AA 82 | Accounting Firm Marketing

Marketing is an oft-neglected part of many businesses, most especially the accounting sector. Enter Nate Hagerty, who heads TaxProMarketer and AdvisorProMarketer. Nate specializes in marketing for accountants and tax specialists. In this episode, Michelle Weinstein sits down for a discussion on how to effectively market your accounting firm with Nate. Nate looks at the five pillars of marketing and talks about how you can effectively leverage each pillar to increase your profitability. Tune in and learn more about marketing your accounting business.

Listen to the podcast here:

5 Pillars Of Marketing To Build On For Your Accounting Firm With Nate Hagerty

Our special guest is the CEO of TaxProMarketer and AdvisorProMarketer. He has been the nation’s leading marketing agency group, serving accounting and tax practices since 2007. He has also been a multi-year honoree of CPA Practice Advisors Top 40 Under 40 and is published widely in industry publications. He is the author and editor of two Amazon best sellers.

He’s also the father of 7 children, 4 of whom he and his wife adopted from overseas. He has a lot on his plate. He has some hobbies, but mostly he’s a marketing guru. It’s crazy that so many accounting and tax pros think that increasing their fees will lose clients resulting in lower revenue. Everybody thinks that the way to get more clients is to discount fees to your prospects and your clients, but it’s not true.

The accountants I work with increase monthly reoccurring revenue by 3X by falling a much newer and far simpler method. If you want to see how the other accounting professionals and tax pros are doing this, make sure to register for my brand new master class at TheAbundantAccountant.com/masterclass. It is an investment of 49 minutes that will provide a lifetime of increased revenue. If you can’t make the time, you’ll get the replay. Let’s welcome our special guest to the show, Nate Hagerty.

Welcome, Nate.

Michelle, it is a pleasure to be with you.

It is an honor to have you here. I already did your intro, but it’s always best to hear what you do directly from the guests. For those that are reading that don’t know you, can you share a quick minute about who you are, what you do, and what’s the business that you created to help a bunch of accounting and tax pros?

I am the CEO of TaxProMarketer and AdvisorProMarketer. I’m mostly known in the industry for TaxProMarketer. We’ve been serving the industry since 2007. We’re the foremost independent marketing agency for tax and accounting professionals. We’re known for relationship-oriented, direct response-infused marketing, especially in the digital marketing space where we create these online marketing machines for our clients.

What I want to talk about in particular is doing the basic work to establish yourself as the local or industry market expert for your particular niche, whether it’s tax planning, compliance, tax preparation, accounting, CFO work, whatever vertical you work with. There are so many different things that people get so distracted by the shiny objects and the new software that comes on the market every six months. They don’t get the stuff done that will form the foundation for an effective, long-lasting online marketing platform essentially.

AA 82 | Accounting Firm Marketing

Accounting Firm Marketing: AI content isn’t going to help you. You’re not going to be able to game the system. Content has to be written by human for humans.

 

That is what we’re talking about. I’m super excited to have you here on the show, especially since you’ve been working with all of our readers since 2007. Our topic is the five pillars you need to build the right foundation for your marketing. Nate was saying it’s about the foundation. If you think about having a house, before they can put up the walls, installation, and all that other stuff, they have to put the concrete down and lay the foundation. A lot of firm owners miss this when starting their firm and are about to embark on marketing.

In a few other episodes, Nate, we’ve talked about the difference between sales and marketing. Everything that we’re going to talk about relates to the leads that you’re going to get and the client interaction that you’re going to do through one of the pillars that Nate’s going to share, how people perceive you and your firm, and the other things that we need to make sure.

When you go to people’s houses, it looks clean and organized, but if you were to open up a closet, everything would come tumbling down on top of you. You go to Nate’s house. He has seven kids, so there’s probably a seven-bedroom or palace. In all the bedrooms, it’s looking clean. If you go into him and his wife’s room and all the seven kids and you open the closets, you would have to go, and it would be a pile. Those are the five pillars. Let’s talk about the first one, Nate.

