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Entries in growth opportunities for accountants (3)

Friday
Jan202017

How to Develop an Accounting Firm Marketing Message That (Really) Works

By Hitendra Patil

How do you develop a marketing message for your accounting firm that really works? Here's a hint: Ask Gillette!

According to CampaignLive, Gillette’s 2016 Father’s Day ad achieved an extremely rare 709 Ace Score. Less than 1% of ads receive an Ace Score over 700.

It further explains that the ad’s biggest strengths are:

  1. being liked, and
  2. being relevant.

Nearly 65% of the viewers thought the single best aspect of this ad was the “message”. Not the visuals, music, characters, etc.

Why? Because the message is completely relevant to what is going on in the world today.

Don’t believe me? Come back to the rest of this post after watching the ad.

(Welcome back!)

Inspired by this awesomely clever yet simple video ad, we have some ideas that you can use in your firm’s marketing plan.

 

1. Be relevant to your target clients.

The “message” you deliver to to attract your ideal clients needs to be relevant to their lives.

Question for you: 

What is really relevant to your target clients? (Hopefully, you have defined your target clients very precisely).

 

2. Compare to show wisdom and expertise.

Yes, accounting is a bit more (okay, a lot more) complex than shaving. But that's the point.

The key marketing principle here is contrast. When you show what is difficult, the easier option is understood better, in a comparative sense.

Question for you:

Which stressful results can you show your clients if, for instance, they did their own accounting and taxes? 

Now show them the results you can produce, without that stress.

 

3. Connect via context.

Some viewers felt that the story was great but the content was not that well related to the product.

When you deliver the context, your target audience should connect your story (message) with your services.

Question for you

Here's an example: Can you figure out the most common entries that go into “Ask My Accountant” and WHY? 

Answers to these WHYs can be your context that clients will quickly relate to.

 

So what's next?

Giant corporations can spend millions to do market research and demographic studies. They pay a lot to creative ad agencies and media producers to create such awesome ads. 

It is not easy for accounting firms to do the same. And it is rare to see mass video ads in the accounting profession.

But your message can still deliver the same type of impact - on your website, in your personal interactions with prospects, in your emails, perhaps via videos on your website. 

I look forward to your thoughts!

Hitendra Patil is director of practice development at AccountantsWorld. In this role, Hitendra helps accountants leverage AccountantsWorld's solutions more powerfully, advancing the company's leadership in cloud solutions for accountants. He can be reached at HPatil@accountantsworld.com.

Thursday
Mar312016

Growth Opportunities Outweigh Challenges for Accountants

Now that tax season has (thankfully) come to a close, it's the perfect time of year for accountants to broaden the view of their practice.  They should think not only about how they’re going to survive the next tax season, but also about generating a perennial revenue stream beyond tax season.

 

A recent survey of 301 managing partners of small accounting firms (firms with five or fewer equity partners and a maximum of $10 million in annual revenues) found that seven out of ten managing partners expect it will be more difficult for their firms to make money in 2016 than it was in 2015.  However, opportunities to make money may not be so difficult to come by.

While taking on additional clients is a viable option to increase revenue, a better option is to offer additional services to existing clients. Most accountants don’t know what additional services to offer, and many think they don’t have the time to handle additional services. These accountants should be thinking critically about streamlining their internal processes to accommodate a larger volume of work, because significant opportunities for offering additional services to their existing clients do exist.

A new survey by AccountantsWorld found that 25 percent of the small business owners surveyed said they’d be at least “somewhat interested” in transferring more of their accounting work to their accountants. So, with one out of every four small business owners open to an expanded relationship with their accountants, there is no better time for firms to be reaching out to current or prospective clients to expand their slate of services before the tax season crush. The survey also found that when a small business employs an internal bookkeeper, interest in outsourcing accounting work increases to 45 percent.

Since payroll is so highly intertwined with clients’ overall expenses and tax liabilities, it's a natural fit for accountants to also manage this function for their clients. If you haven’t considered offering payroll services because of the perception that payroll is an “all pain, no gain” service, consider that thousands of accountants have turned payroll into a virtually painless, highly profitable service. How? By using professional, robust cloud-based payroll systems created exclusively for accountants, like the award-winning Payroll Relief solution.

 


Knowing that additional ways of raising the bottom line exist, the next step is to find the resources needed to add those services. The trick for accountants to offer additional services without adding any staff is to focus on streamlining. By reducing the time spent on existing services and finding ways to provide additional services with minimal time and effort, adding services without adding staff becomes possible. The right professional cloud solutions can help you accomplish both.

Many accountants know that the primary source of wasted time in their practices is dealing with errors that clients make. Using a truly professional accounting system can change that, once and for all. How? A professional system lets accountants work collaboratively with their clients and gives them the ability to customize the system for each client, to ensure clients access only the functions they can perform. This enables accountants to drastically reduce client errors and regain significant time.  

