How to Develop and Market Your Accounting Practice

The question has to be asked. Why are some accounting professionals so “thick” when it comes to focusing on their strengths and marketing their own skills? 

There appears to be 3 mains reasons:

  1. Accounting professionals are terrible at marketing
    They have little experience in sales or marketing, and are usually lacking in people skills.  They are generally ineffective at marketing their services as a whole and as a result do not grow as much as they should.
  1. Accountants are local
    The old Bible saying that “a prophet is without honour in his own country” possibly holds true for accountants also.  Sadly many business clients feel that an expert has to be someone that comes from outside their local area. They miss the fact that their own local area has sound advisers who are specialists in their own right and can do just as good a job as the “outside professional”. And when the expert is from an outside larger more prestigious accounting firm, this biased thinking can definitely hurt the accountant’s ability to sell his or her own services.
  1. Accountants haven’t really changed
    Most accountants have not altered their thinking about their role in the overall commercial scheme of things.  More and more accountants are starting to move into the role of a trusted business adviser rather than simply a glorified type of bookkeeper that produces endless pages of financial reports.  Accountants now need to reframe their view of how to better help their clients because in the long run this is what will produce the best fees for them. It is no longer enough to be just an accountant per se. Accountants need to reinvent themselves. They need to focus on providing assistance to clients  for many areas that help clients successfully run and operate their businesses rather than simply providing once a year tax returns and financial accounts. Things have changed and the accountant that fails to change with it will be left well behind.

So how does an accountant overcome these challenges, which are very real? 
Here are a few specific and simple ways which could prove highly effective in handling this situation.

  • Hire a marketing expert. 
    If you are unskilled in marketing, seriously consider hiring or outsourcing this function to someone who has the expertise to develop and implement a proper marketing plan for you.  It has to be someone who has done it before and who has achieved results.  It is generally too much to ask that you change overnight from being an expert financial professional to an accomplished marketing specialist. If you cannot market your accounting and consulting services, hire a professional to do it for you.
  • Develop a mission statement.
    Make changes to how you perceive your own role.  This can partly be accomplished by writing a sound mission statement which focuses on your core values.  A simple statement such as; “ABC Accounting Services is in the business of helping clients increase their profits” could work wonders with potential clients.  If you can take a good mission statement and develop a specific plan that would support your statement, then all the better.
  • Develop relationships with other firms. 
    It is absolutely essential for you to establish relationships with other professional firms outside your area.  If this is done properly, it can be a great way for your accountancy practice to differentiate from others and you can leverage this relationship by working together on common strategies, such as marketing or promotions etc. A strategic alliance will give your clients the comfortable perception of the availability of a bigger accounting group that will be able to meet their needs, should input from more than one specialist be required.  Having a relationship with other firms will also result in referrals from those firms to you for clients who move into your area.
  • Use technology. 
    We all know that technology is moving at lightning speed. It is important for you to keep up to date with what is happening on the internet and software front. This includes knowing what is available on the market technology wise to assist clients with any matter in their business operations. This knowledge will contribute to your offering a better service and therefore an increase in your fees.  There is no excuse today for you not to have tangible value added services available to offer clients. You need to ensure that technology is used by clients to make things easier or work things faster in their businesses.  The focus on value added services to clients will not only increase the fees of your practice, but will also increase loyalty of the client to you.
  • Believe in yourself. 
    Look at your overall skills and abilities and see what you can offer to help your clients businesses. Believe that you are more than simply an accountant.  Believe that you have a vast amount of knowledge that will really help your clients, should they need help in various areas.  It means you have to change your thinking.  It means you cannot pigeonhole yourself any longer to what has been done in the past. If you resign yourself to a less important role with your client, this will be conveyed to them and they will treat you in this way.  How you view yourself and your practice will result in how fast and how effectively you can build your business. Make sure you hone in on what differentiates your practice from others in the marketplace.  Once you are able to identify this “edge”, or unique position, you will begin to concentrate more on building your practice, and less on overcoming the obstacles that arise.

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