Silver Bullet Bullsh#t: 6 common myths in marketing for accountants

By Posted in - Public Blog on April 21st, 2018 0 Comments

There’s a tendency for people to adopt ‘silver bullet thinking’ in many areas of life. This is where a singular, seemingly sexy quick fix is believed to be the solution to the problem at hand.

  • In fitness, it’s thinking that the act of signing up for the gym membership will solve the problem.
  • In personal finances, it’s thinking that next tax-advantaged investment scheme or the latest crypto currency offering will deliver the mother lode.
  • In business, it’s thinking that the next app or next feel-good conference in an exotic location will deliver the missing piece of the puzzle that will make all the difference.

In the marketing for accountants space, it’s even worse.

Vendors to the accounting profession push a variety of marketing ‘silver bullets’ onto accounting firms. Here are 6 mythical silver bullets sold to accountants in the marketing space:

6 marketing ‘Silver Bullets’ sold to accountants

  1. shiny new websites,
  2. logos and re-branding,
  3. SEO,
  4. online advertising (Facebook, Google Adwords),
  5. social media,
  6. brandable newsletters and cookie cutter blog posts

Accountants invest in these various marketing tools and then—based on the promises of the vendors—sit and wait for the leads to roll in.

But they don’t.

Here’s all too often what we see when accounting firms first come to us for help with their marketing, before we’ve applied our Triple-S methodology—more about that later—to their firm’s marketing:

The reality of these 6 silver bullet myths

  1. The shiny new website hasn’t generated any leads.
  2. The lovely new logo and re-brand hasn’t produced any leads.
  3. The investment in SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) for your website has generated leads but they’ve been low-quality price-sensitive shoppers who have wasted your time.
  4. Same with the online advertising in Facebook or Google.
  5. The social media activity hasn’t made a difference to your sales pipeline.
  6. The brandable newsletters haven’t generated any interest (and are not being read) and while the cookie cutter blog posts look good on the firm’s website, again, they haven’t generated any interest in the firm’s value-add services.

No wonder marketing is a frustrating and expensive mystery to most accountants.

You’re made promises by these silver bullet vendors, you buy their promises—and their tools—and you’re left disappointed time and time again.

Buy why is that?

And how can you protect yourself from wasting further money, time and energy on mistakenly investing in other marketing ‘silver bullets’ in the future?

PARADOX’s Triple-S Marketing Methodology for Accountants

Just as there are no silver bullets in any area of life, there are no silver bullets—singular, quick fix solutions—for your accounting firm’s marketing. For example, a website is just one part of one cog in our Marketing Machine 2.0 model. (Download your PDF of the Marketing Machine 2.0 model here). Likewise, social media is also just one part of one cog. So is SEO. And so on…

And each cog of your firm’s marketing machine has a specific purpose:

  • Did you know, for example, that the primary objective of your website is not to generate leads via those ubiquitous “Book a free consultation” or “Contact Us” buttons? As a primary call-to-action on a website, that is an utterly flawed conversion strategy for the front end of your marketing machine. An accounting firm’s website has an objective that directly contributes to generating leads, but is upstream from that step. Its goal is to (1) attract targeted traffic—specific people who fit your ideal client profile, who are searching on specific phrases—and then (2) convert them onto your permission-based email list so you can then educate and nurture them over time. Later they become inbound, warm, pre-educated, easy-to-convert leads.
  • Likewise, in social media did you know that how many Shares, Likes and Comments your posts get are just vanity metrics and are not at all the main game? Sure, they make you feel good. But do they generate leads? In our marketing methodology, your social media activity has one very clear and primary metric: Generate targeted traffic to your website. This is measurable as the percentage and number of website visitors that come from social. We display this data to our members in reports within our ImpleMENTOR marketing platform. This is a far more commercial, bankable metric than vanity metrics.

“So where should we start with our marketing?” I hear you ask.

You could reasonably expect me to answer, “Strategy.”

But there’s something more important than Strategy — at least, it’s upstream from that:

And that’s Structure.

Strategy is how you win.

Structure is the rules of the game.

