Grow Your Firm

What Is Marketing and Why Is It Important for Accountants?

Gusto Editors  
Two woman standing in front of a brainstorming marketing white board

Why is content marketing important for your business?

Every business needs a solid marketing strategy to thrive. But not everyone knows exactly how marketing works, or why marketing is important for  a business. And what exactly does marketing for accounting firms look like? Whether you’re a firm assessing your needs, hiring expert guidance, or doing the marketing yourself, you’ll need to have a good understanding of how it all works.

Gusto is committed to helping you in every aspect of your accounting business. We’re proud to give you expert guidance, research, and best practices for creating successful strategies. 

Gusto partnered with CPE Academy for the webinar “What Is Marketing, and Why Is It Important for Accountants?” featuring Gusto, editor-at-large, Caleb Newquist. Besides being an exceptional writer and editor, Caleb was the founder and editor at Going Concern, a leading accounting news publication featuring breaking news, developing stories, and industry insights in the accounting field. He covered the basics of marketing, why they’re important for accounting firms, and how to create a successful marketing strategy.  

Why is marketing important to a business?

Marketing is one of the least understood components of business among accountants. A report by Karbon called “The Business Ability of Accounting Firms,” demonstrated that, out of 12 areas of business competency, accounting firms were the least confident about their marketing processes. Caleb shared a quote from the report: “Sales and marketing is a clear struggle for all firms. … Firms should seek help in areas such as this if they want to progress.”

Clearly, it’s time to start building awareness of what good marketing is. But first, it’s essential to understand why marketing is important. 

Even if you have an existing client base and get by on referrals, there is much more competition out there than ever before. With many firms going remote, you’ll be competing with more than just other firms in your geographical area. In order to have a leg up on the competition, you’ll need to focus on expansion. Furthermore, since most firms don’t have a great grasp on their marketing strategy, being proficient in marketing will give you a significant edge.

In other words, growth marketing is what will both keep your firm secure in its standing and propel you ahead of the game.

“If growth is a goal for you and your firm, marketing will be critical to success. If [growth] sounds like something you’d want for your firm, marketing will not be optional.”

– Caleb Newquist

A marketing growth strategy that is well-organized and planned will keep you in control of where you’re going. Don’t fly blind or leave it up to chance. It’s worth spending the time knowing how to assess a marketing strategy for what works and what doesn’t.

What is marketing?

When you think of marketing, you’re likely thinking about flyers, emails, advertisements, and events to generate business. And you’re right—those are all common marketing tactics. However, there’s much more involved. Content marketing, for example, is an essential strategy that is poorly understood.

“I think a lot of people immediately think of the sales aspect of marketing, or maybe they think of advertising. And yes, these are significant parts of marketing. But there are many other aspects to marketing as well.”

– Caleb Newquist

So what kind of marketing is out there?

  • Digital Marketing—Includes building an online presence, using SEO keywords so people can find your website, and placing ads on Google
  • Content Marketing—Includes podcasts, blog posts, videos, and interviews that bring attention to your business
  • Email Marketing—Includes sending out newsletters, event invites, offers, and updates
  • Social Media Marketing—Includes managing your company Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, or Twitter accounts, advertising with Facebook ads, and engaging customers on various channels
  • Advertising—Includes print and digital ads for promotions and services

Keep in mind, there are many more types of marketing. Marketers may specialize in one type of marketing, or they may be generalists depending on the needs of the company and the size of the team. However, the purpose of marketing unites all of them. Caleb interpreted a great quote from HubSpot that captures the essence of all marketing:

“They say “Marketing is the process of getting people interested in your company’s product or service. This happens through market research, analysis, and understanding your ideal customers’ interests. Marketing pertains to all aspects of the business including product development, distribution methods, sales, and advertising.” … I don’t know about you, but the operative phrase in that definition for me is ‘the process of getting people interested.’ … It allows for all kinds of possibilities. Yes, there are best practices, … but ultimately, the results from your marketing are the critical thing.”

– Caleb Newquist
Employee standing in front of marketing brainstorm board with hands in view

What is a marketing plan?

Let’s say you’re ready to start hammering out a new marketing strategy, or you’ve hired or are getting ready to hire a professional for your team. Either way, you should have a good idea of what makes good marketing, and good marketing always starts with a plan.

So what is the purpose of a marketing plan? It’s to create a backbone for all of your endeavors. Much like running an accounting firm or providing services for your clients, you need a strong structure to build on. Of course, if you’ve hired a professional, they’re coming up with the plan. If you’re taking a DIY approach, be sure you give it thought. It’s worth taking the time to sit down and create one, whether it’s for an afternoon or, better yet, for a day.

“A marketing plan is a report that outlines your marketing strategy for the coming year, quarter, … month, or whatever relevant time period you’re looking at.”

– Caleb Newquist

You’ll want to look at yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily goals. To understand what works and what doesn’t, you’ll also need to generate reports you can analyze to compare with your goals. Your plan might be to generate a certain amount of leads in a month on your Twitter account or to write five blog posts a month. You’ll need to take into account deadlines for promoting significant events (such as tax season) while giving adequate time for any hiccups or difficulties that arise.

Generally, a marketing plan will include the following: 

  • Your marketing and advertising goals
  • The channels you will be using, such as email, social media, print, and digital
  • A timeline of when tasks within your strategy will be completed 
  • Key performance indicators (KPIs) you will be tracking
  • A description of your business’s target market and customer profiles

The more you know about a good marketing strategy, the better able you are to assess anyone you hire and work with them on developing the right approach for your firm. You’ll need to communicate your needs, your expertise, and your offerings to any marketing professional clearly. Make sure all strategies align with your goals as a firm. And if you’re doing it yourself, you’ll need to establish clear guidelines around everything you do. It’s also great to get any ideas you have out on paper because there’s no guarantee you’ll remember them later.

“I don’t know about you, but writing stuff down, for me personally, it gets it out of my head. My head’s a crowded place, so from a practical standpoint, I think it makes sense to get these things down, get them into a physical or digital document in a meaningful fashion. That’s why a marketing plan can be so helpful for you getting started on these marketing efforts.”

– Caleb Newquist

Not only is a marketing plan essential to keeping your team on track, but it’s also a practical way to get all of your ideas out on paper. Remember, you can always refine your plan and you should expect to do so. 

Learn more about marketing for accountants

Studies show that out of all areas of business, accountants struggle with marketing the most. While not every accountant will engage in marketing activities, it’s essential to have a good grasp of your strategy. Understanding the role it plays in your firm is incredibly important, and if you’re hiring a team, you should know how they work and what good marketing looks like.

Marketing isn’t just about ads, sales, and emails. There are many branches of marketing, including niche areas that would be difficult to learn without specialized training. However, the core goal that unites all marketing processes is that they generate interest in a company.

The purpose of marketing is simple: It supports the growth of your firm. In today’s marketplace, you can’t afford to stagnate. A good marketing strategy begins, like most things, with a plan. You’ll need to track output and results, always testing what works and what doesn’t to find the most effective tactic.

Here at Gusto, we want to support your firm in every way we can, including helping you reach new customers. Be sure to check out our upcoming articles based on this webinar: “Creating a Marketing Plan for Your Accounting Firm” and “Marketing Channels for Your Accounting Firm.”

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

As a Gusto partner, you’ll also get tools to help you expand your accounting practice and offer your clients new insights, plus a free payroll subscription for your own accounting firm. Sign up to be a partner today! 

Updated: December 23, 2021

Gusto Editors
Gusto Editors

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