Marketing your practice to promote growth

The key takeaways from this session


Top tips for marketing your small practice

How to grab people’s attention without spending too much money - or time

This is a summary of an ACCA Practice Room session, hosted by our special guest Jason Ball and Damien Skeete

Marketing your small or medium-sized practice can be tough. Many SMPs find they don’t have the time, or the cash to do it - or don’t know where to start. Jason Ball of Considered Content, a marketing company focusing on B2B promotion, joined ACCA’s final May Practice Room to share his top tips on how to market what you do.

How to start thinking about it

The first thing to think about is what aspects of your firm might put you on a shortlist for a conversation. Most of the time, your practice is going to perform many of the same services as others’ practices - accounting, tax, audit, and so on. Think about what things you do that might really differentiate you to the client. Try to be as granular or as niche as you can - without being obscure!

Think about where your growth is going to come from. For example, is it going to come from more clients, bigger clients, or add-on services for your existing clients? You need to begin laying the foundations for when those groups might come looking.

Also consider the barriers to that growth. For example, do you actually have enough staff in place to service more clients? Marketing is one thing, but if you don’t have the ability to follow through on your commitments, you’ll find other people do the marketing for you - and not the good kind!

What not to do

There are some key things NOT to do when you’re beginning to market your practice, or changing your marketing strategy:

  • Don’t think you’re fighting on a level playing field: you can’t just say you’re going to do the same things as the Big Four, only better. Accept that the playing field isn’t level.
  • Don’t lead with what you do. It’s comfortable but from a marketing point of view, it’s terrible. Everyone does it. Talk about how you do it. Talk about how you can help your clients when they’re in a tough spot. And use imagery on your site that isn’t the same as everyone else (hint: young, smartly dressed people gathered around a laptop.)
  • Don’t assume your clients care about you: clients and prospective clients don’t care about you. They care about what you can do for them. They want to hear you talking about their challenges, not talking about yourself.

Practical ideas

There are some quick wins to be had with marketing. They might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people try to cut corners. Consider:

  • Having a professionally designed website, optimized for search
  • Making sure you have prominent and specific testimonials
  • Investing money in outbound marketing such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google
  • Get involved in local initiatives and charities
  • Making time or paying a freelancer money to write content for you that surprises and challenges

Top tips

Jason gave his absolute-100%-must-do top tips for marketing your practice. He said:

  • Try to create a name for key figures in your firm. You need to be brave and have an opinion on things, publicly, and to give away a bit of knowledge. Post on LinkedIn two to three times a week. Remember, those who are able to tell their clients something about that client’s challenges, and who are able to educate them, are far likelier to attract business.
  • Don’t spend what cash you have on lead generation advertising. Choose awareness advertising instead. It’s cheaper and you’ll end up with the same number of leads. Remember to be as specific as you possibly can.
  • Do your own primary research to uncover challenges in the areas your clients’ work and the areas you deal with. Write reports, create gated content, and have opinions. Remember, show, don’t tell.
  • Go outside to get help. This doesn’t mean hiring an expensive agency. Instead, consider paying a local freelancer to write content for you, that you can edit into your own tone of voice. It’ll save you valuable time.

A final word on recruitment marketing

Since talent is so hard to find now, Jason gave some bonus tips for recruiting. Having worked on recruitment marketing strategy for one of the Big Four, he understands that SMPs often lose out on employees at the last minute and find it hard to compete on salary and prestige. But he says there are things SMPs can do, such as:

  • Make sure you get to the local college and university recruitment fairs and get as many names as possible
  • Consider offering to guest lecture or run career workshops at local universities - this will help you showcase your firm’s worth
  • Even if a potential recruit turns you down for one of the Big 4, reach out to them in six months’ time to see if they’re still happy. Often as not, that’s when the honeymoon period ends and they’re looking for options.

Some useful links:

Link to Past Session's Key Takeaways on Retaining Talent

Link to Past Session's Key Takeaways on Diversifying and Positioning your Services

Practice Room LinkedIn Group

Marketing and branding your practice section of the Practice Room