To maximise the effectiveness of your marketing strategy, you need to first establish a clear understanding of the market in which your firm is operating. Investing time and resources into researching the accounting industry may seem tedious, but in the long run, it will pay off. To make things easier, let’s break it down:
The first step in any marketing strategy is to get to grips with your own business. It may sound silly, but a surprising number of accounting firms are operating without a clear understanding of ‘why’ – and your clients will always be the first to see through this. To ensure everyone within your accounting firm has a thorough understanding of your business, start by answering the following:
- Why does your firm exist? What problem are you helping to solve? Who is behind the business? Why should people care?
- What are your organisational values? Have you documented them? Are all of your employees aware of them? Are they embedded throughout your accounting firm?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses? Is there one thing that you do better than anyone else in the industry? Can you identify any opportunities or threats?
- What is your company vision? Have you set long and short term goals?
Creating a marketing strategy without first understanding your target customer is like jumping out of a plane without a parachute: you just shouldn’t do it. To engage your audience and make your marketing strategy successful, you need to ensure you have an in-depth understanding of your target customer so you can tailor your marketing towards them, providing solutions that fit their specific needs. The key to success is relevancy.
You need to be thinking of your audience as your best friend as opposed to a business opportunity. By developing a deeper understanding of your clients, you will form more meaningful relationships, which in turn, will help to improve your retention rates and encourage word-of-mouth recommendations. Think about answering the following:
- Who are they? Where do they live? How old are they?
- What’s their occupation? What industry do they work in?
- What are their likes and dislikes? What is most important to them?
- Where are they most active? How might you connect with them?
Completing a competitor analysis will not only help you to identify niches in your market, but will also provide an invaluable learning opportunity for your accounting firm. If there’s something one of your competitors is doing that you think is particularly successful, think about why it works and take inspiration. Equally, if you identify any obvious mistakes or weaknesses, use it as an opportunity to develop a strategy that will ensure you avoid doing the same – it will not only save you time and money, but will help to keep your reputation intact, too. Lastly, use it as a chance to spot new opportunities; are there any areas your competitors are neglecting? Or do you feel you can offer significant value where another firm is failing?
Broader market analysis
Once you have a solid understanding of the above, you need to be looking at the bigger picture. Being aware of trends and changes in the accounting industry will better equip you to deal with the impact they might have on your firm. This could be anything from the introduction of new technology to changes as a result of political factors, for example, the replacement of EU-adopted international accounting standards with UK-adopted IAS as a result of Brexit. When analysing your market, it’s good practice to use PESTLE (political, economic, social, technological, legal, environmental) to assess the external factors that may affect your business.