Fatal Marketing Mistakes? Yes. Marketing for bookkeepers is serious business! The fact is, when it comes to getting new clients, poor marketing is usually at the root of it. In turn, that causes rocky startups, long-term dismal results, and ultimately, bookkeeping business failure.
Let’s unravel seven of the most common mistakes that keep bookkeepers and accountants stuck, and what you can do now to get a steady stream of higher quality, new client inquiries instead.
Gabrielle Fontaine, with Martin Bissett, will be presenting the pre-conference workshop, Building a Pipeline of Bookkeeping Clients, at Accountex 2016.
Mistake #1: Not Doing Any Marketing
As with most service-based startup businesses, bookkeepers can fall into the trap of thinking that having years of experience and an alphabet of credentials will result in new clients magically beating a path to your door. They won’t.
To get clients, you need to do at least some initial marketing. What does that mean? Getting the word out about the tangible benefits you can bring to your clients’ businesses, and building relationships thereafter. Marketing is the communication needed to bring your practice to life, and keep it moving toward your ultimate financial goals. It’s a must.
Mistake #2: No Website
Whether you’re a solo freelance bookkeeper, or building an accounting and tax firm, we all need to be online. Our clients are online, so we need to be there too. That means having a professional grade website. It serves as your virtual brochure and contact hub through which potential clients will judge if you’re the right bookkeeping service for them, or not.
If you don’t yet have one, a simple WordPress website that focuses on how you help your clients prosper financially is your best bet. Make it unique to you, and have it professionally created, if at all possible. Your website doesn’t need to cost a lot, but it should look professional and not like every other accounting website. Design it to attract your ideal clients.
Mistake #3: Not Being on LinkedIn
Even if you’ve got Mistake #2 licked with a top-notch website, you need to have an up-to-date LinkedIn profile with a reasonably recent photo of yourself (not your company logo, please). LinkedIn ranks very highly in the search engines, and will help you get more eyeballs on your website. It also serves as your online expanded business card. Use it early and often for following up with prospective clients and referral partners.
Even if you are on a shoestring budget, no excuses for anyone here. LinkedIn is free.
Mistake #4: Hiding Behind Your Business
Most of us accounting types are introverts. Revealing who we are online can feel scary. Will prospective clients even take you seriously if they know you’re a business of only a few people, or even solo? In a word, yes.
People do business with people they know, like, and trust. So reveal a bit of your personality, your story, and use your photo in your marketing materials. Effective marketing is built upon your ability to make human connections and build authentic relationships.
Mistake #5: Accepting Any Client Who Comes Your Way
This is a big one. Pay close attention here. Not all clients are good clients!
If you’ve just lost a large client, or you’re trying to really grow your practice and kick up the cash flow, any potential client that happens to stumble your way can seem like a good client. Warning! Clients should not be accepted purely on the basis that they have a bank account from which they might pay you.
To fill your bookkeeping practice with high quality clients, you must have quality standards.
Be clear on who your best, most profitable clients are and proactively build your marketing messages and services around attracting them exclusively. Accept only clients who are the best fit for your practice (and you for them). The courage to turn away misfits dramatically changes everything for the better.
Mistake #6: Under-serving Your Existing Clients
We all do it. We’re always chasing after more new clients, instead of maximizing what we already have. Playing off of the previous point, if you now know who your A level clients are, are you, in fact, delighting them? Or are they just tolerating you? Truth is, most clients only tolerate us. They want (and need) more.
Turn your marketing focus to delighting and expanding what you provide your existing clients, and you’ll not only see an immediate increase on your bottom line, but you’ll also fan the flames of client referrals.
Mistake #7: Throwing Money at Advertizing
This is another typical practice killer. The idea of proactively building relationships and schmoozing to market our services may cause you to break into a cold sweat. So advertizing may seem like an easy way out. It’s not.
In the (now distant) past, advertizing made sense. A basic (though expensive) Yellow Pages ad literally got the phone ringing. But those days are long gone. ROI on ads now is generally dismal. Relationships and reputation rule instead. Admittedly they take effort to build, but they’re assets that won’t drain your budget.
These days, an effective form of “advertizing” is sharing useful information on your website blog or your LinkedIn profile. Over time, they’ll result in high quality relationships and inquiries.
So, how’d you do? Are any of these seven marketing mistakes holding you back from hitting your financial goals? If so, you’re certainly not alone! We all struggle with at least some of them. But we can conquer them.
The solution is identifying your sticking points, and taking proactive steps to correct them now. Put a basic plan in place, then work it. That’s the true key to consistent growth.
Specifically, setting up a new client pipeline is a powerful way to do just that. Let’s market well and prosper together!