Do you want to know how to create quality content for your accounting firm? Whether you hire a content marketer to work for you, have an internal marketing team to execute your vision, or opt to do it yourself, it’s always great to know exactly what good content is.
Gusto partnered with CPA Academy for the webinar “How to Do Content Marketing at Your Firm From Two CPAs Who are Pretty Good at It,” featuring Greg Kyte from Comedy CPE, who made Accounting Today’s list of the Top 100 Most Influential People in the industry. Also presenting was Gusto’s own Caleb Newquist, head of content at Gusto and the editor-at-large of Going Concern, a leading accounting news publication featuring breaking news, developing stories, and industry insights in the field. The two went over best practices for content marketing for accountants. Between covering how to create quality content, giving examples of calls to action, and how to create quality content for Instagram, the two once again brought their fresh take to an important topic.
High-quality content doesn’t have to be perfect
Perfectionism is the enemy in your quest to create quality content. There are always ways you could tweak, edit, or improve upon your work. In the end, you just have to go for it. Caleb shared how perfectionism can plague people:
“This is especially true of writing, but I think you can extend that to content marketing in general. … If you’re focused on writing the perfect sentence … the perfect tweet, or whatever the case may be, please let go of that perfection, because I think it was David Mamet [who said], ‘If you’re afraid of writing something bad, you will never write anything good.’”– Caleb Newquist
Content creation is a largely subjective process, as opposed to accounting, which operates based on data and numbers. Since things aren’t always black and white, there may be endless ways in which one could work and rework a sentence. But since posting content regularly is important, there’s no time for perfection. You should be making deadlines and keeping them. Greg agreed with Caleb’s sentiment.
“Lorne Michaels from Saturday Night Live talks about this too, where he’s like, ‘We don’t put on a show when it’s ready. We put on a show when it’s 11 o’clock on Saturday.’”– Greg Kyte
Another point the two made? Sometimes what you think is the best piece of content, which you put the most work into, ends up falling flat with readers. And sometimes the work that you don’t feel super confident about becomes a huge success. There’s really no way to know. So stick to your schedule even if you haven’t crafted the perfect piece.
Where to get quality content marketing ideas
Find material from anything that’s hard, scary, weird, or stupid
Greg compared comedy to content writing, sharing how he learned to create good material from a book called The Comedy Bible. In the book, the author advises comedians to find material from anything hard, scary, weird, or stupid. Chances are, if you think it’s one of those things, other people do too. And they’ll love it if you can show them how to solve the problem, overcome the challenge, or laugh at the scenario. Whether you’re presenting your take on something, giving solutions, or simply reacting to something everyone’s concerned about, it’s likely to connect you to your audience.
“If you go, ‘Here’s something that’s really hard about the tax cuts and JOBS Act, section 199. A business deduction for individuals.’ Yeah, that’s hard … [so] write about it. [Or write about] something scary, like the fiscal cliff. My best blog post for Going Concern, my best-performing blog post, was about the fiscal cliff back when that happened, and it was because everybody was freaked out about what was going to happen with the fiscal cliff.”– Greg Kyte
What could your firm write about? Is there a new tax law that’s troubling, difficult to understand, or arbitrary? You might think of writing a commentary on it, an explainer piece on why it was instated, a post on how to tackle it, or a breakdown of it. Is there news around the law that you could put a spin on? Think outside the box. Remember, you’re not writing to sell something directly. You’re building a relationship with your audience over time.
Interview people who you want to have as clients
Greg shared a simple but powerful marketing maxim: Validation and personal attention work as a sales tactic. He discussed how his former podcast co-host, Jason Blumer of the Businessology Podcast, would select his podcast guests based on whether he wanted to work with them or not. In flattering this guest by asking for their expertise, he was already building a relationship with them. The guest also got free publicity out of the experience. He would then turn this into a sales opportunity. He’d observe how they described their biggest industry challenges (he purposefully asked this question on the podcast), then pitched his services as the answer to them. This goes right along with the notion that people are more inclined to buy things from people they like. Once you’ve built a relationship, it all flows that much more easily.
The other side of this is that you’ll have an easy way to come up with content. So where can your firm harness this strategy? Think about your niche. Is there an industry expert in this niche you could interview for a blog post or a video? What questions would you ask them? You might consider asking for their insights into the biggest tax challenges for small businesses. This also helps to build your authority in that niche. Give them the spotlight and then build the relationship from there.
Read, write, read, write
Caleb shared his content creation strategy, a simple sequence of alternating between consuming and creating content. It’s well known that to be a good writer, you need to read. Caleb exemplifies this.
