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REVENUE GROWTH 12 mins 06 Mar 2023 by Jennie Moore
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As an accountant, offering advisory services can be game-changing for your firm. But have you ever considered the importance of marketing these services? Just like advisory, marketing is a key component of any successful practice. And just like advisory, it pays to have a long-term strategy in place.

Your firm’s reputation is one of its most valuable assets and a strong marketing strategy can help you build and maintain it. In this article, we’ll look at some key components of a successful strategy, including how you can use online proposals, automated engagement letters and a business dashboard to streamline your entire client engagement process.

Let’s get started.

Tip 1: Establish yourself as a thought leader

💡Differentiate your firm, build trust and position yourself as a valuable resource by establishing yourself as a thought leader in your niche.

Positioning yourself as a thought leader takes time, effort and consistency. It’s not a set and forget strategy. But as an ongoing marketing tactic it can have several benefits, including building your trust and credibility, and providing a platform for you to share opinions and help shape industry conversation. You can share your knowledge through a variety of methods, including:

  • Writing a blog or creating content: By regularly sharing your knowledge and insights through a blog or other forms of content, you can showcase your depth of knowledge about your niche and help attract more of these clients to your practice. You can write about industry trends, share your experiences and offer solutions to common problems that your ideal customer profile (ICP) may face.

  • Social media: Using social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube can be a powerful way to connect with potential clients and share industry insights. Deciding which one to focus on depends on a number of factors, such as your firm’s goals, where your target audience spends their time, and the type of content you want to share. By regularly posting updates, engaging with other industry professionals, and sharing valuable content, you can promote your advisory services and attract new clients.

Participating in industry events: Participating in industry events such as conferences, webinars and seminars is another great way to network and showcase your expertise. By seeking out speaking opportunities, leading workshops, or simply attending events, you can connect with other accounting and tax professionals, and business people in your niche. You can show how your firm helps to solve challenges that can keep clients up at night, such as how to manage cash flow. With a clear follow-up with prospective clients after an event, you can maintain a connection and momentum with them.

Tip 2: Develop a consistent email marketing strategy

💡Email enables you to reach a large number of existing and potential clients simultaneously with a single message. This makes it a highly effective and efficient way to launch new services and drive inquiries.

According to HubSpot, for every $1 spent on email marketing the ROI is $36. When you’re planning your email marketing campaigns, it pays to focus on:

Segmenting your email list: Email can be especially useful when you’re promoting new advisory services or special offers. By using tools such as Mailchimp, you can create targeted campaigns that highlight the specific services you’re offering and the value they can bring to clients. You can also segment your email list so only clients who might be interested in, say, a new tax advisory service receive messages about it.

Personalizing email: Encourage your prospective and existing clients to pay greater attention to your messages by understanding and engaging with them across your marketing channels – not just email.

To do this in your email campaigns, you can go beyond addressing the recipient by their first name. Try including information about their niche and any interactions they’ve had with your firm. The goal should be to foster a feeling of familiarity, which helps to build trust and grow your relationship.

“Personalized emails are a core driver for engagement across the channel. Speaking directly to the prospect is even more important to get cut through in a saturated digital world,” says Harry Solomon, Global Head of Marketing - Demand Generation at Ignition.

Including clear next steps: To encourage recipients to take action during or after reading your email, always include a clear call-to-action (CTA), such as a link to your website or a Calendly link for scheduling a consultation. Consider attaching case studies or testimonials to demonstrate the effectiveness of your services and offer free trial periods for new clients.

Staying in regular contact: Email marketing is not a one-time deal – it requires a consistent approach. When creating an email marketing strategy, set up a schedule for sending emails on an ongoing basis. This will ensure your recipients are receiving regular communication from your firm, and it also allows you to track the success of your campaigns over time.

If you don’t hear back from your prospective clients after you’ve emailed them, don’t give up! In this article on How and when to write a follow-up email after receiving no response, we describe some dos and don’ts of email communication.

