A Network-Marketing Campaign for Your Accounting Firm

Gusto Editors

Do you know how to gain new clients from your professional network?

Most accountant firm owners have an expansive network of professionals from a variety of industries, but they fail to organize and contact members of their network. Referrals make up a substantial part of new business for firms, and you can gain referrals by optimizing your outreach to your network.

Fortunately, Gusto, along with our partners at CPA Academy, delivered an exceptional webinar covering different marketing campaigns, one of which involves accessing your current network. Our webinar titled “5 Marketing Campaigns You Can Run This Week” featured the marketing expertise of Matt Wilkinson, the Founder and CEO of Bizink

Matt shared five excellent marketing campaigns you can immediately incorporate into your firm. In addition to this article, which is Part Four of the five-part series, you can read the other articles based on the webinar to learn even more marketing tools. You can also watch the full webinar here

Why is networking important for your accounting firms? 

One critical marketing campaign involves reaching your existing network. You need a network of professionals who can refer businesses to your accounting firm. Matt stressed the importance of developing a network: 

“If you don’t have a network of people who refer business to you, [you need one]. … What I’m talking about here is like lawyers, bankers, business brokers, [and] that kind of thing. For those who don’t, … I think that’s really essential. It’s not [just] a [marketing] tool. … It’s an essential kind of element in growing your firm.”

Matt Wilkinson

Referrals are critically important in your firm’s growth, and the primary way you’ll receive referrals is through your existing professional connections. Although most accounting firms do have a network, they fail to optimize their relationships for client growth. 

“We all know that referrals are the best source of new business, so having that network is really important. [Even] if you do have that network, I know from speaking to lots of firms [that] not many firms systematically use that network and get the most from it.”

Matt Wilkinson

Your accounting firm needs to be organized and regularly connect with other professionals in your network. You can connect with your network by giving them helpful resources that will help their relationship with their clients: 

“One way to do that is using content. … If you can give useful content to somebody in your network, especially if that content helps their clients, it’s a great way to connect with them.”

Matt Wilkinson
Businesswoman stands to address meeting around board table.

Using helpful content is an effective method to connect with both your firm’s leads and professionals in your network. For example, you could share content regarding tax credits, SBA loans, employee management, and other information that could assist their clients. 

“[People in your network] are looking for ways to engage business owners, just like you. If you can help them do that, they’re going to help you as well.”

Matt Wilkinson

Assisting professionals in other industries will significantly benefit your accounting firm. For example, if you share helpful content that helps a business broker connect with and assist their clients, they’re more likely to give you referrals from their customer base. 

If you’re unsure where to begin with sharing helpful content, you can check out Gusto’s Talk Shop. blog. We have numerous articles regarding accounting and other professional industries that can help you connect and assist those within your network. Additionally, you can consider writing your own helpful content to connect with your network. 

CRM for accountants

One critical part of connecting with your existing network is getting organized. You cannot optimize your ability to build your professional relationships without consistency. You can enhance your ability to organize your network and your outreach through customer relationship management (CRM) software. 

“Do you have a CRM? Some good ones would include HubSpot, Zoho, [and] ActiveCampaign. [CRMs are] basically like a contact database on steroids. … I think it’s really important to have one for client and prospect data, but also these referral partners because it means you’ve got a place with all of the details. You can easily get those in and contact them.”

Matt Wilkinson

If your firm has a lot of professional, contacts but they’re unorganized, you’ll have difficulty keeping track of all of them and contacting them regularly. CRM software can also help you stay organized with your marketing campaigns. You can create and assign tasks based on reaching out to other professionals. 

“What I’d also be doing as well, and you can possibly do this in your CRM, … will be creating a task to regularly reach out to your network when you publish useful content.”

Matt Wilkinson

You don’t want to forget to reach out when you have useful content to share. You need to optimize your professional connections by getting organized and creating tasks for consistent outreach. Matt noted that you likely have many professional relationships that can refer business to your firm, but you can’t count on those connections to reach out to you first: 

“We all know we’ve got these people who could refer business to you, but if you leave it to chance and hope they get in touch, … it doesn’t happen because everyone’s busy. Like [with] the rest of your firm, if we systematize that process, … it gets done properly.”

Matt Wilkinson

It’s unlikely that other businesses and professionals are prioritizing staying in contact with your firm, so you need to take action and continue strengthening professional relationships through regular communication. When your firm systematizes its professional outreach, some of your connections will refer their contacts to your firm, especially if you provide useful content that helps their businesses. 

CRM best practices and emailing your network

After using your CRM to organize your professional contacts and create consistent outreach tasks, you need to optimize how you reach out to people in your network. You need to individualize your emails based on whom your contacting, but you can follow a basic structure to increase the likelihood of receiving a referral:

“The structure you can follow … [is] the subject line … ‘Here’s a blog I wrote,’ and you’re asking for their feedback on it. Now, [the reason] why that’s good [is] there’s a bit of intrigue there. ‘What’s this blog? Why are they asking for feedback?’ That will also sort of appeal to their ego a little bit. [They’ll think,] ‘Someone’s asking me for feedback,’ and they feel a little bit obliged to give you that feedback.”

Matt Wilkinson
Two businesswomen discussing new project ideas at office desk.

Following this structure for the subject line will greatly increase the likelihood that your contact opens the email. You get their attention by asking for feedback. 

“Then we [get] started. … Keep the tone nice, friendly, and informal, but then get to the point fast, … and outline … the key benefits for them and their network.”

Matt Wilkinson

After going over the key points that will help their clients, you offer to connect with their clients to assist them. The benefit of asking to communicate with them is that you are essentially requesting a referral. If you email someone in your network without asking for a referral, it’s unlikely that they’ll give you one. You can also provide an alternative call to action in the event that they don’t agree to connect you with their clients:

“Now, maybe they aren’t going to refer anyone to you directly from this email, but [write], “Either way, let’s catch up soon. Is there a good time this month? Here’s my calendar.” We’ve still got that call to action where you’re fostering that relationship with your referral partner.”

Matt Wilkinson

Providing a call to action to connect with them in the future will strengthen your relationship and increase your likelihood of connecting with their clients.

Matt provided an excellent template you can use to compose your own networking email:

Subject: Blog I wrote (would love your feedback on it)

Hi {first name}, 

It’s been a while!

We’ve been helping several sole proprietors and single-member LLC firms switch to S-Corps recently. I’ve actually written a blog on the topic, which I thought would interest some of the companies you’re working with. I’d love to get your feedback on it!

For the right business, we can save thousands in taxes, and I’d be happy to chat with any of your companies to see if we could do it for them. Do any spring to mind?

Either way, let’s catch up soon. Is there a good time this month? Here’s my calendar.

{your name}

Reaching out to your network with helpful information regarding your content is a great way to strengthen professional relationships while also generating new leads

Learn more about the importance of networking and marketing campaigns

Networking is an essential part of growing your firm, and you need to organize and regularly contact your professional connections to gain new leads. You can create helpful content by using information from Gusto’s blogs to reach out and strengthen your professional relationships, or you can create original content. Don’t forget to check out Parts One, Two, Three, and Five articles based on the same webinar.

If you’re looking for more ways to expand your firm, consider partnering with Gusto. When you become a Gusto partner, you get exclusive access to tools and resources to support your clients into the future. Streamline payroll and benefits, and start advising your clients in valuable new ways. Join Gusto’s Partner Program today.

Gusto Editors Gusto Editors, contributing authors on Gusto, provide actionable tips and expert advice on HR and payroll for successful business management.
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