“It [is] easy for me to read something and go ‘This is really hard to understand.’ And then I’ll say, ‘I think I can write this better, or I can explain it better.’ And so, maybe I would create something like that … then I would go back and read something else. I’m like, ‘Wow, this is really weird. Maybe I should write about how weird this is.’ Or ‘Oh, this is really stupid.’ I’d read something and I’m like, ‘This is really stupid. I’m going to write about how stupid this is.’”– Caleb Newquist
It’s similar to the notion of referencing other content and then attributing it. But in this case, you’re putting your own spin on something. Either you’re putting it in your own words, or you’re explicitly reacting to it. If you’re having a reaction to something, chances are other people are too.
“Allow yourself to have feelings about the things that you’re reading, or the things that are happening, especially if they’re happening to clients, or if they’re happening in the world. Allow yourself to have feelings about those … and then write about it.”– Caleb Newquist
Build your brand on social media
You might be wondering how to create quality content for Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. It’s an important topic because social media is a staple in content marketing. It’s amazing for quickly and consistently sharing everything you create, whether it’s a link to your blog, video, interview, podcast, or article. You also should be putting out regular posts for social media itself, such as infographics, short posts, or images. But even more than that, you can use it to gauge your niche and engage your niche.
“Less than 50% of your job on social media is to produce content. The other part of your job is to engage with people that you want to be clients at your firm. So you need to go on there, you need to search hashtags that people that you think would use your services, people in your niche, hashtags for your niche, and you go there, you find what other people are saying, you comment on other people’s stuff, you follow those people, you like their posts because validation sells stuff.”– Greg Kyte
This is what Caleb and Greg shared as a passive, or indirect, way of engaging with clients. And social media is a great tool for that. You’re not sending an email or trying to sell them in a meeting, you’re slowly and indirectly building a relationship. And it works. Greg shared that if he had bothered to engage his followers or follow other people when he was growing his Twitter page, he would have had more success even earlier.
Examples of calls-to-action
You need to have a call-to-action in every piece of content marketing that you do, but you shouldn’t lead with a call-to-action. There are all sorts of ways to incorporate one.
“A call-to-action can be as little as: leave your email address so that we can put you on our mailing list. … Or it could be like, ‘We just told you how this section 199A deduction for the tax cuts in the JOBS Act work. It’s confusing to you, we know because we spent hundreds of hours trying to learn it ourselves. If you need help, contact us, here’s our phone number.’”– Greg Kyte
Important elements of a CTA include:
- Collect info
- Offer something
- Empowering the audience
If you don’t ask, you won’t get. A CTA will invite your audience to take a next step, such as following, subscribing, giving you their contact email, or taking some other type of action.
Since you’ve asked them to take this step, you should always have a way to collect info on your website, either through a widget or within the design itself. Have your developer work this in.
When asking for something, offer something in return, such as a freebie, discount, or deal. For example, you might ask for an email to receive a free e-book on tax tips for freelancers.
There are a lot of approaches to CTAs. You might include a direct ask, you may just offer information. No matter what, empowering the audience is a good idea. This means that you’re putting the ball in their court. You’re operating using a pull method instead of a push method. For example, include your contact information and a description of your services at the end of a blog post, instead of including a popup that tries to capture it before they leave the website.
“You really are putting it in the hands of these folks. You’re not being pushy. You’re just saying here it is, this is how you get in touch with us, you like what we’re doing, here’s how to get in touch with us. And so, that puts it back in the power of the audience, and I think that’s ultimately what a lot of people want.”– Caleb Newquist
Learn more content marketing tips for accountants
A good content marketing strategy is a huge asset to your firm, yet not every accountant knows how to create quality content. To create an amazing strategy, throw out notions of perfection. No piece of content will ever live up to those standards, and perfectionism gets in the way of consistency.
Your content creation process will involve a good amount of time coming up with ideas. Consider taking a cue from comedians by thinking about topics that might be unusual, irritating, or confusing for your clients. You might consider interviewing industry leaders to create content as well. Doing so also builds relationships with people you may wish to work with. Along the same lines, build relationships with potential clients on social media by following them and engaging with them. You never know where your next win will be.
All content should have a clear call to action. Remember, a pull method is better than a push method in marketing. Make the CTA clear, but leave the choice up to the customer. Nothing irritates people like something that comes off as too salesy.
Here at Gusto, we want to support your firm in every way we can, including helping you reach new customers. Be sure to look into Part One and Part Two of this webinar article series if you haven’t already.
Our goal is always to create a world where work empowers a better life. Becoming a partner with us means you can earn CPE credits through CPA Academy, which hosts a variety of live educational webinars. We urge you to take advantage of our unique and diverse offerings.
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