With existing clients mothballing or sadly closing entirely, practices need to be slick at launching new services and gaining new clients.
Welcome to our marketing tips to help your accountancy firm grow
With existing clients mothballing or sadly closing entirely, practices need to be slick at launching new services and gaining new clients.
Sadly large number of accountants are now being furloughed, while many smaller practitioners face a dramatic loss of business.
For accountants and other professionals looking to use the time at home productively, our webinar yesterday specifically looked at how people at home could use this to build their reputation for expertise.
2020 could not be worse for many accountancy and tax practices.
Swathes of businesses across travel, hospitality, creative, entertainment and non-food retail face an immediate existential threat. If it’s bad for them, it's going to be really bad too for those practices with lots of these clients.
Kelso Consulting has been looking into the popular business buzz topics of 2020 and how they compared to recent years.
To see some of the media's popular business topics of early 2020, and our views on the ones that will re-emerge after their near obliteration by coverage of the Covid emergency, click here to read our media buzz themes research.
Sadly many accountants and their support teams are being furloughed through the Covid-19 crisis hitting all manners of professions and sectors.
Our forthcoming webinar is for those who want to use this time productively to develop their reputation for expertise, whether simply amongst their colleagues for their return to work, within their business network or even more widely in their industry.
During this difficult time I am pleased to let you know that Kelso Consulting is operating as normal supporting existing clients and other businesses needing communications advice and implementation.
We have always operated on the basis that our team should be able to work fully remotely whenever needed... although we were thinking more of a fire or flood when our agency enacted this principal many years ago.
This means we are staying safe at home while still having full access to all our files, systems, databases and other tools.
Google Ads are used by many accountancy firms and can be a very cost-effective way of generating leads. However, others shy away from them - some are unsure of how to set them up, while others are convinced they won't work for their market (although in 9 out of 10 times such beliefs are generally unfounded in our experience!).
Because we felt more of our clients should be considering Google Ads for some of their campaigns, we teamed up with Google Ads expert Dominic Renshaw of AdExtra who gave an excellent overview of what is involved and how to set up and maintain a successful campaign.
Thought leadership is all about having interesting and attention-grabbing insights on the big problems facing your customers.
You could be using these insights in interesting articles and blogs, well-argued reports and white papers, and also delivering them in videos, LinkedIn posts and of course face-to-face in meetings and when speaking at events.
But is there research out there showing it brings commercial benefits for accountancy firms?
Yes, there's plenty!
For instance, when it comes to generating demand and increasing sales, below are some
One of our most visited blogs over the past few years discusses how law firms can get the most from their PR agency. The advice in it also applies very much to other professional firms, such as accountancy firms.
We have recently updated it ... although not by much as its advice has "stood the test of time".
Click here for our new and improved "Getting the most for your accountancy firm from your PR agency".
If you are looking at your relationship with your PR agency, or maybe appointing one for the first time, you will be interested in another of our blogs. This one has been our highest read blog every year since it was written about three years ago!
We recently held a webinar on "Successful blogging for accountancy firms" with accountancy outsourcers Initor Global'.
At one level, successful blogging is surprisingly simple! You just follow these 6 straightforward stages:
The first half of this blog looked at the pros and cons of long blogs.
In this second half we look at the pros and cons of shorter, punchy 350-500 word blogs on topics of interest to your clients and prospects.
There are a lot of benefits to shorter blogs, as opposed to the long essays that some professionals like writing. They include:
Should your firm be writing short punchy blogs, say 300 or 400 words, or longer ones that explore an idea thoroughly and give plenty of information?
They both have their place, and in a perfect world your accountancy firm's blog may well have both. But before you start pasting any old stuff on your blog, let's explore the pros and cons of both... which will also explain why we typically recommend businesses new to blogging to get going with shorter ones to start with.
However, short or long, a blog is no good if nobody reads it.
Kelso Consulting has been appointed by Ozlop as the innovative start-up prepares, after initial early successes, to scale-up its distinctive outsourced bookkeeping service.
David Vine, Ozlop’s managing director, says: “While it is still early stages for us, it is important that Ozlop is laying strong foundations for growth in 2020 and 2021. Part of this will be ensuring we have a strong reputation based not just on our service but also more broadly on our expertise in helping small businesses, particularly microbusinesses with a busy owner.
Posting interesting blogs regularly on your website is an effective and straight-forward way for accountancy firms of all sizes to attract leads.
