Most accounting firms are actively trying to grow their client list through one marketing tactic or another. However, if you are avoiding the marketing for your accounting firm are you ruining your business? Many accounting firms rely on networking and referrals to grow their practice, which are still great tactics. However, many accounting firms have avoided other marketing tactics such as inbound marketing to grow their firm. The industry's lack of involvement with inbound has led me to believe that the accounting industry hates inbound marketing. Buy why? Many accounting firms avoid marketing their business for one of the following reasons.
Don't Know Where To Start
I would imagine the general perception of accountants is that they are introverts that don't like being creative or don't know how to be creative. Introverts that are not creative don't usually make good marketers, which is why marketing can be so difficult for accountants. Accountants like when things balance and there is only one correct answer. Unfortunately when marketing your accounting firm there is no one correct answer and that makes accountants uncomfortable. Many accountants don't understand where to start with inbound marketing therefore they avoid it and stick with the methods they have always used. Networking and referrals have always been and will always be a great way to grow an accounting firm; I am not challenging those tactics. However, if you avoid or disregard other marketing tactics like inbound marketing you are missing out on a whole lot of other potential customers.
Too Busy Servicing Clients
I hate it when people tell me they are too busy! Really you are too busy to grow your firm? Guess what I am busy as well but I make the time to market our accounting firm. Lack of time is one of the excuses that made my list of 4 piss poor excuses for not succeeding in business. When an accountant tells me they don't have time to market their services it tells me one of two things. They either don't want more clients or they should be working for someone else not running their own business. Making time to put towards growing your firm is absolutely essential if you want to grow a successful accounting practice.
Of course it is important to service your clients as well. However, if you don't have time to put towards growth oriented tasks then you have created a tough situation for yourself. You can stop trying to get new clients, but what happens if one of your clients leaves you for another accounting service? My thoughts are to always be growing in a manner that makes sense, staying in line with your long-term goals and is not overwhelming.
Too Far Behind The Competition
Another excuse I hear from business owners regarding marketing their accounting firm is that they are too far behind the competition. Yes, it can be difficult watching your competitor absolutely mop the floor with you in online marketing. However, does that mean you just give up and ignore inbound marketing? Is acting helpless and doing nothing better than doing anything? Just because your competition is winning with online and inbound marketing doesn't mean you can't compete. Find a niche market that your competitor has not gone after yet. Figure out a way to differentiate yourself from the competition and hit it hard with a strong marketing plan. Exploit the niche and dominate your competition in that one area no matter how small. The taste of success will make you want more and you will begin to look for other opportunities. Once you have found something that works repeat, repeat, repeat.
Boss Won't Buy Into Inbound Marketing
If you are not the main decision maker in the business then it can be difficult to get your boss to buy into inbound marketing. So how do you convince your boss that inbound marketing is the way to go? It can be a difficult obstacle to overcome. After all, your boss is most likely stuck in the old mentality that networking and referrals are the only way to grow an accounting practice (I want to again reiterate that networking and referrals are great). Most people do not like change by nature. Many are late adopters of new ideas and technology and need to be shown that it works before they will accept it. Ok, find the evidence you need by looking for case studies on other accounting firms to show that it's a viable piece to the business. Another option is to show your boss that inbound marketing can actually work for the business. A great boss will always be receptive to new ideas as long as you are willing to work on them in addition to your normal workload. If you believe strongly enough in the idea offer to work after hours on it for free. However, be sure to get a big pay day when it actually starts working.
Inbound Is A Fad
Is inbound marketing the next fad? That is quite possible; but marketing is always changing. Look back at the history of marketing a small business. Years ago outbound methods like cold calling and the yellow pages were tactics that small businesses used to market their business. While those marketing tactics are still used today there is no doubt that they are being used less and are not very effective for some small businesses. Saying that inbound marketing is a fad is just an excuse to not try it. It is an easy way for a business owner to dismiss the idea because they don't want to believe in it. I think it is a huge mistake to ignore inbound marketing because it is a tactic that is working for many small businesses.
There are a few things I love about inbound marketing:
1. Through effective inbound marketing you can attract customers that you want to work with.
2. You can put your business in front of an applicable audience rather than a random audience.
3. You can learn to do it effectively for your small business and it will only take time, not necessarily money. However, I find it more realistic to be ready to invest both time and money.
Neglecting the marketing for your accounting firm (or any small business) will do more harm than good. Saying that you don't need or want any more clients seems like a very risky move to me. Don't avoid your small business marketing just figure out a way to do it in a manner that benefits your business in the long-term.