It’s an amazing feeling when a prospect looks at your proposal and says, “Wow…I’ve never seen an accountant send out such a beautiful proposal before”.
You’re pleased. This person has recognised you don’t fit the stereotype they had in their mind, and you know you’ll win them over as a client.
But what if they said and felt that BEFORE the proposal?
What if they felt your authority, your expertise, and your non-boringness before they even got to the proposal meeting? What if, when they got the beautiful proposal, they said “oh yes, this is amazing: it’s exactly what I would expect from an accountant like this”?
Building your authority starts long before the proposal. It starts with your marketing. And “your marketing” is far more comprehensive than just someone filling in a form on your website. It goes much further back than a few social media posts, or an email you’ve sent out.
Accountants more than ever (especially after the last year or so) are seeing the impact on your marketing from writing and sharing what’s helpful to the kind of people you want to work with.
You’re sending emails, recording videos, writing blog posts, creating website pages, setting up Facebook groups. You stopped worrying about “marketing tactics”, and focused purely on helping people. Communicating. Giving your take, your perspective, your thoughts, your feelings. “Here’s what we know – and we’ll be talking to you about it personally as soon as we can.”
Because of the worldwide crisis, your three former enemies – fear, perfection, and time – have been wiped away in an instant. There are bigger things to fear than recording a video, no one cares if it’s perfect, and you just make time for it because it has to be done. Nobody cares if the video is perfect, or the lighting is perfect, or the email has the right spacing, or whatever. Nobody has anything together right now, and neither you nor your clients have time to faff about. Just get something out there, because people need help. It’s the message that matters. It’s the help that matters. It’s YOU who matters. And they love you for it.
Now it’s time to think beyond the blog posts and the live videos. To create more than content, and create assets.
Creating a marketing asset is actually as simple as gathering the content you’ve been creating under one theme. With one diagram or image.
Once you’ve got that, you can use many different formats to say the same thing – a long video, short video clips, a blog post, a PDF guide, a website page, a live webinar, an interview.
Here’s how an asset comes to be:
- Think about the questions asked on repeat by your clients and prospects (something you’re tired of answering)
- Create content (of varying kinds) to answer those questions, so you don’t have to repeat yourself
- Look for patterns in that content – what one theme or topic repeats most often?
- Choose the one theme or topic which, if answered, helps prospects make their buying decision faster
- Gather your content into one resource that belongs solely to you
- Share the first draft of this resource with trusted clients and new prospects
- Get their feedback – use it to tweak, adapt, change so it’s even better
- Design and brand that resource for your firm (this is an asset now)
- Share that branded asset with everyone
- Keep getting feedback & keep adapting the resource so it’s even better
- Start creating spin off pieces based on this one core asset
GoProposal shows a good example of this. The GLOSS method is, in its simplest form, a diagram of questions you ask in a sales meeting.
It now includes:
- A diagram of the 5 questions
- A video explaining how to use it
- A blog post going into detail about each question
- An invitation to discuss the method on LinkedIn
- A blueprint guide with even more detail
- …and many more spin offs from these core elements.
If it’s information which applies to all or most people, just give it away. Don’t even ask for an email address necessarily. Give, share, tell. Share your expertise in a way they can take it, apply it themselves to their own situation, and be grateful to you for it.
The moment they come to you to ask how this information applies to their situation specifically, it’s time to charge for it. Get a discovery call or proposal meeting. But they’ll already have high expectations, because you’ve saved everyone time by cutting right to the heart of the problem. Ideally, a problem they knew they had but didn’t know how to fix; or a problem they didn’t even realise they had.
Your resource, your asset, has built that trust so they want to talk to you about their situation.
Here are some ways to get started with this now.
Save email content to write blog posts later
A lot of the emails (or texts, or social media DMs, or you-can’t-even-remember-what-platform) you’re sending to clients include valuable, helpful information. And with a little copyediting that content could be turned into a blog post on your website, to help more than just clients.
Granted, some of those emails are very specific, or relate to one client only. But with slight edits (or a combination of several communications you’ve made to different clients), you could have shareable content – in your own tone of voice – with very little effort on your part!
