3 simple marketing strategies your accountancy firm can use to attract exactly the right sort of clients in turbulent times

Recessions are tough. It causes many accountancy practice owners to go into this fearful place where they tell themselves "We can't survive" and they go through their expenses line by line with the aim of cutting overheads and headcount. Now, we are not saying that this isn't necessary for some firms, but what if we could tell you that it might not be? What if we could show you how to be creative with your marketing so that you could thrive rather than just survive through this recession? Surprisingly, we're not talking about cutting costs with your marketing, but investing time and money into the right areas instead. Here is everything you need to know about recession marketing strategies to get you through this turbulent time.

This article is based upon a virtual (paid) workshop we did on how to add £2k quickly to your monthly revenue. Click here to download (for free) the whole recording of the workshop.

There has never been an easier time to win clients

a trophy being held in the air to symbolise winning when it comes to marketing through a recessionYou might think we’re mad saying this during a recession, but we need to clear this up. Despite what your mind is telling you right now, it is true: there has never been an easier time to win clients than now.

So what makes us so confident making this ‘crazy’ statement? There are actually 5 reasons:

  1. Many clients are (finally!) realising that they have been getting poor service from their accountant for too long.
  2. Most clients have got very similar issues and are not motivated to do something about these.
  3. Business owners are turning to social media or other online platforms to research their needs (they're stuck at home).
  4. Some accountancy firms are not set up to run virtually so are unable to service their clients right now.
  5. Many accountants don’t have the time or inclination to be visible in the market right now.

To put it simply, there are 3 stages that every business goes through:

Stage 1: Survive
Stage 2: Adapt
Stage 3: Thrive

The effects of the Coronavirus have knocked almost every business back to the very first stage, so in order to survive, many are looking to adapt. This means many clients, potentially for the first time ever, are looking to change accountants and many competitors are perhaps not in the position to service their clients' needs or remain competitive in the marketplace. For you, this means opportunity.

How to change your marketing through a recession

The worst thing you can do right now is to cut your marketing altogether. Competitors are quiet and clients are in need so you need to be visible! To help you grab the opportunities out there, here is what you need to be doing with your marketing through a recession.

a deer to represent recession marketing strategies to surviveRecession marketing strategies for clients in the "Survive" stage

Many businesses have been knocked back to the ‘survive’ stage of their journey. This means that they are going to be focused on their cash reserves and how long the business can keep trading. They will be looking at where to reduce costs, helping their staff work remotely, and putting together a 30-day survival plan to protect their core business.

Clients in this position have no desire to be sold to, so what does this mean for your marketing?

Firstly, you need to pause any pre-COVID 19 marketing or email communications that you have because this won’t be relevant to your clients now.  You don’t want to appear ignorant of what is going on. Once you have done this, you need to adapt your marketing by:

  • Staying close to your existing clients and become part of their ‘war cabinet’ – how can you adapt your marketing to help your clients? What are their current needs? Your clients are looking to pull together a war cabinet of trusted advisors so the best thing you can do is be there for them. Adapt your content to useful information they can use now.  Educate them on where they need to prioritise their spending (i.e. what is critical to their business right now). Our members are sent  COVID-19 appropriate content every week that they can use in their marketing and client communications. Would a weekly call be useful? If you are not already using a marketing plan, click here to download our free guide to putting together your marketing plan.
  • Educate and help potential clients with content – run webinars or write (and share) relevant and useful articles on all your platforms. You want to appear in the feeds of the clients who are unhappy with their current service or who are researching solutions to their problems. The goal is to be seen as the go-to expert. If you need some help with your content, download our free content plan template.

Read: 7 things your accountancy firm needs to be doing with its marketing right now to ensure it survives the Coronavirus Crisis

a chameleon to represent recession marketing strategies to adaptRecession marketing strategies for clients in the "Adapt" stage

Most businesses will be entering or trundling along in this phase right about now, trying to adapt to the madness that the pandemic has caused. This means that they are going to be focused on getting clarity on their ‘why’ and their purpose so they can then review their processes and make things more efficient. They are going to be looking at how they can work virtually for the foreseeable future as they put together a series of forecasts for the business for the next 3-6 months.

