How to Find New Clients for Your Accounting Firm
One of the biggest challenges for any accounting firm, as with any business, is consistently getting new clients through the door. With so many options for promoting your business, and all of them requiring your time, energy, and resources, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. So in order to make things simpler, we’ve detailed some of the best ways to find new clients for your accounting firm.
Defining Your Target Audience
Now, before we discuss how you’ll find new clients, it’s a good idea to first determine who those clients actually are. In other words, who is your target audience?
Things to consider include:
- Do you serve consumers (B2C), businesses (B2B) or both?
- If you serve consumers, what are their characteristics? Are they a particular age or gender? What are their demographics
- If your target audience consists of businesses, what kind of businesses are they? Are they SMEs or larger companies?
The more you know about your target audience, the better you’ll be able to understand their problems and how you can solve them. You can then better tailor your marketing message to your audience and have a far better chance of securing them as clients.
Search engine optimisation, or SEO, is the process of getting your website to rank high in search engine result pages (SERPs). It’s a well-known fact that most people don’t go past the first page of Google when they’re looking for something. Maybe the second page if they’re being thorough. So if someone is searching for a local accountant and your company doesn’t come up in the first page of results, chances are, they’re not going to find you. Now, while that’s unfortunate for those not on the first page, it’s great news if you are, and the best way of achieving this is through SEO.
The goal of SEO is to get the webpages that make up your site, to rank for specific keywords or phrases that a potential client might search for. Google and other search engines rank each page on how well they perceive it to provide the visitor with what they’re looking for.
Factors that influence your SEO ranking include:
- Content quality and relevance: How well the content on the web page fits in with what the prospective client is looking for.
- Freshness of content: The more a website is updated, the higher its ranking is likely to be. This is down to search engines determining that the more recent information is, likelier it is to be relevant to the visitor.
- Links: The more other webpages that link to your site, the higher it’s ranking. Webpages that have lots of other sites reference them are assumed to be reputable.
Links can be divided into Internal and external links. Internal links are how pages on your site connect to each other. They are considered important because they make it easier for potential clients to find their way around your site. They also help visitors to find more content that are going to be useful to them.
On the other hand, when other sites point to pages on your website, these are known as external links. Because search engines assume that other sites have a good reason for pointing to one of your webpages, namely as a reference or valuable resource, they give your website authority and boost its SEO ranking
- Overall user experience (UX)
This is important as, in the past, companies would focus on ‘optimising’ their website – which meant stuffing it so full of keywords that the text was unreadable! Now, when you focus on making a page informative and smooth for visitors, search engines will reward you for it.
Factors that affect your UX include:
- Navigation – This is easy it is for people to make their way around your website.
- Layout – This is how well your website is structured and how that adds to the user experience. For example, big blocks of text are harder to read than concise paragraphs separated by subheadings, images, and infographics.
- Load times – The slower a website takes to load, the more likely that the visitor will hit ‘back’ and go elsewhere. For this reason, search engines favour sites that load quickly.
This is closely related to SEO, as, if you’re regularly adding content to your site, then there are more opportunities for a potential client to find your website with their search query. Better still, these people are motivated buyers because they’re actively looking for the products or services your company provides.
The best way to attract prospective clients is to create content that they’re likely to be interested in. This commonly includes answering accounting questions, educating them on financial matters, and offering easy-to-digest content that offers them value in some way. Fortunately, accountancy, and financial services in general, mystify a lot of people, so there are lots of opportunities to create content that helps clear the fog of confusion surrounding it.
There are different content formats, or types of content, that you can create, these include:
Text: This is the most common form of content and includes blog posts and articles, case studies, whitepapers, how-to-guides, FAQS, and eBooks.
Images: This includes photos, infographics, and other imagery that visitors could find valuable.
Video: This is the fastest-growing form of content. Now, while on one hand, it can be nerve-wracking putting yourself out there for the world to see, it’s also a quick way to communicate a lot of information, especially when you get good at it. Video content can include video blogs (vlogs), video explainer guides, and animations. Live streaming is also gaining popularity, as businesses embrace the opportunity to give their audience a glimpse of the inner workings of their company – and the people behind it. When executed properly, live videos are an excellent to get across your personality and brand.
Audio – the benefit of audio content is that people can enjoy it while doing something else. This includes interviews and podcasts.