Even before the pillars or the framework philosophically, I love that you talk about the difference between sales and marketing. The way that I see marketing, in general, is in a relationship journey. Marketing at its core is about building relationships in a scaled way. Let’s say you’re looking for a spouse. You’re not going to propose marriage on the first date. The chances are good that anybody who would say yes to that is super weird and probably not the person you want to be married to.

The same is true for clients and prospects. They’re checking us out. They want to get a little feel about who we are in our philosophical framework, our level of expertise, and the area that we are serving in before they’re going to commit to a $10,000 service package. They’ve got to get their questions answered.

The way the modern prospect does that is they check you out in all different mediums. It used to be the case that if you had a great website, that was enough. That’s why we’re talking about these five pillars because the modern prospect is bouncing all over the place. You’ve got to have these things working together. The pillars are an effective main website that forms the content foundation for all of the other components of your house if we want to elevate.

Let’s carry that on. A lot of people reading think they need this complex multiple-page website. I was in my eight-week sales mastery class with other students. I don’t know when you’re reading this, but cryptocurrency is now a big talk on how to manage the capital gains and how to help clients get it organized. You could charge quite a bit of money for advisory services for this. Let’s say someone wants to become a specialist in that area and be the go-to tax crypto guru to make sure everything is legit and you can mitigate your risk from an audit.

I’ve got good news and bad news, Michelle. The good news is it doesn’t have to be that hard. Let me tell you a story. I interviewed five of our most successful clients. We did an all-star panel. One of them offhandedly mentioned how they had gotten a bunch of clients who came to her because there was an article that we had written for her on crypto. It was a blog post.

People get distracted by shiny objects and the new software that comes on the market every six months, that they don't get the stuff done that will form the foundation for an effective, long-lasting online marketing platform. Click To Tweet

She didn’t even remember that we had put it out there on her behalf. It’s a page. She has a blog attached to her website. You need a website that can crank out individual pages because the way the algorithms work is they want pages upon pages related to specific keywords. They want a keyword focus on one page.

You can have a generalist simple 3 or 5-page website built on Wix or Squarespace. The reason why we have always pushed all of our clients towards the WordPress platform is that it was as a blogging platform. You can crank out individualized pages real simply and easily, whereas you’ve got platforms like ClickFunnels and some of these other page builders out there.

The WordPress platform enables you to put out unique relationship content regularly. The algorithms pay attention to recency, authoritativeness, and whether a human wrote it. There are different things they look at. In 2022, what the algorithms are looking at is that it’s readable, authoritative, and the users like to see it. AI content isn’t going to help you. You’re not going to game the system. It’s got to be written by a human for humans. Crypto is a great use case because you can write a blog post about it and get ranked pretty quickly for it, especially within your local market area.

It’s like the first bedroom in your house. We’re talking about the five pillars, but in Nate’s world, it’s the seven pillars. It’s true. The first pillar is having the foundation and online presence with a couple of blog posts based on your specialty. If you need help doing that, you can hire Nate. What would be the second pillar that is the most important of getting your foundation set before you embark on any marketing, even though this is all a form of marketing and building that trust in the relationship? As people check you out, you wouldn’t get married on a first date. What’s that second date look like?

Thinking about that relationship journey, the first stages of the journey is about awareness that people know that you’re there. That’s why you want to have that website, the first pillar. We could include search engine optimization in there. Depending on your aggressiveness, an advertising strategy would be another pillar. That’s one that I failed to mention to you in our pre-conversation here, Michelle.

That would be an important component, especially for those who want to get quick results. The website’s content machine lets you take some time to build momentum and establish rankings in the organic listings. If you want new clients, you can start an advertising campaign that attaches the same keywords that your target client would be looking for.

I like to do advertising on Google because it’s beginning the journey where people are already looking for something specific rather than interrupting in the social media advertising space where it’s an interruption style ad. This is an intent-oriented ad where people are looking for something specific, and you can scratch the itch that they’ve already got. I like that.

