Marketing for Accountants in 2017: Your Guide to Success
Employment opportunities may be bleak these days for some professions, but there’s good news for accountants. According to the US Department of Labor, statistics show that senior accountants, financial analysts and other industry specialists are the most in-demand professionals across the country.
So how can you build awareness for your accounting firm and get your share of the business in 2017? There are many marketing strategies you can use. In fact, a 2016 survey from the Content Marketing Institute found that the best B2B marketers use an average of 15 tactics.
But you don’t have to be an expert marketer to get started with accountant marketing. Here are some accountant marketing ideas you can use on and offline to catch attention in 2017.
Catch attention offline
These days, offline brand marketing for accountants is often underrated. But I’m a firm believer that a complete marketing strategy should include a healthy mix of online and offline tactics. Here are some offline accountant marketing ideas to catch attention in 2017:
Networking at face-to-face events is an effective marketing tool. In fact, content marketers rate in-person events as their most effective marketing strategy year after year:
So look for opportunities in your community to get face-to-face with potential clients. Ask them questions. Learn about their business. Take a look at your local paper or business journals for opportunities to network with your community, such as a chamber of commerce meeting. You can also sponsor local events to put a face to your name.
In addition, you can take your in-person marketing up a notch and start participating in conferences. Look for conferences that fit with your target market (finance). Then you can set up a booth, offer a free financial workshop, or submit to be a speaker.
Attending conferences may seem like overkill for accountant marketing, but they really work to help build awareness of your business and generate leads. Collect email addresses at the event; then follow up with your contacts in the digital sphere.
Referrals are one of the most powerful marketing tools for accountants. You probably already gain some of your clients this way.
Referrals work so well because the marketing message comes from someone people trust. According to a 2016 Nielsen poll, 82% of Americans seek these kinds of recommendations.
So if you haven’t developed a clear strategy to get referrals in your accountant marketing, now’s the time to start.
There are two main ways you can increase your referrals:
- Business referrals
Build a relationship with other companies and work together to promote each other. Ideally these business partners would be from a related field -- referrals from the car wash next to your office might not be too valuable.
Still, you should target businesses around your physical location as well. People who visit these locations might see it as convenient if their accountant is right next door.
Create business referrals organically, or consider joining BNI International to network for more referrals.
- Client referrals
You can also ask your current clients to refer their friends and family. Just make sure you’ve earned it first before asking. You don’t want less-than-satisfied clients discussing your business with others.
And don’t make the mistake of saying something like this:
“Business is so slow. Could you refer me to some of your friends?”
You don’t want your current clients to get the impression that your business is on the rocks. If they ask, “How’s business?” say something like:
“We’re doing great, but always looking for more! Do you know anyone who needs an accountant?”
“Encouraging reviews” straddles the line between offline and online accountant marketing. But the reality is, most of your business and client referrals are probably Googling you before walking into your office.
Encouraging happy clients to give you an online review actually works best as an offline strategy. You can include a little CTA in your paperwork, e.g. “If you’re happy with our services, please leave our firm a positive review!”
But the most effective way to encourage people to actually take action is by asking them directly.
You’ll want to cover all the major sites, like Google Reviews and Yelp! But don’t forget niche-specific accountant review sites.
Having lots of positive reviews will help you convert more referrals into clients from your in-person accountant marketing efforts. When they decide to Google you, your Google Reviews appear right in the search results!
Catch attention online
Nearly 3.5 billion people use the internet, but your target audience is a fraction of a fraction of that. Wasting your energy marketing to anyone and everyone won’t drive results.
If you want to catch attention online from the right people, here are some accountant marketing ideas to use.
Local search engine optimization (SEO) is a great way to target people in your area that are using a search engine to find accounting/financial information.
To start, you’ll need a website for your business with pages for all your different services. Then you can start optimizing for location-specific keywords, such as:
- [Your town] accountant
- [Your zip code] CPA
- [Your neighborhood] tax services
Follow SEO marketing for accounting best practices and include your target keyword in:
- Your page title
- Your page URL
- The text on your page
- Your image alt text
- Your anchor text (hyperlinks)
You’ll also need to set up a profile with Google My Business. Without a profile, your firm won’t appear in Google’s “local pack” search results that appear above organic listings:
Make sure your Google My Business profile shows:
- Accurate office hours
- Your address and phone number
- Photos of your business
- The right business categories
Google uses all this information to return results for location-based services. If someone searches for “tax services near me” and your profile doesn’t have an address, it won’t appear in results.
You should also check how your business listings appear across the web. Are your name, address, and phone number (NAP) consistent on Yelp!, local directories and other places?