The first step of your content marketing is creating a strategy. This should include the kind of content you’re going to create, their titles, and a schedule for publishing them.
When you get visitors to your site, a preferable outcome is for them to subscribe to your mailing list. But how do you get someone to do that? You have to give them a reason to subscribe by offering something they find helpful. This could be a free downloadable guide, a glossary of accounting times, or tips and tricks for saving on their taxes, how to start a business. Or, better still, you could offer a free consultation, or something similar, that brings them in direct contact with your accountancy firm.
Most importantly, whatever you decide to do, it pays to do it well – even if it costs you more in money and time. If you’re going to offer a downloadable, then invest in hire a professional writer to have it professionally produced: etc. If it’s a free service, make it worth your while, consider it a marketing cost. Gives you a chance to show how you can save them make money and advise them on how to make more. It pays to be generous.
But once you’ve persuaded them to finish, you have a good potential client, as they’ve not only demonstrated an interest in your accountancy firm but they’ve opted in to receive your emails. In other words, they want to hear from you.
Now that you have their contact details, and permission to send them emails, you’ve got to make the most of it by sending them informative, valuable emails. Decide on a frequency for sending emails and stick to it. I would recommend starting out with an email every 1-2 weeks. This is manageable enough for you to stick to, giving you time to find your voice and put together enough valuable content for each email.
- Facebook: Facebook is a great platform because it has over 2.7 billion users from every demographic. Because people tend to use it for recreational purposes, it’s more suited to B2C clients.
- Instagram: While Facebook is used most widely used, Instagram is the fastest-growing social media. Also, like Facebook, its better suited to B2C companies, especially those that target younger consumers.
- YouTube: The world’s biggest video streaming platform is effective for reaching both consumers and businesses. Although it’s a platform in its own right, it’s also a hosting and distribution tool: it provides somewhere to post your video and makes it effortless to share them on other platforms.
- Twitter: Twitter is used by consumers and companies, so it can be utilised by most kinds of businesses. It’s a great way to communicate directly with your target audience and to learn more about them
- LinkedIn: LinkedIn is the premier social media platform for businesses, so it’s essential if you’re B2B. As well as posting content, you can boost your credibility by getting endorsements from people you’ve already worked with.
To get the most of social media, it’s best to develop a strategy first. Your social media strategy will outline who your target audience is, which platforms you’ll use, what kind of content you’ll post, and often. Another key aspect of profiting from social media is tracking your effectiveness. This involves seeing how many people saw your social media posts, who clicked through, and if it resulted in a sale or enquiry.
If you don’t have the time to do this all yourself, it’s a great idea to hire a social media manager, who has the time and expertise to develop a strategy – and implement it for you.
Paid ads give you a more prominent position of whatever platform you choose to run them on. Though there are lots of places to run paid ads, I’m going to hone in on two of the biggest and best: Google and Facebook.
Google Ads are an example of paid search, advertising, where you pay to have your business featured prominently on search engine results pages. It’s also known as pay per click (PPC) advertising as you’re required to pay a fee each time someone clicks on your ad. Their main advantage is that they put you at the top of search engine rankings straight away, which is something that has to be worked for with SEO and content marketing. Naturally, this comes at a price, requiring you to bid for the keywords that potential clients would enter to find you.
Facebook Ads’ best feature is the precision with which it allows you to target your audience. it gives you so many options, including gender, age, location, interests, and so much more. As with Google, you have to bid for ad placement on Facebook. However, being the newer ad platform, it’s currently cheaper so you can get started with a smaller budget than with Google Ads.
Another effective way of getting the word out about your business and attract new clients is to attend networking events. These are usually held over breakfast, lunch, or coffee and aim to bring lots of business together in an effort to encourage trade and co-operation between them.
Now, although networking and the idea of conversing with lots of new people can be daunting for some, it’s also skill that gets better with practice. You also get to repeatedly practice your elevator pitch – communicating what your company does as quickly and compellingly as possible.
Networking also helps you understand more about your target audience, as you get the chance to repeatedly come into face-to-face contact with them. You get a better idea of the kind of questions they frequently ask, and what their main concerns are. This actually helps you refine your marketing efforts elsewhere, as you’ll get plenty of inspiration for content to put out in the future.
Fortunately, there are tons of networking companies, including BNI, Chamber of Commerce, and The Hive. There are also a number that exclusively cater to women, such as women’s network and business and professional women.