There may be some industries where being the "best kept secret" is a positive trait for a business, but when it comes to your accounting and tax practice, you probably want the opposite. Obscurity will usually not serve you when it comes time to find new clients (or have new clients find you). With this in mind, how can CPAs, EAs and tax professionals make sure their accounting and tax practice is known (and successful) in their market? In this article, we'll outline a few of the easy, practical and cost-effective strategies you can use to set your practice up to be well-known in your target market. First thing's first: what's your niche? While being a more generalized accounting and/or tax professional may give you a wider net to acquire new clients (especially for new firms), it is difficult -- if not impossible -- to be known as the authority in your market if your market is "everyone." Whether you specialize in expat taxes, accounting for restaurants or tax preparation for police officers, having a niche gives you a much better shot at building authority and ensuring your practice is familiar and well established among your target market. As the resident expert in a specific area, you are taking the steps to set your business up for success. Being known as the authority in your industry is a major win for your practice, the importance of which cannot be overestimated when considering your goals for growth. Here's the catch: are you truly an expert? With the rise of the internet and self-promotion becoming easier, there are countless people advertising themselves as "experts" in their fields every single day. In some industries (i.e. those that are less technical or open to interpretation), they may be able to get away with it. You cannot "get away with it" in tax and accounting. The industry is crowded, technical, and constantly changing. If you are a fake "expert," your clients will find out very quickly. Instead of overselling yourself, choose a market to target that you can truly serve as a subject matter expert. Use this to set yourself up as the authority in your industry. Then, put in the work needed to showcase your expertise to the public. Escaping from obscurity and becoming a well-known practice involves building online authority so the right clients can find you at the right time (and trust what you have to say). Here are some ways to get started.
1. Build an authoritative website Odds are that you probably have a website for your practice already (if not, you may want to consider making this a top priority). The next step is to build authority with your site. Take a look at what happens when your website has high topical authority, according to Search Engine Journal:
- When people are looking for places to reference/link to/socially share - you will be it.
- When users are looking for answers to their supplemental questions - they will remain at your site and not be forced off to find their answer elsewhere.
- When Google is looking for an answer to a question - you will have it.
- When Google is determining if you have additional information to meet other user intents - you'll have that covered, too.
As you can imagine, this introduces a significant amount of positive attention for your business. There are many ways to improve your topical authority. For instance, by posting high quality content about your niche to your web pages and blog, you increase the number of opportunities for your content to show up in search results when someone comes looking for an answer you can provide. 95% of businesses with a blog report higher search engine ranks. Adding between 21 and 51 blogs can increase your website traffic by up to 30%, and adding at least 52 posts can increase your traffic more than 77%. Another way to prove your topic authority? Long-tail keywords. The graphic below from Neil Patel does a good job of explaining the premise behind this important type of keyword:
The more common keywords have fierce competition and your odds of ranking in the top 10 on Google are very low. However, targeting long-tail keywords that are more specialized can help you easily (and more quickly) rank in the top organic listings. While it takes considerable effort to build and maintain a high-authority niche accounting and tax website, the undertaking can set your practice up for success within the market you have chosen. You can start by having a strong base of articles and content provided by services like CountingWorks PRO, and then use those same platforms to add your own take and your own articles. Some platforms make this very easy and it makes the task of writing blogs much less burdensome.
2. Get them talking"All press is good press," right? The answer depends on who you ask, but either way, making a solid effort to get featured, mentioned, interviewed and more can do wonders for your credibility and online clout. Foster strong relationships with the media in your area. Offer to be a source for accounting and tax pieces. Lend your expertise in interviews when relevant topics arise. Utilize PR opportunities like HARO (Help A Reporter Out) to get your name and practice mentioned in other credible publications across the web. Participate in Q&A opportunities (like ours at CountingWorks and TaxBuzz) that allow you to provide answers to relevant questions and potentially earn more mentions.Beyond building credibility by being quoted as a qualified accounting and/or tax professional in various media, your SEO can also benefit from any additional inbound links you earn.
3. Get YOURSELF talking If you want to ensure your practice is not a secret among your market, then it can be beneficial to get out there and start speaking. Increasing your visibility in relevant channels can boost brand awareness and help you reach prospects who may not have heard of you. Whether you are speaking at events, conferences, universities, Facebook live or on webinars, lending your voice and expertise to the public conversation can help in your quest to establish yourself as a topical authority. You may even be able to find new leads or other businesses to partner with through your speaking engagements, and if any media happen to be covering the event then you've gained great publicity.
4. Create memorable and "shareable" content Your practice does not have to generate viral content to be of value to clients and prospects. In reality, creating consistent, quality content that will be memorable or even "shareable" on social media is still very worthwhile. So, how do you generate content that people will remember and want to share with their networks? Try using storytelling to make your brand more relatable to viewers. Make your content useful and actionable for your readers so they might want to pass on that helpful content to their friends. You can even incentivize sharing by offering something in return. For instance, "Share how you plan to spend your tax return this year for a chance to win FREE tax preparation next year!" Finally, keep it simple. Long-form content (like this article) is great, but shorter pieces are also beneficial if done well. Providing value while being concise is a rare find these days, and your clients and prospects will appreciate it.
