For all the advocates of social media for business, there are just as many cynics. A large percentage of the Accounting firm community are adverse to change and take a ‘but I’ve always done it this way’ approach to marketing. Here are some of the most common negative responses we have heard when discussing the use of social media with Accounting firms, and our response.
- I am happy with our current and projected revenue for the foreseeable future. It is great that you have a stable income at the moment, but, can you really guarantee that your marketing and business development systems and processes are going to carry on working for you with the same level of success in the future? With the digital revolution still gaining momentum, would it not be wise to have an online marketing strategy? Your clients are doing it, why aren’t you?
- We don’t want to adopt a niche as we are concerned about turning away good clients. No-one wants to turn away business, but, without knowing it, you have actually specialized already… you want to work with SMEs and owner managed businesses. That gives you a target market of 40 million plus potential clients in the UK. Every other accountant is fighting over this business too, so how are you going to set yourself apart from your competitors? Social Media gives you the opportunity to know your customers and make contact via social media platforms before you get call/email/visit. They will be on social media already to some degree, so by learning about your customer prior to contact, means a cold call turns warm… just by having an efficient social media presence.
- Our current marketing and business development efforts are achieving the business growth targets I set for my part of the practice.This is a similar answer to the first response on this list, with one exception: your department is not its own business; it is part of a firm. Are your colleagues in other departments recommending your department to their customers? Do customers of your firm even know your department exists? It is easy on social media to view and communicate with your firms total customers; most people are on Facebook, Twitter is currently the fastest growing social media platform and a great way to speak to mass audiences that are actually interested in your company… as they have chosen to follow your news, and LinkedIn is gaining importance in the way businesses of all types gain reputation. Achieving growth is good, exceeding growth is much better.
- We don’t have a business plan or overall marketing strategy for our practice or our bit of the practice. If you do not have a business plan, then how can you grow your business effectively? Without these basic blocks it is impossible to implement any marketing successfully – which includes Social Media. With over 1 million accountants vying for business in the UK alone, how are you going to set yourself apart from the crowd to gain business?
- We have to approve every communication from a member of staff before it leaves the building. The real time speed at which social media works is one of its main strengths. If you have to get content vetted before it is seen by the social media community, it can impact the validity of your information. It is possible though to schedule posts so that, if written in advance, they can be approved and submitted automatically when they are most effective. You can also speak to a marketing agency (there are some good ones out there ;-) ) about managing your social media and being your voice to the masses, leaving you to concentrate on Accounting and your growing customer base.
- My target market is not IT literate. There are hardly any businesses out there now that do not computers and are not online to some degree. The biggest growth demographic in social media users is actually from the over 55s. If you believe that your customers are not IT literate, then you are sorely underestimating your customer base.
- I am not bothered about how much traffic our website gets. A website is the modern equivalent to a shop window for today’s businesses, and social media is the modern equivalent to people walking past your window. Social media used well can build a large traffic of interested potential clients to your website.
- We don’t bother with e-mail marketing to a mailing list (what mailing list?) If you don’t use email marketing, and you don’t use social media, how do you promote your business? Flyers? In your return on investment you have to include printing costs, time to design, man power for distribution, etc. Seminars? Your ROI is diminished by expensive venue costs, food, brochures, etc. Social media and email marketing can bring large volumes of interested potential clients to your website. For free. With the right call to action you can grab and retain the attention of a plethora of potential customers.
- We are not bothered about where our name turns up in Google. Social media helps to boost your search engine rankings, which basically means more people can potentially see your business, which means more potential customers, which means more money for you. 300 million people use Google alone every day to search for literally everything. Can you afford to ignore them?
- Referrals are not important. A recent 2012 poll by Nielsen found that 90% of people either Trust completely or Somewhat Trust referrals from people they know. That is opposed to 59% of people that trust Editorial content, 55% of people that trust emails they have signed up for and 44% of people that trust Ads in search engine results. I could go on and say 70% of referrals on Facebook spur further interaction through comments and ‘likes’and there are over 500 million Facebook users… but I won’t because referrals aren’t important are they??
- I don’t use networking to help find new clients or new business. Networking in its most basic form is the introduction of people where a relationship could be beneficial to each of the parties involved. That is all Social Media is; an opportunity to speak to people who are not only talking about your industry, but who actually want to speak to people like you. Don’t you want to speak to them too??
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