Marketing. Do you cringe when you hear that word? It may make you cringe because, just like the tax code, the online marketing landscape is continually shifting under our feet. Add that to the fact that most of you entered the accounting industry because you like accounting and NOT because you like marketing. Can you see why not all firms are going gangbusters?
When it comes to your marketing, it’s extremely difficult to prescribe a specific solution without digging into the particulars of your firm and how you are approaching the marketplace. But through actually diving into accountant, bookkeeper and advisory service firms’ marketing plans every day, we have identified some tried and true principles that can help you to diagnose what might be ailing in your existing online marketing efforts.
Why does your online marketing fail? If your tax or accounting firm online marketing isn’t getting results, it usually boils down to one of these five possible factors:
- Misunderstanding the foundation for ALL of your marketing
- Salesmanship and other “non marketing” factors
- Shiny Object Syndrome
- Ignoring existing (and lost) clients
- Market-Message-Media problems
In this article, part one of a five part series, let’s address the first one.
Misunderstanding the foundation for ALL of your marketing
It used to be the case that we could “silo” our prospect’s attention within the particular media we have chosen to communicate our message. This was (and in certain ways, still *is*) the case with direct mail. But with most every kind of online marketing media (social, display advertising, PPC, websites, broadcast, etc.), the prospect is INTENSELY distracted.
Every time a visitor is on any website, the allure of Facebook, ESPN, cat videos, etc. is a very strong one. And your prospects are in the same position whenever they evaluate any of your marketing collateral online – whether it’s on your site, your social properties, even your review pages. Plus, they’re processing a ton of marketing messages. A recent study showed that US adults are subjected to over 5,000 marketing messages per day.
Which means that you better recognize this fact. Marketing now, at its very essence, is about building relationships.
So, this being the case, building relationships should fundamentally dictate the nature of your marketing.
For example, when accounting firms have a website, often it’s one churned through a software setup system — and they’re usually just happy if they made a few changes to the boilerplate wording!
When visitors come to your website and dig a little deeper … they find that your website is essentially nothing but a brochure. And with a quick click, your visitor is gone. In short, there is no reason for your website visitors to even start any sort of relationship. You are, instead, banking on the fact that visitors either are …
- Already looking for YOU or …
- Just want “any old” accountant or tax professional.
What you are showing about yourself on your “about” page is just not going to do the trick. There simply needs to be more.
Do not rely on that old standby: “Subscribe to our email newsletter.”
If you have this on your website, I challenge you to look at your analytics. Visitors see this and they think: Please Sign Up for Our Generic Articles. An “email newsletter” has no compelling reason for your website visitor to actually act. Visitors certainly aren’t dying to add more newsletters to their life.
Note: That does not mean they won’t read good, regular notes from you; if you do it right, they WILL. But they’re not actively seeking to sign up for more newsletters in their lives.
Instead of tweaking the tactics of your about page or your newsletter page, you must first understand the foundation for ALL of your marketing: → Every piece of your online marketing is the beginning of a relationship. ←
Every part of your marketing should function under this goal: “How can I move this prospect relationship forward?”
Practically speaking: “What are the micro-level commitments that my prospects would be willing to make in order to indicate interest in going deeper?” Here are a few examples:
- Ask them to enter their email address and answer some basic survey questions embedded on your home page (my favorite method)
- Ask them to call your office line
- Ask them to connect further on social media
Before you do any of these actions, though, you MUST have in place an actual system (i.e., something written down or automated and not “winging it”) to move that prospect from “cold” to “warm” to “hot” … to SOLD.