The purpose of marketing in an Accounting firm is to generate quality prospects (leads) who want to buy from you. A lead is defined as someone who is profiled, interested and ready to buy what you deliver. A lead is not a random name – that is a suspect. The marketing function is to attract quality leads to you. Yes, marketing must also create ‘brand awareness’ and some would say ‘to get our name out there’. This is true however, we want their name in here!
Marketing is not sales. Sales is sales. However the best marketing is ‘salesmanship multiplied’. The marketing function generates leads and then a sales function takes over from there to convert the leads into new business. The lead could be from an existing client or a prospective client. Marketing is a specialist skill and it needs specialist people to perform the function. There are 2 types of marketing people.
- Brand orientated people
- Direct response people
The Brand orientated people will make you look great to the outside world. You’ll have fancy websites, logos, tag lines, banners, merchandise and even billboards if you’re not careful. Brand orientated people typically like spending a lot of money but they rarely generate many leads. Branding people love the words ‘awareness’, ‘image’ & ‘positioning’. Branding is important but it does not put food on the table. If all you have hired are branding people than you’ll be wondering what they do with their time and why they constantly need so much money for (what they think) are important activities. Branding activities should not cost a lot of money at all. The majority of branding should be online driven.
The people you want to hire are ‘Direct response’ marketing people. This group knows how to get a response from a campaign. They work to an allowable ‘lead acquisition cost’ – LAC – as set by the leadership team. They measure and track everything. If the allowable LAC is $500 and they request a budget of $10,000 for a seminar campaign than they need to generate 20 quality leads to justify the campaign. If the campaign generates more than 20 leads then keep doing it.
Most firms spend X% of revenue on marketing or they see marketing as a necessary cost of business. That’s bollocks. You’ve just put a total cap on your growth. If you know that you convert (on average) 25% of leads into new business and the average new business sale is $5,000 then a LAC of $500 just made you 250% return on your marketing dollar (LAC $500 x 25% conversion = $2,000 cost of sale / $5,000 = 2.5X your money). Keep doing that – over and over again as long as cash-flow can handle it.
When it comes to what marketing functions in an Accounting firm do there are really only 3 things they need to focus on:
- Brand development – mostly low cost online activities that portray an amazing image to your target market
- Database development – growing the quality and quantity of the names you are targeting
- Activity – loads of direct response marketing activity
You MUST have all 3 working in sync at the same time. If you have a poor brand, large database and loads of activity – you won’t get the leads. If you have a great brand, small database and loads of activity – know one is hearing you. If you have a great brand, large database but you’re doing limited activity than your message is not getting through.
A good quality marketing coordinator (maybe with some external contract help) can facilitate all 3 at the same time. To help you out I’ve created an image with 15 brand development ideas, 8 database creation ideas and 16 direct response activity ideas.
Marketing is like a wheel barrow – unless you push it, it’s not going anywhere!