As you read through our blog, you’ll find that Lexco is a huge fan of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and its impact on helping lawyers, accountants, financial advisers, and health practitioners grow their business.
We don’t believe there is a better marketing effort that provides a larger return-on-investment, when done correctly, than SEO. While reading through our blog, you will also find that we mention the terms “SEO” and “investment” together quite often.
We liken SEO to the stock market, for instance, for many reasons: both are long-term investments; both offer no concrete guarantees about returns; neither offers the investor or their adviser any direct market control; BUT with both, it is highly likely that in the long-run, both investments will offer substantial returns. SEO requires time, patience, consistency and discipline in order to see results.
The goal shouldn’t be to guarantee tangible results; the goal is to put your best foot forward and increase-the-likelihood that you will rank well with search engines. Doing so puts you ahead of most of your competition, and will provide you a substantial return on your investment in the long-run.
Well you might say, “Alex, I don’t have all the time in the world to wait! What can I do right NOW to start growing my practice?!” What kind of marketing consultant would I be if I didn’t provide you with a wide range of tools to succeed?
SO here it is, a list of marketing tools you can utilize today, to start increasing leads and gaining clients while you wait for your SEO to “kick in” and bring you results. Ever seen the movie Glengarry Glen Ross? “ALWAYS BE CLOSING!” You may be a knowledgeable, trustworthy adviser with a great practice, but if no one knows you exist, you can’t help anybody.
You should constantly be marketing, always pushing your brand and firm name to your target market, always focused on expanding your reach.
In this post, I have included both a) how effective I believe each method is (on a scale of 1-5), and b) how much of an investment it requires (time, effort, money, 1-5 scale). Implementing even a couple of the below marketing strategies can give your practice a noticeable boost with fresh leads and ultimately, paying clients.
Enough talk, let’s get to it.
Pay-Per-Click ads are sort-of like SEO for people that don’t want to wait. Pay-Per-Click means exactly what it sounds like: you place an ad and pay the ad’s host a small fee each time your ad is clicked. If SEO is a marathon, PPC is the sprint.
When it comes to search engines, PPC ads are in the “sponsored” section at the top and/or bottom of the page. While the searcher can tell that your placement on the page is sponsored, it helps immensely to be ranked on the first page. If you’re looking for a short-term boost in leads and just want to run a temporary campaign, I highly suggest PPC. The best part is, the ROI is great for professional services because even if you spend $5 per click, one sale is typically worth hundreds of dollars in recurring income for a client that’s highly likely to stay with you year-over-year.
While the results come fast and are typically short-lived compared to the sustainability of SEO, I highly recommend looking into PPC while working on your SEO.
- Effectiveness: 5 (when researched well and done correctly)
- Time Investment: 2 (mostly research to ensure you’re targeting the correct audience)
- Monetary Investment: 3-5 (depending on your goals for the campaign)
Content Marketing is a more modern form of marketing; realistically, it should be part of every business’ marketing plan in 2016 (and beyond). Content Marketing is the process of creating relevant, consistent content for an audience that increases your credibility and visibility online with said audience. With the ever-increasing reliance on technology and social media to communicate and connect, it is more important than ever to have a strong web presence with a targeted followership that you can turn into paying clients.
By creating content such as blog posts, videos, presentations, e-books, podcasts, etc., on a specified topic, you are showing your online audience that you are knowledgeable about said topic. If you can continue to produce relevant content for them, they will continue to follow you and you will have gained a loyal prospect who is interested in the services you offer. In an age where consumers have smartened up and have learned to navigate around online ads, providing useful content that helps your target prospect is a very effective way to market and grow your practice.
- Effectiveness: 5
- Time Investment: 5
- Monetary Investment: 1
Social Media Marketing
If you haven’t heard of social media marketing, give me a call because we need to enroll you in a Current Events class ASAP. Social Media Marketing is the process of using social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc., to market your services, create content, and, ideally, interact with your audience and find prospects. This is a non-negotiable form of marketing in 2016, as almost all millennials are on some form of social media and the platform itself broadens your company’s reach.
Marketing via social media is similar to content marketing in many ways; in order to be effective, you want to either create or re-post content to your pages that educate, help, or entertain your targeted audience. Like content marketing, if you post regularly with relevant information, your audience will be drawn to your expertise and you will build a following. Social Media is also the most effective way to share the content you create, so Content Marketing and Social Media Marketing work best when they go hand-in-hand.
- Effectiveness: 4
- Time Investment: 4
- Monetary Investment: 1-5 (depending on your goals for the campaign)
Here is a relatively underappreciated form of marketing that can potentially yield really good results, especially in the accounting field. People get marketed to every day, so there is more competition than ever in their mailboxes, e-mail boxes, voicemail boxes, and any other kinds of boxes one can think of. Lumpy Marketing is when you send physical snail mail with a bulk to it that intrigues your prospect and causes them to wonder what’s inside. The goal? To get your prospect to open it! How many times have you gotten an envelope in the mail, not recognized the sender, and tossed it because you didn’t deem it worth your time? Now think back to an instance that this happened; if there was a company-branded rubix cube, or a keychain, or even a beer opener inside, would you have opened it? Even if you didn’t know what was inside, it’s highly likely that you would open it just out of curiosity.
