The world of marketing has had a sea change with the advent and growth of the Internet. And that profound impact has been on all industries, including technology, medicine, health, and accounting. So, how do you bag accounting clients with the Internet and all the various other tools at your disposal?
The first and foremost thing to do to get accounting clients is to pick your niche and excel at it. Then locate clients who would need your specialized service and reach out to them. Also, be active in your industry circles, network with related businesses, set up a company website, and more.
Finding accounting clients is not as straightforward as setting up a website and promoting it online. Quite a lot of things need to be done both before and after creating a website. To find out everything about the same, keep reading.
A successful accountant is not just one who is confident of their abilities to advise companies on complex financial problems, skim through tax files within seconds, etc. They should be equally adept at finding opportunities to showcase their skills at a professional level. In other words, they must know how to find new clients and also keep the existing ones content.
The following are tips/tricks to help you promote your accounting business, find new clients, keep existing clients, find clients through them, and lots more. Do not try them all at once. Start with two or three. Once they start to bear fruit, implement the other techniques to build on the momentum.
An accounting business can offer any or all of the various accounting services listed below:
The aforementioned are relatively broad categories. For instance, “public accounting” denotes accounting services that entail financial analysis, bookkeeping, account management, etc.
Accountants that offer internal auditing services review a company’s financial management practices – inspecting for fraud, waste, and mismanagement.
A qualified accountant can usually manage various accounting jobs. But to increase your chances of scoring clients, it’s critical to pick your niche and market your expertise in the same. The last thing you’d want is to come across as a “generalist”.
There is nothing wrong with knowing it all. It is recommended. However, it’s even more important to be known as an expert in a sub-category - for instance, taxation.
Promote your service both offline and online. If you are a local business, stay updated with listing websites such as Yelp and Google My Business. These are places where a lot of people would come to know about businesses like yours. Just updating your profile on Google My Business, for instance, could increase the number of potential clients discovering your business through search.
Participating in online forums, setting up a blog and writing guest posts for others, being active on social media, hosting webinars, writing a book, etc., are all (direct/indirect) ways to market your services.
The ultimate objective should be to get your name out there and doing that continually. Ensure that you provide truly valuable information through your various content marketing methods to create a real impact.
Promote yourself, keeping your niche and target market in mind. For instance, if your ideal clients are small companies, learn more about places (online or offline) they hang out. Kindly note, “promoting your business” doesn’t mean selling things or even attempting to do so. If you are at a local event that caters to entrepreneurs and small businesses, do not sell.
The objective should be to come across as friendly, interesting to interact with, and knowledgeable. If you share all your expertise without explicitly expecting anything in return, it will help make connections, and requests for paid engagements will pour in automatically.
Accounting service is all about trust. The client doesn’t know how you deduce things you do. All they care about is the result. If they like what you do, they’ll come back to you.
For the association to thrive, building trust and confidence is imperative. If the client grows suspicious of your activity or is not sure about your accounting knowledge and skills, they can cut off ties cold turkey, and you may not have a clue. No amount of convincing will get them on board again.
The more significant issue with breaking trust is that the word will spread, and you may lose potential clients. It’s, therefore, critical to create trust and goodwill – more than being responsive or affordable.
To build trust, understand your prospective client’s accounting requirements first. Learn more about how well they understand their finances and how you could be of help. Do not try to sell anything right off the bat or talk highly about yourself. Have a meaningful interaction, allowing the client to do most of the talking. If there is an issue you could remedy then and there, do it.
After listening to them, explain to them their situation or what they need. Give them clear responses without using accounting jargon. When you put in time and effort to explain accounting topics or address specific problems or situations, they’ll see you as an expert and develop trust in your abilities.
Your chances of getting new clients through happy existing patrons are good. But do not take a passive approach or expect current customers to refer you to their friends, family, and other people in their network. Actively seek those referrals instead.
A referral is an excellent way to bag new clients as they are likely to know about you and trust you beforehand. No form of advertising can develop the level of trust referrals help build. In other words, the quality of customer acquisition through a referral is any day superior to the ones gained via online advertising, social media engagements, or cold calling.
As stated above, existing patrons won’t refer you irrespective of how content they are with your service. They might do only if a family member or friend asks them to suggest a few accounting services. Therefore, after every successful assignment, inquire if the customer knows people who might require similar services. Send them emails and newsletters to let them know you are looking for referrals.
If required, set up an incentive program for clients that funnel in new customers. The benefits could be gift cards, discounts on services, or any other thing that motivates your current clients to promote your business. Have a tracking system in place to identify referrals and reward the right clients.
To succeed in any business, having a professional network and developing it is essential. You could share resources with other firms or professionals in your network or complement each other’s niche services.
For example, if you are primarily into tax services, partnering with a wealth management service firm will be mutually beneficial. If your clients need wealth management services, you may direct them to your partner. Similarly, if the partner firm’s customer is looking for assistance with taxation, you are first in line to serve that client. If you are not able to refer clients, you may provide cash bonuses.