It’s important to keep your NAP consistent, because Google uses this information to determine the legitimacy of your business. If your business appears as “John Smith, CPA” one place and “Jones Accounting Associates” another, Google will trust your business less and reduce its rank in search results.
Create content related to your industry to attract traffic to your website and help you build a relationship with potential clients. You can create:
In fact, content marketing leaders get 7.8 times more site traffic than non-leaders.
- Blog posts
- An ebook
- Podcasts or webinars
- And more
Content marketing isn’t about promoting your business specifically. Instead you create content that answers people’s common questions about finance and accounting.
You can also position your business as an authority in the industry to build prestige. Take a look at Peterson Sullivan LLP’s “Thought Leadership” section of their website for accountant marketing inspiration:
Content marketing also helps your business build trust and gain interest from potential clients who have yet to decide if they really need an accountant.
For example, you can host a free webinar inviting people to ask finance-related questions. People are likely to respond to this because it offers them something of value for free. On your end, it shows prospects your skills and expertise without marketing to them directly. Content marketing actually improves SEO as well. The more pages you have on your site, the more opportunities you have to rank in search engines. Optimize your blog posts for local keywords and market your content other places around the web.
Social media is another great way to build a relationship with potential clients online.
Here’s how you can use social media for your accountant marketing:
- Set up your profiles
Set up profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and any other social media platforms you think your prospects might frequent.
Each platform will have different benefits. LinkedIn will help your business look professional, while Twitter is a great platform for quick engagement. Facebook is a great place to nurture leads that are already interested in your business.
- Join the conversation
Join in conversations surrounding your niche. Use popular accounting hashtags. Here’s a great guide I found to popular accounting hashtags, like #auditorproud:
Ask questions to engage your audience and join in social media niche groups (LinkedIn Groups, Facebook Groups, etc.). Discuss, offer advice, and be helpful in your social media interactions.
- Market your content
Social media is also a great opportunity to market your blog content and draw people back to your site. Again, use relevant hashtags. Post images and interesting quotes from your content to encourage clicks.
You should also start using a social media automation tool to help you share your content at optimum times. Here are a few popular ones:
These tools will also give you helpful analytics about how your different posts are performing. Which content types are bringing the most traffic to your site?
If you take your social media marketing strategy seriously, the possibilities are endless. Take some social media inspiration from Cathy Iconis of Iconis Group bookkeeping firm.
She created her own QuickBooks tweet chat using the hashtag #QBOChat to help answer people’s common questions about using the tool for bookkeeping.
Her chats became so popular that QBO Chat now has its own website that is sure to increase referrals to Iconis Group:
There are a lot of advertising options you can take advantage of to grow your business online. Here are a few advertising accountant marketing ideas you can explore:
- Google PPC
Pay-per-click on Google search is a great supplement to organic SEO. Use Google Ads to target specific keywords people search for in Google. Then your ads will appear in front of the most relevant audience possible -- people who are actually looking for your services:
And the good news is you only have to pay for ads that people actually click on.
- Google Display
If you create Google display ads (again, through Google Ads), you create targeted ads that appear on websites around the web.
Google has a network of partner sites that display the ads. You get to create your own parameters for what kinds of sites your ads appear on.
Google Display ads are great for remarketing campaigns. You can target your ads to people who’ve actually visited your site before.
For example, if someone visited your website but didn’t book an appointment, a cookie is placed on their web browser. Then when they visit another Google display network site, they see an ad attracting them back to your accounting firm.
- Social media ads
You can also create targeted accountant marketing ads on social media platforms. On Facebook, for example, you can create remarketing campaigns similar to Google Display Network.
The great thing about marketing for accountants on social media is that you can target very specific demographics, such as a certain location, age group, or interest categories.
You can also boost your posts featuring website content using Facebook’s Boost a Post or Twitter Promoted Tweets.
Some other social platforms like Pinterest and Stumbleupon have started up paid advertising options, but right now they’re mostly for giant brands with huge budgets.
With Facebook and Twitter in particular, any size business can attract leads and get a good return on their investment if they do it right. Both platforms allow you to completely control how much you pay per 1000 ad impressions or per click.
They also offer amazing analytic features to help you really understand how the ads are performing.
- Native advertising
You can also look into native advertising options with the platform directly. One of my favorite finance-related native advertising examples actually came from H&R Block on the Onion:
Native advertising is a great option for any kind of business. People tend to get annoyed by direct advertising, but promoting your content is a subtle way for your business to attract attention.
I know many accountants struggle with marketing themselves. It’s not what you entered this profession to do.
But even if accountant marketing isn’t your forte, there’s a lot you can do online and offline to build awareness for your business. And if you need help, get in touch with a marketing agency that focuses on marketing for accountants.