How to Make Accounting Sexy: Lessons From a Rebel Marketer
Want to find more accountancy clients and grow your firm? Here's how to attract (and retain) the best clients using top strategies from an expert digital marketing strategist.
Accounting has a reputation for being boring. While it might not be as exciting as being a firefighter or race car driver, accountants are more than just number crunchers. You're problem solvers, tax code savants, and strategic business partners for your clients. It's time to make accounting sexy again. And the key? It's marketing the right way. That might sound cliche, but hear me out.
Running marketing campaigns is challenging when you aren't a marketer yourself. Maybe you don't know where to get started and feel out of the loop. I understand. It's the same feeling I get every time I open TikTok. What is going on and am I even supposed to be here??
I've got your back. I've spent the last decade helping grow businesses of all sizes, from Fortune 500 companies to small accounting firms. I want to share the keys to successful marketing for your accounting firm—whether you're struggling to grow or just want to maintain your current business load. This isn't just fluffy marketing speak. I'll provide actionable tips you can put into place today.
Your accounting firm needs to stand out ✨
There is a lot of marketing advice out there for accountants. A quick Google search turned up over 360 million articles on the topic. Sounds like a fun way to spend the afternoon, right? 😬 The thing is, most of those articles give the exact same advice: build a website, get referrals, and post on social media. How are you supposed to stand out when everyone is doing the exact same things?
You can't use the same old strategies as everyone else. There are more than 46,000 accounting firms in the US—and countless more bookkeepers, which means you have a lot of competition. To stand out, you need to be willing to do things a little differently. Cool story Nate, but what does that mean in practical terms?
The key is to focus on your customer. Who are they? What do they want? What do they need? Take that information and use it to guide your content and your marketing. If you mostly work with construction workers, then you need to speak to that market. Help them solve the issues they face. Do they struggle to track expenses? Do they need help managing payroll? What about taxes? Provide resources and strategies to help those customers succeed. And—here's the real secret—don't ask for a sale, at least not right away.
Show them you know who they are and what they need. Don't try to post more on social media than your competitors, publish more blogs than the big brands, or spend more on ads. Those strategies are just distractions. When you stay laser-focused on your customers, you'll win the right clients and keep them coming back.
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Measure the ROI of marketing—so you know what works 📈
There's a dirty secret that marketers don't like to admit—we don't know what works. Really. We have no idea if a campaign will really work until we launch it and then crunch the numbers. The problem for small businesses is they don't know what to measure, so they can't tell what campaigns work.
As a result, they waste hundreds (sometimes thousands) of dollars on campaigns that don't do jack. They don't bring in leads, they don't increase conversions; they don't even increase squishy metrics like brand awareness. If spending more money on ads sounds about as appealing as walking barefoot on a bed of live lobsters, the issue might be that you don't know how to measure your ROI.
Luckily, this is a pretty easy fix, thanks to technology. Tools like Databox allow you to pull all your data from everywhere into one place. No more flipping back and forth between Google Analytics, your email software, ahrefs, Drift, Quickbooks, etc. It's enough to drive you mad.
Instead, look for a data analytics tool that pulls everything into one single dashboard so you can easily track the metrics that matter. Which, in case you're wondering, include metrics like ROAS (return on ad spend), CAC (custom acquisition costs), lead source, and website conversion rate. There are plenty of other metrics, but those are the key ones you'll want to track to ensure your marketing actually works.
Define your ICP (ideal customer profile) 📋
If you want to grow your business, you need to figure out how to get new clients for your accounting firm. While paid ads and marketing strategies like SEO can help, you need to know who you are marketing to. Defining your ideal customer might feel a little woo-woo, especially if you are just getting started. "I don't care who they are, I just want more customers!" I get it. I want you to do a quick exercise. (Don't worry, you won't have to get out of your chair!)
Think about your most annoying customer—the one that makes everything five times harder than it needs to be. Maybe they don't respond to emails, still turn in paper receipts for expenses, or just take up too much of your time. Do you want more of those customers? Or do you want more of the customers you love? The ones that are profitable and easy to work with; you just click. Seriously, imagine if every client was your favorite client. Spoiler alert: they can be.
Start by looking at your client list. Separate out the customers who you love working with. They pay the most, and (best of all) there's no headache. Now, look at what they have in common. Are they in the same industry? Are they similar in size? In the same geographical area? Ideally, you'll see your best customers are in maybe two to three industries—that could be construction, manufacturing, or insurance. If your current customers don't provide insight, think about what industries you are passionate about. Are you speaking to those industries? Are you interested in the needs and the challenges of those industries?
Once you narrow down the industries, it's time to get personal. Create landing pages for them and speak directly to their challenges. Posts like "X accountant challenges for X industry and how to solve them." can draw them in. Or maybe they struggle to track expenses or aren't sure how to run balance reports.
Give them the information they need to succeed, and they will trust you—and more customers from that industry will come knocking. Consider joining industry groups, going to trade shows or conferences, even offering referral bonuses to current customers if they bring in more leads.
More accounting firm tips from a rebel marketer
The average accountancy firm grew 5.7% in 2020—which is the slowest growth in the last eight years. If your firm isn't growing, you're falling behind. If you're tired of the same old marketing spiel about paid ads and social media posts, it's time to try something different. Something that makes your firm stand out and attracts the accountancy clients you actually want to work with.
It starts with deciding who you want to work with and creating a human-centered marketing plan that offers value, not fluff.
Want to learn more about how to grow your accounting firm? I did a whole presentation on the topic. Watch it here.