Tip 3: Create high quality content that helps solves problems

💡Create content that resonates with prospective clients by starting with keyword research to discover the most relevant search terms for your niche.

Visitors to your website will stay on it for an average of 15 seconds, according to web analytics platform Crazy Egg. So, it goes without saying that content on it needs to be highly effective at conveying the value of your services, key information about your firm, and your practice’s expertise. It also needs to build trust, which is no small feat in such a short amount of time.

Make keyword research a priority: To create effective website copy that resonates with visitors, start by carrying out keyword research to discover the most relevant search terms for your niche. Use these in your headings and as a guide for shaping your blog content and FAQs. Creating high quality content that answers the search queries you can find in the ‘Related searches’ section at the bottom of Google results pages can also help your website rank well. It can also make it more likely that potential clients will find your services when searching for solutions related to your niche.

Drive traffic to your website using a combination of tactics: Search engine optimization (SEO), online reviews, and pay-per-click (PPC) can be used to increase your website's visibility and brand reputation over the long-term, and drive targeted, high intent traffic in the short-term.

By optimizing your website for Google and other search engines, and running targeted ads, you can attract potential clients who are actively searching for solutions relating to your niche. This can be an effective way to reach people who are already interested in your advisory services and increase the likelihood that they will become clients.

Tip 4: Develop a winning social media strategy

💡Social media can be an effective way to build a positive reputation for accounting and tax firms. It doesn’t require a large budget for print and postage, and it can be automated, which can save you time and money.

Social media platforms provide an opportunity to reach huge numbers of potential clients. In the United States alone, YouTube is used by 82% of adults, closely followed by Facebook, which is used by 70% of adults.

Depending on the goal you have in mind, you can use a paid or organic social media strategy to help you reach it. Organic is focused on building a following and engaging with the audience over time. A paid social media strategy on the other hand, is focused on reaching a larger audience and driving specific actions in the short term. Both strategies can complement each other, and firms can use a combination of organic and paid social media tactics to help achieve their goals.

To create an effective social media strategy, start by building trust, establishing credibility, and showcasing your firm’s expertise.

These are the key elements your paid and organic social media strategies should include:

  1. Identify your target audience: Identify the demographics, interests, and pain points of your target audience. This will help you identify the appropriate social media platforms to reach potential clients and create content that resonates with them.

  2. Define your goals: Your goal might be to increase brand awareness, generate leads for your advisory services, or establish yourself as more of a thought leader in your niche. Your goal could dictate your approach, so knowing what you want to achieve from the outset is crucial.

  3. Create valuable content: Create content that educates your prospects and helps solve their challenges. This can include informative blog posts or videos that provide insights and tips that are relative to clients in your niche.

  4. Engage with your audience: Engage with your audience by responding to their comments and messages. This can help to build familiarity and trust in your firm.

  5. Use analytics: Use analytics, such as HubSpot and Google Analytics to track and measure the performance of your campaigns, and to see the types of content that are resonating with your audience.

  6. Be consistent: Be consistent with your content and your message. Use the same visual elements, such as your logo and colors, across all your social media platforms, and make sure that your message is consistent across all platforms.

  7. Be active: Post regularly, and engage with your audience.

Consider paid advertising: Paid social ads can help you reach a wider audience, which can be particularly useful when you’re launching your advisory services.

Tip 5: Offer a free consultation and mention it in your engagement letter

💡Free consultations can be a powerful motivator for clients making a decision to work with you. Mentioning it in your engagement letter that forms part of your proposal, will help to establish clear expectations and a shared understanding about the services provided.

Offering free consultations is a tactic that can be used to generate new business and showcase your expertise to prospective customers. It’s also an opportunity to build trust with someone you may have never met before, and gain an understanding of their needs and preferences, such as how they prefer to communicate with you.

