Episode 58: How To Build an Extraordinary Marketing System for your Accounting Practice
“The more marketing you do, the less you need to sell.” - Ed Chan
While most of your business revenue depends directly on the strategic ideas you implement in providing your services, it also depends on your popularity as a company.
By the company's popularity, we are not referring to just being known among your circle and acquaintances. Basically, your accounting firm needs more visibility and awareness about the services you provide.
In this episode of The Wize Guys Podcast, Ed Chan, Tim Causbrook, and Thomas Sphabmixay discussed how Accounting business owners can build an extraordinary Marketing system to reach more leads without leaving them as a prisoner of their practice.
0:00 - Intro
0:34 - The difference between marketing and sales
1:47 - Good marketing leads to great sales
4:17 - The importance of consistency and persistency
6:51 - Is partnership a good idea?
"Marketing is about building awareness. Building awareness of your brand and building awareness of the products that you sell." - Ed Chan
"It's not just about someone buying something from you today, but it's about building up that prospective database that potentially can buy from you in the future." - Ed Chan
"The biggest thing is consistency with marketing. They are the absolute key because if you stop the marketing, it's so much harder to get it going." - Jamie Johns
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Brenton Ward: You mentioned a lot about building extraordinary systems, and I think it's very topical here to talk about the marketing division. So division two and the org chart, because we get this part right, it makes division three so much easier to implement.
Ed Chan: Yeah, absolutely. I, I guess marketing sales is something that's foreign to all of us. But when you run a business, and I'm talking about running a business, not a practice, then you have to have all seven divisions firing. One of the big important divisions is Division 3 and Division 2, which is to do with marketing and sales.
The difference between marketing and sales is that marketing is about building awareness. Building awareness of your brand and building awareness of the products that you sell. If people don't know who you are or they don't know what you sell, then they don't know to buy it from you. I use this analogy where when you do marketing, it's a bit like fertilizing the soil. If you constantly fertilize the soil, then one day when you seed, so a seed in that soil, you'll come to fruition as opposed to seeding the soil into the ground. And if you seed your soil into the ground, it's a waste of money. So you need to fertilize that soil first before you sell into it. And the more marketing you do, the less, the less selling you need to do.
So I'll just say that again, the more marketing you do, the less you need to sell. So in other words, at Chan & Naylor, we do a lot of marketing. So by the time, my prospect comes to see us, it doesn't matter who they see in Chan & Naylor, every person says the same thing to me. That this prospect acts like they've known us forever. They get very personal where our client managers never met them before. That's because the marketing has built trust as Jamie said earlier, people have to go through a process. So the first process is about building awareness and then building credibility and then building trust. Then from the trust, when they're ready to change accountants, then hopefully you've done the work so that they will choose you. Because it is all about trust in our game, especially in our game. And what we sell is trust. Obviously, that comes from cred credibility.
It's a long runway with marketing. So you have to do the work if you want to have, you know, new clients coming to you. Often when we do marketing, we just focus on sales and we don't focus on fertilizing the soil, meaning that by in, we've got a database now of about 10,000 paying clients and about 15,000 prospects. They don't buy from us. They just like our newsletters, they like the seminars we run, and they know and like the brand. Then one day when they're ready to change accountants, hopefully, we've done the work that they'll come and give us a chance to see us. And firms need to do this.
I use this analogy that you can grow your business by catching butterflies with a butterfly net, which is going to see all the different meetings and the small business community joining up this group and that group. And that's a bit like catching butterflies with a butterfly net. I mean, it's very effective, but it's very slow but I'd rather. It's dependent on you, so it becomes people-dependent. If I take you out of there, if I take the butterfly catcher out of there, then that's the end of your business. So, I'd rather create a garden that attracts butterflies to us. But to create that garden, you've gotta invest.
So generally you should be looking at between 5% to 8% of your turnover to invest back into marketing. If you're not investing that amount of money, then you're not fertilizing the soil or creating that database of prospects. So it's not just about someone buying something from you today, but it's about building up that prospective database that potentially can buy from you in the future. So it's a long runway. It's a long-term plan. Again, if you like, you've gotta put aside a certain amount of your money and I call it a balance sheet investment.
Brenton Ward: Jamie, if you look back over the last 10 years or so, building Sky Accountant, how have you approached this? Because again, you have a fairly natural ability when it comes to sales and converting new clients, but your mentality towards building the butterfly garden as opposed to walking around with the net and it is reliant on you, how have you ingrained that into Sky over the last couple of years?