You can target tightly demographically on social media and catch people in a modality where they want to consume the content you put in front of them. There are great ways to do Facebook and LinkedIn advertising to reach your target audience. I like the search advertising. Using the dating analogy, it’s like going to a speed dating event versus going to a bar where people are maybe or maybe not interested in finding a partner. At speed dating, there’s a reason they’re there.

AA 82 | Accounting Firm Marketing

Accounting Firm Marketing: Advertising can form a great foundation for people who want to test out new keywords and new focuses and new target clients that they want to reach. It’s a cheap way to test the waters before you commit to building a lot of content around particular keywords.

 

There’s intent. They have a goal. They have a mission, and they want to have that happen a little bit quicker and more organically.

The other awesome thing about advertising is you can target nonlocal market areas. Let’s say you’re in Iowa, and you want to reach Chicago an hour away. You can place advertising that only goes in the Chicago Metro area, but your Iowa-based CPA firm is reaching into the Chicago Metro. Proximity is a huge deal from an organic traffic standpoint from Google’s eyes, but they will let you advertise to a particular Metro area.

There are lots of different use cases. It depends on what you want to do. Advertising can also form a great foundation for people who want to test out new keywords, focuses, and target clients that you want to reach. It’s a cheap way to test the waters before you commit to building much content. Around particular keywords, you can see the response from an advertising standpoint.

Do you have anybody from your expert panel of clients that had a great story? Maybe it was even the crypto woman of something she placed some advertisement in front of an exact example.

We’re talking about dozens over 100 leads per month. We are calling people that are the right prospects. It depends on your level of aggressiveness. That’s what’s great about advertising. If you’re doing it yourself, you can try it, but it’s like going to the Las Vegas casinos. It’s stacked in the house’s favor. You want to have somebody who understands negative keywords and the way to optimize campaigns daily instead of setting and forgetting it and having separate campaigns for different keywords and services. We can get granular.

We’re talking about the things to think about in those five pillars. Before you want to start finding your crypto tsunami clientele, there are a few things you should get in place and make sure that not only the closets are clean inside but the foundation and your presence are intact. There are a few more important pillars some people will cringe at because we hate them. One of them is social media. We don’t want to spend time on LinkedIn and Facebook. It’s important to know that the presence and what you’ve written there is ultimately going back to what you said, which is the foundation of all of this is building the relationship and growing it in a connected way.

It sounds more complex in concept and big idea format than it is in function. When you start with a good content hub on your main firm website, and you’ve got good content, everything else flows out from that. You can drive ads to your content pieces on your website. The whole goal of that ad is to get people on your website.

You can more directly retarget people who visited your website with a more specific, “Let’s set an appointment call to action.” That’s a great two-step strategy for cold traffic, getting people exposed to your content, you get permission to retarget them, and then you can be more direct. You’re not proposing marriage on the first date. There are ways to do that even more effectively.

Your Google business profile is as important, if not more important than your $30,000 website that your awesome web designer created which is kind of crazy, because it's free, but it drives as much activity, if not more. Click To Tweet

The third pillar that I want to emphasize is something that many people don’t realize because a lot of wankers, marketer guru types don’t like to talk about this. The reality of the online space in 2022 and moving forward is that Google wants to keep its users on their properties. The Google Business Profile, formally known as the Google My Business profile, is as important, if not more important, than your $30,000 website or whatever you paid your awesome web designer to create, which is crazy because it’s free. Still, it drives as much activity, if not more.

In 2021, there is a survey of marketer sharks like me, and 74% of us say that it is as important or more important than your main website. That is optimizing your Google Business Profile or your Google My Business profile. What that means is to make sure you claim it. You go to Business.Google.com and make sure that your business entity is claimed. You should see the control panel for your business there.

