I’d like to offer three ways to help turn this dilemma around based on what our accounting and bookkeeping customers have shared with us over the past few years.
- Firstly, embrace the cloud. It will give you more time in your working week and enable you to add greater value for your potential clients in the form of business advisory services.
- Secondly, become a specialist in one or two particular industries, preferably in a field you are passionate about. By finding your niche, you will be able to refine your skillset, develop a stronger profile and address your market more effectively.
- And the last one: capitalise on the power of content marketing. By reaching out to a targeted audience with relevant and engaging content you are far more likely to attract potential clients than just relying on referrals from your existing base.
Embrace the cloud
We’ve been championing the benefits of the cloud for some time now, and for finding new clients it really is the way to go. I spoke recently to accounting thought leader and Director at AS Partners Sam Rotberg about this and he made his feelings very clear. “For the younger generation there is an expectation that everything should be in the cloud,” he says. “My older clients are beginning to realise how good it is – they don’t expect as much yet, but are becoming more aware and enjoy the change.”
So by embracing the cloud you will immediately be more attractive to a rapidly growing portion of the business community. The benefits to your firm are more compelling still. Cloud accounting software like QuickBooks Online will save you considerable time in data entry in your own firm. It will also provide insights that will enable you to broaden your offering from compliance to business advisory. This means you will have more time in your working week to devote to new clients and an exciting new value-added proposition to offer them.
Find your niche
Our accounting and bookkeeping customers tell me that specialising in one or two particular industries that are close to your heart is a terrific way to help you stand out from the crowd. As you tailor your skillset to a specific sector, you will develop a richer sense for what your potential clients need. Your ability to service those clients will then raise your profile within that given market.
Sam is one of those accountants who has found his niche. He concentrates his efforts on the travel industry and the medical/paramedical sector. “Focusing on the travel industry gave me the ability to go on the board of a large travel group representing more than 95 travel agents,” he says. “This allows me to advise on the board, as well as for other travel agents I’ve met at conferences. It has increased my exposure within that industry.”
He adds, “It’s best to do something you love. Your passion will show through and your clients will appreciate it. The more you learn about an industry by specialising, the better you will become at answering their questions and helping to grow their business.”
Reach your desired audience
The third way to land new clients is to capitalise on the power of content marketing. The key here is to develop a deeper understanding of your existing clients’ pain points. Find out what challenges they are facing with financial management. Chances are it will be issues common to many small businesses in that industry. You then draw on your own professional expertise to create engaging and relevant content for your website, such as short blog posts, that addresses those concerns for a broader audience. The last step is to amplify your posts on social media, such as LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter.
Over time you will build up a body of content that will resonate with your target audience, pitching you as a trustworthy authority on financial management. In turn, they will engage with your posts and a connection can be made.
“As a firm, we started writing weekly blogs last October,” says Sam. “We post them on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Personally, I post a lot on Twitter. It’s important to get exposure with the younger generation.”
At Intuit we understand the challenges accountants and bookkeepers face in trying to find the time and resources to grow your business. This is one of the reasons we are bringing our flagship conference QuickBooks Connect back to Sydney this week. The event, which has also wowed crowds in San Jose, London and Toronto, is in its second year in Australia. It’s part of our commitment to powering the prosperity of small businesses.
I urge you to come along to Australian Technology Park to listen to the insights of high-calibre business leaders such as entrepreneur Mark Bouris and Melanie Perkins, CEO of Canva. It’s a great opportunity to connect with likeminded accountants, bookkeepers and small business owners. And you may even land some new clients in the process!
To register, visit QuickBooks Connect and use promo code GROW for 20% off for $119 tickets.