From the outside, accounting is often seen as a stodgy, rote business. But what most people don’t realize is that U.S. tax law changes every year. As an accounting professional, you're always learning new things, staying up to date on the U.S. code and using the latest marketing and advertising practices.
All of these things keep your accounting firm relevant and legitimate in the eyes of your customers. But if you want to see increased growth and find new customers, you need to continue learning. We reached out to five experts who shared their tips for keeping your accounting firm relevant in today's market. Here's what they had to say.
Embrace New Technology
One of the most important tips to stay relevant, no matter the size or age of your business, is to embrace new technology. Customers expect convenience. Those expectations extend to using the technology they use. Today, “leading firms have embraced video chat technology for face-to-face meetings and sponsor educational webcasts to connect with new prospects,” says Lee Reams II, founder and CEO of CountingWorks PRO. “Many are now stepping into podcasting to share their wealth of knowledge.”
In addition to video chats and podcasts, consider using a social media platform you aren't using yet, creating YouTube videos or using chatbots on your website. When you are available to your customers where they are, they’re more likely to work with you. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to adapt your procedures to be able to work with clients digitally.
Upsell Accounting Services with Additional Offerings
Accountants don’t simply do taxes. There are so many different services you can offer as an accounting firm. Jacob Dayan, co-founder and CEO of Community Tax, shares that his firm’s “business model is focused on being a one-stop-shop for accounting, bookkeeping, and taxes, and leaves our clients worry-free.” Providing additional services makes it convenient for customers with varied needs.
If it’s something you’re an expert at and you’ve built trust with your customers, consider what other services you can provide. Maybe it's marketing, business startup advice, employee benefits consulting or something else entirely. “We stay relevant thanks to our consulting that goes beyond just accounting services,” says Abir Syed, partner at UpCounting. “In fact, the thing that makes us especially unique is that we also provide ERP implementation consulting and digital marketing services.”
Choose Your Target Audience
A common mistake business owners make is thinking that everyone is their target customer. While your product could potentially be useful to anyone, you can’t target everyone. Your marketing will be much more successful if you narrow down and pinpoint your target audience.
To find your target audience, you need to think about who you want to work with and how they will align with your business. Is it individuals, large or small businesses, nonprofits, a specific industry or people in a certain location? Dayan from Community Tax suggests that you need “to decide what matters most to your company, what you're trying to achieve and what audience you're trying to reach when starting campaigns to increase relevance.”
When you know what your company values are and who you want to work with, you’ll be able to better market your business and find the right customers for you.
Share Your Unique Selling Proposition
Your accounting firm is unique. You have a special talent that no other accounting firm has. Discovering what that talent is and marketing to the customers whose needs match that skill is how you can stand out.
George Birrell, CPA and founder of TaxHub, suggests asking yourself these questions to find your unique selling proposition: “Are the big firms missing something that you’ve found to be a core need? Can you offer something better and/or newer, such as a more personal experience? Does your new technology have the potential to do something that’s never been done before?”
When you know the answers to those questions, you’ll know how to brand your business and your unique skills to your potential customers.
Use Customer Reviews to Recruit New Customers
Accountants look into some of the most private documents and information a person has. For many people, it takes a lot of trust to turn over their most personal information to another person. “In a profession built on trust, reviews and showcasing expertise are the two most critical elements to a successful marketing campaign,” says Reams from CountingWorks PRO.
With each individual client, you have to build rapport and show them that you can be trusted. One way to prove you’re trustworthy is through client reviews. These reviews can be shared on your website, social media pages and LinkedIn. Customer reviews are a great way to validate your expertise and find more clients.
Address Customer Pain Points
When customers are looking to buy a product or service, most often, they’re motivated by a problem. One of the best ways to market your accounting firm's services is to show your customers how you can make their life easier.
Birrell of TaxHub suggests, “If you want to succeed as an accounting firm, you need to think of innovative ways to target your clients’ needs and show them why your firm can help improve their life, save them time on these ‘financial chores’ and/or do it for them.”
Most people don’t like to do their own taxes — they find them confusing and they don’t have time to sort through all of the relevant paperwork. By marketing your business as saving clients time and money, you can solve those pain points for them.
You Are the Expert; Provide Useful Information to Your Followers
Another way to help your accounting firm stay relevant is to share useful information with your followers. David S. McLaren of McLaren & Associates CPAs PC says, “We are constantly learning and researching. The IRS is constantly changing, and we must stay on the cutting edge of these changes.” To do their job, accountants must stay up to date on changes to the tax law. But, this information can be useful to more people than just their customers. Sharing useful information on your website and other channels is a great way to help people and find new clients.
“In a socially distanced world, successful accounting firms have embraced their social media channels, sharing vital updates to clients facing turbulent financial times,” adds Reams of CountingWorks PRO. “Accountants are on the front line of the financial crisis, assisting clients with PPP loan application forgiveness, tax credits, tax changes and the enormity of uncertainty they face going forward.”
As an expert in your field, you have the ability to give people information and peace of mind. Whether or not they become your clients, they’ll remember that you helped them.
Maintaining strong customer relations and continuously growing your business will be key for your accounting firm to stay relevant. Throw out your stagnant business practices and embrace these expert tips to use new technology, share your knowledge with your network and determine your firm’s unique qualities. Here's to many more years of continued success as an accounting firm!
Page is a freelance content marketing writer with experience writing about small business, the future of the workplace and health. She also operates a weekly email newsletter where she shares advice on living an authentic, intentional life. When not writing, you can find Page traveling, fostering older cats and working as a sexual assault advocate.