If you don’t, you need to google yourself by the name of your business. In the little corner where it says, “Claim This Business,” click that link. Claim your business. Many people think they’ve got their profile claimed when they don’t because Google will create the profile for you whether or not you’ve done it on your own. You got to claim it to optimize it.

You can clean up all the information and claim all the proper categories that you serve. Add content because you can post to it a social media network, generate reviews and drive traffic from your existing client base to add reviews to your Google Business Profile. This is hugely important. It does impact your website rankings on the Google page below it. Those two work together synergistically.

How many reviews you have and the quality of them will impact the ranking of your website in the area below the maps listing. It will also impact your ranking in what we call in the marketing world the snack pack or the local pack where you see the top three listings on the map when you Google search. There’s a different algorithm for how you place there versus how you place in the listings below that.

How you place there is all about what you do with Business.Google.com. You’ve got to make sure you’ve got that nailed. We can help you with that. That’s something we do every day on behalf of accountants and tax practitioners, but it’s something that you have to do. You have to get a text message, phone call, or postcard. Most often, it’s a postcard because they want to verify that scammers are not claiming these listings. You got to do that. You got to add content.

There are all these other secondary listings, and we claim over 50. I’m talking about Yelp, Bing Local, Apple Maps, Angie’s List, MerchantCircle, YellowPages.com, Kudzu, and Hotfrog. Tons of them are specific to accountants and service professionals that are financially oriented that you have to make sure. If you’ve ever changed the name of your business, phone, number, address, or whatever, the robots are scraping that data and have it all over the internet. You’ve got to lean that up.

One of the things we do for anybody for free is to analyze all the data about your business on the website. If you go to our website, TaxProMarketer.com, grab a free membership and a Lead Flow Acceleration Session. We will run a free report that you can use whether or not you want to engage our services or not. At the same time, that will give you a snapshot of the health of all of the data out there about your business. That is so important because it drives so much traffic.

AA 82 | Accounting Firm Marketing

Accounting Firm Marketing: Prospects and potential clients will be checking you out and you don’t want to lose an opportunity just because you didn’t post something educational or engaging one day.

 

I understand the importance. If you don’t listen to anything else Nate says, take him up on that free report. Get your Google listing figured out because you’re missing out on opportunities, building relationships, getting your client reviews up on there, and other opportunities. It sounds like a crucial one.

It’s synergistic with the SEO and the website. It’s hard to choose between them like my two children. It is important to ensure that your data is not confusing the robots.

Let’s move on to pillar number four. That one sounded good and important. I need to do that, too.

Whether or not you have a local market, or maybe you have an industry vertical like cannabis, crypto, truck drivers or real estate agents, or whatever it might be, your Google Business Profile still applies. Whether or not there’s a Google Maps listing that will pop up in this search results, if people are searching for you, they’re going to find your little pane on the right side of the Google results. That is something that you can control. You’ve got to have the keys to that. That’s important.

The fourth and my least favorite will tick you off. It’s social media. Here’s why I downplay it for our clients, accountants, and CPAs in general. Michelle, you are a unicorn. You are a remarkably gifted networker and social media user. Most CPAs and practitioners don’t have the gift mix that you do. Let’s name that. They don’t have the time to spend. You can optimize your time because it’s really intuitive to you. You can dip in and out real well.

Most people have to work up the unction to be effective on those platforms when the highest leverage activities that they should be doing are not on social media. Here’s where it needs to be a part of the mix is that people do check you out. They’re ranked highly on the search rankings. They will find your LinkedIn profile, Facebook page, and these properties. If you have not posted stuff there for the last six months, they will see that. It will be a negative marking, not in your favor.

You’ve got to have stuff posting multiple times a week. We post every day on behalf of all of our clients. I recommend at least once a day content. It doesn’t have to be super flashy and important. You want to go after engagement there because it can be part of that relationship-building mix. We are advertising on those platforms, which there is a place for that. That’s something that we sometimes do with our clients.

