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marketing

By May 22, 2009

Marketing for Accountants – Websites are Crucial for Recruiting Top Talent

Kinesis has many clients who are in the financial industry. Recently, a client sent me an article that appeared in the Journal of Accountancy. The article discusses the importance of websites for accounting firms.

Many accounting firms are revamping their marketing efforts and redesigning their websites because they want to attract and retain clients. But even more importantly – they also want to attract talent. There is a deficit of talent in the industry meaning firms are in hot competition for the best and the brightest.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

“We all know crucial first impressions are formed quickly, but researchers say people tend to judge a Web page in just one-twentieth of a second. Thus, potential recruits may be sizing up your Web site — and your firm — in less than the blink of an eye. Do they like what they see? And will young job seekers who linger there be rewarded with insights about prospective employment at your firm? The question isn’t just academic, given the well-known talent shortage accounting firms have been grappling with for years.

We surveyed 10 CPA firms in the northwestern United States about the state of the recruiting marketplace. They all said the market is very challenging. One respondent said conditions were “as tough as I have seen in my 20-plus years involved in trying to hire people in this region.” And the demographic reality of retiring baby boomers will only compound the need for new talent. Yet despite all the soul-searching within the profession, most accounting firms overlook how the Internet can host friendly introductions and convey favorable impressions.”

Many professional firms – including financial, legal, and financial sectors – are relying on how they’ve always done it. They often have many years of relying on “word-of-mouth” advertising and referrals. And, while this is a powerful component of a marketing arsenal, it does nothing to address future threats such as encroaching competition, recruiting shortages, and an increasingly sophisticated and choosy client base.

Many professional firms simply do not focus on creating a distinctive brand. Beware! This will lead to problems. Especially if the firm has a lackluster website.

Here are some common problems that I see with websites:

  • The website is based on a template and has nothing to help differentiate the company’s brand.
  • Websites frequently lack pertinent information that would interest the visitor – whether it is a prospect, client, or potential recruit.
  • The website content is often boring, written in “academic speak” and not targeted to the audience. There are often phrases that mean little since they have no examples to back them up such as “one-stop shop” or “You are more than just a number.”
  • Content is not dynamic – it never changes. The company is not updating anything. There is nothing to entice visitors to return. News sections often have articles that are over 2 years old.
  • Websites are challenging to navigate. The company did not plan the website and it has been poorly thought out in terms of its usability.
  • The website is ugly and looks like your nephew designed it (because he did). If you expect to attract clients who will pay you tens of thousands of dollars in business, hire a professional design company to create your website and your brand! This is NOT the place to save some bucks.

Take the time to develop a professional brand and a website that is created FOR your clients, prospects, and recruits. Describe the benefits you provide to them. This will help to protect the fortress that you’ve built from competitors. It will also enhance client loyalty and help attract the best people to work at your company.

And if you are a forward-looking firm, then you also need to design a section of your website to appeal to the 20-something who is just out of college. This is the very least you should be doing. If you really want to get aggressive, then build a targeted micro-website and begin advertising on the places that your recruits are spending time. This means using social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Times they are a’changing. If your firm starts taking a proactive approach to your marketing by creating a brand-driven website, you will immediately differentiate your company from 90% of your competitors. Then, take it your marketing a step further and appeal to the top, young talent. By using social media strategies, your firm will be positioned for substantial growth in future years. Talent wins the game!

ABOUT Wendy Maynard

Wendy Maynard is the co-founder and former Strategic Director of Kinesis, an award-winning marketing firm and business consultancy. She has over two decades of experience as a marketing strategist, business consultant, and executive coach.

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