Whenever you send an email to a client about something you’ve answered at least once or twice already, or repeated to other clients, just copy and paste the words into one of these places. Don’t make it perfect or super organised – you can do that later (or someone can do it for you). But do save it – because you’ll never be able to find it later.
- Notes app on your phone (iphone Notes, trello, evernote, etc). I use this all the time for information I send clients by text, or in a Facebook message, or something that’s just a few sentences but it reminds me to write “proper” content later.
- TAYA Gsheet or Google doc: TAYA stands for “They Ask You Answer”, and it’s a list of questions your clients and prospects are asking, which you need to write down as soon as you hear them. You could put a few headers in the document – like “Getting a loan” or “Pivoting your business” – so you can later put the content from various messages underneath it.
- Get the team saving this content too. Don’t go lone ranger on this: you need the entire team involved. They’re talking to clients daily, too. This is why having a shareable document is a good idea, because then it’s not only you who’s contributing to it. This will come in VERY handy in the future.
Taking this content from raw bullet-point format into an organised blog post does take some effort; but it will move you a lot further forward than staring at a blank screen. Remember: not perfect, but done. Get it out there. You can always edit it post-publish.
Turn your email & blog content into guides
In addition to turning email content into blog posts, you can also take that same content and turn it into a downloadable guide or resource of some kind.
Don’t worry too much about making it perfect immediately – remember, it’s the message that matters. Better to have a Google doc, or a quick video recorded on your phone, which is genuinely helpful, than a beautifully designed PDF guide which took weeks to create and no one really downloads it. (Once you find out how much they love it, you can combine different pieces of content into one PDF guide, or a website page, or a resource to help more than just clients.)
Remember to look for themes: Are you creating a lot of content around funding sources? Or short term budgeting for cash? Or hiring and recruiting? This is another reason having your collaborative TAYA Google doc will come in handy. You can see patterns and themes, and identify a resource based on all that combined content.
Start by creating a simple Google doc with your logo and branding. Export it to a PDF, job done. Get it out there and find out if it is actually useful. Practical. Later you can brand it up and add imagery or custom design.
Turn your webinars into video content
If you’re running webinars for clients (or for anyone), they’re likely 45 minutes to an hour. You can share the webinar recordings afterwards, but depending on the topic, some of it may go out of date when the regulations or situation has changed.
One of the best things about longer content is that it becomes “stackable” content. You break up the long content into little pieces that then stack together to build authority and drive people to start a conversation with you.
For webinars with longer-term content, consider breaking them up as follows.
(If you aren’t doing video editing yourself, or don’t have a video editor yet, write down the section to clip out later – ie “24th January webinar – from 1.15 to 4.56 – good mental health quotes from HR guest speaker”)
- Clip out sections for short videos on particular areas. Perhaps you had a guest speaker on mental health, and there were a few minutes where they were talking about a particular method which is useful anytime. Clip out just that section, share it on the socials or in an email, and then drive people to the full video which is saved on your website. Or to your resources page!
- Use quotes in your emails or other marketing communication. When you or another speaker says something particularly quoteable, make a note of it and share that elsewhere. You could even create an image with the quote and share that. (Having a branded quote template which you can upload to Canva and edit quickly on your phone helps a lot.)
- Share videos on your resource page. Embed these videos (or clips of videos) into your resource page and at least have them easily accessible on your own website. That way you’re not sending people away to YouTube or Vimeo, but keeping them on your site as long as possible.
Create an FAQs page for prospects
One of the single best ways to help people buy from you faster is to answer their questions before they even ask them.
Give them a place summarising all the questions you’ve ever been asked (and answering them honestly and in detail), so they say, “Clearly they’ve heard this before” and they feel “this accountant could really help me”.
Your marketing is supposed to help people feel it is POSSIBLE you can help them. The marketing hasn’t won them over to the proposal signing yet – that’s your job, in the sales meeting, and you’ll do brilliantly then. These assets you’re creating help the prospect move from “I’ve never heard of this person” to “I think I may be able to trust them”.
