Writing content for any of your marketing feels really difficult.
Wording for your website. Social media posts. Emails. Scripts for video. PDF guides. Infographics. Case studies. Blog posts.
You want to get your point across, stay “professional” (what does that even mean??), be interesting and human, and appeal to your target audience.
Most of what we read from accountancy firms is all the same.
It talks about the accounting firm.
We’re modern. We’re forward thinking. We have a wealth of experience, are highly skilled, trusted, reliable. We have a team of however many people. We’re chartered or certified or qualified. We have this many people or offices.
It talks about the services.
Business advisory. Growth. Profit. Cash flow. Wealth management. Support. Outsourced bookkeeping. Payroll. Company secretarial. Management accounts.
It even talks about the issues.
Making tax digital. GDPR. Benchmarking and profitability. Self employment. Business structures. Tax planning. Succession planning.
You want the very best content. The kind that ultimately sells.
But you want to write the very best content.
The kind that is appealing and interesting and draws in the kind of prospects you’re dreaming of.
And you don’t know how.
You’re not be much of a writer, yourself. You find it difficult to put the right words and phrases together. You type for an hour and then read what you’ve written and realise it sounds like every other accountancy firm website you’ve ever seen.
There are emails and blog posts you read, and you think “Yes! That’s what I want to say!”…but it came from a company with a really cool product or a completely different kind of business, and you can’t make that work for accountancy firm services.
You’ve even tried writing about the issues and questions your clients face…but those seem boring, too. Every other accountant is writing about the right structure for your business, or tax for the self employed, or managing payroll issues for a certain number of employees.
This is a genuine concern, and I feel your pain on it.
It’s really hard to write great content, and I’m daily reading content from others and thinking, “Arghhh, that’s exactly what I wanted to say but they said it better.”
But there is one little secret I’ve got for you which will solve a LOT of your content-writing problems.
There’s a content available that you don’t even have to write.
Use the words your clients say.
Literally – word for word. Most of the time you can use exactly what they say, with no edits or changes or even spelling fixes.
Other times you can edit it slightly, borrow a phrase or a sentence, and incorporate it into the rest of your marketing.
I call it ‘marketing gold dust’ because there is no way you could say it better than they could.
Also, when you gather words that your clients say, then using those words will attract clients who are like them. They’ll think, “Yes that makes perfect sense to me” because it’s being said in their language.
Some of the ways you can use the words your clients say are: (I’ve used examples from PF marketing so you can see how we use them – the same applies to your own marketing!)
- Titles for blog posts – “If I already have the website template, can you fill in the copywriting?” – that was taken from a direct question that was asked of us. You can use questions or statements.
- Posts on social media – “I learned that the most valuable content is my own.” This was a statement made by an accountant in our Accelerator course, and we thought Jim put it a whole lot better than we could! It’s such a valuable lesson too!
- Quotes within a client success story – “Brand is more of a vision. It takes a lot of analyzing who you are, what your business is and what you want it to be. There’s really no point to even creating a logo until you understand what you’re all about.” This was a quote from Kevin, who went through a branding workshop and then got a brand & website designed via PF. We love that he not only got what he wanted – a brand with a rebellious feel that appeals to high net worth clients – but also learned about branding along the way. His words show that.
- Words on a website page – “Learn marketing. Do marketing. Get confidence.” These three phrases came up time and time again when we talked to members of our Accelerator coaching group. Getting marketing done. Building confidence. Learning more about marketing. They were repeated in many different ways, so we gathered them into one summary statement so accountants can understand how Accelerator is different from other “courses”.
Get into the habit of writing their words down.
Now, in order to do all this, you have to document like crazy.
You have to essentially become a reporter or a journalist : because you are not going to rewrite everything to “make it sound better” or “make it professional”.
1. When it’s spoken aloud, use any method to hand to document it instantly.
Your phone, a scrap of paper, the corner of an envelope, a Sharpie on the back of your hand. Do not wait until you get the perfect place to put it – dash it off instantly. While the person is still talking. Otherwise you will forget the amazing phrase, guaranteed. Marketing gold dust, lost in the river.
