This year's Scaling New Heights conference sounded like a smash. While I wasn’t able to make it this year, I did send some of my team to take it all in and chat with the attendees (maybe you?).
After dozens of conversations with accountants and business advisors, two things stood out: how many practices live only on referrals (with little to no digital presence) and how many lack a unique focus to actually draw in new clients.
Now, hear me out on that first one.
I get building a business on referrals. It’s great because you don’t have to do the hard work of getting your name in front of people. Plus, word-of-mouth testimonies legitimately generate powerful referrals.
But you’ve got to face the fact that in this modern world, a flourishing digital presence is the key to sustainable growth or making a shift in your practice.
My team heard these kinds of statements repeatedly at SNH from those wanting to grow but who only depend on referrals:
“I just built a $3,000 website. No, it doesn’t have a way to get lead information on the homepage.”
“I don’t really do email marketing. But I do send a newsletter once in a while.”
“Google reviews? I don’t really worry about them since I get business by referrals.”
I’m sorry to say, but those answers don’t bode well for a growth-forward accounting practice, an advisory-focused firm, or a bookkeeping business.
Not only did 2020 show us that, but so do the statistics.
And more than that, in this increasingly digital world, your marketing has got to make you stand out from the rest of the accounting crowd.
To most people, all accounting practices look and sound the same. Page after page of websites in the search results saying the same things. It’s like looking at carbon copies of business cards… everything just sort of bleeds together.
Now, it’s fair to say that it’s not just happening in our industry. The messaging and websites for any highly competitive industry (law firms, colleges, sedans, hotels, etc.) are all bending over backward to turn out look-a-likes. Take hotels, for instance. Unless there’s a striking background (a gorgeous beach or a mountain scene), they all look pretty much the same. Seriously, search it. If you just did a name swap, not much else would be different.
And that’s a HUGE problem when you consider accounting practice websites. If everything’s the same… if we try so hard to fit in… we’re giving consumers no choice but to seek out the cheapest, closest option. And this problem can’t be solved by simply picking a different template (no matter what some companies want you to believe).
If you’re feeling frustrated, we get it. Many who’ve come to AdvisorProMarketer and TaxProMarketer over the past couple of years have expressed the same frustration. Most of the reasons for it boils down to one common, serious mistake in your marketing:
Failure to communicate a unique message.
See, that milquetoast, same-same stuff everyone else is promoting in their accounting practice just isn’t going to cut it. Everyone in the industry is marketing those very same services:
- Part-time CFO Services
- Personal Financial Planning
- Quickbooks Services
- Small Business Accounting
- Tax Preparation and Planning
Yada, yada, yada. Ad infinitum, ad barf-um.
So what is it that you need? You need a Unique Selling Proposition.
Now, before you nod your head and say yeah, we got that, take a minute to review that list of services I just gave. Is that how you advertise what you do at your practice?
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but if you said yes to that last question, you’ve got to make a shift. There needs to be a conversational, *direct* reason why your prospects should pick your practice. This even applies to your current clientele… because they need continual “re-selling.”
What are you delivering that is of direct benefit to them and not just some generalized description for some service you provide?
People are looking for real talk and real value, not gimmicks, not stiff language, not cold information. And the ethos of unique reasons and communicating direct benefits MUST be a part of all your communication – from your website to outbound emails to brochures to client intake forms.
EVERYTHING is marketing.
If you mimic what all the other accounting practices nationwide (or just the ones in your local market area) are doing… well, then you’re headed for frustration. Or worse… being seen as a commodity. And as the newspaper industry showed us: that’s the worst kind of position to be in.
So, what I would say to all those conference attendees who hesitate to develop a marketing strategy or are content with same old, same old – it’s time to do something different.
It’s time to show what you have to offer and do it in a way that makes people pay attention.