But to get to know other service providers in your domain, expanding your network is important. You could get insights on other accounting businesses through your clients too. Having a detailed discussion about their accounting and tax problems/requirements and how they handle them would let you in on other firms they may be working with.
Make sure you ally with only those businesses that aren’t directly competing with you. Lawyers, bankers, insurance agents, etc., will add to your business network. These are businesses that are likely to have clients who need professional accounting services. If you specialize in taxation, associating with a company that also offers tax services will be counterproductive.
As briefly mentioned above, being active on social media should also be a part of your marketing plan. You can use social media to find new customers, interact with existing clients, and learn about industry trends.
You can employ social media to advertise your business as well. For instance, you can post pictures of satisfied clients, their testimonials, etc., to let future customers know what they could expect by associating with you or your firm.
By being active on social network platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., you may end up creating a brand and following for your service without much effort. Suppose you manage to amass a substantial number of followers through advertising or constantly updating your business page. In that case, that's a marketing audience ready to be tapped into for free any time in the future.
You need not be constantly active on social media. Create a schedule and stick to it. If you plan to post once a day or three times a week, religiously adhere to it. Do not approach things haphazardly or post when you feel like or are free. Timing is important too. If your followers are likely to be most active or online during a particular time of the day, plan your posting schedule around that period.
Also, not all social media sites may be suitable to promote an accounting business. Instagram, for one, is certainly not ideal. LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter should be the top three sites on your list for social media promotion. Pinterest may work too. Though not a typical social networking site, YouTube is also a solid way to generate traction and find new accounting clients.
Creating a social media presence is not all. Besides constantly posting or uploading fresh content, it’s also important to respond to customer queries or engage with them individually on your page. If a future client poses a question, answer the query within a day (at least). If it takes longer, apologize for the delay and then respond to the message.
Accounting is serious business, and a web presence is imperative for potential clients to view you as a serious service provider. And that online presence is more than just being active on social media. If a potential client searches for an accounting service online and you have no website to feature in the results, you are not getting the client. Plain and simple.
A business website is that one-stop destination where you could showcase all of your expertise, skills, and experience. It’s your virtual property that you can deck the way you choose.
When all the information a potential client needs to know about your business and offerings is there in front of them, it becomes easier for them to make a business decision. And only a website can do that. No social media page or business page listing would offer the avenues to talk about you and your business at great lengths.
Most importantly, a good business website makes communication between your company and existing/future clients a lot more streamlined. Though people can touch base with you through your social media pages, it’s still no replacement for the “Contact Us” page on your official website.
Building a website is not that difficult, even if you know nothing about coding.
Multiple DIY site builders exist that help you build a professional-looking website from scratch. These website-building tools cater to people who cannot create a site to save their lives. But there could be a learning curve to the tools, and you might end up spending some time getting familiar with them.
If you don’t have the hours or think time would be better utilized if spent on your business’s core aspects, hire a professional to build your site. It may cost you a lot more money than building the site yourself using premade site themes and templates. But the money spent will be worth it in the end.
Setting up a site and populating it with all vital information is not all. It’s critical for the site to have a proper, user-friendly design. If the site doesn’t have a proper structure or it’s hard to find specific information on it, the website will do more harm than good. If your website doesn’t load fast or has a dull, outdated design overall, visitors to your site won’t convert into clients.
An expert web developer’s skills and experience will undoubtedly be invaluable in this regard.
Content and site design go hand in hand. Both leverage each other equally. Like poor site design could render good content irrelevant, a professional-looking website with no subject matter is like a fancy-looking car without fuel. It won’t go anywhere. Therefore, prioritize content on your site. Have a separate “blog” page on your site for discoverability.
Adopt a varied content strategy. Besides articles or blog posts, throw in case studies, whitepapers, videos, etc., for good measure. The information shared should be pertinent to your industry. It must offer insights and the latest news, tips, and more. The content on your site can serve as your business card to future clients. By perusing the content, they should get more than just a fair idea of how proficient you are at what you do.
Use your site to showcase your recognitions, awards, client testimonials, and everything else that can help build trust in you. Your employees’ achievements, words of appreciation received from industry leaders or prominent personalities in your domain, etc., can also be put up.
Millennials are at the forefront of business and financial growth globally. There’s no debating that keeping up with the times and changing consumer interests and preferences is key to surviving as a business, let alone thriving.
Since millennials account for 23% of the world’s population (as of 2020), it’s critical to learn what they expect from accounting service providers so that you do not face obstacles in growing or sustaining your practice.
Here are things you may want to know about them as their future accountant or what they seek in an accounting firm:
More than just assistance with taxes and company performance analysis, millennials fancy accountants who offer insights into key business areas - such as shareholder value, long-term profitability, risk management, and acquisition plans. In other words, they like accountants who have a macro view of things and not just focus on the tiny details.
Also, millennials want their accountants to be more versatile. That doesn’t mean they like to work with a generalist. It simply implies that the accountant who helps them with taxes should be able to expertly advise on payroll matters as well, for instance.