Again, these clients have no desire to be sold to as they re-jig things in their business, so what does this mean for your marketing?

  • Stay close to your existing clients – similarly to your clients in the ‘survive’ stage, you need to be there for your clients in the ‘adapt’ stage and help them shape their thinking. Talk to them regularly. Ask them how your business can provide the service or product they need right now. Be creative and adapt your service to provide support. Perhaps you could be helping them run through the ‘what if?’ scenarios for their business? You could be helping them put their business forecasts together, and helping them with cloud accounting software so that they can become paperless?
  • Reconnect with old prospects gone cold – give your old prospects a call and see how they are. Is there anything that you can help them with? You'll be surprised how much of an impact this will have. If they are unhappy with their current service, they may be very willing to change.
  • Be seen as credible in the marketplace – people are looking for support and guidance so you need to have a strong online presence. Run webinars, put out Facebook lives with quick tips and topical advice, share valuable content and client testimonials. Another must-do at this time is to ensure that you give your website a quick CV-19 refresh! If you need some help with your content, download our free content plan template.

a lion to represent recession marketing strategies to thriveRecession marketing strategies for clients in the "Thrive" stage

You may not believe it but sure enough, some businesses will be thriving during the recession. The clients in this position will likely still be cautious – they’ll be keeping a tight rein on their financials and cash position, and they’ll be implementing steps to reduce bottlenecks in the business so that they can crack down on any efficiencies – but they will also be looking for opportunities to accelerate this growth.

While these clients look to extend their business plans from 30 back to 90 days, they still have no desire to be sold to. So what does this mean for your marketing once again?

  • Tell clients how to keep their costs and cash under control as they scale up – this is what clients in the ‘thrive’ stage need right now, so help them. Identify opportunities where they can reduce payment terms, unpaid debts, and ‘unpaid’ work-in-progress. Help them increase marketing spending in areas where it is actually needed. Advise them on resources or new hires to help them progress through their growth plan.
  • Be seen as credible in the marketplace – you need to be appealing to clients who are in this stage of their business journey too. Share content that advises on how to scale up after lockdown and how to thrive during a recession. Be the go-to-expert by running webinars, putting out regular Facebook lives, and sharing valuable and useful content complete with client testimonials. If you need some help with your content, download our free content plan template.

Read: How to recession-proof your practice (part one: choose the right mindset)

Prioritise these marketing & sales activities right now

As you can see from the way we've broken it down, your marketing will need to change slightly for each stage of the business journey. You will have clients in all the different stages, but they'll all have something in common: they don't want to be sold too, they just need support and guidance from you.

Accountancy services are in real demand right now as people are wanting support with their finances so that they can make informed and quick decisions. They need to understand their financial position as well as being able to plan and forecast for different scenarios, and more than ever, they need to start operating virtually and make that move to paperless.

This is where you come in. The key to marketing through a recession is prioritising what your clients actually need, things like these seven activities below:

  • Invest in one or many ways to quickly update your client base on the changing realities
  • Give your website a COVID-19 quick refresh
  • Call all your clients (divide these calls between your team)
  • Put in place relationship/account plans for your top/important/best clients
  • Capture the great (and unprompted) testimonials your firm is receiving right now
  • Reconnect with old prospects gone cold
  • Plan your client comms and content for the next 1-2 weeks

If you use these marketing strategies during a recession, you can thrive rather than just survive. By getting this right, you can get rid of your deadwood business and bring in new work that you actually want. More than that, you can guarantee food on the table for you and your staff through this turbulent time and into the future.

Learn How to confidently and profitably scale your practice in a recession

Download (for free) the workshop recording of 'Scaling your practice during a recession' and you will discover:

  • How to gain the confidence and clarity to grow your practice
  • A solid 3-step process for converting high-value clients every month
  • How to find the value in your current client base
  • How to reduce your overheads, but increase your practice efficiency
  • How to find the time to work ON the business rather than IN it

Ready to kick-start the growth of your firm?