Marketing your accounting firm might not be top of your practice to-do list at present, given the tough times that the accounting industry has faced recently. But with business clients expecting more and more from their advisers, and tech becoming an increasingly important element of your services, it pays to have a clear understanding of your offering in the market.

By focusing on the right client audience, and promoting your main specialisms as a firm, you make it easier to find, attract and retain your ideal clients. And that’s good news for your firm revenues, your profits and the longer-term health of the practice.

We’ve highlighted five key ways to enhance your firm’s marketing, with practical advice on raising awareness of your brand, your team and your firm niche.

1. Know your niche and target audience

If you want your marketing to be effective then you need to know who your audience is – and that will depend on your underlying firm strategy.

Some firms may be generalists and some specialists, with very specific niches in certain industry sectors. What’s important is that you know WHO your ideal client is, as this then dictates the target audience (or audiences) for all of your firm’s marketing.

To tailor your marketing:

  • Define your key audience – if you’re a generalist firm working with small businesses, your audience will be small business owners. If you’re a firm with niches in building and construction, construction FDs and CEOs are your key audience.
  • Tailor your marketing and content – customise your campaigns and content so the messaging and key offerings are aimed directly at your core audience. Make your audience feel that this marketing is relevant, helpful and of interest.
  • Use targeted advertising – to get your messaging in front of the right eyes, use targeted advertising to focus your campaigns and content on your specific core audience. You can target by location, sector or any criteria that helps your focus.

2. Talk about your areas of expertise

A great way to raise awareness of the firm and your brand is to become known as an expert in your field. Accountants are seen at trusted advisers by their business clients, so promoting your expertise helps to reinforce and build on this trust.

To become known as an expert:

  • Share useful thought leadership – writing blogs, guides and opinion pieces is an excellent way to share your knowledge and talk about topical issues within your sector or specialism. Position yourself as an authority and people will begin to listen.
  • Talk about your specialisms – if you have a niche specialism, write content that targets the specific needs, worries and challenges of business clients in that sector. If you can become known as a name in this sector, that can quickly lead to referrals.
  • Promote your tech know-how – with technology and apps now so vital to many accounting services, it’s important to promote your tech expertise. If you’re acting as a technology consultant to clients, put this front and centre of your marketing collateral.

3. Make smart use of social media

A huge amount of your practice’s marketing will take place in the digital space, so it’s important to have a visible and engaging social media presence online. Having a great website is a good start for creating a good online presence. But it’s social media that will really help you gain followers, interact with prospects and point people back towards your firm website.

To make the most of social media:

  • Choose the same social platforms as your audience – do your research and find out which social platforms your audiences prefer. If you’re going to create a following, there’s no point in putting your efforts into Instagram if your audience is all on Twitter.
  • Post regular, engaging content – social media posts need to be made frequently, so you maintain the interest of your audience and keep content boosting algorithms on your side. Keep it friendly and chatty, and don’t fall into the trap of using social as a direct sales tool – this is about brand awareness.
  • Interact with your followers – don’t just post and lurk. Respond to your followers’ comments, retweet and share useful content, and become an active user on each platform. If this becomes a chore, you may want to think about outsourcing to a social media expert, or hiring an in-house social media manager.

4. Give something away for free

Giving away free advice may seem unnatural for many accountants – after all, you’ve spent years getting qualified and gaining experience to be able to offer the very best in business advice. However, sharing practical advice can be highly effective as part of your marketing.

Think about:

  • Producing a free guide or podcast – choose a current topical business challenge and produce a guide, podcast or vlog that talks your clients and prospects through how to overcome this particular challenge or issue.
  • Give practical tips in a free series of blogs – use your blog to post a series of helpful, practical posts, giving your followers a set of useful tips and hacks for improving their business efficiency, or increasing their chances of growth and profitability.
  • Offer a free consultation – offer new clients a free hour-long meeting, so you can find out their needs and understand their business. This will invariably lead to you uncovering opportunities for work and projects, paying you back for this free time.

5. Focus on building relationships

Ultimately, all marketing is about starting a relationship, or nurturing a relationship, something that’s been particularly important during the current Covid crisis. Research from FreeAgent shows that 84% of accountants saw an improvement in client relationships since Covid-19, so it’s important to put real effort into building and looking after your client relationships, and providing the topical content that your audience expects from you.

When you step back and look objectively, accountancy is very much a people industry. A good accountant knows their clients well, has excellent, trusted relationships with these businesses and knows the key topics and themes to include in the firm’s marketing.

So, embrace the technology, the processes and the marketing planning tools, but don’t lose sight of the importance of these trusted client relationships.

If your marketing places relationships first, the rest will all fall into place.