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The global pandemic made it hard for accounting firms to grow.

But now that remote work is here to stay, and online business is booming, there are new ways to find clients all over the world.

In this article, we share 10 ideas to help you stay on track for growth in a business world that changes quickly.

Here’s what we cover:

1.    Define your ideal client

Why start with this?

Because once you know who your ideal customer is, you can use that information to figure out what you offer. This means that you need to be very clear about what your practice does and how it is different from other practices out there.

You could think about how you could become the best accountant in a market where you already have a presence, for example, in serving estate agents.

Having a niche means that you can market your business with a clear, strong message about what it does and who it helps.

By specialising, you can get economies of scale by making specific systems that can be used over and over again. You can also become an expert and give trustworthy advice, which can lead to word-of-mouth referrals within the industry.

2.    Give your website some love

Online shopping isn’t only for e-commerce businesses.

Marketing firm Intergrowth says that 68% of online user experiences start with a search engine, and that organic search makes up almost 55% of website traffic.

So, a website for a business isn’t just a nice-to-have—it’s a must-have.

Why? Because if you don’t have a website, you’re making it harder for potential clients to find you.

Your website should reassure potential clients that you:

  • Offer the services they need
  • Are skilled and qualified
  • Know their industry

Keep in mind that first impressions count. You can cover the above points by making sure your website has an “About Us” page, an “Our Services” page that explains what you do, and a blog where you can share your knowledge.

3.    Use online content to market your business

Search engine optimisation, or SEO, is the process of changing and improving your website and its content so that it shows up higher in search results and gets more people to visit it.

The Content Marketing Institute says that content marketing generates three times as many leads as outbound marketing—and at 62% less cost.

A key goal is to get more high-quality visitors, so you want to help your ideal customers find you among your competitors.

You can do this by targeting the keywords that your ideal customers are using.

So, when you write a blog post, think about what advice and information you can give to those people and what search terms you can use.

For example, if a small business typed “Accountant for estate agents ” into Google and your website appeared on the front page with useful advice, it shows that your company is ready to help these types of businesses.

4.    Get social

According to the Digital 2022 Global Overview Report created by We Are Social and Hootsuite, there were 4.62 billion social media users in the world in January 2022. That’s 58.4% of the world’s total population.

You don’t want to leave this market untapped.

Try new content formats and see what resonates with your audience, from YouTube videos to webinars, Instagram stories, TikTok, and podcasting.

For example, accountants Jasper Basson and Heinrich Grove provide accounting advice on YouTube with topics such as How to submit your tax return and Sage Accounting tutorials for beginners.

Finance influencers like Thando Ndlovu and Louis Barnard (aka Frugal Sibusiso) are also very popular on social media, especially those who give money advice to people between the ages of 16 and 25.

If you don’t think you have time for social media, don’t worry; you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You can instead repackage the content you already have for your social media accounts.

For example, you can take the main points of a blog post and turn them into a video, an infographic, or a tweet.

People like to get information in different ways, so you don’t have to worry about saying the same thing over and over again.

But it’s also important to remember that social media isn’t just a way to broadcast information. To get the most out of it, you need to be present and active on it. Comment on someone else’s post for every one you make. Like, follow, and share other people’s posts to stay top of mind.

5.    Ask for feedback

Positive reviews and testimonials can have a significant impact on a potential client’s decision to contact you.

According to KPMG, 55% of consumers read online reviews before making a purchase.

Gather a number of high-quality testimonials from existing customers for your website. Allowing your clients to speak for you is an easy way to build trust with new visitors.

Check that you’ve added and verified your Google Business profile so that you can manage your information on Google Maps.

All you need to get started is your company name, location, and category. This not only increases your visibility in local search results but also allows customers to leave Google reviews, a popular online research tool.

Once you’ve accumulated some Google reviews, remember to include a link to them on your website to make them even more accessible to visitors.

6.    Build an email list

Having a YouTube or Instagram account is an excellent marketing strategy. However, if those platforms were to close down tomorrow, you would lose all of your followers and content.

A significant benefit of having your own email list is that it cannot be taken away from you.

What’s more, unlike social media, you do not have to rely on an algorithm to get your content in front of your target audience.

Create a ‘lead magnet’ to entice website visitors to subscribe to your email list. Essentially, this is a free, quick solution to a problem that your ideal client is experiencing.

For example, if you help small businesses in preparing their tax returns, you could provide a downloadable checklist to help them get their information ready for the end of the fiscal year.

7.    Attend industry events

Face-to-face communication is still the quickest way to make new business connections, so industry events are a great place to meet new prospects, gain referrals, and develop relationships.

You can find conferences to attend by searching online databases, reading industry journals or magazines, or connecting with other accountants and joining professional groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Before deciding which conferences and events to attend, review the list of speakers, sponsors, and attendees to see if any of them could be a potential prospect, so you only attend the events with the most potential for your practice.

A single event could generate a dozen or more new leads, so invite relevant members of your business development team to participate as well.

8.    Create a referral scheme

Your existing satisfied customers are one of your best sources of new business.

According to the Wharton School of Business, the lifetime value of a referred customer is 25% higher than that of other customers.

You can encourage referrals by providing a reward such as a gift card or a free month of services for each referral who becomes a client.

A good starting point is to speak with a trusted client and solicit their feedback on what type of incentive would be beneficial to them, and then test your scheme with a few clients to begin with.

9.    Build partnerships

Find companies to collaborate with in order to provide a comprehensive solution to your clients. You can refer clients to them, and they can refer their own clients to you, creating a win-win situation.

To get started, think about the networks you already have on LinkedIn and Facebook.

Then consider what other services your clients might require, such as legal representation, investment advice, recruiting support, and technology, and reach out to relevant local businesses in the area.

10.         Adopt cloud technology

McKinsey Global Institute study found that about half of current work activities are technically automatable through the use of existing technologies.

As a result, automation is a critical factor in your practice’s ability to scale. Your team’s time should be spent on tasks that require a high level of expertise, while everything else can be automated.

Practice management systems can save up to 30% of time spent on year-end compliance by eliminating unnecessary manual processes, and you can save hundreds of hours that can be transferred to more value-adding activities.

Final thoughts

Getting new clients for your accounting firm requires action.

For best results, establish a digital presence, leverage your trusted customers, and look for ways you can add value and establish a reputation as a leading voice in your field of expertise.

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