It’s your understanding of how the pieces fit together, and why.

How can you win a game where you don’t understand its rules, its structure, how it works?

You can’t. (And by ‘win’, in this context, I mean achieve your objectives in relation to revenue and profit targets, better quality clients, your ideal lifestyle, and so on.)

As the 14th Dalai Lama wrote, “Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.”

You can’t get creative and have a winning strategy until you first know the rules. You have to learn the basics, and then you can explore alternative strategies for winning.

This means you need to get savvy to the structure of modern marketing. Every modern business owner must do this. You need to understand what an Easy Growth accounting firm does differently.

You’re at a distinct disadvantage if you don’t, if you’re competing against others who do. Until you understand its structure, marketing will continue to be something that has no apparent rhyme or reason, no logical sequence of causes and effects.

And marketing will remain a mystery to you. That’s an expensive gap in your knowledge as a business owner.

What’s the third ‘S’ in the Triple-S Marketing Methodology?

After, Structure and Strategy comes Support.

Support means you need to use a team—likely a combination of what you and your team can do in-house, plus using outsourced marketing services—to make your marketing happen.

And consistency is key.

A flurry of excited activity after you arrive back from the latest conference that only lasts for a month or three will not bring results.

You need to have a consistent cadence or pattern of marketing activity that happens like clockwork each and every month.

And that’s unlikely to happen if you resource your marketing entirely in-house.

Why is that?

3 reasons doing your marketing in-house is prone to fail

As an accounting firm—or any small or medium business—you’re unlikely to have:

  1. the capacity,
  2. the urgency, or
  3. the variety of skills required…

…to do your marketing effectively because:

  • You’re busy. You’re knee-deep in the ‘operational whirlwind’ (refer to The 4 Disciplines of Execution), flat out keeping up with looking after all the urgent matters that relate to your clients and your team.
  • Marketing always seems so easy to postpone. You’re faced with the choice of attending to a client matter that has a deadline—and of course, they all do!—or working on that next article for your blog and email newsletter, and guess which one tends to get pushed back? You think, “I won’t get my butt kicked for not getting the newsletter out, but I will if we’re late lodging this for the client.” And fair enough. I get that.
  • Even if you have excellent written communication skills—although, a common phrase I hear from accountants who are going through our complimentary Marketing Gap Analysis process is, “I’m good with numbers, not so much with words”—and you can pen a great article for your blog or newsletter, writing ability is just one of a number of skills needed for effective modern marketing.

You also need to be across strategy, keyword research, search engine optimisation (SEO), graphic design, web tech, social media, CRM and marketing automation.

And what are the chances of finding those skills in the one person?

That’s right. Virtually nil.

And does it make sense for you our your team to try to learn these skills in-house?

No, it doesn’t. You and your team need to stay focused on your core skills.

Does it make sense then, for your business to hire five or so marketing people to give your business access to these marketing skill-sets?

Clearly that makes no commercial sense at all.

So if you need a cross-functional, multi-skilled marketing team for effective marketing, but it makes no sense to hire an in-house team, the logical answer is to hire a slice of a marketing team.

That gives you the skills you need but at a realistic and sustainable cost.

That in a nutshell describes why PARADOX exists. To be your business’ outsourced marketing team, but you only need to hire a slice of that team, which keeps it affordable. (Even our top monthly package is the equivalent to the cost of “half a receptionist”, so to speak.)

To give you some actionable advice here—otherwise this is all just theory and talk, which on its own achieves little—how can PARADOX specifically help you achieve that?

  • Learn modern marketing STRUCTURE, and Formulate a winning STRATEGY: Find out how
  • Tap into marketing SUPPORT: Plug in to one of our monthly packages of marketing services across blogging, email newsletters, social media, SEO, virtual marketing assistant and strategic marketing support. Get in touch with us here to have an initial chat about the type of marketing support you’re looking for and what you’d like your marketing to achieve for your business.

It’s time to stop investing your dollars and your hope into marketing ‘silver bullets’ and quick fixes, and to instead start putting in place the marketing structure, marketing strategy and marketing support to make your marketing happen, like clockwork.

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