14 Sep 2021 | 11.11 am
Tips For Virtual Business Development
Counsel for accountancy firms from Mary Cloonan
14 Sep 2021 | 11.11 am
In the past year, the way we do business has drastically changed, transitioning from face-to-face to virtual. With work practices moving online, Mary Cloonan of Marketing Clever advises on what businesses can do to attract and retain clients
Accounting firms have responded quickly to working remotely. Partners are zooming like never before. However, it’s also important to consider how new work can be developed in this virtual world.
When we consider our tactics, the most important place to start is to view the world from our target audiences’ perspective. Right now, it’s a virtual perspective. Potential clients are looking for you online before they are doing anything else.
Try this: clear your cache and search on Google for your name, your firm name and any other search terms you think your audience might use. Is your firm’s website, LinkedIn profile, social media accounts, etc., on the first page of results? The latest research from the US indicates that business to business buyers must see your message nine times before engaging with it, so it’s essential to make sure your name is prominently placed.
If you want to continue to build your client base during this pandemic, there are a few steps you need to take.
1. The ideal client – Consider your preferred client in detail. They must be central to every business development action.
2. Website development – Your firm’s website is the cornerstone of your presence in the marketplace. It needs to be excellent; the quality of firm sites has increased in the last year and yours should be no exception. Think mobile-first, well-written brief content with visuals. This is critical to get right before activating your presence in the market.
3. Don’t forget existing clients – It’s important to stay in contact with the people who already rely on your services to retain and grow your business.
4. Spruce up your LinkedIn profile – Similar to your website, your LinkedIn profile is your professional persona. Make sure you are using it to the best of its ability to build your connections and stay in touch. Create an environment where you are easy to reach.
5. Networking – Since we are in a virtual world, this means virtual networking. Use LinkedIn to engage with others, their posts, etc. Join in on Zoom events and expand your network.
6. Post content on social media – Encourage your team to write engaging and informative articles and blog posts to link back to your website. LinkedIn and other social media drive traffic to your site – sometimes up to 50% of all traffic comes from your social accounts.
7. Pay attention to visuals and video – Posts on social media must have high-quality visuals – ideally short but informative videos. Online video creator software is inexpensive and powerful.
8. Be open to creating content for third-parties – Seek opportunities with chambers, associations, town or regional groups online to provide educational content and insights to get your name out there.
9. Run quick polls or surveys – Running polls and surveys on your site are great ways to target a specific sector. Include specific questions to create great content for press and social media.
10. Don’t forget SEO – SEO is complex. It assesses site speed, design for mobile, content, Google reviews, external links, frequency of site updates, visits, average time readers stay on the site, structure, etc. If you want to be found online, work with experts to get SEO right.
11. Use Google’s tools – Google mapping and Google My Business Reviews are both important for your reader and SEO. Use both frequently. Google news alerts are useful for finding specific content that you could then share on social media or send to contacts.
12. Understand Pay Per Click (PPC) – Many firms have great success with pay-per-click advertising. Get external expertise if you’re going to go this route: it’s inexpensive and effective, but only if done well.
13. Partner up – Talk to non-competing peers about doing something jointly, be it webinars, podcasts, referrals, etc. You are now using the network of two people rather than just one.
14. Publish a regular eZine – Create a newsletter to go out to your clients and people who have expressed interest in your services. It’s a great way of keeping in contact regularly while promoting your business.
15. Don’t forget about the phone – Although our world is virtual, don’t forget to pick up the phone and chat with your clients and prospects. Having a good conversation is a great way to build rapport.
16. Plan and repeat – Ensure you are consistent in voice and timing. I see large and small firms start very enthusiastically, but only those who maintain focused will reap rewards.
Most importantly, take some action, however small. Steps taken regularly and consistently is key to success.
Remember, we are all in the same virtual storm, but in different boats. You don’t have to be an expert in any of the above, but it is essential to know what you don’t know and get short-term help to energise your firm. The core principle of people doing business with people they know, like and trust is still the same: they just need to remember you above anyone else in the virtual world.
• Mary Cloonan (pictured) is founder of Marketing Clever, a specialist marketing and business development consultancy that works exclusively with accounting, legal and professional services firms and B2B businesses. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org