Do you have untapped sales potential in your client base?
If you answered “yes” to this question, read on because we have wonderful insights into how you can grow your firm without having to expand your client base, answering key questions you may have including: What else can I offer to my clients? How can I market to my current clients effectively? And will I see a profitable return on my marketing investments?
Gusto, along with our partners at CPA Academy, hosted the webinar, “How to Sell More to Existing Clients,” which addressed the importance of creating evergreen marketing strategies to grow your business with existing clients.
It was led by Matt Wilkinson, the CEO of Bizink, a company that helps accountants create fundamental marketing strategies worldwide. Matt has also been a speaker at Zero-Con and various industry conferences. He has presented webinars to tens of thousands of accounting professionals over the last decade.
In this article, we will address the best techniques to create an evergreen marketing environment that caters to clients’ individual needs. You will learn how to effectively implement these techniques and grow your reach through different marketing strategies.
What is evergreen marketing?
Often, companies use gimmicks to sell a product. Marketing agencies pay millions of dollars to create the best pop-culture references and catchy slogans to draw in a crowd. However, these investments only work for a limited period. A great example of fleeting marketing strategies are commercials from a previous era; they seem out-of-place and ineffective in the current market. That leads to the question, “How can you create effective marketing strategies that will work in this fast-paced world?”
Evergreen marketing strategies provide the answer to this question. This style of marketing creates relevant strategies that work regardless of the environment. The core of evergreen marketing strategies revolves around genuine human connection. When you can build trust with your clients, marketing a product or service becomes much more straightforward:
“I’m going to guess you’ve met with nearly all of your clients before you converted them. It’s because you’re in the relationships business, and that means building trust. You’re selling on trust; that’s just how humans are hard-wired.”– Matt Wilkinson
Following repeatable and effective marketing strategies creates the ability to develop human connections effectively. There are many different ways to create this connection, but we will only focus on a few in this article. As you read through, think of how you can practically apply these strategies to your firm.
Types of marketing strategies
Three practical types of evergreen marketing strategies are email, social media, and face-to-face interaction. All three give your accounting firm a way to create personal relationships with clients and build the trust you need to market your firm effectively. By utilizing failproof tactics, you gain the ability to market to your existing clients without incurring significant cost.
Create effective email marketing
Despite being around for a while, email marketing remains an incredibly effective tool when reaching out to clients. Creating a client mailing list gives you an avenue for starting a marketing campaign with existing clients. Matt’s research on email marketing shows that the email open rate from accountants is around 40%. This percentage ranks higher than most categories:
“People open emails from accountants. We can compare [the 40% open rate] to [data from] Mailchimp, the most popular email platform in the world. Their highest open rate category is ‘Hobbies’ at 27%. So emails from accountants are 13% more likely to be opened.”– Matt Wilkinson
Email marketing provides an excellent return-on-investment. Generally, accountants make $44 for every dollar spent on email marketing. Two effective email marketing techniques are newsletters and “email blasts.”
The humble email newsletter remains a faithful marketing strategy today. Monthly newsletters distributed mid-week and during business hours have been shown to be the most effective. Be sure to include helpful content that provides ways for business owners to grow and manage their businesses. Providing information to promote growth gives you the ability to offer more services to your clients that they may have not previously considered.
Email blasts supplement newsletters by creating one-off promotional emails that focus on a specific service. These emails need to get straight to the point and present themselves in an informal tone. You should write like you’re having a conversation with your clients. Also, include a call to action that offers a solution to a problem your clients may have. Matt also stressed that repetition is critical with email blasts:
“You can’t just send something once and expect a really good result. One reason is that it takes several touches for people to get the message right. Another reason for repetition, mainly when we’re talking about marketing to clients, is that their circumstances are constantly changing.”– Matt Wilkinson
Effective email strategies open windows to provide new services. Creating consistent newsletters and email blasts offers an easy way to reach your current clients with new options.
