Gemma Graham Head of Marketing Robson Laidler Accountants
Image Source: Gemma Graham
Robson Laidler

The secret to successful marketing starts within

When asked recently, what are the unique challenges faced by the head of marketing at an accounting firm, my initial response was ‘the people’.

It is often thought that marketeers and accountants are chalk and cheese in perspective, personality and priorities and as I go through my marketing journey with Robson Laidler this is often the case.

However, I may have found the key to getting some creative juices flowing. The same method I’m sure can be used for marketing within any professional services business.

Marketing an accountancy firm starts by developing a strong brand, increasing visibility and encouraging communication. But once you have your brand in place how do we increase this visibility and communication? – The secret answer? The people!

The secret - get your staff excited

This doesn’t mean standing with a party blower up their back or tempting them with a large bonus but really generating a sense of self-worth and accountability within their roles to make them truly believe they ‘can’ make a difference and drive new business opportunities.

An engaged workforce is a successful workforce

Getting your staff excited about your brand and business is essential. This starts within. Start by asking them what they think the brand should be, what they feel the firm stands for, what makes it different, how do they describe the business to others, and my advice; get a good creative agency to turn this into tangible brand that is found within every crevasse of the business.

Once you have a strong brand in place that the staff helped to create, its over to them to move it forward, tell the brand story, to share the insight and knowledge within the firm and to encourage a two-way flow of communication. They helped to create it so they should believe in it.

Think that I’ve found myself a cheerleader

For a business to be successful managers need to foster good relationships with their staff. People are the most important asset in any business and this needs to be nurtured – you need ‘flag wavers’, ‘champions’, ‘ambassadors’, ‘cheerleaders’, whatever you want to call them, in your business. How to get this? Giving them some autonomy is a start.

Knowledge is power

Here at Robson Laidler we have encouraged ‘cheerleaders’ by asking staff to share their knowledge/power by writing it down into blog posts. Fight through the ‘I don’t have time’ reaction by really hammering home that this doesn’t have to be degree standard; it must be written in layman terms, short, sweet and shareable. Simple. It can be one sentence, bullet points or even a diagram. And you don’t have to be an expert. - People / clients / customers / prospects – like to hear from ‘real’ people, they want to know how things ‘really’ work in simple terms, what can go wrong, what has gone wrong and how you inevitable can put things right. The human touch is the best approach.

In fact, our highest read blog post was by a member of staff who discussed the latest accountancy software from her ‘technophobe’ perspective. People engaged with it appreciating her honesty and took real value in the factual content of the post.

I’m a celebrity – get me in there! Never underestimate the feeling your staff get when they see their name in bright lights on your website or blog page; ‘written by Joe Bloggs’ or ’expert comment by ‘Joe Bloggs’. It makes them feel special, appreciated, respected - they are the expert, or celebrity in the firm. Once they get a flavour for it they will be more encouraged to do more of the same and therefore giving you more valuable content. Regional magazines are also full of profile slots such as, ’5 Minutes With or ‘Meet the Boss’ that you can easily put your newly ‘excited’ and engaged staff forward for.

Staff are the authors We encourage staff to get content whenever they can and give them the freedom to do so. We ask them to take mobile phones to client meetings and grab a quick 30 second testimonial at the end. It can be as simple as saying; “that was a great meeting can I have a quick one-liner on camera on what you have taken away from this meeting, so we can use as part of our testimonials”. Once staff start getting more and more simple one-liners that can be used as quick social media posts or uploaded on a testimonials page on your website and staff notice board, they will be hungry for more. You could even turn this into an internal competition.

Shout it from the rooftops Once the workforce are excited, they tell people – down the pub, on the bus, to other associates, on social media. They love their job, because they feel engaged, they are able to make a difference, and contribute to the business in a tangible way.

This works. Word of mouth and referrals is still our highest new business driver to date.

The results are in

From all of the above you are left with ‘real’, shareable content from your main asset- your (excited) people - that can be used across your website, social media platforms and in internal documentation. Marketing at its best.

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