20 Dec 2016
Marketing is a vital part of your business strategy. Your marketing plans should be regularly reviewed to ensure your brand is being represented in the best possible way. Even if you are not currently actively looking for new clients, you can work on marketing strategies focused on improving your reputation, increasing your offering for current clients, relationship building, and making sure your company is being appropriately represented in the digital age.
Even though there are a variety of new tools available, traditional marketing techniques still work, giving you a diverse range of approaches to choose from. When creating or reviewing your marketing plan you should make sure your marketing strategies remain consistent with other aspects of your business.
When producing a marketing plan, consider the following:
- What are your short and long-term objectives?
- Who do you want to target?
- Do you have a budget allocated?
- What are your competitors doing?
- What type of marketing do you think your clients and prospects will engage with?
- How will you measure the success of your marketing efforts?
- What expertise and resources are available to you and will you require external help?
Your website is the online version of your ‘shop window’ and is often the first resource customers judge you on. If it features an old design with outdated information, site visitors may be inclined to believe that this also reflects your firm’s values and services. Make sure your site is mobile responsive (optimised for all mobile phones and tablet devices) and features clear and easy to find information, such as:
- contact details
- the services you offer
- any specialisms
- information about your team.
To keep current clients engaged, make sure you offer up-to-date news and information that is relevant to them.
Mobile phone apps have revolutionised the way we access information on a daily basis. Having a dedicated firm app enables you to provide useful resources such as calculators, tax tables and news, all at the touch of a button, wherever your clients are. It also helps you to communicate additional information to clients, such as the specific services and specialist advice your team members can provide. Having your logo and branding displayed on your app (and therefore visible to your clients 24/7) will also reinforce your branding.
When potential clients are looking for a new service, one of the first things they will do is use a search engine - in most instances, Google. Google Adwords allows you to run ads on Google sites on a ‘pay-per-click’ basis, based on keywords your customers are searching for. For example, potential clients may search for accountants in a specific geographical location, such as ‘accountants in Leicester’ or ‘tax advice in Cardiff’. Google Adwords is affordable as you only pay for each click that your advert receives, and you can set monetary limits per day, so you can make sure the campaign stays within your marketing budget. Just like sponsored social media posts, you can also set demographic filters so that you are advertising to people within your area.
Email is a tool that people use every day, making it an ideal channel for marketing your firm. Your newsletter might include the latest financial news, information on your upcoming events and a reminder of the services you offer.
Sending branded emails is easier than you think: simple software is now available that enables you to produce and send professional newsletters quickly and efficiently.
Having active social media accounts enables you to instantly update your clients and contacts on a topic of your choice, whether it’s the latest tax news or updates on events at your firm. Regular, targeted tweets can help to build awareness of your firm and its areas of expertise. Using social media also allows you to open an informal communication channel and have instant conversations with your clients outside of the office, which will only assist in improving your client relationships and, in turn, help you to retain their custom.
Sponsored social media posts
If you’re looking for an easy and efficient way to target specific demographics online, sponsoring posts on Twitter and Facebook will allow you to communicate concise marketing messages to a large amount of people.
Targeting is easy as you have the ability to refine your key demographics, such as location, interests and keywords. This means your sponsored tweet can be aimed at individuals in your local area, thus potentially saving money. Facebook provides the option to place ads on the side of pages to advertise either your website or your Facebook page. This can also be targeted at your chosen demographics in the same way as sponsored posts.
A blog is an ideal place to provide valuable information, opinion and advice to a wide audience. Blogging allows you to establish authority in your area of expertise, and therefore gain a reputation as a trusted source of information. If readers have additional queries on a particular topic and see your blog post on the same issue, they may come to you for advice. There are a range of easy-to-use (and often free) blogging tools available (such as Wordpress and Blogger), and writing a blog or two should only take a few hours of your time each month.
Having a consistent message and design spanning your whole business and its publications is essential when representing your firm as a professional brand. Your starting point is your company logo. This should reflect the tone and personality of your company, and be present on all of your branding materials.
Furthermore, a memorable business card is a crucial aspect of making the right first impression, and can often be a great talking point if the design is right. Delivering documents in a branded envelope automatically makes your company distinct from any other mail your client may receive that day, and a personal message written on a branded compliment slip can strength your relationship with the recipient.
If you’re looking to make use of a low cost tactic to expand your client base, a referral scheme is an ideal way to gain new clients with a small amount of effort. Offering a discount or added benefit (such as free gifts or promotional products) for successful referrals is a simple way to persuade your current clients to share their experiences with friends, family and associates.
To advertise the scheme, consider adding a page or banner to your website, emailing the details to current clients or producing a special leaflet to hand to visitors.
Printed literature is an effective way of providing potential clients with information in a straightforward and tangible way. The beauty of a leaflet or brochure is that it can be taken away, stored and read at leisure. The overall design is key: your brand needs to look professional and eye catching, providing potential clients with a positive and lasting impression. Different formats and printing finishes may be available.
Events can take lots of different forms depending on the type of promotion you would like to achieve for your firm.
For current clients, consider:
- seminar events to share the latest accounting standards, regulations and general information on a specific area
- a networking event to help your clients build relationships
- an annual ‘experience day’ to thank your valuable clients.
To attract new clients, consider:
- a free coffee morning to welcome prospective clients to your firm and to introduce your staff
- taking part in speaker opportunities at local conferences and events
- sponsoring local events for the community.
The Practice Track Online marketing team share their top tips!
- Use marketing to build relationships with both prospects and your existing clients
- Cross-selling your other services to current clients is often easier than obtaining new clients. Review all methods of communication to make sure you are maximising your cross-selling opportunities
- Targeting is important – make sure you’re communicating the right message to the right client, and keep your database up-to-date with the latest information
- Have clear, realistic objectives and goals when producing your marketing plan – for example, 10% growth in your client base, 200 extra visits to your website, or 5 new charity clients, within a set timeframe
- Don’t rely on one type of marketing. Utilise a variety of methods
- Always assign a marketing budget
- Review your marketing plan regularly
- Contact experts if you require help with marketing and technology
- Embrace new marketing tools, such as social media and blogging
- Carry out market research on your clients, prospects and competitors to gain a better understanding of your market
- Make sure everyone in your firm is aware of your marketing plan so they can communicate effectively and efficiently to clients.
For more information, please speak to our team.
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