Accountants tend to fall in the analytical–left brain–thinker camp. This makes it difficult for some practitioners to make the transition to right brain creative thinking when the time comes to get a marketing program up and running. Additionally, many accountants still cling to the misconception that everything they put out into the market must be stoically professional—and that tends to rule out creative marketing communications.
Times have changed. The stuffed-shirt accountant image is a thing of the past. Quite frankly, the old-school-all-business approach is more likely to scare off potential clients because today’s progressive prospects associate the hardline professional with the guy in the outdated office, who bills for every minute of time, and is utterly inflexible. People like creative…so give the people what they want! Here are a few tips to help you get your creative on…
Tell a Different Story About Your Firm
It’s time to get more intimate. Clients and prospects want to view their accountant not just as an advisor, but as a trusted friend as well. Show a little more of yourself to really create a unique brand—one that sets you apart from all the other firms with the corporate blue logo and power ties. Take your marketing communications to a new level of cool and unique. Explain who you are (in your own style), why you do what you do (say it with passion), and how your services help clients succeed (clients love to hear how you can help them). Try not to spew out a dry resume when you tell your story. Instead, give it some creative color.
Once you’ve found your new voice, spice up your marketing initiatives even more by adding engaging images and graphics and eye-catching colors. Don’t be afraid to be quirky…this is a surefire way to set your communications apart from everyone else who follows a boring blue template.
Sass Up Your Website
If your website looks like a generic template and reads like a CV…it’s time to reevaluate. You really have to get into the brand mindset—that is, how do you want visitors to “feel” about your firm. Take the time to create custom content that properly relays your exclusive story (lose any generic boilerplate), and design a site that is aesthetically compelling and easy to navigate. Also be sure that your site is not a static brochure of information, but instead serves as the new “front door” to your firm—where visitors can interact and do business. You’ll want to consider client portals, helpful educational downloads (white papers, fact sheets), and videos.
If you are a firm that strategically serves certain niche markets, equip your site with related content. Add custom industry pages to your website, and within them use the right language and ask the right questions to start a dialogue with prospects. For example, if you serve veterinarians, indicate your understanding; that is, either it’s complex or—there’s more to a vet practice than a clinic. It also includes a hospital, pharmacy, elaborate inventory, etc. Also indicate your participation in supporting associations such as the American Animal Hospital Association or VetPartners. The more detail, the more you position yourself as an expert from the start.
Revamp Your Office Space
Don’t fool yourself into thinking that your physical office doesn’t speak volumes. If your space looks outdated, people will drive right by. We live in a world where beauty has replaced function. Take Apple for example…it’s not enough to offer products and services that perform well, consumers want them to be aesthetically pleasing as well. Design trumps function. Consider updating the interior of your office—pick a new brand color, one that is updated and bold—and go with it. Update exterior signage as well using new fonts and colors. Again, be creative.
Creativity is King! And believe it or not, we all have some creative skill. Take some time to review your communications, website and office, and make needed creative enhancements. You’ll be surprised at how a few tweaks can bolster your brand image. Trust your inner creative.
Kristy Short, Ed.D, is partner and Chief Marketing Officer in RootWorks LLC (RootWorks.com) and president of rwc360, LLC (rwc360.com)—firms dedicated to providing practice management education, branding, marketing, and public relations services to the accounting profession. She is also a professor of English and marketing. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gaynor Meilke, MS, is a professional accounts manager at rwc360. She has more than 15 years of public relations and marketing experience, including expertise within the accounting and financial sectors. Reach her at email@example.com.