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Updating the Marketing Message For Your Firm- Part 1: Where To Start

May 29, 2023
Janel Sykora

When was the last time you updated your marketing message? I know- tax season has been all consuming this year, but it’s over! Once your wounds heal, and you come up for air, it's time to focus on your business. And, as we navigate how to shift from compliance to advisory work, one of the most important steps in the process is updating your marketing message.

Not just tweaking a few things on your website...I mean a well thought through real deal update. Especially if you haven’t re-visited this in a few years. The shift in the entire profession was accelerated by the pandemic, and you can’t afford to get left behind with the clients that nobody else wants!

How people find you has changed, my friends. While referrals are still very important, finding the business you want is going to take a far more proactive strategy with a clear brand message.

A few facts...

If 85% of consumers conduct research online before making a purchase, how likely are your prospects to select your firm based on your website?

Wait, you get your business from referrals, you say? Guess what they’re doing before they call you…

There is a handy keyword tool you can check out called Ubersuggest. I typed in the phrase ‘accountant near me,’ today, and saw that the search volume for that phrase is 40,500. Say what?! Without going down the SEO path in this article, let’s focus on how the right message can help you stand out from your competition and attract the clients you want…many of whom typed ‘accountant near me’ into the search bar.

So...where DO you start?

I get it. You’re an accountant, not a marketer. But, you’re also a business owner in a very competitive profession. You need to stand out.

Start with a very simple ‘one-liner.’

A ‘one-liner’ is essentially a 10 second elevator pitch. It is what you- and anyone in your firm- says when you are at a networking event, a cocktail party, or anywhere that someone asks, “so, what do you do?”

“I’m a CPA” is not good enough. It doesn’t tell the listener that they have a problem, and you have something to solve it. In Donald Miller’s book called Marketing Made Simple, he outlines a way to craft a compelling one-liner.

Your one-liner should be a simple 1 or 2 sentence statement about the problem your ideal client has, your solution, and the result. It should be so compelling that it rolls off your tongue and off the tongues of everyone on your team. Why? Because it is a very simple way to turn everyone in the organization into sales people without feeling like they are sales people. More importantly, everyone is on the same page with a message that supports your culture and why you exist.

It can go in your email signature, on the back of your business cards, on your website, even your conference room wall if you want it there!

This is exactly where I start with clients who need help clarifying their brands and creating a comprehensive marketing strategy that delivers results.

Getting clear on your brand message

You wouldn’t be in business without the customers who pay you for your services. However, not all customers are ideal customers, am I right? Years ago, when public accounting firms were heavily focused on compliance work like audits and tax returns, your clients looked very different.

Today, small businesses are emerging from a global pandemic needing far more than tax returns and bookkeeping. They need consulting and advice from financial professionals who can proactively guide them to make smart decisions for their business and achieve their goals!

Your ideal customers are the heroes of your story. So, who are they?

You have to know them. Start by defining exactly who your ideal current clients and prospective clients are. What is their demographic? Profession? Industry? What do they fear i.e. how could they fail? What do they need to achieve success? Why would they need you? How does all of this align with what you offer and what your firm’s goals are?

Think of it this way. Imagine a prospective business owner that you believe would be a great client for your firm. Think about that person's business for a moment. They can find any number of people who can do the tax return. So, why would he or she pick your firm? Does Ms. Ideal Prospect know how to interpret financial statements? Maybe. Does she know how to use them along with other financial data in her business to plan her cash flow for this year? Or whether or not she should hire people? Make a capital investment? Change the business structure? Apply for loan forgiveness or tax credits? What industry is she in? How often does she want to hear from you? Does she expect to get a bill every time time she calls or emails? Or, does she prefer to pay a monthly retainer?

As a small business owner, it’s doubtful that Ms. Prospective Client opened her business because she wanted to interpret financial statements or strategize about how to minimize her tax liability and stabilize her cash flow. It’s also unlikely that she has the expertise to create a comprehensive financial strategy to hit her business goals. This is where you come in.

Clearly, she needs your advice and expertise. But, she needs to hear specifically and clearly how you can help her avoid failure or achieve a financial goal she has for her business.

It’s your job to craft a story that invites me in and guides me down the path to financial success in my business.

What's next?

Once you have clarity around your message to the world, the next step in your marketing strategy is to create a compelling content outline for your website.

Because your website is such a crucial part of your marketing strategy, I’ll be devoting the next blog post to it. Check out Part 2, coming soon, for tips on creating a content wireframe for your website that will drive new business and serve as part of a sales funnel to build your prospect list.

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