Thursday, 12 May 2011

Accountants don't get it

Free twitter badgeImage via Wikipedia
Well, some do, but I suspect many who are modern enough to have tried social media marketing are giving up because they haven’t seen results. Why do I think so? Well, I talk to quite a lot of people what I am out and about. I also have a Twitter list of “tax-guys-and-girls”  numbering 133 currently who are all accountants or tax advisers or something pretty close. I have noticed that the stream moves more slowly than it did a year or even six months ago. There is far less tweeting going on in this list.

I have gained work through Twitter, and I have passed work on through referrals, and not only tax and accounting work. Twitter is part of the glue which makes for a community network. Twitter has put me in contact with others in my field whom I could not have heard about through any other network. Many I feel I know quite well through our online conversations. Not all these exchanges are even about business matters. The personal stuff helps give a more rounded picture of a person.

The trouble is that a lot of “professionals”, by which I mean accountants and solicitors, don't give Twitter or other online platforms long enough and they don't get it. They pound out their adverts (yawn) and they send automated tweets to technical articles and say nothing else. They don't find topical things for others to read, they don't talk to each other, and especially they don't listen.

Using Twitter is much like any other sort of networking. You get out of it what real value you put in. No one should (though some do) go to a networking meeting just to hand out their business cards and brochures. Networking is about having conversations. It is about listening more than talking.

The trouble is that some people just don’t have the patience. They don't let their personalities come through, they don't understand and they don't ask for help. It's their loss. Strange, isn’t it?
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Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Accountants and tax advisers marketing? Call them old-fashioned!

office of Jacob Fugger; with his main-accounta...Image via Wikipedia
You could call me old-fashioned because I still wear a suit when visiting my older clients, but that is what they expect. Most of the time I live in the modern world, but strangely many accountants and those in allied trades simply do not. They are, as the saying goes “sooo last century”.

What am I talking about? Well, not accounting software, because we all have to be up to date with the requirements of the profession and those of Government. I mean marketing.

“Marketing? What's that?” I have been asked by an accountant friend.
“Don't you do any?” I said.
“No, never needed to. I just get referrals and new clients walk in off the street”

My friend is long established in business and has an office on a busy road in a commercial area. I am pleased he has a good reputation and has never had to think about promoting the business. Probably it has not expanded all that much over the past few years, but even with the inevitable churn of clients (none of us can eliminate churn altogether), he has maintained a satisfactory income and lifestyle. Good for him.

Others do think about marketing of course, but for many, if they have a website, they never do much with it. They don't think about content. The website just sits there. It probably doesn't serve as an attractor of business, and they have a website just because others do. Other than that, marketing consists of an ad in a newspaper or magazine without much thought about the target audience.

Of course some others don't even have a website. They may have reserved and still pay for a domain, and may have been doing that for years because they know they need an email address, even if only just one. They will probably get listed in the free on-line directories, but they are as much use as the paper directories for getting business – in other words no use at all with no website for anyone to click through to.

I think that unless accountants have an office in a prime location they are going to struggle if they don't market. The recession has forced many accounting staff out of permanent employment. They still have to get by and will try to set up on their own. In the future the tech- and web-savvy amongst them are going to out-market complacent old-established firms. 

My friend expects to retire soon, but for everyone else, the message must be “Get out there and market”. What do you think?
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