Develop a prominent social media presence
Most of your clients engage in social media during their day-to-day lives. Finding ways to engage them within their existing social media realms creates an effective channel to promote your firm. LinkedIn and Facebook provide two of the largest outlets for business. Matt believes social media provides a way to create an online community with your clients:
“The really powerful part of social media is the social part. After all, as accountants, you’re in the relationships business. The networking side of social media is where the real power lies.”– Matt Wilkinson
LinkedIn connects professionals through social media. If you serve clients in professional or business services, they more than likely have a LinkedIn account. The best way to reach them is by diving into the network yourself. LinkedIn makes it easy to create both a company and personal profile by providing step-by-step instructions. Creating a personal profile allows you to connect with your clients on a level beyond the usual, brief client interaction:
“Connect with your clients and their team members as well. As you start to build that network, you will see them post about things that matter to them, such as winning a contract or an award. Then you can join in on the conversation. You can comment and celebrate with them. That part of social media is incredibly powerful.“– Matt Wilkinson
LinkedIn can be even more powerful when you tap your team to amplify company posts to their own networks. This expands message reach beyond your immediate client base to the broader business community, and their contacts. Encouraging your team to engage on LinkedIn gives them a seamless way to have a personal stake in promoting the firm, its reputation, and success.
In addition to participating in your clients’ lives, LinkedIn provides a compelling networking opportunity. Activity within the online community can expand your reach through connections with your clients. Other users connected to your clients can see your investment into your clients’ personal lives, which adds value to your reputation. Over time, this wins your firm future clients.
Another vital social media platform is Facebook. With 2 billion users, Facebook is the largest social media platform out there. It offers business pages that work similarly to Google listings. However, Matt believes these pages aren’t your best plan of attack when marketing your firm through Facebook. Instead of focusing on trying to bring traffic through your page, Matt suggests creating a group.
“Facebook groups are free to create and can be an awesome way to build community with your clients. I know several firms that have a private Facebook group for their clients where they can share information, help each other, and do networking.”– Matt Wilkinson
The group will develop a unique ecosystem as it evolves. Eventually, the group will grow to the point where you can facilitate discussions and answer questions that lead to marketing opportunities.
Social media continues to expand, and you can take advantage of the growth to create genuine connections with your clients. Creating connections increases your effective reach and allows you to sell new ideas to your clients.
Trust in face-to-face connection
Using technology to your advantage is beneficial, but face-to-face meeting remains one of the best ways to market yourself. As the world becomes increasingly dependent on technology, genuine human interaction breaks the norm. Matt suggests meeting with your clients in person as much as possible:
“People buy from people. It’s a cliche, but it’s true. No matter what new marketing tactics arrive, face-to-face interaction is always going to be important. You’re in the relationships business. In our high-tech world, high-touch has become even more important.”– Matt Wilkinson
When you meet face-to-face, do your best to meet clients where they are. You can gain a better feel for what your clients need by going to their business site. Personal visits help create a better understanding of their work culture and how they need help. These interactions build trust with your client base, and that trust becomes the basis for your ability to market your firm.
If you have a large firm, meeting face-to-face could take up an extraordinary amount of time. One way to work around this is by holding events:
“I think events are future-proof as well. A phrase I love is: ‘Times change. People don’t.’ Events are going to work forever, unlike some marketing fads that we see come and go. If you can hold an event and show something cool like a piece of software, clients are going to understand it.”– Matt Wilkinson
Events are one of the most powerful marketing tactics any firm can use. They create an environment where you can meet with many people at once and allow you to show clients the services available to them. The ability to demonstrate what you have to offer becomes a repeatable marketing strategy.
Implementing different marketing strategies can be daunting at first, but creating a marketing plan can ease the stress. Matt has several strategies for creating bulletproof marketing systems to be as effective as possible.
How can you create a marketing plan for an accounting firm?
The first thing to keep in mind while developing a marketing plan for your firm is genuine, human connection. As an accountant, you have a unique opportunity to market your services to help others succeed in business. Personalized services open up the ability to connect with your clients on a personal level and build trust.
“Through marketing your services, you are helping business owners build their companies. It’s not just about more dollars on your bottom line. Business owners want and need your help. Marketing is how you find them and how you can serve them.”– Matt Wilkinson
After you determine how to connect with your clients, consider the services you have to offer. Make sure your services remain relevant as your clients grow their businesses. When you combine future-proof services with evergreen marketing strategies, your clients will continue working with you and implementing the strategies you provide.
If you want to learn more about practical ways to apply evergreen marketing strategies to your firm, check out the entire webinar here. Also, if you want to learn how to create influential events, be sure to check out Part Two of this webinar article series.
Here at Gusto, we partner with firms to provide practical strategies for building human connections. Be sure to check out our People Advisory Program to learn how you can effectively prioritize your clients’ individual needs. We also provide a partner blog full of resources for all your advising needs. Visit our Gusto for Accountants page for more information on people-based accounting and check out our payroll options to offer your customers a highly marketable system.