Professional accounting systems like Accounting Power also make it much faster and easier to produce customizable financial statements, and accountants can take advantage of time-saving features, such as bank feeds that reduce the data entry time needed for the write-up work they perform for clients who write manual checks - time they can use to offer complete accounting services and payroll services.

 


 

Cloud-based professional accounting systems can also help accountants offer payroll and complete accounting services faster and easier by making it possible for accountants’ staff to do what clients’ staff or their external bookkeepers currently do – only faster, easier and more accurately and without leaving the office. Cloud-based payroll solutions created exclusively for accountants have also introduced a high level of automation in payroll processing, allowing accountants to offer highly profitable payroll services with minimal staff time.

These systems make it possible for accountants to generate significant additional revenues by offering payroll and complete accounting services without adding any stress to their staff. In fact, streamlining work flow and eliminating redundancies and unnecessary work actually increases staff satisfaction. 

Professional accounting systems like Accounting Power make it easy to manage the financial health of your small business clients, thanks to customizable alerts, snapshots, financial ratios and a configurable dashboard.

As a bonus, cloud-based professional accounting solutions include analytical tools to monitor client key performance indicators (KPIs) and cash flow with minimal effort. These value-added services provide additional sources of increased profits while strengthening client relationships.  

Your clients are looking for you to offer them the additional services they need - services that you can easily offer. What are you waiting for?

 

Monday
Jul272015

Where Are the Growth Opportunities for Accountants?

At first glance, it appears that there aren’t many bright spots for growth for accounting practices today.

For starters, look at the state of tax preparation. More and more clients are buying "do-it-yourself" tax programs and doing their tax returns themselves. Undoubtedly, the market for this service is shrinking.

What about client accounting? It's become a low-margin commodity service, thanks to the most widely used "do-it-yourself" accounting systems sold directly to small businesses. These pieces of software have taken control of many accountants' time and processes. Clients buy the software, but most don't know a thing about accounting, so they end up making bookkeeping messes. Professional accountants like you have to spend hours cleaning up those messes before they can do their professional work. You became an accounting professional so that you could add value to your clients' businesses, and give them the crucial business advice they need. But current circumstances make it difficult – if not impossible – do that.

If we look closely, we uncover a disturbing reality – and the reason that accountants have lost control of their core services (tax and accounting).

While technology has undoubtedly brought in tremendous benefits to accountants, it's also the cause of the diminished control that accountants now have over their core services, and of the marginalization of accounting practices.

The "do-it-yourself" (DIY) accounting systems and tax programs are products of the PC era. DIY accounting systems took control of accounting away from accountants, and DIY tax programs have taken a big bite out of the tax preparation business.

Meanwhile, payroll bureaus used the power of mainframe computers to capture payroll processing services from accountants. The tools accountants had in the 1980's and 1990's were no match for the power of these mainframe computers.

If accountants continue on the same path and keep surrendering more and more of their territory to the ever-increasing intrusion of external forces, the prospects for a brighter future for accountants will keep getting dimmer.

But fortunately, unlike previous technologies, new technological advances have created tremendous potential for accountants to recapture a good amount of business they had lost to external forces.

And that's not all. These technological advances have also created billions of dollars' worth of new opportunities for accountants.

The revolutionary cloud technology that has transformed so many aspects of our lives in sweeping ways has the potential to completely transform the accounting profession and help you revamp your practice.

Ready to learn more? Download our white paper today.

In this white paper, we'll review the major challenges accountants face in accounting today. These obstacles include:

  • Time spent on non-billable (or non-productive) tasks. This includes barriers like fixing client bookkeeping errors, managing different versions of software, and sending files and paper back and forth with your clients.
  • Significant inefficiencies in client accounting, thanks to the reactive role that accountants play in current "do-it-yourself" accounting systems created for small businesses.
  • Diminished perceived importance of your services. When clients use these "do-it-yourself" accounting systems, they believe that they have done most of the work. They get the wrong impression that, as an accountant, you essentially add just little value over what they have accomplished using a piece of software.
  • Difficulty in differentiating your firm.

Then we'll explain why, despite these challenges, we are confident that the future for accounting practices is actually very bright. We'll show you how certain types of cloud technology can help you overcome these challenges. Then we will discuss five exciting growth opportunities created by the cloud and other new developments. These trends have the potential to add billions of dollars in revenue to accounting practices over the next five years. These opportunities include:

  • Regaining control of accounting and strengthening your client relationships.
  • Making your client accounting work 30 – 50% more profitable.
  • Becoming an indispensable "virtual CFO" to your clients.
  • Turning a service you may have considered "no gain, all pain" into one that can be "all gain, no pain" for your practice.
  • Offering a complete accounting service – without additional staff or overhead.

The reality is there is no lack of opportunities for proactive accountants. Download our white paper to learn how to start tapping your practice's true potential today.