Be sure to clearly state the terms of your free consultation in your engagement letter. Ignition has branded digital proposals that are quick to prepare and easy for your prospective clients to read and sign. To save you time, your engagement letter forms part of your proposal, and Ignition also has legally vetted, industry standard terms or you upload their own.

In your engagement letter, it would pay to state the duration of your consultation, the location (for example, in-person or virtual) and the purpose of it. This ensures there’s clarity about the terms of the engagement, and helps you avoid any confusion or misunderstandings later on in your relationship. It also highlights the value you can offer, and your commitment to providing quality services, and building a long-term relationship.

After the free consultation, be sure to follow-up by phone call, email, or with an in-person meeting, so you can answer any additional questions they may have and discuss next steps. This can also be an opportunity to upsell other services.

Tip 6: Choose the best time to market your advisory services

💡Choose a time when your potential clients are less busy in their businesses, and when it’s more likely they’ll listen, and act on your recommendations.

When you talk to a client about the specific challenges and pain points they’re facing, this can create opportunities to pitch your advisory services. Joshua Lance, who is Founder and Managing Director of Lance CPA Group and Head of Accounting (AMER) at Ignition, explains why: “Clients may come to firms with a need such as a tax return, but what they truly want is high-value guidance,” he says.

“Think about accounts payable – you could just be paying bills, but if you think about the process of paying bills… that really lives in cash flow management and cash flow advisory, which is a huge pain point for small businesses,” he says.

The best time of year to have these conversations depends on the services you offer and your niche. But below are few key times when your marketing efforts may be particularly effective:

  1. Tax season: In the months leading up to the deadline for filing tax returns individuals and businesses are naturally seeking assistance with preparing and filing their taxes. This is a prime opportunity to market your tax advisory and planning services to potential clients.

  2. Financial planning: The start of the calendar year is a good time for accountants to market their financial planning services. This is when people tend to review their financial situation and set goals for the coming year.

  3. Business planning: The end of the fiscal year is a good time to market advisory services, such as forecasting, budgeting, and financial analysis. Business owners may be looking for help making strategic decisions for the following year.

  4. Retirement planning: As people are nearing retirement it’s a good time to market retirement planning services. This can include help with understanding the tax implications of different retirement options.

Use analytics to get the timing right: As well as using your knowledge of your clients' business when deciding when to pitch your services, you can also use data and analytics to inform your timing. For example, you can use web analytics tools to identify when potential clients are visiting your website. Or, you can use marketing automation tools to track when clients are engaging with your email campaigns. This can help you identify the times when your clients are most active and engaged.

Get a crystal clear view of your pipeline: Ignition’s Business Intelligence Dashboard provides instant visibility of your active clients over the past 12 months. You can see how your proposals are moving through particular stages of the engagement process.

If you’re marketing your advisory services to many clients at once, this is especially useful because it helps you organize and prioritize your proposals, and take action – helping you win more business.

Tip 7: Diversify your marketing approach

💡Avoid over-relying on any one marketing strategy or tactic. Instead, try to use a combination of different tactics to reach a wide range of potential and existing clients.

If you only use, say, social media to market your services, you may find your reach becomes limited as potential clients become saturated with similar content from other firms. Using a combination of tactics can keep your marketing efforts fresh and engaging, and increase the chances that your message will be seen and acted on.

Over to you

Marketing your advisory services is an important step in growing your accounting firm and differentiating it from competitors. Ignition makes it easy to engage your clients, get paid and run your accounting firm on autopilot.

To ensure you and your clients are on the same page right from the start, the platform provides you with impressive online proposals that make doing business together simple, and payment collection a breeze. Ignition’s automated engagement letters also help you set the right expectation around pricing, billing frequency, and engagement terms. All in one easy-to-sign online proposal. Watch an online demo today and see how it can help your firm grow.

Book a demo of the Ignition software

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Meet the author

Jennie Moore

Partnerships Manager (AMER)  Ignition

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Published 06 Mar 2023 Last updated 19 Mar 2024