5. Use "social proof" to enhance your credibility If you are not familiar with social proof, then here is the gist of it: "Social proof is a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation." We view a behavior as being more correct to the degree that we see others doing it. On top of that is the halo effect (named by psychologist Edward Thorndike), which indicates that we often make judgments based on our overall impression of someone.So, clients and prospects are making judgments about your credibility, expertise, and more based on their overall impression of you. They will also view your behavior as more correct if they can see others doing it. This relates to the "fake" experts we discussed earlier: there is no room to "get away with it" in the fields of accounting and tax. If your actions and decisions are not echoed by other professionals -- especially in an industry that is so highly regulated and is continually evolving -- then clients will question your expertise.Use social proof to validate to your clients and target market that you are who you say you are: an expert in the industry who can be trusted to assist with their needs.
6. Take advantage of guest post opportunities Creating content for your own site is not the only way to get your knowledge out in the world. Guest posting for other publications is another great approach to start ranking higher for your desired keywords, thereby assisting in your pursuit of becoming a well-known practice in your market. Whether it is tax and accounting blogs, LinkedIn, AccountingWEB, Medium or other industry-specific options like TaxBuzz Q&A, there are plenty of opportunities to showcase your expertise on 3rd party sites. Guest posting has many benefits: it enhances your online credibility, increases your referral traffic, helps you build relationships with others in the industry, improves your search engine ranking, strengthens your writing skills, and helps you learn more about your niche. When looking for guest posting opportunities, you can write an article and then take it to potential partners, or find the partner first and then write the blog article after you have agreed on a topic. Either way, this is an easy way to get your expertise out there and start boosting awareness for your practice.
7. Attract reviews from clients and endorsements from peers Getting talked about in the media is great, but boosting your credibility via client reviews and peer endorsements can be invaluable. Let's talk about reviews first.This is a topic we touch on fairly often in the CountingWorks PRO blog, simply because it is so important for all practices in the industry (regardless of niche or size). Over the last two years alone, the relevance of reviews relative to other factors has increased by over 43%. Reviews from consumers (or in this case, clients) are trusted twelve times more than descriptions written by the company itself. Finally, 90% of prospects read less than 10 reviews before forming an opinion about the business. So, if you have no reviews, few reviews, or a low rating overall, prioritizing a push for positive reviews from clients can drastically change your practice's standing among your target market. This goes for endorsements from peers as well. Not all of your peers are competitors, as many accounting and tax professionals will specialize in a different niche than you. You can work with peers to endorse each other and send referrals when a client's needs are outside your realm of expertise. This is an easy way for new clients to find you via their own connections. For more information on boosting your reputation and building a "Five-Star Practice," check out our free webinar on YouTube.
8. Use the power of video You may have noticed that many of your favorite brands, organizations, and even celebrities have started posting more video content (as opposed to photos or plain text) on their websites and social media. There is a reason for this:Video is an extremely valuable tool for business promotion.Just look at these compelling statistics from VeedYou:
- People will spend 88% more time on a website with video content.
- 72% of consumers prefer video to text content while researching a product or service.
- 53% of people engage with a brand after watching one of their videos on social media.
- 68% of consumers prefer to engage with brands that use video.
- 96% of people view explainer video to understand a product or service.
Video content does not have to only include business promotion and marketing in the traditional sense (i.e. advertisements, etc). Using videos to showcase your expertise and spread it through social sharing is another approach to building topical authority. When someone is looking for answers and searching on Google, your video could rank for those keywords in the same way that your web pages and blog posts can. Not sure where to start? Post breakdowns of the latest regulation changes, what you are learning in continuing education as a CPA or EA, tips on best accounting practices for small businesses, webinars for clients, or even a tour of your office.
9. Invest in an accounting and tax email marketing system Although the communication tools we use are always evolving, targeted email is still an easy way to reach your clients and prospects. Once you start building an email list, you can use it to send out accounting and tax monthly newsletters, company updates, or even special deals your practice may be offering to boost sales.The opportunity goes further than just newsletters: you can get creative and maintain year-round communication with your clients by sending birthday, anniversary, and holiday cards via email. At CountingWorks PRO, we provide accountants and tax pros with easy, automated and industry-leading newsletters, client alerts, eGreeting cards and more. We set them up, import your client lists, create any email segmentation, and automate it for you. Newsletters are sent automatically from you, under your firm's logo and branding.
10. Build a loyal following on social media With the number of active social media users worldwide inching closer to 3 billion each day and 85% of people relying on Twitter and Facebook for their morning news, reaching your target market via the Internet has never been easier.Social media can be overwhelming if you are not as familiar with the various platforms (e.g. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.), but it does not have to be overly difficult. The keys to building a loyal following on your social profiles are to have consistent posting, valuable content, and solid engagement. One great bonus is that your social media posting does not live in its own silo. You can post content you create for your blog, photos from team outings, articles from relevant sites, and polls to get to know your followers and their needs better. Maintaining active social media can help you to widen your exposure and start building brand awareness (both within your niche and outside of it), and is a great way to round out the solid digital presence you are building through the steps outlined above. Learn more about how to successfully use social media and earn referrals on our free webinar. Accounting and tax practices are busy. There is always plenty of work to be done, but when your goal is to continue growing and drumming up new business, being the "best kept secret" in your market will do you no favors. The easy and practical steps we discussed above will put your practice on the right track to becoming a credible and well-respected authority in your niche. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about how to ensure your practice is well-known among your target market, contact us today at 1-800-442-2477 x3 or set up some time to speak with one of our digital marketing experts. We're here to help!