2. Copy and paste from emails, social posts, written content.
This is a little easier, because it’s already been written for you – but still, you have to do it instantly. Grab that sentence from the Facebook comment and save it into a note on your phone. Screenshot the reply on Instagram so you can write it out later.
3. Keep all this great raw material in one shared place.
Your scraps of paper and random notes on your phone, or emails to yourself, are all going to mix together and you’ll struggle to find it when you need it. Have one central place that you save all this powerful material so you can use it later.
I suggest Trello or Evernote or a Google document, but whatever works for you. Let me know what yours is!
4. Get the team to document like this, too.
When you’re doing it, you’ll gather quite a lot. When the entire team is doing it (two or ten or two hundred people), you will have more marketing content than you ever know what to do with. What a wonderful problem to have!!
5. You don’t need to apologise.
“Sorry, I just need to write this down, hang on.” You’re going to be tempted not to cut into the flow of the conversation because you want to write down what they said. Instead of going that negative route, go positive. “Wow, that was so amazing how you said that! Hold on I need to jot it down quickly – you said ‘I really didn’t realise an accountant was also an advisor’…” Remember, you’re using their amazing words to help others like them to get their problems solved.
Ask open ended questions, and then shut up and listen.
Your clients (or prospects) will say amazing things out of the blue. But if you find you’re not getting as much raw material as you’d like, make a list of questions you can ask. In every meeting or phone call, use one of those questions. You’ll get some incredible material from that.
For example, at the end of each 12-week Accelerator course, I have a video call with each member to talk about what they liked, what they learned, victories, and ideas for future groups.
These are my favourite calls of all. It’s so encouraging to hear of all their successes – and the words are truly marketing gold dust.
For this round of the Accelerator intake, almost the entirety of our marketing material – emails, social posts, blog posts – were taken directly from words our clients said.
Here are a few from the massive Google document we’ve created:
- The sessions were the best part of the month for me.
- At last year’s Xero Roadshow I was asked about marketing, and the first thing I thought of was this course. I think I actually used the term “game changer”, which doesn’t sound like me, but it is true!
- My favourite session was ‘campaigns’ – it was quite an eye opener to see what can be done with a small campaign and how all our marketing has to be more coordinated.
- Much of the programme was endorsement, confirmation, that it’s worth continuing the battle.
- I knew you cared.
- It pushed me to re-write my website to make it more personal, more human.
- I now write a blog every week.
- The marketing plan template has come into weekly use! It gave me the confidence to show partners exactly what marketing we’re doing, and when.
- It was a breath of fresh air. Instead of being “talked at”, I’m actually been talked to.
- I liked that you told us that the content has to be our own, not just generic bought in content. I didn’t see anyone else in Australia offering this.
- I didn’t think it was possible for an accountant to have a lot of relevant content until I joined the Accelerator. I filled a whole page with topics for blog posts! That broke down barriers for me.
- It’s comforting to meet others who are in the same boat, all eager to do better marketing.
- One of the reasons I signed up is, I’m an accountant. I don’t understand this, it’s out of my comfort zone to deal with sales and marketing… but I have to, because otherwise why am I bothering with this business at all!
- I happily do video now.
- You find out what marketing works best.
All of those quotes came from asking these questions to our members:
- What were the reasons you joined?
- What are your victories? (What did you DO as a result of the programme?)
- What was your favourite session? Any sessions that weren’t as useful for you?
- What would you say to someone who was considering it now?
- Who do you think it’s for? (or not for)?
- What do you want to do next?
I’d encourage you to make a list of open ended questions that you can choose from. Ask at least one of these questions in every meeting – and document the answer.
Wherever possible, use their words and phrases exactly as is. But if it does need a little tidying, you – or your marketing team – can do incredible things with this raw material, this marketing gold dust. From it, you can build great gold statues that impress far and wide!