John started his business a few months ago. He is already behind on his accounts, but as a one-man band, he knows he cannot afford to employ a full-time bookkeeper yet. He also talked to a prospective investor recently, but now he has to put a business plan together to sell his idea to entice the investor to fund his business. So what does John do? He turns to Google.

The first thing he searches for is whether he should hire an in-house bookkeeper, or outsource his bookkeeping to an accounting firm. A blog post that discusses the pros and cons of the two options catches his eye. After reading the article, he decides that outsourcing might be the route to go, and now he needs to decide which firm to hire. Who is he going to call first? The accounting firm who wrote the blog post that just convinced him that outsourcing needs further investigation.

Next, he searches for tips on how to put together a winning business plan. He downloads an interesting-looking ebook that explains step-by-step how to write a business plan. After spending a few hours working through the ebook, he has a good idea of what goes into a business plan, but he realises that he’ll need help drafting a cash flow projection and he also needs some advice on the best business strategy to implement. Who is he going to turn to? The accounting firm whose ebook he just read, because they clearly know what they’re talking about.

Was it your blog or ebook that caught his eye and gave him value even before he picked up the phone or filled in a contact form?

Many people still see accountants as number crunchers; the necessary evil they need to deal with once a year to keep them compliant and up-to-date. But as you well know, that can’t be further from the truth. The accounting profession has evolved from accountants being compliance officers that inspect historical data to experts that business owners can trust to help them achieve the future goals they have for their businesses. But how to get that message across? With content marketing.

At its core, most accountants sell the same old services – we all do year-end accounts, taxes, and bookkeeping. So how do you differentiate yourself from other accountants? How do you show business owners that you are more than just someone that keeps their taxes up-to-date? Not by handing out pamphlets on a street corner or sending generic – dare I say ‘spammy’ – emails listing your services.

When you do marketing the old way, you have no choice but to compete on price. Content marketing can change all that – you can demonstrate your value far beyond numbers and statements and forms.

 

What Is Content Marketing?

The term may be foreign to you, but you have definitely encountered content marketing before. Here are some popular examples of content marketing:

  • Blog posts
  • Newsletters
  • Ebooks
  • Infographics
  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • Webinars
  • Questionnaires and surveys
  • Case studies

The goal of content marketing is to educate and entertain your target audience – so much so that they get to know you, like you, and trust you enough to do business with you. Content marketing, as opposed to traditional marketing, is a shift of perspective from the company to the customer. It’s no longer about what you do and how you’re the best, but rather about the benefits customers get from working with you.

Instead of telling them yet again which services you perform, rather give them truly relevant and useful content that solves an issue they have. For instance, instead of asking “Do you need a tax accountant?” write an article giving them practical tips on how to reduce their tax bill.

Content marketing aims to consistently create and distribute helpful, relevant content to a specified audience, attract leads and keep them engaged so that they become loyal customers that ultimately buy your services.

 

Content Marketing Goals

With content marketing, you can solve the problems your audience cares about. You can entertain your readers, show them that you’re trustworthy, convince them that you know what you’re talking about and that their accounts will be safe in your hands.

You’ll know that your content marketing is working when your customers can’t wait to open your newsletter or when someone new contacts you out of the blue asking for help after they’ve just watched one of your videos.

You can expect the following returns when you consistently invest in content marketing:

  • Your brand becomes recognisable
  • You convert cold leads into customers
  • Your customer service becomes top notch
  • Clients become loyal and stay with you year after year as they grow
  • Existing customers buy additional services from you
  • Your clients become advocates who refer their friends and family to you

 

Will Content Marketing Make You Redundant?

Let’s go back to the example of the ebook above. John might read the ebook, apply your tips to his business plan, and you may never hear from him again. Or you might hear from him a few months down the line when he needs management accounts to show to his new investor. Or he might decide from the start that he can’t do the business plan on his own and he may contact you for help.

You may think that if you give all of this information away for free, nobody will need your services anymore. And it might be true in certain cases, but, if you consistently do a good job with your content marketing, you will get new clients.

Additionally, content marketing makes your job easier:

  • Let’s say you published an article with tips on how taxpayers can decrease their personal tax bill – legally of course! We all know that tax is much more complex than what you could convey in a simple blog post or even in a series of articles. By reading your content, taxpayers won’t be able to suddenly do what you’ve learned through blood and sweat and hours in front of the books. But they will be better prepared when the tax season comes. They’ll know which slips to keep, whether to opt for a travel allowance or not, and how to choose the right charities so that they can get a tax benefit. And if you are the one providing them with these tips, they’ll want you as their tax accountant when the time comes. They’ll also come to the meeting prepared with all the necessary documents in tow, saving you a lot of time as you won’t need to explain everything from scratch or wait for them to get the supporting documents together.
  • When people contact you after reading or watching your content, you won’t need to sell your services as hard as you would usually do. You’ve already proved your value to them so they’ll be more inclined to say yes. You also won’t need to be the cheapest accountant on the block – they’ll pay for your expertise, not your hours. Of course, even if they’re a soft sell, it doesn’t mean your customer service can be poor – you can still lose them if you don’t keep up the value!

 

Your Content Won’t Become Viral Overnight

As great as this all sounds, don’t get your hopes up that you’ll double your client base within a month with only content marketing.

Accounting and tax are not especially exciting topics to talk about, from an outsider’s view. Your eyes might light up about the latest tax relief, but the new business owner has hundreds of other things to worry about and doesn’t even realise how the tax breaks will benefit him. Your content will not become viral like Kim Kardashian’s latest belfie.

Content marketing takes time and patience. Over time, you’ll build trust and loyalty with your audience, and you’ll become the go-to expert in your industry. Your client base will grow slowly, but your customers will be loyal, and they’ll be willing to pay a little extra for the expertise and value you give them.

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