Accounting firms are challenged by marketing in the best of times — not knowing what to allocate, who to engage, or how to measure. Throw in an international pandemic, and even the best of intentions are turned upside down. Now that the initial chaos is settling down and we are slowly adjusting to our new normal, firms are having to reassess the way they do a big part of their business — sales, marketing, and service.
Whether you’re relying on a single professional or team or are outsourcing the function, your ability to prioritize the marketing and sales function could help determine whether your firm is a pandemic victim or victor.
Where to begin?
First and foremost, your firm needs to ensure it has a well-communicated strategy to maintain existing business and compete for new business in this new, virtual world. This thoughtful marketing strategy should be aligned with the goals of the firm, enhancing tactics to support growth.
Here are five things to consider:
1. WEBSITE — If you do not have a high-performing website, one that clearly demonstrates value proposition, build or rebuild one now. The new decision journey begins with more virtual awareness of your brand. The website will be the first place prospects go to learn more about your organization. Is it a good reflection of your character and capabilities? Is it easy to navigate and locate desired information?
As important, if your search engine optimization is not up-to-date, fix it. Google currently processes approximately 70,000 search queries every second. The platform takes into account more than 200 elements to help people find what they are searching for. Without accurate SEO, you lose out on traffic, visibility, and engagement.
If you are looking to make cuts in the budget, don’t trim anything pertaining to your website and SEO. That would be a huge mistake. You’ll feel it for a long time, and catching up could be near to impossible.
2. CONTENT — One of the more common themes of this pandemic has been the overwhelming amount of information available. Little of it has been truly relevant, unless you count the Paycheck Protection Program and related topics.
Original content, developed within your organization, is how you demonstrate your thought leadership. Yes, it’s time-consuming. Yes, it can be stressful. But exclusive content separates proactive firms from their complacent competition — more so in this virtual world. (And it helps leverage SEO in your favor!)
Consider not only integrating your content into your website, blog, and LinkedIn, but sending it to clients directly. Email marketing is still a really effective marketing tool, particularly when it is personalized and segmented to cater to clients’ specific industries and interests. Develop campaigns and enhance content with graphics and video.
Clients are desperate for information that is factual, disseminated on a timely basis, and relevant to them. Preferably without having to look too hard to find it. If they are not getting it from you, they are getting it from another firm.
3. LINKEDIN — LinkedIn, the largest professional networking platform, has seen engagement surge. While most people consider it a necessary tool to identify new candidates or upgraded jobs, LinkedIn is actually effective for generating leads in a B2B environment.
Brands that publish organic research, news synopses, and fresh ideas on LinkedIn find not only a receptive audience, but a supportive algorithm which is necessary for Google searches (SEO) and other social media responsiveness. As an added bonus, content posted on LinkedIn drives more traffic to blogs and websites than any other form of social media.
Two elements of LinkedIn need to be engaged: your company’s profile and your professional profile. Your firm page should inform and educate. This is where you talk about the industry, its trends, and your firm’s proactivity in the areas that are important to clients and prospects.
Your personal profile can include opinion, emotion, and personality. This is where you demonstrate your passion and professionalism. It’s a good opportunity to align your values with that of the firm you are representing. A great approach is liking the information your company puts out and adding your own professional perspective to the conversation, not the canned, corporate commentary that has been provided. Don’t forget to hashtag!
4. INTERNAL COMMUNICATIONS — Because you have a remote workforce, maintaining your firm culture is going to be challenging. That’s where a sound internal communications plan comes in.
Internal communication is vital for supporting messaging, reiterating purpose, providing information, and creating cohesion among workers. It keeps people tied to the culture of the firm and it improves morale.
Informed employees are engaged employees, and engaged employees are more productive, create better client experiences, and are more likely to remain with their employers. Cultural alignment, when properly communicated, strengthens the organization as a place employees love to represent, work for, and grow with.
5. MEASUREMENT — Pull data, consistently. Benchmark. Use social media engagement, SEO metrics, and website traffic to ascertain their behaviors. Then, tweak, change, and adapt your plan and content. Your performance is contingent upon seeking information, interpreting it, and changing course, as necessary. None of what you do can be effective unless you measure it. Remember, “Without data, you are just another person with an opinion” (W.E. Demmings).
As seen in Accounting Today.