It’s a maintenance location. It’s something that’s got to be done. We got to get stuff out there. Have a young Gen Z staff member post content on your behalf or have an agency like ours handle it on your behalf. It doesn’t matter. Have somebody doing it. That’s the main thing, in my opinion. We can argue about this. I’m happy to argue.

You don't have to be an amazing writer if you are writing something that is from the heart. That is the most effective way to reach your clients and prospects. Click To Tweet

We don’t have to. It’s important. I’ve never met a CPA or a practitioner tax pro say, “Michelle, I love social media.” I don’t think I’ve ever heard that in my thousands of conversations with you. However, I know there are interns and people that want to become a part of a CPA firm. They want to get into accounting. These are great students in colleges that you can have as interns in your firm or your virtual firm to help you create some of the stuff that needs to be posted every day because prospects and potential clients will be checking you out. You don’t want to lose an opportunity just because you didn’t post something educational or engaging one day.

I don’t want people to see that you’re going to catch fire somehow and go viral. It happens. I’ve got my friend who’s a TikTok influencer. You probably know him, Duke. He’s awesome. Can everybody replicate that?

I remember talking to Duke when he was first starting. He started his TikTok, and his Instagram had a few hundred thousand followers. He had a vision and a goal, but he also had to make sure all these other elements, pillars, and his firm were put together. He has a team of people who want to become a part of his firm, helping create a lot of the ideas and reposting his content and other things. He can’t do it all by himself. That’s his thing. Each person reading has their thing. Maybe if you go all-in on the Google Your Business, unless Duke had you help him, I don’t know if he would have focused his time on that. He would rather make videos.

He’s great at it, but I don’t think that’s a scalable replicable model for everybody who’s reading this. That’s why I want them to focus on pillar number five, which is scalable.

What’s your favorite? What’s number five?

It is the most important marketing medium you could master and focus your time on. That is email marketing. The rumors of email’s demise are greatly exaggerated. If you look at the data, it is skyrocketing in usage and effectiveness. That’s because small businesses, small professional practitioners, influencer types, and people like us are realizing that email is the most effective medium for moving relationships forward.

There are many suppositions why I believe that’s the case that I could share my theories. What matters is what the data shows and how it drives revenue. It’s like a 42:1 ROI for all the different studies and analyses. It’s all ridiculously awesome. That’s because people are figuring out how to do email better and better. We’ve all been living with it for a couple of years. We know what works and what doesn’t.

It used to be the case where I had to pound the table about not sending out these tax tips newsletter things that are free with these cheap websites. Everybody has figured out in our industry that those are not worth anything because they’re commoditized crap. When you write a relational email as if you wrote it, and you write it to a real person, you don’t have to be an amazing writer if you are writing something from the heart. That is the most effective way to reach your clients and prospects.

AA 82 | Accounting Firm Marketing

Accounting Firm Marketing: Most CPAs and practitioners don’t take the time to inform, educate, and be themselves with their clients that when you do that, it is such a differentiator and is such a relationship sealer and referral generator and review generator and sales creator.

 

It will drive the needle the most for all of the different marketing components of what you built. The website, the Google Business Profile, SEO, pay-per-click, social media even, that’s all front door stuff. Email is what builds that relationship to tease people up for what you are amazing at, which is the sales and the pre-sale orchestration possible with email. You do this email. You know what I’m talking about.

You can build a relationship-building sequence the first time you get permission. You can offer them white paper or have them fill some questionnaires. It’s the best conversion mechanism I’ve seen. It’s a survey on your website, instead of, “Here’s the free report about the seven biggest ways that you can save on your taxes.” You can get people to create that customized experience on your main website, get them on your email list, and then build that relationship over time. That is so powerful.

Most accounting and tax pros that I’ve met are introverts. Not everyone will be this extrovert like Duke all over social media. You get to sit behind your computer, send a nice message to your prospects, and ask them for permission to send another email. If we’re looking at it from the survey perspective, like on the cryptocurrency, you could even write a blog post.

