PracticeAccounting FirmsWhere is your next client coming from?

Where is your next client coming from?

55% of accounting and financial services firms allocate some form of marketing budget per year, yet 1 in 10 firms don’t know where their new business enquiries come from

Most individuals would never board a plane without knowing where they were going, nor would they give up their time or money without knowing what they were getting in return.

However, 22% of accounting and financial services firms do it almost every day.

In a recent study by Propero (The State of Digital Marketing in Professional Services UK Industry Report 2017), it was found that 55% of accounting and financial services firms allocate some form of marketing budget per year, and 26% allocate the highest tier of marketing spend (+£20,000 per year). However, in the same study, 1 in 10 firms admitted that they don’t know where their new business enquiries come from.

Marketing seems to be one of the few areas for which accountants are willing to fork out, without an understanding of where the return is coming from. Firms are beginning to understand that a digital marketing investment can bring in clients, but often they don’t know how or why.

Yet, there is a solution: monitoring and measuring strategies will provide clarity on where the majority of high-quality clients come from.

Applying the same logic to the world of business

Accounting firms get new clients in two ways: referrals and/or new business enquiries.

Referrals are easy to track, but new enquiries are typically more challenging. This is for two reasons:

  • Dedicated resources are required to accurately monitor multiple platforms, tools and channels – which, in the real world, means taking time away from fee-earning activity
  • Digital platforms track and measure interest, but it’s up to those monitoring this interest to conclude which are most successful at generating clients

So, keeping track of enquiries gets pushed down the priority list, which means that firms are spending money without really knowing what they’re paying for.

In other words, they’re boarding a plane to who-knows-where.

However, there is a way to track marketing spend so that you can calculate return. It requires resources – both time and cost – but it’s an investment that will see a quick return.

An example

With any marketing activity, you should be able to measure whether the revenue generated by the campaign (client revenue as a result of the campaign) was worth the investment.

Consider the following formula to calculate the return on investment:

R.O.I = (Return – Investment) / Investment x 100

Applying this principle to any client attraction strategy will bring to light the initiatives that are worth the costs, ensuring that your firm spends efficiently.

Keeping an edge

With the breadth of technology on the market, there’s always new information at businesses’ fingertips. It’s the firms using this information to inform their strategy that are reaping measurable benefits – and a widening industry gap has been seen as a result.

In fact, recent research in the field demonstrates just how wide that gap is.

So far this year, 35% of accounting and financial services firms have reportedly converted 45%+ of the new enquiries that come through their doors digitally (per month). Interestingly, the same proportion (35%) of these firms fail to measure or convert, or don’t know how many new business enquiries become clients per month.

The digital landscape is moving rapidly and new tools have given proactive firms the opportunity to gather knowledge and track potential clients’ pre-sale activity. But if your firm is one of the 22% investing in growth but not calculating the return, consider which side of the gap you want to be on in five years’ time.

Because no-one wants an accountant who doesn’t trust their numbers.

James Noble is senior partner at Propero Partners, a digital marketing consultancy for professional services firms.

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