If you’ve ever tried accounting firm marketing you’ve probably been told, “Niche down.”
This statement is advice you’ve (probably) heard from nearly every consultant, expert, and accountant of accountants over the last several years.
And they’re right. It’s great advice.
But, many firm owners interpret this as a solution to their client acquisition woes, instead of the first step in an operational marketing strategy. If you keep reading those blog posts, listening to the podcasts, and attending the webinars—all that content telling you to choose a vertical—it also mentions the work to pull it off.
Here are the statements:
- You’re able to speak to that specific niche, using their lingo.
- Clients know you understand their specific needs, pains, and business goals.
- Marketing, referrals, and sales are all easier by narrowing your market.
So, what does that work look like? It looks like building the marketing and sales funnel for your accounting firm.
Three Funnel Stages in Accounting Firm Marketing and What We’ll Cover
Just for reference, we’ll define the three general stages of a sales funnel.
- Top of Funnel (ToF): This is when your target audience (the industry/vertical/niche you’ve chosen) finds out about your firm.
- Middle of Funnel (MoF): At this stage, those aware of your firm somehow begin learning more about what you do, and consider your services related to their needs.
- Bottom of Funnel (BoF): Prospective clients that make it here are those you’re actively attempting to close the deal.
Now, here’s what you’ll get from reading this guide:
- See how to tie in your top of funnel traffic to the middle of your funnel via a resource
- How to move those in the MoF toward becoming warm leads via email sequences (aka BoF)
- A brief walkthrough of segmentation and potential email sequence templates to use for your firm.
Let’s get started.
Before the Benefits of Funnels…The Problem Defined
Let’s briefly begin with the problem of not having a funnel. Since Full Stadium does marketing for accounting firms and SaaS companies in the Fintech space, we’ve noticed the primary way firms choose to advance the conversation with leads.
What is it? Some form of “Contact us,” or “Schedule a call.”
It’s perfectly fine to let visitors know you’re available, but if this is the only CTA, it creates a two-fold problem.
- Those leads who are into doing a bit of research before speaking with someone will leave without giving you any information about themselves.
- And leads who have no problem getting on the phone for 30 minutes, but don’t fit into your target client profile.
In other words, ideal clients leave your website because the only way forward is interaction.
Or those leads you don’t want to close are willing to fill your calendar—taking away precious time.
Whether or not you niche down in your firm, building out a simple funnel is a great way to improve your firm simply by catching the leads who’re interested (yet, not ready to talk) and avoiding conversations that go nowhere.
Plus, if a good lead leaves, you have no way of getting them back.
Ultimately, marketing is a process. CPA firms have processes for monthly services, client onboarding, engagement letters, and almost everything related to service delivery. But marketing is often jumbled and filled with hope. It’s rarely a defined process. The funnel turns accounting firm marketing into a data-driven process.
Now, Onto the Benefits of a Funnel (Example)
Won’t be long here, because you’re reading a post about funnels—which means you’re already in the ballpark—and don’t need the full tour.
Mainly, the benefits negate the problems with the typical “get in touch” call-to-action (CTA) pervasive in accounting firm blogs. Let’s look at an example to get the visual picture of a better CTA.
Imagine an accounting firm targets funded software companies, offering virtual CFO advisory. Their blog is full of posts about cap tables, scaling payroll, and staffing metric definitions.
What exactly are those who find the blog looking for?
Chances are it’s not a fractional CFO. At least that the lead knows about…yet.
Now let’s say this firm develops a downloadable guide explaining all the ways to structure pay for employees (and non-employees) at a startup. Contractors, commission-based compensation, stock options (ISO vs NSO)—It’s a one-stop shop for all things newly-funded companies must know to scale their teams quickly.
Key startup players (i.e. a founder or early member of the startup team) find the payroll/compensation content on our example’s blog.
Then—instead of a few “contact us” sections throughout—readers see the most relatable next step for them. It’s that payroll guide. This ebook bridges the gap between ToF (people who just find the blog through a Google search) and the MoF (those who are now learning more about what a firm does).
And remember “no way of getting them back”? Now, you’ll have their email, which allows you to continue communications.
Which leads us to the next section.
ToF to MoF (Bridge the Gap with a Resource)
After railing against the “call us” style of CTA, let’s cover moving those new visitors coming into the top of your funnel toward considering your firm’s specific services.
Honestly, there are a number of “lead magnets” that effectively get someone to sign up to your email list.
- Webinars: These are a great way to get a number of people into a virtual conversation, where you give value, answer questions, and offer your services. But they take more research and technical expertise than average.
- Swipe files/templates: These are perfect for giving people an actionable next step after reading your content. But they aren’t the best if you’re looking for clients who want someone else (like an accountant) to help.
- Communities: A sense of community is a powerful draw, but they take a lot to manage and make valuable.
