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Why online marketing means accountants don’t have to sell anymore

Apr 22, 2014

Selling.

Most accountants avoid it like the plague.

Great news: You’re absolutely right to do so. 

The world is not changing. The cloud is not emerging as a way to do business.  Social media is not a groundbreaking new platform for getting business.

Everything has already changed. Online marketing is marketing. The cloud is just a thing, a part of our world.  Social media is no longer groundbreaking.  If you can see the bandwagon, the saying goes, then you’ve missed getting on it. 

And the prospects of this already-changed world are not going to listen to, or read about, you proclaiming how great your accountancy firm is.  They want to hear you talk about them. About their needs, their interests and problems, their business, their life. Read my post about how your prospect searches for an accountant now. 

So what does this have to do with selling? Why do you get off scot-free on the selling thing? 

It’s not even marketing, it’s education.

The way we understand ‘marketing’ means that in spite of all these changes we’re still tempted to think it is us talking about us.  But that’s not what your prospects want. So instead of selling services to your prospects, you’re educating them about:

  • The problems and issues they face
  • How to solve them
  • Tips and helpful advice
  • The expertise you have in solving those problems

Online marketing is about sharing & giving.

No longer do you give teasers and publish adverts and create leaflets that draw people in to your services. In many ways, you give everything away before they’ve paid a dime (or five pence, or whatever). You share ideas. Give away templates. List out how exactly things should be done.  And instead of reducing the business you get, you increase it.  Because especially when it comes to accounting and tax, the more they read, and the more you share, it becomes quickly obvious to your prospects that it’s far too complicated for them to do on their own. They need an expert. Someone who knows what they’re doing. Someone who has been there, done that, a hundred or a thousand or more times. They need you.

Online marketing is a two way conversation

 Gone are the days when you would publish testimonials on your website, picking out the ones you like and casting aside the ones you didn’t.  Social media empowers the consumer to be in charge of their own choices because they’re getting “the real story”.  It puts the prospect in the driver’s seat, because you just do your thing while they look around for what they want.  And it doesn’t allow businesses to get away with anything – all someone has to do is tweet about an email received, or share a video of customer service gone right or gone wrong, or write a blog post about an experience they’ve had.  Good or bad, it’s all out there for the world to see. (link to linkedin response from recruitment lady)  Many accountancy firms are a little afraid of this, but I would give you the same advice I used to give organisations when I was an auditor with the State of Arizona.  “If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear.”  If your business runs with integrity and you fix things when they go wrong, that will be blindingly obvious to everyone who has anything to do with your business.  And if they don’t like that, they don’t have to do business with you.  It goes both ways, too. Recently, on Twitter, there was someone looking for a new accountant, and so we recommended one to him.  His following ten tweets were rude, accusatory, and bitter about his previous accountancy firm.  Instead of making them look bad, he just made himself look bad.  Our client, of course, chose not to bother staying in touch.  

You are selling to hot prospects, not warm or cold ones.

 If you’ve done your online marketing right, then when you do get to what you know as the ‘selling’ part (sitting in front of a prospect or talking to them on the phone), they’re not only warmed up, they’re ready to go.  They have watched a video, listened to a podcast, attended a webinar, downloaded an ebook, followed your blog posts, shared ideas with you on Twitter.  They know more about you than you even realise – and what’s best of all, he (or she) likes you already.  The prospect who has gone to all this bother is not going to actually meet with you unless they really want to.  So you don’t have to sell anything to him.  He is ready to buy – you just have to direct him to the best option for him. 

There’s no pressure.

Beautifully, when you follow this process, everything sits in the prospect’s court. You’re under no pressure to make sure you get the business, increase your fees, upsell more.  As a recent (hubspot? Hinge?) report revealed, prospects of professional service firms are saying, “I don’t want to be sold to. Have a good understanding of my situation, then sit down with me and lay out a detailed solution. Show me how it’s worked before.” 

Doesn’t that sound wonderful?