Where Do You Go from Here?

World map in watercolor painting abstract splatters

Feeling overwhelmed by the many marketing options that accounting firms have to choose from today? It’s a reasonable response to almost limitless choices. A wide-open world of opportunities is a good thing, but finding your way through this abundance can feel intimidating. In honor of the new year, why not conduct a fresh assessment of your needs to help find the best direction? You can think of it as a mini-marketing plan – a road map to the success you hope to find in 2017.

First, face the facts: you can’t do everything. With so many marketing channels, social media platforms and content strategies available, there’s no way to choose “all of the above” when it comes to marketing your firm. The best approach is to select a small handful of carefully chosen strategies and dedicate yourself to performing them well, or you’ll flounder and drown without seeing the positive results of all your efforts.

The next step is taking a hard look at who your firm is today. What’s your main differentiator? Who are the specific clients that will be the best fit? Think about the direction you hope to move in this year and analyze exactly how you’ll know if you’re getting closer to that goal. For all of this navel-gazing, it’s important to be as specific as possible, with narrow descriptors and concrete, measurable signposts to guide your progress.

Now that you’ve established who you want to reach and why they’ll be happy to find you, apply the same kind of analysis to the question of where these folks are spending their time. What do they read and what are they trying to learn? Which social media platforms do they favor, and why? What is it they like about that particular platform? When you’ve got these answers, or your best guess at them, you’ll have an idea of where you should be spending your time as well.

Once you’ve chosen two or three social media targets, expand your vision to include in-person outreach opportunities, speaking engagements and direct marketing. Examine the places your target clients are going to interact with other professionals. Is it conferences and conventions or do they mostly work within their own companies? Think creatively here to imagine where they’re going and how you can be a part of the scene, whether public or private.

It’s almost time to address content, but first, what messaging will communicate your vision for success to those you reach? You want something slightly different than your current status, so it’s important to define and describe what you hope to provide for both new and existing clients. The goal is to reinforce what’s perfect as is while also conveying the different angle you’re taking now, whether that’s new services, a different focus or a fresh approach.

Now take that nuanced messaging and work it into all the content you plan to share in the upcoming months. This includes blog posts, professional articles, presentations, videos, direct mail and all the rest. Answer the questions your target market is asking now and provide ideas about what they should begin thinking about. Make some of your content fun, all of it timely and most of all, make sure everything you share is useful and relevant for the people you’re communicating with.

Finally, remember your website! Even the best site ages quickly, so you’ll want to monitor changing technical issues as well as updating your messaging. Add new case studies, and keep your blog fresh with new content at least once or twice a month. And if it’s time for a major overhaul, the analysis you’ve completed in the previous steps will help you get a good start on this major project.

Marketing is a never-ending task as well as a constant opportunity. These steps will help you set priorities and guide you as you tackle the job anew. Embrace the challenge of setting new goals, refining your message and taking fresh approaches to create the firm you want in 2017.

published in Accounting Today on January 27, 2017

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Sarah Warlick

Sarah Warlick founded Proof Positive Content to provide professional service firms with high-quality content that resonates with their target audiences. Sarah's writing appears in books, on the websites of over a dozen Top 100 Accounting Firms and in Accounting Today, Forbes and other leading publications, but usually under another name. Ghostwriters rarely get the glory - their clients do!