Over the last few months, we’ve shared a lot of information about the importance of digital in accounting firms. We’ve addressed the digital culture, achieving digital growth, and the financial investment that is required to make digital work for you.
Today, your firm’s growth depends on digital. Making it a priority is the most important element for success, but creating a digital strategy isn’t far behind. It’s the soundest way to navigate change in the accounting industry – how clients are buying.
A digital strategy is a roadmap for leveraging tech-based tools and resources to support business initiatives and growth.
But with so much urgency on acquiring, implementing, changing, maintaining, how do firms decide where to focus first?
First, Develop Digital Culture
The single most important factor for achieving a successful digital strategy is to create and build a digital culture. Without it, you won’t get the buy-in and adoption your firm needs for it to succeed. This culture emphasizes digital as a fundamental means for growth, making it clear that “digital is a non-negotiable priority for us.” Firms that already have a growth culture will find it much easier to adopt a digital-first mindset.
Efforts to build a digital culture must be predicated on the knowledge that – first and foremost – your website is a virtual front door, no different from your office lobby and receptionist.
It’s the door through which prospective clients enter your firm virtually. This is where they assess your skills, qualifications, differentiators, and staff to determine whether or not to engage with you.
Your online presence is a profound opportunity that can easily and positively impact the future of your firm. How well does it represent your firm? Is it updated and resourceful? Does it answer their questions efficiently? Is your team helping to promote it? What are the data and analytics telling you?
If everyone is aligned on investing in, being involved with, and supporting a strategic digital implementation, you are better able to achieve a strong culture. This is attractive not just to clients but also to prospective employees, which is a huge priority for firms right now.
From the firm footing of a well-established digital culture, you can evaluate your priorities.
Related Read — Digital Culture at Your CPA Firm
Digital and M&A
In 2021, mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in the U.S. alone hit a record-breaking $2.9 trillion and M&A has not slowed down since. The accounting profession has seen an increase in upward mergers and historic activity in this area – including the re-entry of private equity. Many firms are expanding advisory services, building brand recognition, and proactively positioning for the possibilities of M&A.
More and more, firm desirability is tied to how it is represented by a digital strategy as well as in its overall digital health. Your firm should prioritize digital tactics that support future plans for M&A in the event an opportunity presents itself. This means strengthening the firm’s brand identity, optimizing its online presence, becoming a beacon to attract the best talent, and generally presenting the firm in a way that resonates with this audience.
If M&A is somewhere at the top of your “to do” list, you need to prioritize practices that make it clear you are future-minded and thriving in a digital-first world.
Digital and Organic Growth
Some firms are staunchly dedicated to remaining independent. In this case, a digital strategy can support the need for organic growth. For business development, it may take the form of a new service line(s), entrance into a new territory(ies), focusing on a niche(s), and/or putting an emphasis on advisory services (CAS). All of this will require digital to create the right market awareness, reach, positioning, and results.
To support all of that business growth, you’ll have hiring goals as well. If your firm is aiming to expand by 30 team members in the next year, for example, your digital strategies need to reflect that goal. And your ability to attract quality talent could be dependent upon a digital plan for attracting, hiring, and retaining eager, loyal, and committed professionals.
When your firm is pursuing organic growth, digital is a core pillar and prioritizing an online presence and omnichannel digital marketing efforts will better position the firm to achieve results.
3 Questions to Drive Digital Strategy
When embarking on a digital project, there are three key questions we ask clients at the onset of the engagement to determine the starting line:
- What resources are you willing to dedicate to this?
Are you willing to invest in the right people, the right technology, and the right partners? Will you commit the time required to achieve results? Digital strategy is going to cost you something. It will have a return, but that up-front investment has to be well-resourced.
- Who is going to help you create and execute on a digital strategy?
It’s unlikely that you have a professional in your firm who is capable, trustworthy, and has capacity. But you need one. More often, firms retain a consultant to help identify digitally staffing needs. It’s vital that your firm has a bench of qualified players to maintain momentum. A dedicated digital growth strategist should be your first appointment.
- Where are your real opportunities for growth?
Is your firm primed for growth on the local, regional, or national stage? Are there any niches, industries, or service lines you’re looking to focus on or scale? A digital strategy needs to be purpose-built for your firm, so understanding where your opportunities for growth and investing in them, help to secure growth.
Crafting a Digital Strategy That Works for Your Firm
Digital strategy is not a one-size-fits-all, cookie-cutter approach. A digital strategy must be customized to attain results – real, long-term results. And because every firm is unique with different needs and goals, we never create the same strategy twice. Our team of professionals work with you to first identify your goals. Then, we collectively organize your priorities. Finally, we create a plan that fits your firm, can be implemented, measured, and scaled. Like most strategies, success is achieved with timely execution.
A digital strategy can be complex and intimidating. Stop thinking and start doing. Work with a trusted, experienced team to get results! That’s what we do.
Need a team you can trust to advance your firm in the digital world? Reach out anytime.