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How the buyers of accountancy services actually buy

Dec 18, 2015

The more I work with accountancy firms on their marketing, the more I see how important it is that you continue to learn the power of content marketing for your own firm.

image2 And why this is more powerful than anything else you could possibly do.

It’s also a long term solution, as opposed to an easy win, so it takes time to build.

So today starts a series of marketing tips based around our new Content Marketer programme, which will be launching in February. (There’s more exciting news to come – if you’d like to make sure you get notified of programme details before it launches, click here.)

And before we launch into content marketing, and where your firm needs to begin, it’s important to go one step back.

Into the mind of the buyer of accountancy firm services.

First, I’m presuming that your accountancy firm wants to work with clients who are digitally connected and that you are as well (or are building your capabilities in that area now).  This means that your website, digital marketing, and cloud accounting are of the highest priority to you.

If that’s not you, none of this content marketing will really do you much good, and you may as well buy a few adverts and look for someone to buy you out in five years’ time.

Who is your buyer? 

Before you launch into content marketing, the first question you need to ask is around who your buyer is – not the generic ‘buyer of accountancy services’, but your own unique buyer.

We’ve covered niche marketing in previous marketing tips. Today your questions are for yourself and your team, about the kind of buyer you want to work with.

First, ask yourself: “Who are my favourite clients?” Who do you absolutely love working with?

Name that client in your mind.

(Don’t second-guess it – asking what I mean by favourite, in what way, etc. Just answer the first client who comes to mind.)

Now that you are thinking of that client in particular…

  • Why are they your favourite?
  • What work do you do for them?
  • What characteristics do they have?
  • What do they NOT do that you appreciate?
  • Where did they come from? (If a referral, identify who referred them to you).

Next, we branch it out a bit.

  • What issues or problems does that client face right now?
  • What issues have they faced in the past that you have helped solve?
  • Do you have any other clients in that industry?
  • Do you want more clients like this?

Next, go through the same process for two other categories:

  • Which client makes you the most money?
  • Which client have you achieved the best results for? (ie, saved tax, solved a problem, provided grant funding, etc).

Having all of this data is extremely valuable because your answers to those questions can begin to help you identify your buyer.

Why are they buying?

Now we move on to why they are connecting with an accountant in the first place, which means that it’s time to summarise their qualities and characteristics.

Ideally, you’ll open a note on your phone right now, or take out old fashioned  pen and paper, and jot down answers to these questions.

These are absolutely critical to answer about your buyer. If you know this, it’s marketing gold dust, and you can use it on your website, in your blog posts and emails, in social media.

1. What do they care about?

Ask yourself what matters in their life, and what they stand for. This is usually pretty major stuff, but it can also be small stuff!

Example: Their family. Saving money. Building an empire. Star Wars.

2. What kinds of things do they love?

Break this down to the small things.

Example: Hill walking. Apple products. Chocolate. Beer.

3. What do they hate?

Big or little frustrations in their business life. Ideally, you’ll identify “what they hate about accountants”, so that you can be the opposite of that.

Example: Wasting time. A new software they don’t understand. Promises. Not knowing how much tax they have to pay. Living life based on a bank balance.

4. What drives them absolutely crazy?

Go beyond hate and identify what drives them into a frenzy.

Example: Customers who buy the cheapest product and then complain. Unreturned phone calls. RyanAir.

5. What drives YOU crazy about them?

This helps you identify the buyers you don’t want.

Example: They arrange four meetings and then decide to do the work themselves. They send in their books two weeks before the tax deadline. They pay their bill, but always two months late. They ask for my advice and don’t take it.

6. How long is the lead time?

How long does a client like this usually take to make up their mind)?

Example: On average, from enquiry to signed agreement, it’s about three months.

How do they buy?

Now we get to the good part: when they consider themselves ready to buy (which may simply mean that they are ready to explore options), how does that process work?

This is an entire tip in itself, and it’s also a full hour’s webinar, so I’d suggest you watch the full training here.

The key points are:

  • They want an expert.
  • They check you out online (specifically, your website).
  • They use social media (particularly, Twitter and LinkedIn).
  • Even if they’re recommended to you by someone else, they still check you out online first.
  • They are more convinced by what others say about you than about what you say about yourself.
  • They view competitors differently than you do (75% of those you identify as competitors are not considered such by your buyer).
  • They want complicated subjects to be understandable.
  • They are willing to pay higher fees for the best expert.
  • They come when they’re ready (no sales pressure needed).

What do you need to deliver to help them buy?

So you have given thought to your buyer, your best kind of buyer, and how and when they buy.

Now what?

Well, the next step is to put the pieces together. You can do so in a variety of ways. Here’s an example:

  • If your buyer wants an expert, and uses social media, and their biggest issue is that they don’t like using software they don’t understand, then you need to provide software training online and share it via social media.
  • If your buyer is more convinced by what others say, and accountants who don’t reply in time drive them crazy, then share some quotes or videos on your site from clients who are talking about how fast your response time is.

You see how they fit? It’s like a perfect little puzzle.

We’ll explain all this in the Content Marketer programme I mentioned earlier, and help you walk through it step by step.