Accounting firms hear about change all the time, such as blockchain, artificial intelligence and machine learning. You know change is on the horizon, and you’re preparing to leverage it to help your firm and your clients. But have you considered how your messaging will have to evolve to keep up? All of the progress you’re making internally won’t matter much if current and potential clients are hearing the same message they’ve been hearing for years.
Here’s how to address these changes and get the most out of your messaging.
Clarify your message
To clarify your message, you need to define what your client really wants. Too often, firms focus their message on changes in the profession instead of aligning their messaging with problems they can solve for their clients. But most clients aren’t concerned with what’s happening in the profession. They’re concerned with solving their own problems right now.
First, recognize the client’s surface problems. Let’s consider a business tax client. Yes, your client needs a tax return filed, but that’s not the real reason they’re coming to your firm. If you frame your marketing message around getting tax returns done on time, you’ll miss out on a lot of opportunities.
Digging deeper, what is the real reason clients want to work with you? It’s your job to uncover and address the problems keeping them up at night. That’s what really motivates a business owner to hire you.
CPA firms worry about how automation and other emerging technologies will impact them, and many of your clients face the same questions. They may be concerned about disruption, interested in leveraging new technology to run their business more efficiently or taking advantage of new growth opportunities. Digging even deeper, they may be worried about putting their kids through college or making sure they can continue to provide a livelihood for employees.
If you understand the client’s inner problem and frame your marketing message around it, your clients will be more engaged.
Take it to the marketplace
Once you’ve clarified your message, your go-to-market strategy is the action plan to reach your ideal client. Who are the targets for your service lines? If you’ve created a new service line, you should decide whether you have existing clients who can benefit from these new service offerings, or whether you need to reach an entirely new set of clients.
Remember — it’s much cheaper to hold on to an existing client than it is to win a new one. You can make existing clients even more profitable by meeting with your existing clients regularly, building relationships and asking questions to understand what they’re doing and what they need.
Also, determine which role in the company your messaging needs to reach. Is it the company’s IT manager, the CFO, the marketing manager or someone else? As your firm expands its advisory services in areas such as technology consulting, risk management, marketing, succession planning, wealth management and more, the roles you reach out to will evolve.
Market and brand your firm
Do you duck out the door when the conversation turns to marketing and branding? Without focused marketing and branding efforts, you will struggle to set yourself apart from the competition and close new business.
The internet provides so many marketing avenues like content marketing and webinars, but start with a good foundation: your website, brand and social media profiles. Make sure they’re in alignment and sending a clear message about what you do and who you want to work with.
Pay attention to your “About Us” page. You may think this is a waste of time when you have billable work that needs to get done, but the “About Us” page is usually the most popular page on a website, after the homepage.
The principles and processes of having a clear message stay true no matter how much change is or isn’t happening in a profession, but now is an excellent opportunity to take a new look at your messaging, marketing and brand.
If your firm is evolving and your messaging isn’t, potential clients that hear about your firm may not realize the value you can bring to their business. They’ll write you off altogether – perhaps in favor of a competitor who has better alignment between their services and messaging. In the end, it comes down to one simple rule: show clients why your firm is relevant to them, so they don’t have to figure it out for themselves.
Heather Robinson is the marketing manager for Boomer Consulting, Inc. Her primary focus is on developing the firm’s marketing strategy and brand awareness to help drive business results. She manages and executes marketing and business development initiatives, with daily oversight of the website, social media and thought leadership content. In addition, as a part of the business development team, she provides leadership and strategic planning on marketing and communication practices for the firm.