6 Ideas To Help Small Businesses During Trying Times
Bookkeepers & Accountants – your clients really need you now more than ever! How can you help them during these trying times? With recent announcements from the Government seriously affecting certain sectors, what can you do to make a difference?
Connection all the time
Keep in touch with all your clients and potential clients. They need to know that you are there for them and that you really do care. All too often I am shocked to hear from potential clients that they have had no contact from their accountant throughout the lockdown period. Look after your clients so they don’t look elsewhere.
Do you have a database? If not, why not? All those prospects you speak to but don’t follow up – keep in touch with them on a weekly basis. Build your database using software such as Mailchimp, (there is a free version), so that you can automate sending out weekly newsletters. That is exactly how this blog has come to you today!
If you don’t use social media or you have been neglecting it then you really need to get active. Find the best platform for where your ideal client is likely to be and start posting lots of useful information to show you are an expert in your field. It’s very busy on there so try to stand out. Always follow up on anyone who connects with you and ask them if you can help in anyway.
Being an expert
You have trained and qualified as an expert and have lots of experience in your field. Even if you are a new business you still know a whole heap more than your clients – don’t suffer from imposter syndrome. You ARE the expert.
You need to get that message out there and one of the best ways is to run a workshop or virtual meeting. They are easy to organise on Zoom. Get people to register so you know who’s coming and also add the new people to your database. Zoom has lots of training information about how to do this. They are super helpful if you email them too.
Think about your content for the workshop – what is a hot topic right now that you can help with? Give lots of really useful information but also remember your aim is to engage as many new potential clients as possible. This is likely to take more than one workshop so make it a regular thing. The more often you can do this – the more you will be seen as the expert in your field.
You are most likely a general marketing practitioner, which may well have worked in the past. The problem with that right now is that you are getting lost amongst all the other general practitioners. If a business owner – let’s say an IT company – is looking for an accountant and/or bookkeeper in Manchester. What are they going to see when they go to Google? Try it and you will see what I mean – 100s of accountants and bookkeepers all listing what they do (which of course is the same for each firm).
Think about who your ideal client is. Really get deep into describing them (consult your team if you have one). Write a full description down – who are they, what sector are they in, what age are they and do they have family? What are there 3 main concerns and how can you resolve them? The deeper you go the better you will be able to connect with them.
You are niching your marketing, not your practice. You want an outstanding message through your marketing that stands out to your audience of potential clients. You need to talk to your ideal client directly, so they feel that you understand their concerns.
Take the example above of the IT company owner. What is your message said something like ‘Are you an IT business owner? Are you too busy running your company to keep your eye on the day-to-day finances? Are you working too hard and not spending enough time with your family? We are a specialist in the IT sector and understand your concerns. Why not reach out today for a 15-minute phone call to see if we can help?’.
Have you told all your clients about the free help out there? All the grants they can get – there are quite a few – do your research and make sure you are on top of that and letting your clients know. Don’t assume they know already – mostly they either won’t or they don’t understand what they can apply for.
The KickStart Scheme could be super helpful to a small business – again do your research and where they can connect with this scheme as a small business and let them know. All funded by the Government. You can make things like this part of your weekly newsletter and/or social media.
Services really needed now
In these tough times you need to hone-in on what is really bothering clients and potential clients. Yes, they still need their year-end accounts, VAT and payroll done but they are not top priority right now.
What they are concerned about is do they have enough money for … (including paying the wages). How are they going to cope if the sales are down and what effect will that have on the business? What would happen if they increased/decreased the sales price?
How can they pivot their business to survive and then thrive going forward? They are looking to you for advice – make sure they get it, or they will go elsewhere for it and you will lose those clients.
Pricing your services
Please do not get involved in the idea you need to compete on price. That is a slippery slope. Leave that to the few national automated companies that can afford to do that. They are compliance based, transactional companies, that are so big they can compete on price. You need to be different so that clients see your value. Don’t assume they understand, you need to explain it to them in terms that are relatable to them.
Clients don’t care if you are going to make sure the bank reconciliation balances, or that you will submit the year-end accounts to HMRC. But they do care that ensuring their bookkeeping and accounts are accurate gives them meaningful data to help them grow their business. Explain this using non-accountancy jargon and really get them to understand the value you bring. Then you can charge what you are worth.