- Video content: People love them, but edited, well-planned video content takes more effort than webinars (in most cases)
- Newsletters: Many of you likely subscribe to our friends Jetpack Workflow and Ryan from Future Firm for their great newsletters.
Why a Guide is (probably) Best in Accounting Firm Marketing
A guide (aka eBook or Whitepaper) is often the best choice for accounting firms. It’s for a number of reasons.
- Fast turnaround: When we write a guide for our clients, it takes a couple of weeks to write the content (usually 2,000-4000 words) and then another week to get that content designed into a good-looking visual PDF.
- Evergreen: Accounting fundamentals don’t change often. The tools and techniques may, but the overall suggestions you give via content last for years, meaning a big ROI.
- Lower time investment: You write the thing one time (or have someone like us write it), make sure it’s good to go, get it designed and put it on your website. No continual community to keep up with. No nerves about getting on a webinar. It keeps working for you, not the other way around.
- Multiples are easy: There are so many types of guides that answer questions for your leads. Even for a single niche. For instance, a SaaS ideal client could have a guide for owner compensation, another for payroll, another for improving cash flow, another for preparing to receive funding. All of these can be linked to relevant blog posts and attract just the right leads.
Key takeaway: In short, guides are good. We won’t belabor any longer, but there are a couple of the recent examples we’ve done for clients. If you want to see our work, check those out here and here.
Communicating with Leads via Email
Ok, you’ve written quality content that ranks for certain keywords and questions your target audience needs. Then, you create a guide that allows those visitors to find out more about that topic and allows you to show how your firm helps people like them.
You have new people signing up each month for your list (to get the guide). And these are targeted leads who likely share some similar attributes to your personas and ideal client profile.
Well, there are a few ways to do this, too.
- Direct contact: They sign up and you immediately pounce by
land, sea, and airphone, email, and voicemail. This works great for some industries, but takes a sales development team to do it well.
- Weekly newsletter content: New subscribers are just thrown into your regular (or sporadic) email newsletter.
- Direct pitches: Instead of putting the “contact us” in the blog, you shift it over to email after they sign up for your list.
A Sequence of Evergreen Emails (Again, Probably Best)
In Gary Vaynerchuck’s book, “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook”, he talks about giving value to people (aka a “jab”) multiple times before asking them to do something for you (“right hook”).
- You give them a blog post they find via Google (jab).
- They download your guide (jab).
- You send valuable follow-up emails related to the guide (jab).
- Then, email them saying you can implement all of these strategies and offer a free consultation (right hook).
Example of an Email Sequence for Accounting Firm Marketing
Ok, we’re still looking at the accounting firm targeting funded SaaS startups. They write the payroll guide and use that as their CTA on all compensation, payroll, and team growth content.
When someone signs up, they’re put into a five-email sequence:
Email One: Thanks for signing up + Here’s your resource
First impressions are the most important, right? You want the email to go out immediately and have the PDF guide right there for download. This will likely be the email with the highest open/click through rates (percentage of people who open the email and click the download).
Make it short and sweet, mention you’ll be providing more information about scaling the team properly in the coming days (preps them for the rest of the email).
Email Two: Pure value
Maybe you offer a sweet tip, or give links to other content in the same vein as the guide. Just be helpful. No pitch here, but do say something like, “Would love to hear your thoughts, you can reply directly to this email and I’ll see it.”
Email Three: How we helped a client [amazing result] (aka a case study)
“We saved a client $XX,XXX simply by [what you did].”
Also mention things like why it’s common in SaaS startups, to pique a lead’s interest. It’s also where you want to give a soft pitch.
Something like, “If you’re interested in a consult about [whatever you did for the sample client], you can reply or book a time [linking to your calendar scheduler].
- Bonus tip: Have your case study written out in post form on your site to link and/or have a pdf of this to attach to the email.
Email Four: The full right hook
Talk about the SaaS payroll pain points, talk about where they’re at now (the before picture) and what life could be like after a solution like yours (the after picture). Finally mention how your team are experts at bridging the gap between their current situation and the happily ever after.
Email Five: Overcoming objections
Sound like a discovery call at this point? Good. And that’s the power of the email sequence, you’re warming up leads and reducing their objections potentially before you ever get on the call!
This is where you list common objections and alleviate those fears and call for them to get in touch again.
- Bonus tip: If a lead is opening and clicking resources in your emails, this is a fantastic sign. A manual outreach is almost certainly warranted. In this case, you may remove them from your sequence and reach out via email yourself to see what they thought of the resource—or even give them a call.
Want some email templates?
We’re believers in guides and have put together a bunch for accounting firms. Building out your ideal client profile, developing an accounting firm marketing plan, and templates are all available, right here.
And if you’d like to discuss content planning, developing your own guide resource, and even putting together an email sequence for your new leads………contact us here (see what we did there).