We can all do with more clients and whilst you may be lucky enough to be sitting back waiting for people to contact, relying on that can be a risky strategy. Being pro-active will help but what do you do? Do you stand outside your office and ask everyone walking past if they need an accountant? No, that would be extremely time consuming for very little return. We want to ask the right person at the right time ie when they are ready to consider employing you.
Before we can work out who they are, we need to identify what it is you offer and who is that suited for? For accountants you will most likely say you do the following:
Wait - from your existing clients, can you pick who are your best clients, who are your worst clients? Is there any correlation between good and bad customers? Can you use that information to either stay clear of bad clients or at least list red flags to monitor so you can avoid them? Likewise, what is it about your good clients that make them good? We need to identify things you can actually know or find out rather than they need to be a pisces! So here's some thoughts plus some ideas about their needs.
First let's consider very general traits:
This really will depend upon your business and who your customers are - for our web agency we focus on 'second stage' businesses and by that I mean a business that is doing well, previously built their own or had a cheap website built but are now ready to grow their business. Perhaps we could call them the growing Start Up - ie they are past the start up stage. Would a company in this position be an ideal client for you?
If the answer is yes then you need to consider whether it would be worth investing the time developing a relationship with Start Ups so when they get to the stage where they need an accountant you are on their mind? If the answer is no, rest assured that if they are successful, they will need an accountant at some point so will most likely opt for someone they know and trust. Which comes back to that effort to develop the relationship - how could you do that?
One way is to offer training presentations either yourself or preferably with an organisation that helps people set up in business such as Business Gateway or some local or national organisations. This can get you in front of start ups so you can begin to build that trust relationship. Taking it a step further, you could offer some free time to the attendees - but I don't mean an hour session, offer the opportunity to phone you with a specific query which you will answer if you can. Say they can do that a fair amount of times - what's fair you groan? It's a red flag tester! If they take the mick then they may not be a great client so you say you feel they are being unfair as they are continually asking - if they are a good client they will say oh sorry, and either employ you or go milk someone else. Thing is, the questions they ask have just given you some great blog content for your website and mailing list as you can be confident that most other start ups probably have similar questions.
Now your relationship building is helping to build more relationships. Just think, if you answered a question for someone and then wrote the question as a blog title (think about the questions your customers are asking and I guarantee I am more likely to ask Google 'how do I do my tax return' thank I am to ask Google for a 'Chartered Accountant in Edinburgh'. So repeat my question as your blog post title and then answer it in the prose. So now if someone searches for the answer they may see your post and if someone else phones up and asks the question you can give a quick answer and say 'pop over to my blog for more details that you can read in your own time'. Now your client or potential client may visit your website to find the answer to this and then perhaps other questions. Your relationship is developing, they are building trust and you are their default point of contact for all things accounting. Should come in handy when they decide they actually need one!
Hopefully that begins to provide an idea of how you can think about a target audience for your accountancy firm and it helps you formulate some ideas to try to reach them. Subscribe to our marketing tips newsletter (or form on the upper right) to be notified of a follow up post about talking this a step further.