Why is it so challenging to generate qualified accounting leads? There are a couple of good reasons.
First, accounting is a service that every business needs, so there is a lot of competition. And since many of the same accounting principles and skills apply across industries, many firms are competing for every company out there.
Second, there are compliance requirements that force businesses to use certain services (audit and taxes, for starters), so there is a sense that if I must do it, at least I should try to minimize costs.
The result is as inevitable as death. Accounting services become commodities. It’s difficult to differentiate between firms, and fee pressure becomes intense.
Not all accounting leads are equal
There are ways to free your firm from this dilemma. Here are some of my favorite strategies for tipping the scale in your favor:
1. Become a specialist.
There’s no need to be everything to everyone. There are a number of powerful advantages to specialization, including being able to command higher billing rates, generating more leads, and being able to close sales more easily.
You can focus on understanding an industry so well that you know all the non-accounting business challenges they are facing. Then you can have meaningful conversations about how your services help that industry solve other problems — problems that other CPA firms will completely miss. This is a big advantage and will bring you better leads because you offer more solutions.
Other types of specialization that can help differentiate your firm include:
- Service type specialization
- Geographical specialization
- Specialization in a certain role within organizations
- Specialization in certain types of problems
2. Become a visible expert in your field.
Develop superior expertise in an area, then couple it with high visibility on an important emerging issue. If you choose the right issue and promote it effectively, your firm can develop a visible expert. This professional is a go-to person on an important topic. The presence of that person in your firm will not only raise the profile of the firm in the marketplace, it will also improve the reputation of the whole firm.
A visible expert is different from a “rainmaker” who brings in business through personal connections. The visible expert generates high-quality leads through widely recognized competence. But beware. It’s not just about technical competence. It’s also about communication and helpfulness.
3. Do a major study on an important topic.
Nothing adds credibility and visibility like the release of a groundbreaking study. Of course, if you make the study relevant to a specific industry and answer a question everyone is dying to have answered, you stand a good chance of being noticed and taken seriously. It also helps to partner with a trade association or another industry player to add credibility and increase your reach.
4. Publish very useful content.
Forget the usual newsletter babble. Find a topic that will be very useful to your target group and explain it in very simple terms. In our research, we have found that one of the top ways that buyers are convinced of expertise is when someone is able to explain a complicated subject in an understandable way.
Don’t be afraid to share your secret sauce. Today’s buyers have changed and expect free education. And if your accounting firm isn’t providing that education and expertise, you can be sure that someone else is. More helpfulness equals better accounting leads.
5. Get serious about social media.
Social media is not a fad or a treat to utilization. It’s continuing to grow in popularity and is simply the online version of networking. If you don’t have a strong presence on social media, you are missing an important communication channel for your potential clients.
6. Invest in search engine optimization (SEO).
A recent study of 500 professional services firms found that SEO was the single most effective tool for generating online leads. It is also probably one of the single most cost-effective approach for generating high-quality accounting leads.
It works best when combined with very useful content (content that is also SEO optimized) and social media (to help share that content). At a high level, SEO consists of two main components:
- On-site SEO: Use targeted keywords or keyword phrases to communicate what the content on your site is and its relevance to what searchers are looking for.
- Off-site SEO: Obtain high authority and relevant links to your website through outside engagements and articles.
7. Put them all together.
The greatest impact on your lead quality and quantity will come from combining all of these techniques and strategies into a unified, ongoing campaign. While each of these tips helps raise the quality of your new leads, putting them together builds a sustainable advantage. It both distinguishes you from other firms and communicates a powerful message to potential clients. It clearly communicates that you provide value beyond the “me too” firms that flood the marketplace.
Well-targeted, clearly differentiated, obviously more value… sounds like a formula for better accounting leads.