This morning I flipped through the pages of our local paper’s Entertainment section, and came across an article about the season finale of a show on Showtime, “Penny Dreadful.” Even though this was its third season, I had never heard of it. So I scanned the article to see if I’d like to watch it, looking for at least a summary of the series so far, or some reason to catch the last episode.
Alas, I was disappointed. I learned that the cast was full of great stars, that many people involved in the show had worked on other well-known shows and movies. The theme was horror, and it was “well-done.” The set was beautiful and that the show had won all sorts of awards.
But not a word about why I should watch this show. What was it about? What made this “well-done” horror? Was it funny? Scary? What about the main characters — were they engaging? Did they have any secrets? Were there ongoing conflicts between them? Was the season finale anticipated to be a cliffhanger, or the resolution of earlier conflicts?
Just lots of features, but not a hint of any benefits I could personally reap from watching the show. I suppose the mass of awards associated with the show should have sufficed to let me know that this was a show worth watching, but this article gave me no reason to watch it.
Features vs. Benefits
The same can be said about the websites for most accountants. Most accountants’ websites say pretty much the same thing: we give great service, we do quality work, and we are known for our responsiveness and professionalism. And here are how many years we’ve been in business and all the credentials we have: CPA, CA, CGMA, CFE, ABV and more. Where we went to college and all the Big 4 Firms we’ve worked at. All of these are the features — the characteristics of an accounting firm.
But very few websites for accountants describe the benefits of choosing this firm over all the others in town. Nothing about the peace of mind that comes from working with people who have the knowledge and experience to guide a client through difficult business decisions. Nothing about how I as a business owner or successful professional would benefit by handing over my financial information and a wad of cash to you. Will it make my life easier? Will you help me achieve my life and business goals? Will you be available to answer questions about my books and my business? Can you help me make my business more profitable and save tax at the same time? The benefits of a firm are why a prospect might choose you over all the competition.
For us accountants, a feature-filled description is comforting, and we can clearly see the benefits of choosing a firm with lots of credentialed staff, and that having the foundation of working at a Big Four firm can give us a leg up over the competition. And of course, all those benefits are implicit in who we are. That’s just what we do.
Is your website a deal-maker or a deal-breaker?
But try to put yourself in the shoes of a prospect who has no idea what any of these features mean. If they’ve already visited two or three websites in their quest to find a new accountant, their eyes will likely glaze over when they land on yours and see the same language that’s on most accounting firms’ websites. It’s like looking at the facade of a modern high-rise building instead of seeing the warm and inviting spaces within.
Today’s entrepreneurs always check out your website before they commit to you. If they don’t find any real benefit of doing business with you, they may just cross you off their list before they even talk to you. A poorly-done website can be a deal-breaker.
Does your website help visitors find what they need?
A potential client lands on your website because they’re looking for something. Maybe they have a tax question. Maybe they realize they need help with their bookkeeping or that their tax situation is now beyond TurboTax. Maybe they’re unhappy with their current accountant. Whatever they’re seeking, they’re looking for answers. They want to know what’s in it for them to use your services. And they want those answers quick.
You only have a few seconds to grab their attention, so you better put those benefits out there quick. Your website will be more successful as a marketing tool if you emphasize the benefits of working with you rather than just listing the features of your firm.
Features give you the specs of what you’re buying. The benefits are why you buy it. Features appeal to the logical side of your brain. Benefits appeal to the emotional side of your brain, and spell out what those features can do for you. We humans make key decisions based on emotion, then seek out logical reasons to justify those decisions.The features of an accounting firm include your office location, how many partners and how many staff members are on board. The benefits are what those features can mean to a client.
What are the benefits of an accounting firm?
Here are some examples of translating features into benefits:
Feature: We’ve been in business for 30 years.
Benefits: We’ve been helping businesses and their owners save taxes and improve their businesses for 30 years, so we can help yours too. Our company has been through many changes, so we know what works to keep a business going. We’ll be here to help you today, tomorrow and for years to come.
Feature: We’re responsive.
Benefits: If you call our office with a question, we’ll get back to you that day. If there’s anything you need, or if you have any concerns, we’ll take care of it right away. We won’t leave you dangling, wondering if we got the message.
Feature: Our Tax Partner, John Smith, is a CGMA.
Benefit: John is a Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA). People with this designation have specialized knowledge and experience with strategy, management and operations. John can analyze the strengths of your organization to help you with the best business strategy. He understands what it takes to lead a business and can offer you guidance in yours. He can help you streamline the operations of your business so you can take it to the next level.
Feature: We provide bookkeeping services.
Benefit: We’ll take care of your books so you can run your business. We’ll keep you on track so you always know where you stand. With timely, accurate financials, you’ll know how your business is doing.
See how much more inviting it is to hear about the benefits of a firm? Which firm would you choose — the one that just lists all its features, or the one that paints a picture of how those features benefit you?
I’d go with the one that spells out the benefits and explains what they could mean to me. That’s why I still haven’t watched a single episode of “Penny Dreadful.”
If you need help translating the features of your firm into tangible benefits for your clients and prospects, call me at 505-440-3317 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll help you find what makes your firm different from all the others out there.