Jamie Johns: Yeah, before I met Ed and got involved in the mentoring side, our market was really ad hoc. So we would start and stop, I'll never forget, we'd start the newsletters and do newsletters for six months and then stop, get too busy. I haven't got time for that. So it was a really ad hoc approach. I think a lot of the time we do that in our own firms, but we also CEOs, our own clients do that. Ed just kept saying, you've gotta invest, you've gotta invest.
Another analogy Ed said to me was that with marketing. It's like having a massive ball. Once you push that ball, the ball would get rolling. It's important to keep pushing the ball and keeping the momentum up, because if you let that ball stop, then it's so much harder to start the ball rolling again. That's essentially my experience with marketing. Now for quite some years, we've consistently done a fairly high-quality newsletter, which I know some of the members have seen as well. It's just essentially continually posting high-quality and just good information on your website. But I would say the biggest thing is consistency with marketing. They are the absolute key because if you stop the marketing, it's so much harder to get it going. SEO loves new content. These days we get consistent leads day in, day out just based on the content that's on our website and the information that we are putting out there.
Brenton Ward: Yeah, it's a great point.
I think we are talking about sales, but it is incredibly important to talk about this topic of marketing leading into sales because it can do most of the heavy lifting for us as that is mentioned when it gets to the sales bit because we go through that process of building awareness and building credibility, then building trust. It just makes, when that in that quote on the slide that you can see there is a quote that should be in focus here and something that we should always remember because I think we get this bit wrong. We get to a point where we say, ‘Oh, we need to go on the client drive. We need to get new clients and we need it now, so let's turn the marketing tap back on. ‘Cause we turned it on last year, but then we got too many clients so we turned it off and then we'll turn it back on again.’ So it's just on off, on off, and you stop that ball and then you have to try and start it again as opposed to gaining momentum and doing that consistently.
Ed, I just wanted to go back to you just briefly because it is something that you mentioned in terms of growth strategies for traditional accounting firms are increasing sales. We decide to bring a partner in and in the back to your analogy of the butterfly net, that's another person with a butterfly net as opposed to building that garden. So what's, what's your view on that?
Ed Chan: Yeah, absolutely.
Often for different reasons, people can, can have a business model where they rely on people to grow their business. So typically when you do that, you then bring in a partner, a finder to join you. A lot of the big firms do that. They're their model, their business model is to bring in a partner that's a finder or someone that's out there catching butterflies.
If you build a business model around people like that, then obviously when they retire, the whole growth stops. In a lot of these really big firms, like the big fours, a lot of their policies are that when you reach a certain age, you've gotta retire and there's no equity. They don't pay you any equity out. I think that's a really silly model because you're building it around people. Whereas the model that I've come up with is to build it around systems and processes so that you're not people-dependent. So you don't have to go out there hunting for these finders.
And often you are reading the newspaper that this big four firm pinch this partner from that big four firm and it's like a badge of honor. I think that's crazy. I mean that's, that's one aspect of it. The other aspect of it, of course, is if you don't have processes and systems as we do in Wize, then you have to have people to hold the whole thing together. So your people become your systems. If you have people that become your systems, then you become people dependent again. Then, of course, they hold you to ransom because you're so dependent on these people.
When a firm grows and they don't focus on its systems, so they don't know what systems to put in place, they'll invite another partner in to hold the whole thing together. Then when it grows again, they'll hire pull in another partner to hold the whole thing together. Typically you get to about a million dollars per partner before they hemorrhage and then they need to look for another partner because they're people-dependent and not systems-dependent.
When you look at the BRW's top hundred account firms, they're all got about a million dollars per partner. So if it's a $2 million firm that's around two partners, if it's a $5 million firm, there are five partners, and so forth. That's because they're people-dependent, not systems-dependent. What Wize brings to the table is about systematizing 80% of it. So you can personalize the last 20% and it's not dependent on you, it's dependent on the system. When your system's dependent, you're not held to ransom by anybody, and hence your business can run and pay you a passive income. This is what I've achieved with 10 offices around Australia and that's what Jamie's achieved as well. And a lot of the people that have the Wize Mentoring program have achieved that as well.
Brenton Ward: Yeah. And I think at the crux of that, it comes back to your mantra of building an extraordinary system over being reliant on extraordinary people. Because that's certainly also looking at ourselves as the bus removing ourselves as the business owner of the extraordinary person from the business. So it isn't as reliant on us, it's more reliant on the system itself.
Ed Chan: Yes. The marketing as well. So in that same strand of thinking, the marketing's got system size as well, and you've gotta invest the money into it.
Brenton Ward: Yeah. And the system then creates that consistency because if it is still reliant on humans, that consistency just disappears.