Breaking Down and Breaking Through: Bringing Clients into the Story
Our job as marketers is to tell a story. While there aren’t many accounting stories that begin with “Once upon a time…” that doesn’t make them any less exciting or impactful. That is, until the technical jargon enters the scene. Nothing ruins the mood quite like an endless stream of tax acronyms or legislative code.
How to Get More Accounting Clients: Remember Your Audience!
Which is why you need to remember who you’re writing for…who is your audience? If you are drafting an article or blog post that caters exclusively to your competitors, then feel free to let loose the technical vernacular that requires some series of letters following your name (i.e. CPA). But I would bet that you want to reach an audience beyond just those at your firm, and that requires you to act as translator and guide to your reader.
These tasks can be daunting, especially when you have passionately intelligent experts that want to share what they know with the world. (I equate it to trying to describe Harry Potter to muggles…you can say things like “Hufflepuff” and “Dumbledore” and “expecto patronum” all day long, but without some key context clues, you’ve lost them before you even started.) This is where the marketing role is crucial…we need to speak the language of the layman, interpret the gibberish, and guide the reader to the end. Here are a few steps to get you there:
1. Gather Your Story Points
The first step I take in this process is to get on the phone with my technical or subject matter expert and have a detailed conversation (record, if possible) that lays out everything about the topic they’re hoping to cover, including:
- What is the big idea?
- Who does this effect?
- Why is this important now?
- What questions are clients or prospects asking about this topic?
- What is our team’s goal in sharing this information?
- How can our firm help spread the word?
- What is an appropriate time frame to follow up after this information has been shared
These questions help guide the expert through the topic in a way that breaks down the information to be more palatable. Another way is to ask them to explain it like you’re 10 years old…how would you help a fifth grader understand this topic? This might seem remedial, but if you’re trying to figure out how to get more accounting clients, explaining in simple terms helps them to reframe their mind and approach the topic in a way they hadn’t considered before.
2. Build Your Setting
After this conversation, I recommend asking them to share what resources they use to better understand the topic, themselves. This can be links to other sites, news sources, etc. that will help round out the picture and create a better story.
3. Guide the Reader
Now that you have your key elements in place, don’t forget your audience! Keep them at the center of the story…this is where the “self-help” book turns into a “choose your own adventure.” By checking in with them throughout the article, post, white paper, etc. you give them ownership of the topic and let them choose what they need from you. Ask them questions that trigger a need, like “Have you properly addressed the filing requirements of remote workers residing in a different state?” They’ll either pay closer attention or move onto the next item. Either way, they’re on the journey with you.
4. Provide a Solution
Now that they know what they need, or why this topic is important to them, give them an actionable next step. This should be the first time your firm enters the conversation. After all, the story is about them, not you.
And don’t leave them on a cliffhanger! Give them a call to action, something they can do other than phone your expert or email your info box.
Not all stories are bestsellers, just like not every piece of thought leadership will drive prospects to your firm. However, by speaking directly to your audience without confusing or patronizing them, you will instill the loyalty and trust that every accounting firm needs to succeed. If you’re wondering how to get more accounting clients, think about what would appeal to you. Bring them into your story, show them how you can help them, and make sure they’re victorious in the end!
If you’re looking for more marketing strategies for a CPA firm, check out Two Ways to Generate Niche Leads, Building a Revenue Growth Engine, and Business Development Through the Client Experience Lens.
About Laura Metz
Laura Metz is a marketing professional with over ten years' experience in the professional services industry, working with accounting firms for the past eight. She is currently a manager providing demand generation support for the Armanino tax team. Laura is an active member of the Association for Accounting Marketing, serving on the Board of Directors and previously as the Strategic Communications Committee Chair.