The Trap of ‘Marketing Advisory Services’: Why It Isn’t Working (And How To Fix It)

Posted on 27th April 2017 in Advisory

Written by Karen Reyburn

In this blog, the Managing Director of The Profitable Firm, Karen Reyburn, talks about why you should listen to your own when it comes to marketing advisory services. Karen is also speaking Accountex on 10th May at 2pm in FUTRLI’s ‘Advisory Growth Strategies’ Theatre on the same subject so think of this as a teaser – get her session in your diary!

For as long as I can remember, accountants have been talking about building their firms through what we all call ‘advisory services’. This is not a new phenomenon. It’s seen as the holy grail of accountancy firm marketing. You do the work you love, for a very high fee, and the client gets incredible results and is thrilled and recommends that others come to you, too. Oh, and they are constantly increasing the services they get from you – also at very profitable fees. Delivering advisory services is not the problem. Increasing your fees, also not a problem. Even adjusting your marketing so that your clients know you offer these kinds of services, and want to buy them, is also not really the problem. The big trap when it comes to ‘marketing advisory services’ is the premise on which all of this is built.

The tempting premise: You can get lots of fees and make a ton of profit by changing very little in your firm

The problem is, there’s a lot to change, starting with your mindset and flowing that through to your marketing.

Naturally, we all want to avoid change. This is not exclusive to accountants. Facebook news feeds, the new Instagram logo, even your local Tesco moving aisles about. But accountants are particularly susceptible to this because the excellent skills that make you a great accountant – risk analysis, running the numbers, professional scepticism – encourage you to hesitate at the brink of yet another change.

Also, marketing is hard. In order to get the best and highest quality leads, you’ve got to throw yourself into the kind of marketing that involves trying new things, failing a little, investing a lot, hiring people, letting people go, recording video even though you hate video, and whatever else you have to do that is new.

But most importantly, this premise is a trap because it encourages you to look at your own firm first, your own numbers, your own profits – before you look at those of your clients.

Help your clients to change their business in a massive way

Karen Reyburn is Owner and Managing Director of The Profitable Firm, a creative agency that works exclusively with accountants. This is an example of their work.

Look at them first; think of their needs first

Using their questions, concerns, issues, and problems (rather than your own) to drive your marketing.

Most accountants I talk to can give the best advice in the world to their clients about how to change things in relation to their finances, such as:

  • Changing the system they use to manage their finances
  • Being willing to move everything online
  • Changing supporting systems such as cash flow, credit control, bookkeeping etc
  • Learning what different financial terms mean – the difference between profit and cash, the elements of a balance sheet, and more
  • Managing their numbers on a more regular basis
  • Making drastic changes in the business if the numbers don’t add up
  • Setting big goals
  • Matching business goals to personal goals
  • Getting the team on board (the internal bookkeeper, the clients, etc)
    …and, of course, investing further with their accountant in order to achieve all of the above.

The challenging solution: You can get lots of fees and make a ton of profit if you’re willing to change quite a lot in your firm

The key is to apply all of these same principles to your own firm – not only for the financial element, but for the marketing one as well:

  • Changing the way you address your marketing
  • Being willing to move all your marketing online
  • Changing supporting systems such as your website, email marketing, CRM system, social media, etc
  • Learning different elements of marketing – how to update a WordPress site, how to record a video, how to write a blog, and more
  • Addressing your marketing on a more regular basis (rather than ad hoc)
  • Making drastic changes in the business if the marketing doesn’t add up
  • Setting big goals
  • Getting your team on board (helping team members learn content marketing, involving them in social media, etc.)
    …and, of course, investing further in your marketing in order to achieve all of the above.

You could even do the same thing as it applies to your team:

  • Changing the way you recruit, interview, and hire
  • Being willing to move all your recruiting and team management online
  • Involving the team with all the aspects of your systems such as your website, CRM, social media, etc.
  • Investing in training for your team so they learn different elements of marketing – how to update a WordPress site, how to record a video, how to write a blog, and more
  • Addressing your recruiting on a more regular basis – being always hiring, rather than waiting to do it when someone leaves
  • Making drastic changes in the team if someone’s work isn’t adding up
  • Setting big goals for your team
  • Getting your team on board with recruiting (providing incentives for them, having them record video, involving them in interviews, etc)
    …and, of course, investing further in recruiting efforts in order to achieve all of the above.

We could go on and on. This list could be applied to your pricing, your systems, your training, and every aspect of your business.

Before you know it, you’ve started to see a massive increase in fees and profit because you – along with your clients – are willing to change quite a lot in your respective businesses.

Apply your brilliant advisory advice to yourself – and take it. They won’t hesitate to see the value, and pay for it then.The Profitable Firm have created a structured approach to addressing your own marketing in this 12 month Content Marketer programme


The Profitable Firm have created a structured approach to addressing your own marketing in this 12-month Content Marketer programme exclusively for accountants who want to address change in their firm.


Karen will be speaking on this subject in FUTRLI’s Advisory Growth Strategies Theatre at Accountex on 10th May at 2pm.

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