Defining who you want to work with will sharpen your marketing focus. If you’re targeting everyone, you’re really targeting no one. Knowing who your ideal clients are and focusing your efforts on finding those targeted clients is an effective marketing strategy.
Finding an ideal client for your accounting practice is a simple three-step process.
Defining your ideal client
Who do you like to work with? The first step in the process of identifying your ideal client base is to think about the attributes they would have. It’s not always about who’s the most profitable client, because they may not fit your business ethics or culture well.
A great place to start is:
- Look through your current and past clients and make a list of who you like working with and why.
- Now put together the attributes those clients have. What industry are they in? How big is their operation? What accounting services do they want? Who brings you the most joy?
- You may have more than one, best to focus on one at a time
- Longer you spend on this, the more you’ll get out of it
By asking these questions, you should be able to paint a picture of your ideal client.
- Operates a business in the creative industry.
- Is located in the region.
- Has 5 or more employees.
- Has a budget for accounting fees.
- Pays on time.
- Business is growing.
- Responds to emails or calls.
- Prefers to do business using Xero and other technology
- Has a strong business network; can refer clients.
- Appreciates my advice; someone I can work with.
Where are they hiding?
Now that you have a basic profile of your ideal client, it’s time to make a plan to find them.
By serving a target market instead of anyone who just needs accounting services, you may start to think about where to find ideal clients and how to engage those prospects.
Focus on the first few criteria of your ideal client profile to identify prospect:
- Preferred industry (e.g.) transportation.
- Sizeable business (e.g.) 20 employees or more.
- Located in town or nearby.
Now you can begin to research for new prospects. Start by taking a look at any existing clients who fit your new ideal client profile. The more detailed you can get the better. Ask your existing ideal clients questions if you don’t know the answers, such as:
- Do they attend certain events, award shows, conferences?
- Are there other similar companies in the region?
- Where do they go for inspiration for their business?
Your objective is to unearth opportunities to connect with prospective clients and build up a profile of them. For example:
- Personal age, gender, income, location, education, family
- Goals and challenges: primary goal, secondary goal, how you help achieve these goals, primary challenge/pain point, secondary challenge/pain point, how you help solve these
- Others: hobbies, computer literacy, preference in communication channels, blogs they read, where they get their news, what associations they belong to, social media savvy, events they attend
Reaching your ideal client
You should now have a clear picture of your ideal client and know how to reach prospects just like them. The third step is to market to your ideal client prospects. Consider these options:
Choose branding elements that appeal to your target audience, so they know your services match what they want
- Image choices
- Colours in logos
- Ensure it’s consistent everywhere
- Have a presence on the platforms that your ideal clients use and create an attractive profile to attract and engage them
- Creating a website that reflects your unique values to help like-minded clients find you
- Aligning your pricing to your ideal client type
- Create content that addresses their pain points
- Start a newsletter. Offer accounting or bookkeeping tips designed to appeal to your ideal clients. Make it easy to sign up for your newsletter on your website.
- Hold a free seminar or webinar. Invite your ideal prospects to your seminar or webinar to learn some valuable accounting advice. Team up with a local lawyer and banker and ask them to invite their clients.
- Forming relationships/partnerships with associations or groups they’re at
- Attending events they go to
- Sponsoring awards
There are many ways to engage prospects but it’s important to find a strategy that works best for you. It should be a strategy you can afford, that you have time to sustain, and are comfortable doing.
When your marketing efforts begin to work, you’ll start to receive new client opportunities. It’s important to remember your ideal client profile and screen these potential clients to make sure they are suitable for your practice.
Who your ideal client is may change as you grow, it’s always great to revisit this exercise annually. Make it part of your client meetings to ask questions that can help you continually build and grow these personas so you’re always learning and updating them.
By developing your own ideal client profile and reaching out to find more ideal clients, you should be able to build an accounting practice that is both profitable and enjoyable for you, your team and your clients.