There are so many people who work with accountants. Consultants, coaches, apps, communities…the options to get support as you grow your firm are myriad, and it can feel confusing. Who’s out there to truly help you as an accountant? How do you distinguish the good ones? Are there people and companies who have chosen the accounting industry simply because they see it as such a lucrative industry?
When it comes to marketing, the decision gets even harder. Many of my conversations with prospects include a discussion about the bad marketing experience they’ve had in the past, and a hesitation on the part of the accountant as to whether PF will really help them. They want to believe it; everything sounds good; but they’ve been there before and have been burnt.
I get it. I really, truly do. The longer I own my business and the more accountants we serve on a global basis, the more connections I make with those who work with accountants. Some are amazing people whose values align with ours; others are a bit pushy and just want access to our list of accountants.
My philosophy always has been to recommend people I have come to know and trust over the years. These are people I know personally – as business owners, but more importantly I would call them friends. The kind of people I’d choose to hang out with whether there was a business reason or not. Some of them have stayed in my home, or I in theirs. We’ve traveled together and talked for many hours, sometimes at the weekend. We have mutual clients, and if an accountant asks we will recommend them highly.
They’re people whose heart is to serve, not to get something from you. Who are generous with their content and information, and go above and beyond more often than not. Who are there to help – even if you decide not to work with them. They don’t have egos, they’re extremely talented, and many of them have a kick ass product or community or both.
Many of them give marketing advice, ideas, and direction. Many of them also send accountants to us after they’ve given that advice, because they know PF exists to help accountants to actually get marketing done – the blog written, the video published, the social media accounts created and used, the website pages created. We’re all here to help you as accountants – and it’s always your choice who you work with and in what areas.
Here’s the list. In no order whatsoever. They’re all good.
(Please note: if someone is not on the list, that doesn’t mean we don’t trust them or wouldn’t recommend them at all. There are people I don’t know super well, but only a little, and I’ve excluded them from this list because I haven’t had the opportunity to spend loads of time with them yet, or I don’t have clients who work directly with them. If you’re ever not sure, drop me a line and ask. I’ll tell you what I think, or if I don’t know for sure.)
James Ashford, Founder, GoProposal
I met James before he was the well known industry leader he is today. He was helping Paul Barnes of MAP with their Infusionsoft systems, and together they were beginning to explore the idea of developing their own pricing tool for use at MAP. As GoProposal began to emerge as a whitelabeled proposal & pricing app for accountants, James had the decision before him as to whether he would exclusively niche in accountants, or do “all the things”. I voted for the exclusive niche – partly because I’ve seen it be so effective in my own business, but also because I saw in James and Paul and in their product something incredible. I knew he was on to something and it was going to be revolutionary (even disruptive) for accountants all over the world.
What I didn’t realise then, but have come to see over the past few years, is that James is one of the most sincere and generous people I’ve had the privilege to know. He shares his ideas, his documents, his processes. If he shows something on a webinar and people want it, he sends it to them. He learned long ago that you can give away information endlessly because it’s implementation people pay for. I remember telling him about an idea we had, and how I was nervous to share it in case someone else picked up on it and did it faster or better than I did. He said, “Karen, you could literally write out the entire blueprints and hand it to someone else, and they could start today: and they’d still be six months behind you. They wouldn’t have your knowledge, your experience, and your track record. Don’t worry about what others are doing: just give, and keep giving.” James does that, and hasn’t wavered from it in the years I’ve known him.
His product, GoProposal, is a powerful tool: but it’s not the software that has the greatest impact. It’s the pricing methodologies behind the software. When James shares his story, he always says, “We set out to build not a sales tool, but a sales culture – so everyone in the firm could quote, anytime, on anything, and be consistent.” He’s done that, and the accounting firms I know who use GP are doing it too. It’s a beautiful thing.
Jason Blumer & Julie Shipp, Blumer CPAs and Thriveal CPA Network
I’d heard of Jason for a long time before I connected directly with him. He seemed to pop up everywhere in my social feeds, in conversations with accountants in the States, in anything related to entrepreneurial accountants. His distinctive Harry-Potter-glasses naturally made me figure he was a pretty cool guy, but over the last two years I’ve come to know him and his partner Julie even that little bit better, and everything I see, I like.
Jason and Julie have a servant-hearted approach: giving to the point of sacrifice on their own part. They run an accounting firm, Blumer CPAs, as well as Thriveal CPA Network, which is a community for accountants. Specifically, “entrepreneurial, creative, risk minded accountants”. Jason has been honest about how Blumer CPAs is a sort of ‘lab’ to test out and prove the concepts he shares with his community – so he’s not simply telling accountants to try things; he’s doing it himself and letting them know how it went. “Sometimes we break things,” he said at Thriveal’s recent event, Deeper Weekend, “and we tell you what we learned so you don’t have to go through that.”
Jason is often found speaking on marketing topics, too. Some of his Thriveal members are also PF clients, and we often recommend accountants join their community (particularly in the USA and Canada).
Rudi Jansen, Accountants’ Coach
Rudi is one of those people whose name kept coming up for years, and we began to realise it was coming up in connection with accountants who were doing good things. Who were open minded, risk takers, willing to try, eager to take responsibility and involve their team in marketing. We have several mutual clients and when they take Rudi’s advice, their firm benefits as a result.
Rudi has recently bought several accounting firms. Like Jason he is creating a little ‘lab’, proving his concepts in real accounting-firm life.