Straight-forward, but often difficult for many to sustain, with common problems including:
- Getting stuck for ideas
- Writers-block when it is time to draft
- Making the process unnecessarily time-consuming
- Shallow content that does not engage readers
Our recent "Building a business-winning reputation" webinar looked at how accountancy firms can build a strong business-winning reputation, and how to get the communications strategy right to achieve this.
This webinar is now available as a complimentary video and podcast. Just click here to watch it now or download it for later.
Accountants inherently understand the importance of having a good reputation.
The good news is that most accountancy firms don't have to apply complex secret techy techniques to dramatically improve their search engine rankings.
In fact, topping Google can often be achieved primarily through applying straightforward rules and a bit of thought to the text and other content on your own web pages and social media.
Many accountancy firms fail to appear in one of the most effective sources of new leads when prospects are searching.... the first page of Google.
While many have put in the effort and generate a regular flow of suitable leads, many other practices either fail to make it a priority or are in denial about its benefits (which of course becomes a self-fulling prophecy).
Not sure where your practice appears?
Simply open up a browser and type in the sort of search a potential client would make (NB - not your firm's name! Also, best done from a private browser window to stop your results being skewed by your browsing history).
The "Big Four" oligopoly of giant accountancy firms is again lobbying hard to protect its position and prevent some sort of break-up restoring a nearly-as-Big Five or maybe six.
Their past efforts have been successful, and their new impetus follows damning comments from leading MPs on the various Parliamentary committees investigating the collapse of Carillion and the role of the Big Four firms. Their ire is particularly high as the Big Four billed Carillion, its pension schemes and the Government £71 million since 2008 relating to Carillion: yet failed to notice anything was wrong.
Grow your practice in 2018 with great advice from our seminars for accountancy firms
Kelso Consulting once again has a series of our popular seminars and webinars for accountancy firms in the first half of 2018, covering a range of business development issues, including public relations, social media, online ads and thought leadership.
We'd like to invite you and your colleagues to attend!
Particular aimed at accountancy firm partners, together with their marketing directors, we will be hosting our seminars in London and, for Thames Valley businesses, in Newbury.
You may well be interested in these Posts on Kelso's other blog feeds from over the past few weeks as they are also very relevant to accountancy partners:
Written with law firms in mind, but equally applicable to accountancy firms, this article looks at the pros and cons of working with a PR agency on retainer and project,
What accountants really need to know about ensuring a successful first encounter with the media!
You've heard about the power of media, maybe your competitors are getting great coverage, and you have been tasked with getting lots for your accountancy practice: but neither you nor the partners have done it before.
That's not a problem as everyone has to start somewhere. But many accountants and their marketing teams approach media relations with misconceptions and unrealistic expectations which, at the very least, lead to missed opportunities and often mess the whole thing up.
Today Deloitte is the UK's premier sports business consultancy. But once upon a time it had no such practice - until three of its professionals decided to combine their professional passion with their interest in sport.
It holds plenty of lessons for professional firms of all sizes... and other types of professionals too.
Twenty years on, Deloitte advises the top names in sport across a wide range of financial and business issues.
Cloud bookkeeping and accountancy provider Pandle (www.pandle.co.uk) has appointed Kelso Consulting as part of an ambitious Public Relations campaign to sign up 1,000s of freelancers and small business customers in 2018.
The UK’s cloud bookkeeping market is crowded with several providers, and Pandle is distinctive through its intuitive and straightforward interface particularly aimed at Britain’s 4.8 million self-employed people, most of whom have little or no financial training.
Gauging the return on investment of marketing activity is a fundamentally important metric
for accountancy firms looking to grow, yet practices
we meet struggle to know whether the amount of time and money they spend on marketing is producing an effective return.
I used to strongly advocate accountants putting effort into their profile, building up their network and using LinkedIn for communicating. It seemed on the verge of turning into a really handy mini-CRM for social selling.
But no more, useful functionality is now disappearing without notice or warning.
Over the years I've observed many mergers at accountancy and other professional firms.
Some have been stunningly successful, some have been failures and many somewhere in between.
Clearly they were all intended to be huge successes, but something went wrong for many. What was it?
Well, I'm not an M&A expert but my observation is that those that went wrong had two things in common.
Members of the Kelso team have been working with accountancy firms on thought leadership since before the term was used (20+ years!), so we've seen and solved a fair few problems in our time, many of them recurring ones!
In a few weeks time I'll be on a panel at a marketing summit discussing how to measure the return of investment for Thought Leadership activities.
It sounds an esoteric subject and immediately begs some specific questions like:"What is Thought Leadership?"; "What resources are being invested and how do I cost such inputs as non-billable time?"; and "What actually is the return I am looking for and how will I know when I achieve it?".
