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Attracting High-Profit Clients 101—A Lesson in Marketing

Posted by Natalie Jones on Jul 2, 2024 3:00:00 PM

In small accountancy firms, marketing often falls to partners, yet CPA exams do not cover the nuances of social media campaigns or running networking events! Below, we share some tips to attract not just clients but the right clients.

Define your target market

Marketing will only be successful if you have a clear picture of the group you are selling to.

For the sake of this article, let’s say our target is small and medium-sized businesses. Those who will earn accountants a high profit tend to fall into one or both of the following categories:

  • Clients who require value-added services, such as management accounting, audit, or financial analysis, in addition to basics (bookkeeping, compliance, etc.)
  • Clients who require advice specific to a sector such as charity, retail, or hospitality

To attract high-profit clients, focus your marketing strategy on these groups. Consider the difference between these two advertising straplines:

  1. 1. Best value bookkeeping for small businesses
  2. 2. Charity accountancy covered, from in-kind contributions to Form 990

The first may attract a high volume of small businesses interested in a low-value service (which is fine if that’s your model), while the second targets a small number of clients interested in high-value work.

Build personas of your target audience and list how you can help them (ideally more effectively than your competitors). This will form your marketing messaging and ensure you don’t cast your net too wide.

Get back to basics

Small accountancy practices are pressed for time and resources, and it is tempting to try and reach your target audience as quickly as possible. However, a cheap-looking website or inactive social channels will quickly extinguish a hot lead.

Before you approach the market, make sure the following are up-to-date and reflect a consistent visual brand (logo and colors):

  • Website—does it just list your services, or does it explain how you solve your target market’s problems?
  • Social channels—do you have active and credible corporate social channels?
  • Case studies and testimonials—a story demonstrating how you moved a client from A to B is a powerful asset for attracting high-profit customers.
  • Marketing materials—if you meet a prospective client, do you have a one-pager (either printed or online) that outlines your services?

Understand the difference between direct marketing and raising awareness

It is vital to strike a balance between two different marketing approaches:

  • Direct marketing aims to elicit immediate sales or leads, such as a sales email to “Sign up today for a 10% discount.”
  • Raising awareness aims to increase your brand’s recognition and credibility over time. An example is event sponsorship.

While direct marketing seeks a quick conversion, raising awareness is about nurturing a customer base over time. Both are important in a comprehensive marketing strategy.

Become a thought leader

Thought leadership is a fancy marketing term for demonstrating to clients that your firm is the go-to expert in a particular field. It involves sharing new insights, original ideas, and unique points of view that can benefit them. One example would be to publish a blog post offering advice to your clients after a Federal Budget.

Another fancy marketing term you might have heard is “personal branding.” This means raising the profile of individual team members in an area of expertise. Authoring online articles and social media posts, speaking at events, or becoming a media spokesperson can help achieve this.

Partner with trade associations

Partnering with a trade body or membership association for your target client’s sector is an effective way to raise brand awareness.

For example, to promote our charity practice, we partner with an organization that advises charities on making more impact for their cause. We recently hosted a webinar for its members about outsourcing, which introduced us to over a hundred charities. We have also posted a case study on its website showing how we helped one of its members overcome staff shortages.

Organize networking events

Hosting networking events is another way to target businesses within a particular sector. For instance, if you specialize in hospitality, invite local restaurants to a free seminar on navigating payroll and gratuity tax. Include a social element, which will give attendees a valuable opportunity to meet their peers as well as your representatives.

Get outside help

Small accountancy firms typically do not have the resources to employ a full-time marketing manager. If your partners are too busy to lead marketing, it is time to engage outside help. You do not necessarily need a full-service marketing agency, but help with online advertising and social media will be well worth investing time and expertise.

The other thing to remember is that marketing does not happen in a vacuum. If you or your agency organize a networking event, your accountants (or sales team, if you have one) should follow up with attendees afterward.

Measure (carefully) if you measure up

There are hundreds of ways to evaluate marketing strategies. A common approach is to evaluate each marketing effort against your goal, such as counting the number of leads from an email or social campaign.

This can inform decisions but does not tell the whole story about raising awareness—a company that attended your networking event might not sign up on the day, but you’ll be top of mind when they need help.

Make time for marketing; consistency is key

When you are time-poor, it usually means business is good—two good reasons to let marketing fall by the wayside. However, marketing that attracts high-profit clients needs consistency and quality.

The key is efficiency. If you rigidly focus on your target group, you will soon see returns.

Sponsored Content: This article is generously brought to you by one of our valued sponsors. Their support enables us to continue delivering expert insights and the latest industry trends to our dedicated community of accounting professionals.

Topics: Practice Growth, Operational Advisory


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