A partner in a UK accountancy practice told me yesterday that they have decided to stop marketing this year. He explained that the firm had been prepared to invest in growing the practice, but their lack of success had cooled their enthusiasm. They had lost belief in their ability to earn a decent return from their marketing.
The practice had spent thousands of pounds on SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). The number of website visitors had gone through the roof. They were coming in at the top of search results for all their major keywords. The only problem was, and it was quite a substantial problem, they were not attracting any new clients.
When the partners voiced their concern to their marketing agency they were told, “We have done our job; look at the increase in your website traffic.”
I often hear of similar experiences that switch firms off marketing. The partners might devote their efforts to social media or Google adwords but no thought is given to what happens when the prospects reach their website.
It does not matter what route you take to grow your practice, inbound or outbound marketing, don’t lose sight that your goal is to win new business.
In the UK a lot of firms use telemarketing to make appointments with potential clients. The same problem often applies. They think that as long as they meet enough business owners the new business will come through. But just turning up is not enough.
A UK accountant complained after attending an appointment that he was asked how he could improve the prospect’s bottom line. He told me, “Patrick I do companies accounts, I don’t run their businesses for them.”
Sadly for them ‘doing companies accounts’ isn’t enough in 2013. If all you offer is a run of the mill, compliance service the only difference between you and your competitors is cost; and the lowest fee always wins.
Prove your Worth Upfront
If you do have something special to offer, you are proud of the difference you make, is that clear to see from your website?
Be it online, or face-to-face, you only build trust and credibility by understanding prospects’ issues and demonstrating the benefits you bring. You do not have to be quintessentially unique, but you cannot appear vanilla: just like any other firm. If your website does not offer quality content, helpful to your ideal clients, you are missing out.
Even if you are attracting loads of quality visitors to your site and your content is converting a good percentage of them into leads, your work is not over.
The vast majority of your visitors are not ready to get in touch and arrange a meeting. It is nothing personal, but the timing is not right. They might be frustrated with their current advisers but they have not had enough of them yet. When the time does come to find a new service provider, will they remember you?
You have worked hard to get your prospects email addresses and their permission to stay in touch. A gentle stream of follow-up emails, a regular blog will reinforce the value you can bring.
When they are ready to get in touch, you will notice a difference in their attitude. The trust your content has developed makes their interest stronger and your fee less of an issue. They will even expect to pay a premium price to work with such an expert.
Start at the End
In summary, whatever marketing approach always start with the end in mind. Focus on the Return On Investment and give your marketing the time it deserves to deliver the business.
About The Author
Patrick McLoughlin is the founder of Accounting for Growth, a UK based, full service marketing agency specialising in helping professional services firms grow through attracting their ideal clients.