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When marketing is like pouring water through a sieve

Marketing can be a waste of money if you don’t already have happy clients, advises SELAS chair Vicky Andrew.

Victoria Andrew

August 2018

In the course of my business advising small accountancy practices, I have been doing quite a bit of work on marketing. This is based less on theory, and more on the 22 years I spent running my own practice.

As I tell my clients, don’t even think about developing a marketing plan until you are happy with the way you are treating your current clients. Why waste time and budget attracting new clients when you have dissatisfied clients walking out the door?

In my experience, happy clients are the biggest source of referrals for new work: either by selling additional services to existing clients, or by recommending their accountant to potential new clients. When my practice was at its peak, I would estimate that about 95% of new clients came via referrals from existing ones.

The small practice does need a system for looking after clients, it doesn’t happen by itself. If you are a sole practitioner, it might happen naturally during the course of your normal dealings with your client, but it won’t hurt to have a plan.

This can be as simple as recording the last time you spoke with (rather than e-mailed) your client, whether they were happy, and if not, what action you are taking. There is client relationship management (CRM) software available, but this is an aid to, not a replacement for, the human touch.

This plan needs time allocating to it. I well remember being up to my eyes in filing deadlines and having no time in the day to worry about CRM. So, I put time in my diary to work on client relationships.

What are your thoughts and experiences on this subject? Please contact me via London Accountant.  

Vicky Andrew is chair of SE London Area Society

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