A marketing plan is crucial to your business as it creates a direction and strategy for your firm to follow, and it also identifies the resources which are necessary for your firm to reach its goals.
However, the typical time-pressured accountant and bookkeeper, who is busy running the practice and handling client queries, does not always have the time, let alone the expertise, to develop a formal marketing plan.
However, even in just a few hours of your time, you will be able to develop an effective marketing plan – try these five steps.
1. Create goals
Marketing planning is no different to any other business planning process – that is, you need to create goals.
Ideally you should create specific marketing goals which feature quantifiable results, such as a ‘percentage increase in sales’ or ‘number of new clients’. Make sure you establish both short and long-term objectives and intermediate milestones so you can track progress.
2. Define targets
Having set goals, you should now define targets relating to each goal. Once again, try and be specific. For example, if your goal is to increase the number of small business clients, your first reaction could be to target all small business clients in the marketplace but this may not the most effective approach.
Try reviewing your current client base to see if there are any trends. For example, are your clients clustered in one industry or geography or of a similar size? Targeting your marketing efforts into these more fertile areas should lead to better results. Also, you will have experience in these areas which should make you more attractive to these clients.
3. Define specific actions to be taken
If your marketing plan is to be effective, you must set specific actions that you need to focus on to achieve each goal. This could be things like: setting up a newsletter or blog, getting listed in online directories, attending specific conferences or developing a new service.
Without these actions, it is likely that your marketing activities may succumb to the day-to-day pressures of running the practice and be neglected.
4. Budget some time and money
Defining actions as suggested in step three will also aid you in allocating the right time and money for your marketing.
As an accounting professional, you’re the expert on making marketing part of your budget. Don’t forget to work some non-billable time into your schedule too, though. Marketing can all too easily slide down the ‘to do’ list otherwise.
5. Be consistent
It can be difficult to maintain marketing during busy periods and this is 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 after the busy period is up. Try to market steadily and you will be more likely to have a more predictable and high-quality flow of work.
What marketing insights can you share with other accounting professionals?
The QuickBooks ProAdvisor Programme includes free marketing tools to help you expand your client base. You’ll get a listing in our accountant directory, logos and graphics, document and letter templates and more. Find out more about joining the QuickBooks ProAdvisor Programme.