A marketing plan is crucial for your business. It creates direction and strategy, and identifies the resources necessary for your firm to reach its goals.
However, the typically time-pressured accountant is busy running the practice and handling client queries. You don’t always have the time, let alone the expertise, to develop a formal marketing plan.
However, it’s easier than you’d think. You can develop an effective marketing plan in even just a few hours of your time. Here are some tips to make the whole process simple and painless for you.
Marketing for accounting firms is no different form other businesses. At its heart, marketing planning is also no different from any other business planning process. You have to create goals from the very start.
Ideally, be specific. Don’t leave it vague as you’re less likely to get results. Create specific marketing goals which feature quantifiable results, such as a certain percentage increase in sales, or a certain number of new clients.
Make sure you establish both short and long-term objectives and intermediate milestones – use benchmarks throughout the year to track your progress.
Having set goals, you then need to define targets which relate to each of these goals. Once again, it’s really important to be specific. For example, if your goal is to increase the number of small business clients, don’t be tempted to target all small business clients in the marketplace - this won’t be the most effective approach.
The best way forward is to review your current client base to spot any trends. For example, are your clients clustered in one industry or location? If you have several clients in the same type of industry, target your marketing efforts at these more fertile areas. This will lead to better results as you’ve already got relevant experience. Clients will appreciate this and you’ll be more valuable to them as a result.
Define specific actions you need to take
Once you’ve got your goals, set specific actions to focus on in order to achieve each goal. This is crucial if your marketing plan is to be effective.
For example, your list of actions might include setting up a newsletter or blog, getting listed in online directories, attending specific conferences or developing a new service.
Without formally defining these actions, it’s likely your marketing activities will be neglected in the midst of the day-to-day pressures of running the practice.
If you’ve defined the actions you need to take, set aside the budget to carry these out. If you don’t earmark the necessary time and money formally, it will soon slide down the ‘to do’ list and disappear in the running of the business.
Over the course of the year, review the marketing budget regularly – monthly or quarterly. This will help you keep on track both in terms of the budget and the schedule.
As an accounting professional, you’re a financial expert, so it should be easy to make marketing part of your budget.
It can be difficult to maintain marketing during busy periods - an issue faced by all firms. The problem is that if you stop marketing for a period, this can lead to a gap in business when things have quietened down. If you keep your marketing up steadily across the year, you’ll see the benefits in a more predictable and high-quality flow of work. Again, if you’ve drawn up proper plans that are easy to follow, this shouldn’t be a problem.
Marketing for accounting firms is all about being prepared, as well as focused. Your profits will reflect your good planning.
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