Your FAQ’s could be answered in a variety of ways:
- Blog post
- Recorded video from webinar or Facebook live
- Shorter video clip (either cut from a longer video, or just recorded in a few minutes on your phone)
- Facebook group or community
- Social media hashtag so your content is easy to find
Then gather all this content into an FAQ page on your website, like this:
- Short answers to quick questions (like these FAQs for our Accelerator course)
- Blog posts or videos on a particular theme or topic (like this page on the topic of choosing a niche)
- A visual diagram summarising the answers to the FAQs, with a video (like this marketing map)
Be specific. Answer the question exactly as you would if only ONE person (a prospect you really like) is asking it.
When the UK furlough scheme was announced in March 2020, Jonathan and his team at Raedan set up this FAQs page as part of their free resource offering:
Talk about your pricing….methodology
Your prospects are definitely wondering about price. It’s not necessarily the first or only question they have, and the way you address it helps bring the right people to you and sends the wrong people away. You’d have trouble giving a very specific price, since every business and situation is different, but you CAN tell them how you approach the proposal, so they are ready.
(Remember: most prospects haven’t experienced a GoProposal approach, so they’re expecting an email with some prices, or a Word document, or something traditional and old-school. The more impressive you are ahead of time, the quicker they sign up for the discovery call.)
We recommend creating a “how we work” or “our approach” or “the [your firm name] way” page, because no one really cares about a list of 47 services. Management accounts, bookkeeping, VAT, payroll, tax consulting, blah blah blah.
This person is choosing to come to an accountant for accounting things. So they either already know what an accountant does and they want to know how YOU do it and whether they can trust you…or, they don’t really understand everything an accountant does which is why they need a proposal meeting.
Either way, listing out all the potential accounting services on website page after website page is boring. Telling them YOUR WAY and the fact you (with GoProposal’s help) have an actual methodology and philosophy about clear, transparent pricing… now that’s interesting.
If you’re really bold, create an actual Pricing page (or Fees) and use that page to talk about how you approach pricing. Share the GLOSS method, share a video of you walking through a demo GoProposal session, even give some pricing ranges if that would help your particular audience. This builds authority before they even get to the proposal meeting, and helps them feel comfortable and familiar with the process. (So they sign up faster.)
Create a resource page (or platform)
All these resources you’re creating may feel rather simple just now. A few blog posts, some emails, a video or two.
Think ahead to a single place you can send people to get the help they need – particularly by category.
You can categorise it by type of content (articles, videos, webinars), but it’s likely far more useful to categorise by the type of advice, since your prospect is looking for a solution to a particular problem they’re facing:
- Funding and financing
- Budgets and forecasting
- Team and hiring
- Government support
- …and so on
If you don’t have time to create something in depth or comprehensive, just create a page on your website called Resources. Some of you have Covid pages, but since this is how life is right now, you may want to call it Helping, or Support, or Free stuff.
Build community to show authority
One of the best ways to show your authority and expertise to people who don’t know you yet is through a Facebook group (or another platform). You can do it just for clients, or just prospects in a particular niche or industry. (If they’re not clients you’ll want to give them a reason to gather together.)
A few good questions to ask are:
- What space lends itself best to community and good conversation? What’s the best way to build community not just between me and my clients, but between clients and team? Or all your clients together, building relationships with each other?
- Is this group for clients only, or do I want to invite prospects? This helps you decide what platform to use, and whether to have one group or multiple groups.
- How long do I intend to use this group?
- What’s the most secure way to have conversations with clients?
Regardless of the place you create for people to come together, make it useful and practical. Remember: give away information (which applies to anyone) and charge for implementation (of how it affects just one person).
Building all these things takes time – both PF and GoProposal have been turning content into assets for years. We keep adapting, changing, recreating, and publishing based on the questions YOU ask.
If you’ve ever been helped by a free resource before you bought anything, you’ll know how it feels. Do that for your prospects, and build authority before they even meet you.
Want to learn more about how to provide value to clients before you extract value from them? Check out The Gap’s tips on Education Marketing.