30th June 2014
Accountants could be missing out on lucrative contracts because they are not doing enough to promote their business, according to a new survey from Wolters Kluwer that shows marketing by accountancy firms continues to disappoint.
The report shows under one-third (30 per cent) of firms possess dedicated marketing or business development staff. What’s more, just a third outsource any of their promotional activities.
But it’s not that accountants are necessarily doing badly because they are not digital marketing experts in their own right. Far from it, as both this report and MGI’s own experience bear out, there is nothing like face-to-face contact to drive business.
The 'Effective marketing for accountants' survey showed greater use of online marketing, including social media, but there is still a big reliance on human interaction and client referrals. Despite this steer towards the personal, a quarter of firms surveyed keep no list of prospective clients.
Other offline methods such as print ads, events and cold calling were less popular. “It will come as no surprise to those in the profession that the face-to-face methods (referrals and introducers) score most highly,” say the report authors. “Direct mail or printed newsletters and events are the next most favoured offline marketing activities.”
With regards online marketing activities, the majority of practices have a website and send marketing emails or email newsletters. Far fewer are regularly posting blogs or carrying out pay-per-click advertising.
Marketing may seem of secondary importance to accountants busy with client work and while this is probably true up to a point, ignoring its value completely would be a mistake. In order to grow fee income, practices must either take on new clients, sell more services to existing ones or charge more; or a combination of all three.
“Most accountancy practices feel the need to take on new clients, even if only to replace those that inevitably leave, and a practice that wants to grow organically obviously needs to do much more than that,” the report concludes.