I’ve seen a ton of accountant and tax marketing over the years.
In over two decades in the industry, I’ve coached and consulted thousands of firm owners, spoken at or attended over 100 events, and successfully run my tax marketing agency (TaxProMarketer).
And what marketing I’ve seen from accountants and tax practitioners was usually “pretty” but otherwise completely useless. It’s the baseline standard, and a highly ineffective strategy, to go for what looks nice and what’s expected.
Far too many accounting and tax firms make their marketing choices based on what they see around them, afraid to try anything new or stand out in any way.
The B2B landscape is littered with companies who got smacked down for being “different” in some way.
Is fear standing in the way of your growth? Today I’m breaking down the three mistakes I see in accountant and tax marketing—and how to fix them.
3 ways you’re letting fear sabotage your accountant marketing
1. You don’t differentiate your service.
Take a look at just about any industry with a lot of competitors—colleges, hotels, automobiles, tax and accounting firms (especially accounting firms)—their websites bend over backward to be just like all the others. You can’t identify one hotel website from another if you delete the name of the hotel (unless there’s a beach or a snow-capped mountain in the background).
Sometimes, we try so hard to fit in we give consumers no choice but to seek out the cheapest option.
After all, if everything’s the same, why not buy what’s cheap and close?
Before you redesign your website, or invest thousands in a round of Facebook advertisements or Google PPC, what you need to first identify for your practice is your Unique Selling Proposition.
And while that term is thrown around so much that too many practitioners just sort of nod to themselves, and say: yeah, we got that … the truth is that most accounting and tax practitioners have failed to properly differentiate themselves against their competitors, both local and national (and AI).
Take a glance at any accountant or tax practitioner website, and they will highlight the same services:
- Small Business Accounting
- Tax Preparation
- QuickBooks Services
- Part-Time CFO Services
- Personal Financial Planning
- Yada, yada, yada, ad infinitum
Sorry to rain on your parade, but that just doesn’t cut it. What you need, is a conversational, direct reason why your prospects (and yes, your clients too— they need continual “re-selling”) should choose to engage your services.
It needs to be a part of everything you communicate, from your website to your social media properties, to your client-intake processes—everything should align to send the same, unique message.
Mimicking what every other accountant or tax firm in the country is doing is a surefire recipe for becoming a commodity to your clientele and prospects.
Which, if you haven’t yet noticed, is the worst kind of position to be in (just ask the news industry).
So, get clear on what makes you different. And be sure to make it known.
2. You’re preying on the weak.
When you understand the level of competition, it can be tempting to grab all the low-hanging fruit, no matter what it means for your reputation and sustainability.
We saw this a few times over the past 18 months, as the CARES Act, the CAA, and ARPA kept changing the game for accounting and tax practitioners.
It created an entirely new round of questions, concerns—and chances for certain practitioners to “bravely” enter the fray and cater to scared and nervous SMB owners and families.
Dealing with new legislation and tax changes requires a lot of time and it’s important for accountants to get paid what they’re worth.
When you have to do paperwork for clients’ PPP applications, answer a thousand questions, compute ERC-related quarterly P/L comparisons—all of this should fall under a fee agreement with your clients that does not mean “bend over backward at their beck and call.”
Unfortunately, focusing on the easy, predatory strategies that take advantage of the weak in times of change can spell disaster for your reputation and sustainability.
Those who see their client base as a glorified cash register will only make short-term gains.
Those who approach their marketplace with an attitude of service (appropriately compensated) will be the ones who not only add profit to their books but who will also be left standing when the dust settles after this crazy-making economic cycle.
3. You take shortcuts to success.
I believe that choices that we make about how we market ourselves to prospects, how we charge for our services, and how we communicate with existing clients are the key determinants for what kind of practice we will have—long term.
Word gets out. Like attracts like. Nothing remains hidden forever.
Even now, some of the marketing tactics that have been popular with the sharky newsfeed gurus are losing their effectiveness. Not only are consumers and SMB owners getting wiser to the tactics, so are the platforms.
iOS 14 is a shot across the bow for the Facebook marketers who have relied upon cross-application tracking for their targeting. And more similar changes will be coming on that front, as advertising platforms realize how privacy is becoming more precious to consumers.
The fast-and-lazy shortcuts might give you a short burst of success, but it won’t last. In fact, it may cripple you in the months to come.
In this summer after the most intense “busy season” our industry has faced in decades, I encourage you and your firm to make the inner decision not to be the one who would grab for the shortcuts to success.
Do the work required to build a sustainable practice—in your marketing, your fee arrangements, your client communication, and your workflow protocols.
The world needs service-oriented accountants and tax pros more than ever.
It’s a message that really does win.
Nate Hagerty is the CEO of TaxProMarketer, the nation’s leading marketing agency serving accounting and tax firms since 2007. A member of Mensa, Nate is a multi-year honoree of CPA Practice Advisor’s “Top 40 Under 40”, has been published widely in industry publications, and is the author & editor of two Amazon bestsellers.