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How to get started with marketing in your accounting firm. By David Smith on Mar 9, 2023


Fairly regularly I come across firms who for one reason or another have engaged a marketing consultancy. For many, this is entirely the wrong move. Few marketing consultancies understand the nuances of professional service firms. Many focus on things which might have some merit like brand and website but miss the core matters to be addressed when marketing professional services.

We all know that most business comes from personal referrals and personal reputation. We also know that there are significant opportunities to be unlocked in our existing fee base. To maximise these opportunities much of the marketing heavy lifting needs to be done by the practitioner themselves.

Blogs need to be written to highlight the knowledge and personality of the practitioner. A client needs review needs to be conducted requiring time to engage with clients. Seminars and webinars need to be run, speaking engagements need to be sought, referral partners need to be met, clients need to be asked for referrals, and prospects databases need to be built. A number of basic marketing initiatives need to be executed on a regular basis. Very few require the input of any significant marketing expertise.

Most firms are not executing these things on a consistent basis. To be effective these fundamental marketing activities need to be occurring month in and month out. Don’t expect any returns on the investment until you’ve been doing these things for more than 12 months. The investment firms need to make is in a marketing coordinator – an admin person with an interest in marketing. The coordinator gets out the baseball bat to “encourage” practice leaders to write the blogs, conduct the webinars, meet with clients and conduct needs reviews. With encouragement, the coordinator can organise the newsletter, post on social media, seek out speaking engagements for the leadership team and effectively manage the marketing calendar as a start.

The simple marketing calendar maps out all the activities in the year highlighting who needs to complete each task with due dates. This assists in keeping on track and provides a high-level view to ensure activities are spaced throughout the year.

Marketing expertise does have its place. Creative input is an important component so that websites, newsletters and promotional prices cut through and convey the essence of the firm. Assistance in developing some quality video content is worthwhile. Digital marketing (Google, social media, remarketing) is an important component and can’t be ignored. Every firm needs a digital marketing strategy. Use an expert to help you set it up and train your coordinator to manage it day to day. Periodically, get them to review and make suggestions. But don’t let the marketing consultants take over your whole marketing program.

Consider also some training for your team – how to ask for referrals; how to conduct themselves at a cocktail function; public speaking skills; how to conduct quality needs reviews are all skills that not only benefit the firm but make your team better professionals.

With the current labour shortages, a virtual coordinator could be the right move for many firms – you only pay for the projects and/or hours worked.

To be successful in your marketing time needs to be spent. The leadership group must make the commitment to a marketing strategy, the coordinator must manage it. Use the consultants sparingly. Own it yourself. You’ll be surprised by the results.

Smithink founder David Smith has spent over as a practitioner and as an adviser to professional service firms. His advice is not from a textbook but is practical down to earth suggestions that experience has shown to achieve results. If you would like to find out more about working with David in your firm, contact us. 

Andrea Ives has been working with Mark and David for more than 10 years coordinating their marketing. She has the capacity to help other firms. Click here to contact Andrea and find out more.


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