the firm.
Adapting to Changing Dress Codes:
The traditional attire of suits and formal attire is giving way to more casual, approachable dress codes; particularly at marketing events such as networking sessions or exhibitions. Accounting firms have realised that professionalism is not defined by attire alone, and clients often appreciate a relaxed and relatable environment. This transition has made accounting services more accessible and less intimidating, creating a more personalised approach in marketing.
Segmenting the Market:
Accounting firms segment their client base according to business size and individual needs, and this allows for more accurate and cost-effective marketing strategies. Such segmentation ensures marketing messaging and tone is tailored towards specific groups, maximising ROI.
Leverage Key Events:
Certain significant events, such as changes in business ownership or the passing of business owners, present marketing opportunities for an accounting firm. While the main focus remains on brand awareness, accounting firms can reach out to clients during these key moments, offering their expertise and support when needed, presenting themselves as trusted, key partners.
Embracing a Multi-Channel Approach:
As discussed in the podcast, successful marketing for accounting firms combines traditional methods, like newspapers and magazines, with modern digital strategies, such as social media and email campaigns. Being present across multiple channels ensures a comprehensive marketing strategy, allowing accountancy firms to attract new customers while nurturing and engaging with current clients.
Creating a powerful marketing mix for client retention
In the podcast episode, Dave and Mel talk further about why a well-crafted marketing mix is essential for an accountancy firm's marketing strategy, serving as the foundation for client retention and upselling opportunities. In a field where personalised relationships with clients are essential, knowing your customer and tailoring your marketing approach is paramount. Dyke Yaxley have over 3000 clients, and investing in maintaining strong client relationships is a testament to the firm's commitment to personalised, genuinely nurturing marketing. A successful marketing mix involves striking a balance between traditional print media and digital channels, appealing to how different clients prefer to interact. However, digital has gained significance over the years, allowing accountancy firms such as Dyke Yaxley to reach a broader audience.
Client satisfaction and retention are vital, and digital marketing, including email campaigns, plays a pivotal role. Mel talks about how Dyke Yaxley sends bi-weekly email campaigns, ensuring that clients stay engaged and informed. Unsubscribing clients should be a last resort, as continuous efforts to engage and cater to their interests are essential. Content in these campaigns is not solely about accounting but is geared towards providing information relevant to businesses, such as HMRC updates or legal changes that impact their operations. The marketing mix is curated to reflect what matters most to their diverse client base, fostering loyalty and retention. With digital marketing tools at their disposal, the firm ensures its clients are well-informed and engaged, creating opportunities for upselling additional services.
How can a accounting firm build brand awareness?
Building brand awareness for an accountancy firm is not just about showcasing expertise in numbers; it's about humanising the brand and connecting with the audience on a personal level. As an example in the podcast, Dyke Yaxley’s messaging goes beyond traditional accounting topics, incorporating aspects of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and charity work. By engaging in community events and fundraising, the firm shows that they are not just about numbers but also about making a positive impact on their local community.
While maintaining a professional style, the firm adds a touch of informality to their social media accounts, allowing them to relate to their audience on a more personal level. It's a balance between demonstrating expertise and showing the human side of the firm, which resonates well with their audience and enhances brand awareness.
The importance of internal marketing
Internal marketing and messaging play a crucial role in an accountancy firm's overall marketing strategy. The podcast highlights that while external marketing efforts focus on reaching clients and prospects, internal marketing ensures that the firm's employees are well-informed and aligned with the company's values, goals, and external messaging. Internal marketing also helps create a sense of unity and purpose within the organisation, and it is particularly important in larger firms with numerous employees such as Dyke Yaxley.
This approach helps maintain a consistent tone and message across different communication channels and ensures that everyone in the firm is on the same page, reinforcing the firm's brand and reputation.
Measuring marketing strategy
In the final section of the podcast, Dave and Mel discuss how accountancy firms can measure the effectiveness of their marketing strategy. This involves a number of KPIs, and one of the primary indicators discussed is customer reviews and testimonials.
Collecting and showcasing positive feedback from clients is a critical way to demonstrate the firm's quality and reputation. Dyke Yaxley do this by asking clients to provide reviews and testimonials, and the information is then tracked and added to the firm's website. Additionally, metrics related to Net Promoter Scores (NPS) are used to gauge client satisfaction. The firm's approach to measuring success also considers its diverse offerings, such as audits, accounting, tax services, HR, and IT.
Moreover, collaboration with other companies under the firm's umbrella is a part of the strategy, contributing to cross-promotion and referrals among clients and staff. While it may be challenging to quantify marketing success, it is apparent that reviews, testimonials, NPS, and collaboration are vital indicators of the firm's overall marketing performance.
In conclusion, professional service marketing, and specifically accountancy marketing can be challenging. Personal relationships need to be the focus, and it can be a challenge to stand out in an area that often has an outdated image. However, by embracing technology, focusing on brand awareness, adopting a customer-centric approach and segmenting (and nurturing) customers successfully, accounting firms can position themselves for success in an evolving and competitive landscape.
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