Your accounting business has a lot more to offer than just tax preparation — but do your clients and prospective clients know that? In this article, I’ll explain how to decide what new services to offer, and how to begin both expanding your services beyond tax prep and marketing those additional services to current and potential clients.
Nellie Akalp will be presenting at Accountex 2018 in Boston on Thursday, August 23 at 11:30am. Attend her session in theater 4 and stop by the CorpNet booth, #507, on the exhibition floor.
Expanding Your Services
Have clients been asking for services that you don’t currently offer? Are you noticing a trend in client demographics or lifestyle situations that creates a new need? By being attentive, flexible, and adapting to changes in your market, you can come up with new services to provide.
Most of your new and potential business is likely to come from your local area, so stay on top of business and consumer trends nearby. Check with your city’s business development office for information on consumer and business patterns relevant to your business. For example, is there an influx of new business to your area, or is a new retirement community about to open? In both these scenarios, your services could be expanded to help clients in these demographics make smarter financial decisions.
Your city may be working on an initiative to attract new kinds of tech businesses, or on a plan for mixed-use property development integrating retail and living spaces. Either way, new businesses coming to the area can mean clients who want help with compliance and business filings, or need business valuation services once they’re established.
Join local community groups to keep your finger on the pulse of your area. Other tools for market research include:
- SCORE is a Small Business Administration (SBA)-affiliated nonprofit association dedicated to helping small businesses. Find a chapter here to attend workshops or get personal free advice from a mentor.
- gov: The Census Bureau’s Economic Indicators section has statistics about manufacturing trends, international sales, and local markets.
- gov: The SBA site offers data on demographics, trade, economic indicators, population, and more.
- Bureau of Economic Analysis: Access national, state, and regional economic data, as well as industry-specific statistics.
Let’s Get Marketing
Once you decide what new services to offer, you need to figure out how and where to spread the news. Here are some ideas:
In 2017, there were 3.7 billion global e-mail users; that figure is set to grow to 4.1 billion users by 2021. Need more convincing? According to a study by Fluent, 89 percent of people check their email daily, and MarketingSherpa reports 7 in 10 internet users would rather have businesses communicate with them by email than by any other method.
Make sure you have permission to send email by asking for it either directly or through your website. Familiarize yourself with the rules for email marketing in the CAN-SPAM Act, such as using truthful headlines and including a clear way to opt out of future emails.
Use the analytics tools your email marketing service provides to see which emails get opened, when they get opened, and what topics or offers get the most click-throughs. Experiment by adding visuals such as images, charts, and video to see what generates the most engagement.
Social media marketing
A strong social media presence not only helps build your business’s reputation, it also contributes to your company’s overall ranking on search engines.
Most social media gurus know that to really get noticed on social media, you need to use paid social media advertising, promoted posts, and other promotional tools the platforms offer. (For instance, Twitter has Promoted Tweets and Facebook has Boosted Posts.) Paid social media advertising targets your audience according to parameters you set, based on data such as location, interests, behaviors, and demographics.
Online review sites should also be part of your marketing strategy. Too few reviews, or too many negative reviews, of your business could hurt your chances of attracting lucrative new clients. Encourage satisfied clients to leave positive reviews on sites like Yelp, and follow up with unhappy clients before their negative opinion spreads.
Your financial expertise is why clients seek you out. Build your reputation as an expert by providing high-quality content on your website, in your emails, and on your social media accounts. Share useful advice or interesting facts, and explain new laws and regulations affecting your clients.
If you don’t have time to write this content yourself, find a freelancer to create it for you. You can also post videos of yourself explaining your services or new accounting regulations. To get content ideas, think about questions you often get from clients or mistakes clients tend to make; then create content offering answers and solutions.
Do you have any marketing tips of your own to share? How do you spread the word about your accounting business? Let us know in the comments below.