Posted in: Growth,

If you’re like most in the accounting profession, you’re probably a numbers person. So what could you possibly need to know about writing a blog post?

Blogs are an integral part of a strong digital marketing strategy, with numerous benefits specific to accounting firms. In addition to leading prospects to your firm's website, blogs can help you build brand awareness and strengthen credibility. That’s why the majority of Allinial Global member firms are already leveraging blogs as part of their content strategy.

Many of these firms rely upon staff for assistance with content creation and subject matter expertise. Even if writing isn’t your forte or part of your usual job responsibilities, it’s helpful to know your way around a good blog post.

On that note, we thought we’d share some practical tips to help you hit the mark. No matter what you’re writing about, you can strengthen your post by including three key elements.

1. An effective title or headline. A strong title accomplishes two important tasks: communicating what the post is about and capturing your audience’s attention and interest. As the first thing readers are likely to see, the title of your blog post should draw your audience in and entice them to continue reading. What makes this challenging is the fact that titles must also be succinct—typically 50–70 characters—and accurate, because your audience won’t appreciate being misled. So choose your words carefully and try to pique the reader’s curiosity, stir emotion, or generate interest by promising a benefit or a compelling story.

2. Savvy formatting. You may have been rewarded for writing long essays in school, but in the blogosphere, long blocks of uninterrupted text are a big no-no. Organizing your post into short paragraphs with headings, numbered lists, bullets, and graphics will help readers navigate the text and boost your search engine optimization and blog traffic. According to Semrush, posts with at least one image get twice the traffic of text-only posts, and posts with at least one list per every 500 words of plain text get 70% more traffic than posts without lists. As you write, think about how you can use formatting elements to break up the text and make your post more appealing to the reader.

3. A clear call to action (CTA). Don’t end your blog post abruptly or leave the reader hanging. Close with a clear call to action that creates a sense of urgency and tells your reader exactly what you want them to do. Whether you’d like them to download your content, follow you on social media, or sign up for an event or mailing list, your CTA should encourage your audience to engage with your firm and remind them of the knowledge and value you offer. Closing without a clear CTA is a huge missed opportunity to move prospects down the marketing funnel and drive engagement with your brand.

With a strong title, savvy formatting, and a clear call to action, you’ll be well on your way to creating content that you can be proud of. And if you’d like to take your writing game to the next level, check out Anne Handley’s book, Everybody Writes. Highly recommended within the marketing community, Everybody Writes will help you tell better stories, improve the clarity of your writing, and optimize your content to capture the limited attention spans of readers in the digital age.

Posted in: Growth,

Publish or perish. This is a well-known aphorism in academia, an area that piqued my interest as an undergrad. A bookish philosophy major, I had my heart set on pursuing a PhD in Philosophy of Religion (and a ruthless disregard for making a living wage—a privilege for the young and foolhardy). Fast forward to 2020, when my goals and interests have taken a few different turns, and I still think of that timeless academic adage and how fitting it is for the world of accounting marketing where I find myself now.

As many of you noticed, we just published the 2020 Allinial Global Biggest Marketing Wins, an annual best-practices sharing publication that showcases the biggest marketing successes in the AG marketing community. Allinial Global members have pivoted beautifully during this challenging year—many of our firms went from hosting zero webinars to many or from having zero experience in video to producing an entire series.

The agility and creativity of AG marketers have been inspirational, and I can’t help but notice that #futureready firms who thrive during challenging times think and behave like media companies. My prediction is that those firms who still hesitate to venture into publishing—or more specifically, to produce content such as blogs, white papers, podcasts, videos, and so on—will fall behind their competitors and eventually enter the “perish” danger zone. This is because firms who continue to engage their target audience with content will only get better over time as they learn to improve their content marketing through trial and error. Furthermore, those who are more strategic about their content marketing will be able to further differentiate themselves and rise to the top.

Luckily, many Allinial Global member firms are already on board with content marketing. Instead of proselytization, their marketers are interested in addressing the gaps in their current content marketing game. Toward that end, here are my top three tips for making your content marketing more strategic vs. tactical.

1. Buyer persona. As some of you may recall, I hosted two back-to-back marketing community calls focused on content marketing earlier this year, and I was surprised to learn that most firms do not have any buyer personas. Instead, they plan their content marketing calendar based on their service lines and specializations. I think this is a huge miss. Yes, most companies, including accounting firms, have a tendency to navel gaze and focus inward rather than on the client. But to borrow from the Father of Philosophy, Socrates—know thy customer!

2. Buyer journey. Producing and distributing content based on your firm’s service line and industry specializations may not be optimal, but it still works up to a certain point—especially for existing clients. But what about winning new clients? Should you be producing different types of content specifically designed to win new business? Absolutely. What would motivate someone to switch accounting firms and start the buyer’s journey? What are some key characteristics that prospects look for when researching alternative solutions? What are the perceived barriers toward hiring a new accounting firm? How do you create and align your content with specific buying stages? This is where mapping out a buyer journey comes in.

3. Focus. I think focus is the most important part of strategy, and content marketing strategy is no exception. Most of us are part of a small marketing team, if not a team of one. It’s true what they say: we can do anything, but we can’t do everything. Consider focusing on a couple of industry specializations or mediums—blogs and videos, for example. I encourage you to choose the areas where you really want to excel and go all in (which, incidentally, is where our name All-in-ial comes from). You’ll be able to improve so much faster by focusing and eliminating distractions.

If you’re a member who would like some assistance developing buyer personas, I am happy to help! Ask me for templates that are both blank and completed as a reference point.