Introduction to the Top 10 Series
It’s tough out there as a SME. So much competition; so much to do, so little time.
Having worked with SMEs across all sectors and of varying sizes, we’ve identified 10 common marketing objectives. These are key areas that when addressed will ensure you are making the most of all the opportunities out there in a systematic and focussed way that will bring results. You can’t do everything all the time. Reviewing these 10 objectives will help you recognise where your business is at, and prioritise.
Below is the start of our first industry specific series. It looks at accountancy and how to get more and better business. Ten separate blogs will take on each of the 10 objectives in turn, starting with Tip 1 on perception below. We hope you find it useful. Tip 2 to follow soon.
Tip 1 – Improving how your company and its offers are perceived
Impressing from a distance
First impressions count. If you want to make the right impression from the offset, you should clearly define your message and how you want to influence prospective clients who come across your company from a distance – I mean not from a referral or direct personal contact. This is true whether you are a new accountancy practice, or one looking to grow your existing business.
Whilst much of a successful accountancy practice’s growth will be through referral, other channels offer substantial opportunities. There is a huge audience out there who are currently strangers to you and your introducing network, but who could be of great value.
Even those contacts who are referred or introduced to you will do a bit of homework before getting in touch. In fact, according to one recent study, 97% of all business enquiries are preceded by an internet search for the supplier. This mean nearly everyone will come across some distance representation of your business before gaining a direct connection e.g. website, social media profiles, blog, videos or any of the multitude of other ways of being discovered online before being discovered in person.
Setting Your Business Apart: Questions to Ask
So, the important question is: “Is your current ‘distance’ marketing winning them over or turning them off?”
Most accountancy practices have web, social and print tools based on predominantly factual content, mostly text driven and focused on the service title / activity – essentially a detailed explanation of the service range and relevant qualification to deliver them.
This makes sense from the supplier side, as you want to explain what you can do, and justify why you are good at it. But it is actually much less significant to the prospect visiting your site.
Those visiting your site (and any other accountancy practice for that matter) will assume you are able to provide the core services they require, and that you will be qualified to do so. It’s more of a tick-list element. So whilst they will explore your messages to quickly confirm this, what they are looking for next are the differentiators that separate you from the competition.
These are the things that tell them a bit about your values and what you stand for, why you are better, faster, more accurate, with higher savings, or a stronger reputation. In short, they are the reasons to buy, or at least progress to a direct enquiry with you rather than somewhere else. The main purpose of a good website is to be your distance sales-person. So:
- Does your website explain why you care about business owners?
- Does it share a bit about why your team is passionate about what they do?
- Is there a strong set of client experience stories aligned to the different areas of service?
- Is there some way in which your service system is distinctly different and better than others?
Saying it the Right Way
There are a lot of ways to get across the differentiation that exist about your company, it’s service levels, and the experience it delivers for clients…but it’s too late if you wait for the enquiry to happen inbound before providing this information.
Many accountancy practices find that these differentiators are best explored by someone external, and then explained by someone independent. This is firstly due to the fact that it takes good questions to uncover those differences (very often they are assumed as normal by the accountant but viewed as different by the independent copywriter).
Secondly, it is true to say that the copywriting skills required to convey this style of message is somewhat different to the detail focused and analytical style associated with financial reporting…and put simply, they sell you better than you do!
Not All Customers Are Equal
As a final point, its worth recognising that not all customers are equal. You may well have more than one target audience to deal with and the segmentation of these different groups is an important aspect to get right. Whilst a unique selling point for your business is likely to be of interest to all audiences, the points of difference that each audience react to positively may well differ. As an example of this, your prior experience with electrical contracting firms is likely to be of less interest to a gym than an electrical contractor. The separation of key messages that are specific to different groups is a useful exercise and will help improve your authority with separate audiences.