This interview with Rachel Killeen appeared in Briefly, a weekly briefing by Chartered Accountants Ireland, in December 2017.
1. Is marketing worth the effort for accountants?
Marketing is getting in front of your client, at least once a year – to obtain their impression of your delivery and service, to clearly understand what they want from you for the coming year and to provide advice or insights to help them manage their business more cost-effectively. That sort of marketing is called ‘getting insights’. The more you understand the client, the more you can deliver exactly what they need.
Throughout the remainder of the year – you also want to keep in touch. You might want to impart information about the economy, or changes on your team, or tax laws, or VAT rates or how to pass on the family business, for example. Digital marketing is excellent for keeping clients informed. You may use social media, email marketing, newsletters or even YouTube videos. Digital marketing encompasses all of those – and your best bet is to choose one or two that work best for your clients.
2. What are some simple ways accountants can promote their businesses online?
One of the most popular methods of digital marketing is: Email marketing. Once you have obtained your client’s permission to send them emails, then it is great way to get relevant, useful and targeted messages through to your client’s desk.
If you use email marketing software, such as Mailchimp or Constant Contact, then you can test your emails, track them to see who opened them and track the response you get to emails.
Three important things to remember with email marketing:
• Convey your professionalism – with a design that is really clean, clear and attractive.
• Meet your client needs – with brief, informative and relevant messages.
• Use the human touch – address clients on email as individuals and be warm and engaging.
3. How important is social media when it comes to marketing your business?
Social media can be a useful marketing tool. Millennials are the group of influential and lucrative clients, who grew up with technology. They use social media to engage with the world.
As an accountant, you can benefit from using social media: It is engaging. You can observe the response you get, and it is great for attracting these tech-savvy Millennials. Facebook for business is particularly useful and cost-effective. Here are ways that you can use Facebook:
• To display photos of people and events
• To profile your team
• To talk about market developments and updates
• To show client case-studies and positive client feedback
• To show-case your clients and create opportunities for them to interact with your clientbase (always give something back)
• To profile awards, sponsorships, and moments that you are proud of.
Always make sure that your social media pages are directly relevant to client’s interests. Too much selling on social media turns everyone off.
4. What do you think the future of marketing looks like?
I mentioned that a whole generation of clients grew up with technology. They have an expectation from every professional that they deal with – that they will be online. Research shows that customers only want to do business with people that are online.
Accountants have to be online to meet the expectations of those clients. Online software is important – Millennials are not attracted to paper – they want a seamless online service. As the future unfolds, you may find your client meetings go online – via Skype or Facetime. Phone calls may change to ‘Online Chat’. You will have fewer brochures, more YouTube videos to profile your business. Your annual budget update might be an interactive webinar.
I’m also keeping an eye on the 3D Virtual World, for example, Second Life.
5. Will digital marketing replace traditional marketing, do you think?
There is definitely room for both traditional (newspaper, radio, TV, brochures) marketing and digital marketing. Traditional marketing works well for brand awareness. People see you in the paper, or hear about you on radio and then they check your professional profile online.
However, digital marketing is compelling, in that it costs less, it is more trackable and modern-day clients are there – online – and you need to be there to meet them.