It's easy to start over-complicating things, so the key question accountants and their marketing teams involved in Thought Leadership projects should be asking are:
"Successful marketing is all about storytelling" is an idea who's time has come... or a bit of a fad, depending on your perspective. Certainly the amount of articles about it seems to have risen exponentially in recent months.
It wasn't always thus. I remember an occasion some 12 yearsor so ago when my colleague told the CEO of a tech company that standing out and being memorable "was all about stories"... well, the blank look he got back certainly told its own story.
At our recent webinar I shared a straight forward 6 step process for getting your accountancy firm to the top of Google, which is a hugely valuable place for any business to be, including those professional practices selling high value services.I have found there are two sorts of attitudes amongst accountants to the value of appearing prominently on Google. There are those businesses that don't think it is worthwhile,do not spend much effort on it and,
Got a problem or need a supplier? The first thing most people do now is look on Google. You probably do too.
And it is not just people looking for holidays and plumbers.... it is businesses looking for high-value suppliers and solutions for complex accounting, financial and management challenges.
Do you read the regular advice comments from John Timpson, the chairman of high street cobbler and key cutter Timpsons?
They appear in the Telegraph and elsewhere, and I am a big fan of his sensible advice for growing and managing a business... and given how ubiqtuous his firm is on Britain's high street, he has a track record of success to back up his advice.
Recently, in his column he dealt with a question about whether a firm should start doing press and PR activity to generate customers.
It is a question many accountancy firms' partners have asked. At big firms it is a resounding "yes",
Ambitious accountancy firms looking to establish a leadership position in their markets should have awards as powerful proof-points. If you don't have some, you need to get them!
It is easy to rationalise-away the importance of awards.
We are back for a busy autumn with plenty of business available to be won - but lots of accountancy firms after it and strong pressure on fees.
It is those firms that are distinctive and memorable that get recommended for the best appointments. Those demonstrating distinctive expertise can charge more than their rivals and still win the work.
How do accountancy firms get into such a great position of being recognised as having distinctive expertise?
Does your accountancy firm need to better stand out against your competitors? In a crowded market another Budget breakfast and bought in tax tables isn't going to do it!
Business owners and directors are looking for accountants that bring value through their insights and ability to solve commerical problems. But how do you demonstrate it?
We've been working with accountancy firms for over 20 years to help them stand out.
Today Deloitte has the UK's premier sports business consultancy. But once upon a time it had no such practice - until three of its accountants decided to combine their professional passion with their interest in sport.
I recently had an interesting and wide ranging discussion with Peter Scott (www.peterscottconsult.co.uk) who advises numerous professional firms on strategy and management issues. Having previously run Eversheds for eight years as managing partner, he's certainly got great insights to share.
Part of our discussion covered how professional firms use PR agencies. He mentioned many really don't understand how to best use a PR agency, what skills good agencies bring to the party, and what are the best ways to work with them. Why didn't I write something on the subject he suggested?
Are you locked in a death spiral with your PR agency?
We often come across accountancy firms who have been sucked into the "PR death spiral" with their agency (and in-house too). Here's how to recognise it:
Initially it all began so positively.....
A new PR team had arrived, and make lots of sensible-sounding requests for articles, materials and other content from the partners to pump prime the campaign. It is quickly supplied by partners keen for coverage and wanting to play their part in a successful campaign. It is a great start and hopes are high.
The main point was that such disasters typically don't come out of the blue and the effective PR tactics for handling them are well known.
Yet experienced and competent CEOs and their management teams had been able to create a PR disaster of far greater magnitude through inept handling of the communications issues.
I revisited the paper in the light of the recent sad case involving Thomas Cook and its handling of the publicity around the recent inquest into the deaths of two children while holidaying in Corfu a few years ago.
In today's crowded accountancy market, technical expertise and a great service are not enough to stand out.
But rather than highlighting their value and expertise, many accountancy firms lapse into bland "me-too marketing".
The new book The Thought Leadership Manual by Kelso's Tim Prizeman is particularly aimed at helping accountancy firms stand out in crowded markets.
Webinar: Successful thought leadership for accountants
Accountancy firms are ideally placed to utilise "thought leadership" to create the sort of ideas that will grab the attention of clients.
They have great analytical skills, a strategic perspective and can translate ideas into tangible activity. Indeed many firms have been using it successfully for many years - for instance, Deloitte's hugely successful 'Annual review of Football Finance' has been going for nearly 25 years.