In the last few years, thanks to my involvement with the Clever Accounting software-as-a-service, I’ve spoken with a number of local accountants and bookkeepers.
We meet at business events where everyone would be focused on networking. Referrals and networking are two of the most common client acquisition strategies used by bookkeepers. A few also run small newspapers ads and publish listings on classifieds.
There is nothing wrong with these methods except that if, as a bookkeeper, you want to maximize the growth of your practice, then there is so much more you could be doing.
When I ask accountants whether they do any online marketing, they say, “Yes I have a website”. The reality is that having a website is not enough. It’s equivalent to having business cards; everybody has them.
So here are five things that can effectively help you get new clients for your practice.
1) Use Your Website to Develop Trust
In general, many business websites emphasize describing the services that are offered. However, a website should be much more than just an online description of your services.
In your website, make sure to prioritise credibility markers. Credibility markers are important because they make it easier for your prospects to trust you, and trust is often a significant barrier when choosing a bookkeeper.
Credibility markers include:
- Good Design (we humans tend to judge a book by its cover. If your website looks amateurish, then your business will suffer from that. You don’t need anything special, just a modern and clean design).
- Testimonials (text testimonials are good, but if you can include images or video that would be much better)
- Badges showing your memberships with professional organizations in your field.
- Certifications that you have achieved.
- Great Copywriting (hire a professional copywriter to help you communicate the value you deliver. It’s just a one-time fee and completely worth it. Great copy really makes people stand out).
- Transparency (say who you are in your ‘About Us’ and don’t hide behind a corporate brand).
- Make your contact and address information easily accessible.
- Link to your LinkedIn profile. If you have Twitter & Google Plus too, that’s great.
- If you have contributed articles or blog posts to other websites, magazines or newspapers, link to them from your website.
Keep in mind that if you want to be able to update your website on your own, make sure your website is developed using an easy-to-use content management system like WordPress.
2) Maximize your Google Exposure
One of the first things many people do when they require a service is they hop on to Google and start searching. This is where search engine optimization (SEO) comes in. Now, realistically speaking, SEO can turn out to be quite expensive. However, there are a couple effective tasks that as a bookkeeper you can do yourself.
- Submit your website to reputable online directories. These normally work on a local, regional or a national level. A directory doesn’t have to be full of prospective clients to be worthwhile. The great thing about directories is that they help you dominate your search engine rankings. If you submitted your website to three directories, when people search for your business, Google will display your website, probably a few social media profiles (like your company’s Twitter account), and your directory listings. This is much better than having Google show other web-pages not affiliated with your business.
- Use Google My Business so that you show up in Google Maps, among other places.
If you have some website expertise or if you work with an Internet Marketer (like me) then here are a couple more things you can do:
- Optimize the keywords on your website to make it obvious to Google & to your visitors what your website is about.
- Start some Google Ads that are targeted to visitors from your local area.
3) Start Blogging
Here are just two simple reasons why leading bookkeepers should have a blog:
- You can use your blog to answer common customer issues. Writing a blog post and directing clients to it when they have queries can save you time and helps educate your clients.
- A blog is a great way to remain relevant and in your client’s minds, whilst at the same time adding value.
Posting once or twice a month is completely fine. You can even outsource the writing to a freelance writer. You could find specialist bookkeeping writers for between $50 and $80 per article.
If you really want to stand out, consider recording YouTube videos. Very few bookkeepers do this and it is also great for SEO.
4) Use Email Marketing
Email Marketing is still the most effective type of online marketing. If you have a blog, it really is a no-brainer. To start out, ask your clients and business contacts to join your monthly newsletter. At the beginning of each month, send out a newsletter with the blog posts from the previous month. If you can add important notices or something humorous, that would be even better.
Doing this exercise could mean more referrals, more work that is sent on time, and eventually perhaps even higher fees. Again, many bookkeepers don’t bother with this and so it is a great way to stand out.
5) Focus Your Social Media Marketing
The first questions that come to mind when mentioning social media are “Should I have a Facebook Page? Should I be on Twitter? How often should I post? Is this is all worth it?”
The problem with social media is that it can be a big time-waster. Also keep in mind that not every medium is appropriate for a bookkeeping business. My opinion is that although there are a number of bookkeepers on Facebook and Twitter, the most important social network to be on is LinkedIn.
Using LinkedIn to expand your local network can be very effective. Join local LinkedIn groups and industry related LinkedIn groups. These are two bookkeeping LinkedIn groups that I like (this & this). Also be sure to have a 100% completed LinkedIn profile.
In the future, I’ll be expanding further on advanced tactics on how to stand out in LinkedIn.
The way I think of marketing is that it should be a value-add to the prospect.
Many people think of marketing as simply promotions and advertising, however, having an attitude of adding value to your prospects and clients can be very effective. It also makes the whole process of marketing easier to perform since you don’t have to be pushy.
What are your views on the above online marketing techniques? And how do you promote your bookkeeping practice online?
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