When your clients are screaming out for their accounts to be finalised, it’s very tempting to pull back on your marketing. After all – the thinking goes – if you are too busy to get everything done then it’s best to prioritise client work over everything else. However, the Catch 22 is that stopping your marketing often leads to a drought of good leads, and therefore, clients down the line. In this article, Heather Townsend, author and founder of The Accountants Millionaires’ Club gives her thoughts on how to keep your marketing going throughout the upcoming busy season.
Why it’s tempting to stop marketing when you are too busy
If you are sitting looking at a backlog of March and December year-end accounts and know you still have to make a dent in your personal tax returns, it is very tempting to stop marketing. After all, your marketing isn’t going to exactly help you pay your bills right now, or support you and your team to hit all of your pressing client deadlines.
I was talking to a potential member of The Accountants Millionaires’ Club recently and he had become concerned about the lack of new leads coming through. And you guessed it, they were a little short on resources and their blogging, and potentially their wider marketing activities, had been put on a six-month pause. That’s the reality of marketing. If you stop it or only do it half-heartedly, you will either put a handbrake on the number of referrals you can produce or stop the flow completely.
When you are too busy to market, your chosen route to market really matters.
When I talk with accountants I find fairly similar choices being made when it comes to lead generation for their practice. Every practice I have met will rely on a regular source of leads from client referrals and existing clients needing more services. However most growing small practices have at least one other route to market than referrals from clients. The typical channels to market accountants choose are:
- The holy trinity of inbound marketing: content, SEO and social media (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram)
- Networking and referrals, e.g. attending local networking events or a BNI/4N group
- Outbound marketing in the form of Google Adwords, Facebook ads or telemarketing.
There are pros and cons to each channel to market. However, the problem with networking and referrals is that you can’t easily outsource any of this to a third party or ask a more junior member of the team to help you out. Whilst networking may work very well for you as a route to market, it’s often the first thing an accountant will reduce when their workload shoots up.
Outsource your marketing
There is no law saying that you have to do your marketing in-house, or that an outsourced marketing person has to do all of your marketing. Outsourcing your marketing is a great way to maintain a constant level of marketing activity regardless of the level of client work needing to be done. There are some very easy wins when it comes to outsourcing your awareness-raising activities:
- Can you use a Virtual Assistant or Social Media Manager to help spread and schedule your content on social media, or make the initial connection and contact with prospects on LinkedIn, leaving you and your team to interact with your followers? Or could they help you post content onto your blog more frequently?
- Can you hire a content writer to help you and the team regularly produce content to share on your blog and across social media? A good content writer should be able to mirror the tone and voice of you and your firm.
- Can you work with an SEO expert in order to make sure your firm is reliably appearing at the top of the Google local searches and for your chosen niche?
Get ahead with your content
I know that the only way I keep up with the weekly grind of always having regular and fresh content on my blog is to write content in batches. That way I always have fresh content for my blog posts regardless of how busy I am during the week. There is no reason why you can’t refresh and republish a blog post which you wrote a few years ago either.
Reduce the intensity and frequency of your marketing activities
There is no rule saying you must blog weekly or be out networking twice a week. This is why I tell my clients to have a non-negotiable level of marketing activity, i.e. the lowest amount of marketing they can do without negatively impacting their lead generation.
For example, for you this could be that you still attend your weekly BNI meeting but otherwise only network online rather than in person over the busy season. Or you reduce your blog post output from once a week to once a month. Or you don’t schedule any client events, e.g. Xero training sessions, over November, December and January.
Remember the 5Ps
When you are too busy to market, it can be very helpful to remember the 5Ps. If you keep these 5Ps in mind you will never let your lead flow run dry. The 5Ps are:
Plan: Make sure you have a marketing plan which you and your team are committed to executing.
Prioritise: There is always more to be done when it comes to your marketing and business development. When you are too busy to market, prioritise the absolute essentials such as following up client leads and doing your non-negotiable business development activities.
Prospects: Always make sure you have a clarity on who is a good prospect and introducer for you and your firm. Prioritise spending time and effort on these people rather than the generic ‘local small business owner.’
Push down: What can you push down to your team in order to free up your time to maintain your business development activities? Could you interview team members to get content for blog posts?
Pace yourself: Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is your firm’s pipeline of leads. So, make sure you are giving yourself an achievable level of business development activity across the next 3 or 4 months.