We CPAs and accountants are in the relationship business. Yes, we have technical skills and knowledge that tells us which line on a tax return or financial statement a number should go on. And we know how to fight the IRS and state tax authorities (and win!). And we do our job well. But what keeps a client coming back year after year isn’t the typeface we use, or the binding on a set of financials, or the folder we put the client copy of a tax return in.
Today’s changes in technology make it easy for businesses to do for themselves what used to be our bread and butter. The plethora of accounting software packages from QuickBooks to Xero to FreshBooks makes it easy for many small businesses to keep their own books. And there are so many free or low-cost tax preparation options that many people now have the confidence to do their own taxes for significantly less than our fees.
So what do your clients still need you for? Why do so many of your clients who could do their own tax returns keep coming back and paying your fees?
It’s the relationship.
It’s the trust you’ve built up over time, the intimate knowledge you have of their financial and business lives. The relationship a client has with their CPA has always been among the most trusted of relationships. You know details about their lives and their finances they don’t share with anyone else.
And how do you keep that relationship going?
You can do it the traditional way by meeting with them once a year to collect their tax information. And maybe take them to lunch a few times. Invite them to a community event you have tickets for. Or play a round of golf.
But let’s face it – you don’t always have time for the extras beyond the once a year tax meeting. And neither do today’s energetic young entrepreneurs. And what about those clients who’ve moved out of the state or country, but still send you their tax documents every year? How do you stay on top of their radar? How do you keep the low-cost alternatives from poaching your clients? How do you let them know you’re still the best choice for them? How do you keep them informed about tax strategies they should implement?
A blog can do all that, and more.
- Help prospects find you online
A blog is a powerful marketing tool. Not just for your current clients, to keep them coming back, but for the new clients you don’t even know about. Adding fresh information to a website enhances its profile in search engines. It gets the word out to a broader market than you can reach from membership in community organizations.
- Share ideas and information
You can share new and timely information with clients (and prospects). You can share tax strategies or business ideas on a regular basis. If your clients are unaware of the latest changes of the IRS or the latest FASB pronouncements, they won’t be able to take advantage of them.
Today’s entrepreneurs have grown up with the internet. They’re used to getting loads of free information, and they use that to decide on a course of action. If the most useful free information comes from your website, who do you think they’ll call when they need help?
You can demonstrate your expertise and knowledge of specialized areas. From developing a reputation as an expert, it’s a short leap to becoming a trusted advisor to that client.
- Stand out from the competition
A blog will also make you and your website stand out among the competition. Very few accountants go to the trouble of keeping up a regular blog. Those that do will write different things. Your blog is a way to show what the leaders of your firm think.
A blog gives you the opportunity to show your personality, to show that you’re not just dull bean counters. That you care about more than just the tax return or financials. Without a strong relationship, your clients may jump ship when a cheaper alternative comes along. And the personality of your firm can also be a powerful tool for turning prospects into clients. This can help you eliminate the prospects who aren’t a good fit, and attract the ones who will thrive in a partnership with you.
- Let clients know what else you can do for them
A great blog informs your clients about the other services your firm provides. Yes, that information is in your website. But how many of your clients visit your website on a regular basis? How will they find out that in addition to tax work, you also do business valuations? Or that you perform audits? Or that you can help them set up their accounting system? Do you want a client to go elsewhere to get those simply because they didn’t know your firm also provides those services?
- Spread your name far and wide
A blog can also be repurposed and have a life beyond your website. It can be used in your newsletter. You can share it in social media. You can repackage a series of blog posts as a special report available on your website as a lead-generation tool. Or as a book for sale on Amazon.com.
- Get clients and prospects to call you
Most important of all, a blog gives your clients and prospects a reason to call your office. Who has the time to call every client every time the IRS does something? And even if you do, the timing might not be right. But if your blog draws clients and prospects back to your website, they might find that blog post from six months ago that speaks to their needs now. And they’ll call your office, thanking you for putting that information out there.
The power of the written word
A regular blog announces to the world that you’re willing to share your expertise and that you have something to say. This is one of the simplest and least expensive of tools that an accounting firm can put in its marketing arsenal. A way to show your firm’s unique personality and a way to stay in front of your clients. It requires patience to reap the results, and persistence to keep it going. But with so few of your competitors putting out regular blog posts, it’s sure to get your firm attention as a knowledgeable expert.
OK, now you agree that a blog is vital. But accountants aren’t generally known for their writing skills. No one in your firm can write. No one has time to sit down once a week or once a month to write a post, and especially not during busy season. How can you possibly implement this?
Did you know that blog posts and newsletters can be ghostwritten by an outside copywriter? I’m a CPA and a copywriter, and I can do the writing for you. Your name shows up as the byline, but your contribution is a 15-minute phone call to me to discuss the topic, and a simple review before it gets published. Who doesn’t have 15 minutes once a week or month? Email me at email@example.com so we can get started today!