Most importantly, they expect their accountants to care about their finances or be emotionally invested in the process.
Millennials crave a financial mentor. They want someone who they could rely on or completely trust. As their accountant, you are expected to care about their business or personal finances as much as they do, if not more. In short, they prefer an ally in an accountant and not a mere supplier.
The way accounting firms interact matters to millennials. Things such as “will they speak in simpler language and not use jargon”, “are they flexible with their timings”, “can they be reached outside of working hours”, etc., are of significance to them.
Millennials like to stay in the loop and have grown accustomed to receiving and communicating answers pretty much instantly. An accounting firm that doesn’t have the infrastructure to keep millennials posted on things would likely lose their patronage. Even if accounting firms with a traditional mindset manage to get millennial clients on board initially, they could lose them to more equipped, modern competitors over a period.
Millennials may expect you to be around during the weekend if at all the need arises. They may not bother you with the most trivial things during your off days. But they would like to be assured that you’ll be around when there’s an urgent matter to be discussed.
A lot of millennials work from home and have irregular work hours. And they, therefore, expect a similar work ethic from other professionals they associate with. As their accountant, be ready to be emailed multiple times during the day – and be willing to respond to those messages too.
As millennials want their accountants to be a bit more flexible with their working hours, it should not be a surprise that they are not fans of the “hourly billing” model too. They instead prefer a payment arrangement that’s predictable or controlled. The generation despises the hourly billing system as it’s tricky to predict and manage expenditure-wise.
A fixed fee per assignment or monthly flat rate is preferred. Thanks to Netflix and Prime, subscription pricing models could also work with millennials. Besides the familiarity factor, subscription-based payments are automated, or there’s minimal to almost no time spent on declining tasks, manually processing payments, creating invoices, etc.
Millennials are a tech-savvy bunch. It’s, therefore, not surprising to learn that the cohort prefers paperless accounting.
Most of them want their accountants to use cloud-based technologies. Digital payments, mobile apps for accounting, etc., are other provisions they’d like to see in accounting firms they associate with. That is certainly a far cry from previous generations who insisted on all of their invoices to be printed and saved in files.
A digital approach is not just convenient for millennial clients but also accounting service providers. Tracking things and referring to previous transactions is a lot easier when there’s the option to search for them electronically. Not to mention, cloud technologies (and their advantages such as automation, 24/7 access, and online storage) help firms boost their efficiency and significantly decrease the amount of labor and time related with various tasks.
This digital approach to things also means employing video calling and messaging tools. Even if the millennial client is based in the same city as you, they’ll prefer a 15-minute teleconference over a meeting in person. Traveling for business meetings is something they look at as a misuse of time and resources.
LinkedIn is a social networking site for professionals, including accountants and people seeking accounting services. If you’d like to find clients for your accounting business on LinkedIn, here are a few things you must know or do.
Before reaching out to professionals on the site, set up your account and ensure your profile is complete. List out all your credentials and experiences and a link to your business website. Connect with people as most LinkedIn users do before reaching out to people for professional engagements.
If you don’t have the proverbial “500+ connections” label on your profile, you’ll look like a LinkedIn newbie, and potential clients won’t take you seriously. Therefore, take your time and build your network on the site first.
Posting content on your website and sharing your website link in your LinkedIn profile won’t cut it. Repurpose your articles or write articles from scratch for LinkedIn. Since LinkedIn is highly likely to have more domain authority than your business blog, your LinkedIn content is likely to rank higher or be more visible in search engines than your site’s blog posts.
Post content that offers real value to your potential clients. People, who check your profile due to your marketing and outreach efforts, should get more than just a glimpse of your experience and authority in the field through your articles.
The articles should certainly not be “clickbait” spawned to generate page views. If your posts don’t offer information as suggested by their titles, the visitor will click off and lose faith in your content and subsequently the service provider in you.
Feel free to share pearls of wisdom through your texts. Do not offer too much information, but just the right amount that leaves the potential client wanting more. If you manage to pique their interest or leave them yearning for more, they’ll get in touch with you with their accounting concerns or needs and would like to know how you could be of help.
Besides employing long-form content, update your LinkedIn status with short posts too. Use pertinent hashtags in your posts, such as “#taxtips”, so that potential clients could discover them. Not to mention, these mini status posts are an effective way to create engagement in the form of views, comments, and shares.
The search for new accounting clients should be an ongoing process. It doesn’t matter how big your accounting firm is, how many clients you have in your database and the number of clients likely to come on board soon. Continue to promote your business and strengthen your client base. If you don’t have enough employees to handle the increasing workload, focus on hiring more people instead of downsizing your clientele.
The biggest and most successful companies in the world are those who continue to advertise or promote their offerings, irrespective of how well-established or famous their brand or products are. There will always be someone who’ll require your services but may not have heard of you. If you do not reach out to them or let them know you exist, your competitor will, and you may lose the client for life.
Therefore, keep promoting yourself and your business. Also, continue to learn new skills and hone the existing ones. Keep up with the trends and get to know the new and improved tools that’ll help you with your constant quest for more.