It seems to me that the accounting industry hates inbound marketing. One thing is for sure, the accounting industry loves money and growth; they just don't like the process of finding new clients. Maybe it is not so much that the accounting industry doesn't like the process of finding new clients; probably they are just hesitant on the new methods to attract clients to their firm. Maybe they are afraid that the other partners may look down on their tactics. "Hey what's up with Sullivan trying these new methods of attracting clients? Who does he think he is?" The fact is that much of the accounting industry has fallen behind regarding how they should market to their customers. Many accounting firms are stuck in their old ways and they hate the current state of marketing; here is why.
Old School vs New School Accounting Growth Tactics
Much of the accounting industry is still relying on old school methods to grow a firm; and they still work. I think that most firms rely on networking and referrals to grow. I'm not saying these are bad methods; believe me we do a lot of networking and get a ton of referrals. But what is it about networking and referrals that you dislike? If you have the same mentality as me it is that getting referrals is inconsistent, unreliable and something that you have no control over. Sure you can network and continue to offer outstanding customer service to your clients but that may not result in a referral this week. You may get 5 referrals this week and then none for the next month.
So now inbound marketing for accountants enters the picture, but most firms are hesitant to even try it. The fact is they are falling behind; rapidly. When I get to the core of why most accounting firms don't use inbound marketing to attract clients it is because most small business owners believe inbound marketing is a waste of time; it is a fad and will die just like the yellow pages. While that may be true I don't think that inbound marketing will be obsolete any time soon. It is not that networking and referrals don't drive new customers, it is just that accounting firms are missing out on all kinds of new customers due to their resistance of using inbound marketing to attract new customers. Inbound marketing is an active, not a passive activity to drive business. I can write a blog, develop an eBook or design an email campaign to target specific customers and attract them to our firm.
Show Value In Numbers Not Pictures
So why don't accountants buy in to inbound marketing? I would say for the most part the presentation is just off. Marketing firms just don't know how to market to accountants to get them to believe. What do you know about accountants? For the most part they get numbers, they are very good with their business and personal finances and many are risk averse. Additionally accountants in general are probably not considered the most creative people right? So what needs to happen is you need to put marketing in their terms.
We recently worked with a consultant that is helping us detail out some of the processes we are struggling with. So he told us to write out each process in great detail, step by step. We thought sure no problem. So we detailed out our process in Microsoft Word with nice headings, bullets list etc. Our consultant said "good now put it into a visual bubble chart." We failed miserably. It didn't resonate with us and it took us far too long. So what does this have to do with marketing for accountants? In order to show an accountant the value in inbound marketing you need to put it in their terms. Not visual charts and pictures of sales funnels but spreadsheets, a process and statistics. Accountants understand numbers not pictures so you need to put it in their terms.
Partners Get Sales But Employees Don't
Another interesting thing about the accounting industry is that partners get the big picture and employees may not. The accounting industry needs both partners and employees; partners to sell and employees to do the work. This is not unlike all other industries because there are salesmen and those that deliver. Most accountants don't want anything to do with sales. They want a client assigned to them, a pile of paper, a tax return, a bookkeeping client etc. They don't want to find the clients they just want to do the work. That is great because every accounting firm needs workers as well as those that want to find new clients. Small accounting firms usually don't have partners they have owners. The owner of an accounting firm needs to understand that their primary job is to sell accounting services, not do accounting.
What I need?
So why the heck did I write this article? For a little while now I have been contemplating adding a service to our business where we help other accounting firms grow. Primarily I want to focus on helping other accounting firms with inbound marketing, sales and general growth plans. So I'm taking one small accounting business right now that wants to grow. If you know an accounting business that wants to grow sales significantly have them email me directly.