You have great employees. You’re outsourcing. You’re a wizard at accounting itself. And none of it matters because you have no clients. No matter how much some accountants might shudder at the thought, marketing is not a side-project but an essential part of your firm’s future.
Marketing costs time and money. And you might think that you simply can’t afford the time to do the marketing yourself and/or hire someone to do it for you. But that thinking is incorrect. Marketing money and time doesn’t go outwards; it’s money you’re spending inward into your firm, just the same as upgrading your software or hiring a new specialist.
That being said, what do you do if you’re a brand new start-up and you just straight up don’t have the money? It’s time to get the word out that you’re the expert accountant when it comes to something. Anything at all.
Becoming the go-to accountant
Choose a field or an industry. Maybe it’s General Practitioners because your sister is a doctor. Or perhaps it’s restauranteurs because your significant other is in the business. These scenarios will start you off with some insider knowledge and contacts.
Then again, you could research your town and see what industry doesn’t have a firm dedicated to its financial woes – perhaps nobody has made an effort towards putting together a comprehensive plan for start-up mom-and-pop businesses.
Whatever the case, your goal is to find that underserved niche and become the recognised expert accountant that serves people in that field.
How do you become known in the field without laying out a lot of money?
First, we’ve talked before about joining social networks – already existing groups on LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. If a group related to your chosen niche doesn’t yet exist, start one.
To be clear, these social media groups are not for accounting, but instead revolve around helping people in your niche industry get to know each other and, more importantly, get to know you as the guy or gal who gives out awesome accounting advice. So your new group wouldn’t be called “Melbourne Accounting Group”; instead you’d name it more along the lines of “Melbourne Start-up Support Group”. You would just happen to be the one giving all of the accounting-related info within that group.
Write a book
You can collect the accounting wisdom you’ve given out in bits and pieces and A) write a book and B) form service packages that helps people in your chosen niche deal with all the accounting woes they’re facing as they get their business up and running.
If writing a book sounds daunting, it’s honestly not that bad. People are coming to you for direct how-to advice so you don’t need to be Shakespeare – you just need to put down your advice in a clear and followable manner.
Amazon has book templates you can download so you don’t have to do any formatting. You can hire an editor if you want for a couple of hundred bucks, and a graphic designer for about the same amount. You can even hire ghost-writers to do the writing – you provide the info and the final quality check, the ghost-writer does the actual word-crunching.
Create niche-oriented services
Service packages are exactly what they sound like – you create a selection of your services geared towards helping people in your niche collected under one price.
You can offer different tiers of packages, steering people towards the one that brings in the most money for the smallest amount of effort on your part (make one of the packages a bit too expensive so your preferred package looks more attractive in comparison – sell them on the silver package instead of the gold).
Give talks and seminars
The next step – give talks to the locals in your chosen industry. These can possibly be free at the beginning, or you ask for just enough from each participant to cover the cost of renting a room. You hosting and/or giving a talk automatically lends you the air of expertise and authority. As you grow you can start raising your prices.
If your business is mostly remote and on-line you can still host talks via the internet. There are all sorts of services that let you host online talks.
Ask your clients to spread the work (referrals and testimonials)
Finally, get the people you’re already servicing to do some of your marketing for you. Ask them for referrals (make asking for referrals a formal part of your meetings’ agendas). And ask them if they’ll give you a recommendation.
There are basically two kinds of testimonials – written and video. Video is better. If they agree to make a video for you (if you can) get a bit of professional lighting in there. You can probably hire a local wideo team of even some film students for a low price.
If you don’t want to hire someone, Google “three-point lighting” (it looks more professional than flat lighting). Give the client space behind them (don’t have them backed right up against a wall).
If this is not possible (maybe they’re a remote client) even a webcam-recorded video is going to have more of an impact than a written recommendation.
Whatever the case, ask if they would be kind enough to focus in on a specific problem or two that you helped them solve. This is better than a general “<your name here> is great” because it gives other people in your chosen niche the chance to perhaps hear the very same problem they’re currently facing voiced out loud and then they immediately hear that you helped solve that problem.
Becoming recognised as the authority in a niche accounting focus is in and of itself a powerful marketing tool. And it doesn’t have to cost you a ton of money. Make your brainpower and experience a major draw for your future clients.