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Accountants continue to fail in marketing activities

ACCOUNTANCY FIRMS continue to fall short in their marketing activities, with large numbers failing to monitor activities.

Research from technology provider Wolters Kluwer found less than a third (29.9%) of firms have dedicated marketing or business development staff, but only 31.2% outsource some promotion responsibilities.

While the 2014 Effective marketing for accountants survey found increased uptake of online marketing, including social media, firms remain reliant on face-to-face interactions and client referrals for business. Despite this, one quarter (24.8%) keep no list of prospective clients.

A majority the 137 respondents also failed to monitor the effectiveness of their marketing. Just under half (47.7%) recorded the conversion rate of leads to new business; this dropped to 37% when asked if they monitored return on marketing investment.

While many firms continue to limit their marketing to email campaigns and events such as local business briefings, more than two-thirds (70%) identified websites as essential or useful to attracting clients, while just under 50% are using social networks like LinkedIn. A small number (15%) have incorporated advanced online activities such as ‘pay-per-click’ ads and webinars into their strategy.

Wolters Kluwer UK tax and accounting executive director Simon Crompton said firms must take on more clients, sell more services or charge more for current services to grow fee income. Although most practices seek to at least maintain their customer base by replacing clients that leave, a practice that wants to “grow organically” must be more proactive.

As practices value direct mail, emails, events, websites and social media, outside of referrals and professional introductions, meaning they are “likely” to benefit from software to help them “manage and measure” their efforts, he added.

Earlier this year, Wolters Kluwer research found 77% of accountants now use social media, with women (85%) more likely to use it than their male counterparts (72%).


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  • Graham Lamont

    A very interesting piece of research. We are a small firm of chartered accountants, tax and business advisers with a dedicated marketing team. The team consists of an outsourced marketing specialist who looks after our web site, social media activity, press releases and print design. We have a full time marketing co-ordinator in-house supported by a part-time business development manager. We are developing a list of 400 – 500 target clients per office and communicate with this target list every 3 months. We spend 5% of fee income on our marketing activities which produces a 4 times return on investment by attracting more new clients or new projects for the firm. We grew 13% last year and have doubled in size over the past 5 years through organic growth and acquisitions attracting a new client to the firm every working day for the past 5 years. We strongly recommend that firms develop and deliver much more marketing activity, as it does pay off.

    Graham Lamont

    Chief Executive of Lamont Pridmore

  • Lamont Pridmore

    A very interesting piece of
    research. We are a firm of chartered accountants, tax and business
    advisers with a dedicated marketing team. The team consists of an outsourced
    marketing specialist who looks after our web site, social media activity, press
    releases and print design. We have a full time marketing co-ordinator in-house
    supported by a part-time business development manager. We spend 5% of fee income on our marketing
    activities which produces a 4 times return on investment by
    attracting more new clients or new projects for the firm. We grew 13% last
    year and have doubled in size over the past 5 years through organic growth and
    acquisitions attracting a new client to the firm every working day for the past
    5 years. We strongly recommend that firms develop and deliver much more
    marketing activity, as it does pay off.

  • Daniel Moss

    Great piece! To save the marketing spend and time, why not consider joining a franchise network who carry this out for you? Gives you more time to spend servicing your clients and holding onto them!

  • Kevin Reed

    Thanks for your thoughts Graham. From my own bitter experience I can pretty much vouch for the general findings in this research. Many firms unsophisticated in marketing/comms…which i think is symptomatic of them not being run strongly enough on corporate lines.
    Kevin Reed, editor, Accountancy Age

  • Carl Reader

    Have to agree with Graham. Our spend was probably c. 7% of turnover last year, not including the value of my time which was devoted 100% to BD. It’s vital for any firm to have a grasp of the stats behind the marketing. In fact, accountants actually make pretty good marketing co-ordinators, given that the number crunching and KPI monitoring is fairly similar to their ‘day job’!

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