Have you ever thought about the impression your business gives to your clients and potential clients?
The first point of contact your clients have with you will most likely happen online in some form. If they’ve received your details through a referral or found you via social media, they will most likely check out your website before contacting you.
That accounts for people that know your business name, but what happens when someone does a Google search for accountants in your suburb, does your business show up on the first page?
Think about the last time you searched for something online. Could you be bothered clicking past that first page? Probably not. Most of us don’t as we just want to find what we need quickly. So, if your business is not there, you are potentially missing out on a lot of new clients.
Let’s presume that you do have a website. Do you ever check its traffic and analytics data? How many visitors does it attract each month? Does it have a high reader retention rate? Does it generate any sales leads for you?
If it is sitting there gathering dust, then you probably need to revamp it and make it stand out from your competitors’ sites. Here are the main things we believe you need to consider.
1. What does your website look like?
You might think it looks wonderful because you’ve spent a lot of time on it but try viewing it from your clients’ perspective. What do they see first? If your home page is jam packed full of content with hardly any white space, it’s probably way too busy, especially if it has lots of different fonts, colours, and images. Lots of long sentences and paragraphs don’t help either.
First impressions are just as important here as when you meet someone face to face. If you look as through you’re wearing anything that you happened to grab as you ran out the door and you haven’t brushed your hair, are people really going to trust you with their tax return or business reports?
On the other hand, if you (and your website) are clean, tidy, and coordinated, that tells others you are confident and you pay attention to detail. It also goes a long way toward representing your personality and style. Or, to put it another way, your brand.
2. Is your website relevant to your clients?
Your clients won’t want to see your full company history on your home page. They won’t really care. What they want to know is:
- Are they on an accounting firm’s website? (This may not be obvious.)
- Does your business offer the financial services they are looking for?
- What does your business do well? (Why should they choose you?)
- Where are you located? Do you offer a mobile accounting service?
- What do other clients say about you? (Use real testimonials.)
Keep your answers to these short and sweet. If your home page doesn’t answer these questions or if your content is long and jumbled, people will probably go back to Google and try a competitor’s site.
3. Does your website tell your story?
People want to deal with people, not computers. So, once they’ve worked out that you could possibly help them manage their money, they’ll want to know something about who you are. Use an “About us” or “Meet the team” page to give a (short) summary of the business history and the people who run it.
Yes, you can include professional qualifications here, but don’t list everything – just use a few of the current highlights. You can also include a few lines about your personal life or interests. Include all the key players in your team here, too. That might include the people behind the scenes as well as those the clients are likely to meet. Don’t forget to add professional photos.
4. Is your website SEO friendly?
SEO (or Search Engine Optimisation) refers to the things that happen on your website that make it more likely to be found on the first page of a Google search. There are so many things you can do that we won’t do it justice here, but here are some of the basics:
· Think of the words or phrases that potential clients would likely use in a Google search to find you and sprinkle those words throughout your site, especially in headings and URLs. These are called keywords. Yours could include things like, ‘financial consulting’, ‘business strategies’ or ‘taxation compliance’.
· Use plain language and terms your clients would recognise instead of industry jargon.
· Name your locality in different ways. For example, if you are in Richmond, Melbourne, you could also say, ‘Close to Melbourne’s CBD’, or ‘Melbourne’s inner East’.
Moz.com has many more practical SEO suggestions that you can incorporate into your site.
5. Does your site have images and videos?
Using a few images on each page not only helps with SEO, it’s also another way to convey your brand image. A few professional shots of your office or team, some helpful infographics, or ‘How to…” videos all help to show who you are and how you help people.
6. Do you have a writing and branding style guide?
Consistency is the key here. Create a style guide document that lists things like your corporate colours, logo size, preferred fonts, and photo themes. The more your clients can recognise what your business ‘looks’ like, the more likely they are to recall it.
Your style guide should also apply to your printed stationery, email signatures, and advertising.
7. What does your LinkedIn profile look like?
Wait … you do have a LinkedIn profile, don’t you? LinkedIn is the #1 social networking platform for business professionals in the world. Your clients are there, so you need to be, too. It is not merely a digital CV. Just like your website, your LinkedIn profile needs to immediately tell people who you are, where you are, how you can help them, and what you look like. You can set up profile pages for your business and each team member. Again, keep them all consistent to help build your corporate brand.
For some expert tips on getting LinkedIn to work for you and your business, visit Sam Rathling’s website.
8. What about your other social media pages?
Regular content on your other social media pages can also strengthen your business brand and help drive people to your website. The trick is to choose a few platforms that best reflect your type of business and keep all your posts professional and relevant. Accountants should probably avoid posting Instagram photos of their Saturday night parties on their business page, but informative articles (like this one) on platforms like Twitter are fine.
So, to summarise, always think about what your client wants to see, keep things relevant to your business, keep them consistent, and maintain a professional corporate image at all times. Simples!
For more tips on promoting your business, you might also like to read our article Do You Want Fries With Your Accounting Service?
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Many of the themes in this article came from Episode 56, Branding For Accountants, presented by Paul Meissner and David Boyer. Paul & David are passionate CA's who care deeply about the accounting industry.
Paul quit his accounting day job seven years ago and now owns and runs the Melbourne-based firm, 5ways Group Chartered Accountants, and his online Freedom Accounting System firm which allows him to travel and work from anywhere.
For the last 4 years, David has worked as a Virtual CFO. At the start of 2016 he co-founded the Virtual CFO Association and in December 2016 his company, Sequel VCFO began franchising to mobilise the experienced work force of accountants in industry and bring their expertise to SMEs.
Together with their impressive list of guest presenters, Paul and David are the brave souls needed to fight through the noise and give accountants in practice the support and information they deserve.
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