There’s a lot that goes into running your own firm. Out of all the parts of your business plan, marketing may be the least understood for accountants.
A recent study of professional services showed that most accounting firms do not consistently invest in marketing, which limits their growth. Even before you register your firm, you should strategize how you will market yourself. How will your services stand out? How will you attract clients? How will you brand yourself?
In this guide, we'll share how to create effective marketing for your CPA firm that will set your business up for success.
Create your brand
The cornerstone of all marketing is a solid brand strategy. This is not just about creating a logo. Creating your brand strategy requires a lot of research. The strategy is about the personality of your firm and should include the following:
- Target audience – Who are your ideal customers?
- Market analysis – Who are your competitors and what are they doing? How are your services different?
- Mission, vision and goals – How will you position yourself in the market?
- Services – What’s your niche and what services will you offer to clients?
- Personality - How do you want your customers to feel about your firm? Are you warm and friendly? Are you traditional and formal?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you’re ready to start building your brand’s identity – this includes colours, fonts and logo, and eventually building your web and social presence. Doing this last means you’ll choose a style that clicks with your ideal customers and reflects what you’re providing to them.
This research is the foundation to your business’ marketing activities, and you may consider hiring professionals or someone on staff to guide you through this process and create the visual assets and copy for you.
Set out your marketing strategy
Your marketing strategy will help you reach your target audience and acquire clients.
At this stage, you’ll need to think about your target market, how to position yourself, what you need to provide and how you’ll sell your services. A marketing strategy also lays out tools and techniques that will be most effective in accessing your audience, like Google ads, social media ads and organic traffic.
As most marketing happens online these days, the foundation should be a great website. A good website should:
- Reflect your brand identity and be consistent with your ads and other marketing materials
- Be easy to navigate and answer common questions that prospective clients might have
- Include a clear call to action and contact information so that you can convert prospective clients into paying clients
While it may be tempting to get your firm on every social media platform, pause for a moment and consider which platforms are the right fit to reach your audience. Managing a social media account can be time-consuming, so you’ll want to be efficient and have an effective strategy to build your brand reputation and convert leads to clients.
Add value and create growth
Now that you’ve built your brand and set up your website, there are two ways you can let people know about your services: advertisements and content marketing.
Advertising can happen through traditional mediums of newspapers, tv and sponsorship, but more frequently firms now use online ads via Google and various social media platforms. These ads show up when someone does a Google search, visits a related website, watches a YouTube video or scrolls through Instagram.
This tactic is useful to increase brand awareness or get in front of your audience when they’re searching for a “CPA near me”. It can also be an effective way to start nurturing customers who are interested in your services, but not quite ready to commit. This brings us to content marketing.
Content marketing is where you add value, create loyalty and nudge people into becoming paying clients. Here are some examples of how you can provide useful content to your audience:
- Create email newsletters providing useful content or notification of sales.
- Host an educational webinar.
- Write regular blog posts related to your niche and your audience’s needs, both on your own blog and websites within your industry or network.
- Produce videos for YouTube or Instagram that answer frequently asked questions.
- Write a piece of thought leadership or an e-book.
- Offer quick tips on LinkedIn.
Both have a role in increasing brand awareness and generating leads. Your marketing plan provides an analysis of the marketing channels and activities you want to use to reach your audience. It can be overwhelming, but marketing is about trying new things, testing, and refining until you find what works best for you.
CPA Ontario protects the public interest by ensuring its members meet the highest standards of integrity and expertise.
Originally published on the CPA Ontario blog.