Accountancy

Member Article

The online marketing of an accountant made interesting

Bdaily is looking at Online Marketing in this, our latest focus week. Here, Graeme Tennick, partner at Graeme Tennick & Co. Accountants, evaluates how important online marketing is to his industry.

Accountants are often regarded as being very traditional, older individuals, set in their ways and are rarely associated with words such as being dynamic, exciting or even creative – the reason being because these words may lead to a tax investigation!

When it comes to operating an accountancy practice and in particular online marketing, my firm, Graeme Tennick & Co Chartered Certified Accountants, takes a somewhat different approach.

The role of an accountant has changed and subsequently so has the market. The traditional accountant that would visit clients once year, reporting figures rather than influencing them, providing little more than what is required. Today this is becoming less and less common as clients require more and subsequently means that we are competing in a much more competitive market place.

This is why we have positioned our practice as being the modern day accountancy firm that has moved with times, delivering the service the client’s need and deserve and delivering demonstrable value for the amounts we charge.

In order to find this place in the market we have had to explore and subsequently exploit the opportunities that online marketing provides to us all.

Given the increasingly competitive market place that accountants currently operate in there are a number of accountants always popping up including a new breed of ‘online accountants’ or ‘accountants in the cloud’ – no further comments will be made as to the various interpretation of this second definition!

For our firm in particular this ‘online’ or ‘cloud’ approach is not where we have positioned ourselves in the market nor do we feel this is where we can add value to our clients. It does however have a place in the market with regards to technology, for example, we will often backup data using the ‘cloud’ and also use software that operates within the ‘cloud’ including accounting software.

As a result of the ever-changing market place we have also realised that in order to compete, word of mouth is no longer enough and with cost being of increasing importance and the market place being so much more easily accessible online through LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, people can easily shop around and move as and when they choose to.

We have as a result embraced these changes not only in the delivery of the products that we use, such as Sage when delivering our service, but also in communicating to our clients through a monthly newsletter delivered by e-mail having used Mail Chimp to manage and monitor the success/failure for each month.

We have however also recognised that clients still require the face-to-face relationship they have always had so we always aim to strike a balance with the primary goal always being that this balance must suit each client individually since it is them that we are supporting.

In being more dynamic, we also now actively engage with not only clients but also contacts we have made and even people of just general interest through LinkedIn and Twitter as all of a sudden it is now potentially much easier to make contact with more senior and specific individuals than it would have been in the past. We do not however use Facebook as at this time it is not seen to be something that we feel would benefit ourselves as a firm.

So how can an accountant be made interesting enough in order or people to connect through LinkedIn, read a monthly newsletter or follow them through Twitter? The answer to this is relatively simple – people in most instances just want to learn BUT THEY DO NOT ALWAYS WANT TO BUY!

Neither our monthly newsletter, LinkedIn profile our Twitter are used as a direct selling tool and we never look to use it as this. Of course we will promote our business as far as possible and want to generate more business but given our trade somebody is unlikely to buy without trusting or understanding us nor or they likely to think to look here for an accountant unless we have already built up some sort of relationship prior to this.

This is where we see LinkedIn and Twitter fitting in within our strategy as it provides easy access for clients and contacts generally to get a better understanding of us and to make sure that we are regularly in their thoughts as we simply don’t have time to visit as many people as we would like – a further issue that online marketing helps us overcome. It is important though for us to ensure that our online marketing campaigns are relevant to their recipients as if they are not then clients can become frustrated at receiving materials that are clearly not relevant to them.

In a worst case scenario it may even suggest to a client that you don’t understand their business. In light of this, without producing separate literature for each and every client, we monitor what is released very closely and work alongside contacts and clients to ensure that the content shared is content valued.

Focusing specifically on Twitter and LinkedIn, we principally use these to promote tax breaks that available, financial articles that might be of interest and other topical items that might be interesting to know. We also look to add a bit of humour where possible and a bit of personal touch so people understand the personality and principles of the firm so that they can relate to us. This does not however consider of daily updates as to the fact that I have once again today got a ham sandwich for lunch even though I had ham sandwiches all last week!

The bottom line is for us all online marketing is here and we need to embrace it. It will be more difficult for some rather than others but accountants and other more traditional professionals are increasingly going to have to realise that traditional methods of marketing are no longer enough and even if you think “well my clients are of a similar age as myself and they are not changing”, what about those people that might succeed them when they retire.

A forward-looking accountant, adopting a forward-looking marketing approach, that where we see ourselves and we aim that though online marketing it is how other’s will see us also.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Graeme Tennick .

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