When choosing this form of marketing, businesses are hoping that once the envelope is opened, the prospect will read through and see what they have to say. The level of effectiveness of Lumpy Mail varies depending on the message included in the mail, but it’s my recommendation that if you are going to include mailers in your marketing efforts, go lumpy or don’t go at all.
- Effectiveness: 4
- Time Investment: 4
- Monetary Investment: 5
I’m not going to spend too much time on e-mail marketing because oftentimes the juice is not worth the squeeze. E-mail Marketing is, you guessed it, the act of sending information via e-mail to your target market. There are many ways you can go about it to increase its effectiveness, such as including a value video, including a newsletter, linking to your blogs, etc., but e-mail marketing is largely ineffective due to the uncertainty that your prospect will even open the e-mail. Still, it may not be a bad idea to e-mail blast your list of prospects once a month, especially if you create an e-mail template that you can edit each month, minimizing the time required to do so.
Just like any form of sales and marketing, E-mail Marketing is a numbers game; if you send 500 e-mails, 30 of them might get opened, 14 of them might get clicked and read, and 1 or 2 might take you up on your call-to-action. If you don’t have a list of e-mails to blast, it may be because you don’t have a lead-capture form on your website. Make sure you have one, and make sure you get an e-mail address from anyone that remotely expresses interest in your accounting services, as this is the best way to widen your lead funnel and increase the number of prospects in your pipeline.
- Effectiveness: 1
- Time Investment: 4 at first, 1 thereafter (once you have templates in place)
- Monetary Investment: 2
One would think that print ads are an archaic, dying breed thanks to the increased reliability on digital, cloud, and tech. That couldn’t be further from the truth.There is something special about the connection one has with a physical, tangible print ad.that digital marketing just can’t offer. Putting ads in magazines and newspapers is still an effective way to market your services. Now that the emphasis in business is all around technology, there is less competition than ever for print advertising. Not only that, if your firm has a particular niche that you specialize in, you can zone in on that niche by posting in niche-specific periodicals. Is your ideal client small businesses? Include your ad in small business-focused newspapers and magazines. Do you work exclusively with landscaping companies? Post in a journal read only by landscapers. This lowers the competition even more, and before you know it, you’re the only game in town for your chosen specialty. Print ads can be expensive, so do your research before committing to them, but it’s hard to argue with results. Take it for a test run with a budget you can afford, and analyze the results to assess if this is a good form of marketing for you moving forward.
- Effectiveness: 5
- Time Investment: 2
- Monetary Investment: 3-5
You typically get out of networking what you put in. Networking is the act of connecting with a group of people to exchange contacts and help each other’s businesses. This is a tried-and-true practice that is as old as business itself.
Every networking group I’ve ever been apart of had an accountant, financial adviser, and a lawyer in it, and for good reason; as a trusted adviser, they increase trust and credibility when they are consistent in getting to know new contacts and referring their prospects to folks in that network. I’m not the biggest fan of networking groups, as they can be very time consuming (2-3 hours each week), expensive (some cost $500-$1000 per year), and the return varies immensely, which may or may not provide you a substantial or worthwhile ROI. Not to mention, you are typically asked to have people to refer to your group each week, and that can be added pressure as you may not want to solicit your clients for outside services. That said, every networking group is different and I encourage you to do some research and see what works for you.
Even if you are not in a networking group, you should always be networking, whether that is attending conferences or events put on by your target market, joining associations, or chatting up the guy at in the checkout line who revealed he is currently evaluating his current services. As mentioned earlier, you must Always Be Closing.
- Effectiveness: 1-5
- Time Investment: 1-5 (depending on your specific groups)
- Monetary Investment: 1-5
Client Referral Program.
This is a no-brainer and I don’t consider this marketing as much as I do just old fashioned, good business sense. Create a Client Referral Program to reward current clients who refer your accounting services to their network. The best way to sell a product/service, is to have current users who enjoy said product/service, brag to their friends and acquaintances about how much they love you. If you incentivize them to do so, it’ll increase the likelihood that your clients will do the selling for you, and that the referrals you get are qualified leads ready to buy. You can offer a certain % off their invoice, an added service for no additional cost, or a rewards program where a certain amount of new business will result in free service for a specified time period. There are a lot of options with how to create this program and make it work for you. Take care of your clients, and they will take care of you.
- Effectiveness: 5
- Time Investment: 1
- Monetary Investment: 2
So there you have it. These marketing methods are not mutually exclusive; in fact, using any number of these together can increase effectiveness and create a more well-rounded marketing approach while you are patiently waiting for your SEO results to show. The key for your professional service practice is to find out what works for you; your niche may benefit from more print ads, while another practice may do everything online and need to focus on PPC. Either way, trial-and-error is your best friend. And remember, SEO is still the engine that makes the car go. There is nothing more effective than your practice ranking well with search engines and generating website traffic from people actively searching for your services; SEO provides you a great bang for your buck in that regard. As always, feel free to reach out to us with questions /comments/ feedback, we welcome it all!