I’ve been slowly getting to know Rudi a little better over time, and the recent QuickBooks Connect conference was another opportunity for that. We sat at the back of the bus on the way to the finale dinner talking about a particular opportunity Rudi is working on, and unsurprisingly I found his take on all things marketing to be completely spot on. He’s a good judge of character, and takes a solid gut-plus-data approach to firm growth.
This is a company rather than a particular individual, but that’s because we’ve found in working with this company that every person connected with them has a giving, serving attitude and really cares about helping accountants.
The thing we like about Rocketspark is the way their product is so ridiculously easy to use for accountants. SquareSpace is a bit more well known, but in our experience although the SquareSpace websites are quite impressive visually, some of our clients have struggled to make them do what they want them to do – whereas nothing is impossible with a Rocketspark website. For some more complex things you might need to get their developers to write you some custom code, but they can do it and they are happy to. We’ve had nothing but positive experiences with the Rocketspark team and product.
Some of our accountants who have smaller firms or aren’t ready yet for a full-blown custom built website with PF, have actually built their own site within Rocketspark, using the knowledge and training they got from our 12 week Accelerator course. Now that’s impressive.
Will Farnell, Founder, Farnell Clarke
Will is the author of “The Digital Firm”, and of the creator of the 10 elements of a digital firm. I’ve known him for several years and have always been impressed with what he’s done with the Farnell Clarke firm. In recent years Will has begun working with other accountants, sharing his journey and successes and failures. His book is very honest about some of the failures, which I found refreshing!
As I’ve come to know Will better personally, I’ve seen that giving, generous spirit we think so highly of here at PF. He is continually thinking of how he can do more to help accountants – how he can say it and show it and keep learning to benefit them. He’s someone who is described by multiple people as “having a heart of gold”, and I would have to say I agree.
Ashleigh Lambert, Marketing Manager, Xero
Over the years I’ve met and worked with many different people with varying roles at Xero. They’re all friendly, warm, and helpful. Ashleigh’s approach stands out even amongst all of those, not only because she’s focused on marketing, but because of her understanding of how marketing works. She has a deep knowledge of content marketing principles, and a remarkable ability to communicate marketing concepts to accountants in a way that is easily understood, whilst not patronising.
She recently spoke at a series of eight Xero roadshow events throughout the UK, and I was so impressed with her presentations that I recommended her as the speaker on behalf of Xero at our client’s recent BITE event in Carlisle – a mini-Xerocon for their small business clients. Ashleigh shared with me that it was the first time she had spoken to an audience of non-accountants, and yet I wouldn’t have known if she hadn’t mentioned it. She brought out the “people” aspect of technology: with reminders that the whole point of tech is to help us build better person to person relationships!
I always love running into Ashleigh at any Xero event, and if you’re a Xero partner who needs help with your marketing, do talk to her.
Emma Fox, Owner, Fresh Financials
Emma is another person who runs her own firm as well as advising others – in her case, it’s bookkeeping that is her focus. (You may be starting to see a trend here – the people who are the most trustworthy, the most helpful to accountants, are often the ones who are literally standing in your shoes. So they get it.)
Emma has always been keen to explain her concept of “bookkeeping, reinvented”. Bookkeeping can be seen in a slightly negative light by some business owners and indeed some accountants – as if it’s the “lesser” cousin to the true accountants. Emma’s firm proves that bookkeeping is powerful, useful, and helps small businesses actually grow: the very heart of good accounting.
In the past year or so Emma created Fresh Bookkeepers as a way to help other bookkeepers who were sending in questions. How did she do it? How does she run Fresh Financials so well? What does she charge? How does she use social media? If you’re needing help with your bookkeeping business, Emma is the one to talk to.
Chris Marr, Founder, Content Marketing Academy (CMA)
Chris is one of the exceptions on this list as he doesn’t work exclusively with accountants: but that’s all the more reason to include him and his community, CMA. I encourage accountants to look beyond the accounting industry, beyond other accountants, beyond the comparison game. Hang out with small businesses, non-accounting businesses, freelancers and outsourcers even. Look at the cool things they are doing and think, “Could I do something like that in my firm?”
Chris has a content marketing community that is built around business owners who want to be personally involved in their own marketing. They want to write content, evaluate analytics, share ideas, and try things (sometimes just for fun!).
Together Chris and I ran a marketing masterclass on the 4 areas that affect accountancy firm marketing – and his insights were very well received. He’s also the one who introduced me to the one and only Marcus Sheridan, author of “They Ask You Answer”.
Jonathan Fox, Founder, Foxability
I can thank Jonathan for introducing me to Chris Marr. I’ve known Jonathan as long as I’ve known Emma (and if you noticed the similar surnames, yes, Jonathan is Emma’s husband). Jonathan has owned his own company helping businesses use IT and tech well, and thanks to his personal connection to Emma and her tribe, has recently rebranded as Foxability – focusing exclusively on Xero partners who want to make good decisions about the apps they use and recommend to their clients.
Jonathan is one of the loveliest people I’ve had the privilege to meet. Kindness just breathes out of him, and yet as Brad Smith would say, “Don’t mistake kindness for weakness”. Jonathan is sharp and strategic in his approach, and has a clear structured process for helping accountants define their app advisory journey.
He completely gets the content marketing thing, and we’ve even had the privilege of working with Jonathan on some of his own content and brand messaging. It’s been fascinating to learn more about his approach and see how valuable it is for accountants.
Enjoy connecting with these excellent people. And here’s to great marketing!