If you want to, you can put it on your website or have Nate do it for you, and then create a survey that says, “Are you terrified of how you’re going to track your capital gains on every transaction that you had in your accounts?” Maybe on your survey, you could say, “Are you completely uncertain of an audit this year?” That has been the talk of the town. You can come up with other questions that you hear from most of your prospects. That’s a great idea for a survey.

Each email you create could be about that topic, to educate them that if they don’t hire the best, which is you, what’s their alternative? Their alternative could be an audit, extra tax they have to pay, or higher interest on the late tax that they paid. There are so many different things that could happen. You could share a little bit about what your client did. That would be great. An email is an amazing tool for introverts.

You can nurture that list over the years. I have so many stories. I’ve been doing emails on behalf of CPAs since 2008. You don’t realize how powerful it is until you start doing it. We do that with every client of ours. We write a weekly email. We have multiple different content tracks. For those who do advisory services and don’t touch tax, we’ve got a track. We’ve got a small-business write-up business tax track, 1040 clients, resolution, different content streams, and each has a different feel.

The point is we’ve got these weekly emails our clients send out that feel like our client wrote it, and their end-user client receives it. It’s so fresh and different because most CPAs and practitioners don’t take the time to inform, educate, and be themselves with their clients. When you do that, it is a differentiator, relationship-sealer, referral generator, review generator, and sales creator. It is a powerful thing to implement.

Nate, thank you so much for being here and sharing all of these pillars. We had five plus a little bonus with the SEO and the advertising. Is there anything else you want to share with the readers that we haven’t talked about? We’ve covered most of it, but I want to check in one more time before we depart. I want to say thank you once again for being here with us on the show. I have some homework I need to check out, do on my housekeeping, and make sure my closets are nice and clean.

There's that old saying that in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. The accounting industry is still the land of the blind. Click To Tweet

We’ve covered the big picture. If you are interested in going granular and technical on this stuff, you can get it on our website. We have a lot of resources in our free membership. I do webinars. It dives into a lot more technical details of SEO and local listings, and the nerds out there, we all rejoice together. This is a good start.

The main thing that people should understand is that if you do 2 or 3 important housekeeping details in each of these pillars and you attack each one, you will be heads and shoulders above your competition. In our industry, there’s that old saying, “In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.” Our industry still is the land of the blind.

If you’re blind in one eye and do a few things well in each of these areas, you’re going to win, even in large Metro areas. We’ve taken CPAs from obscurity to the top twenty CPAs in the New York City Metro. They’ve won awards, and they didn’t do anything except let us serve them. It doesn’t matter where you serve, whether it’s sticks or LA. The stuff works when you do it.

Nate, thanks again for taking out the time sharing your genius with us, sharing and enlightening us on how great email is, especially in 2022 and beyond. Thanks again for having the time to come here to the show. It was an honor to have you.

Thank you, Michelle.

What an amazing episode with Nate, teaching us the foundation of what to do before you start marketing and advertising and making sure our house and our firm’s houses are nice, clean, and tidy. If you do anything, I recommend focusing on the Google My Business pillar, and stopping what you’re doing, going to Google, claiming your business, and doing all of the steps that Nate shared.

Claim the business. Clean up the information. Add some content. Generate some reviews. If you have client reviews on your website, a great way to do it is to email the people that gave you a review. Ask them to copy and paste it onto your Google review. This will increase not only your local reach but your presence, foundation, house, and what it is that people see.

For those of you that want to see how the accounting and tax pros are increasing their monthly revenue by double and increasing their base fees by three times as much with the simpler new method, you can learn that method in my brand new master class. Head on over to my website to register. It is an investment to provide a lifetime of increased revenue without working more hours or getting more designations and qualifications. I look forward to seeing some of you there. Have a beautiful day.

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 About Nate Hagerty

Nate Hagerty is the CEO of TaxProMarketer and AdvisorProMarketer, the nation’s leading marketing agency group serving accounting and tax practices since 2007. A member of Mensa, Nate is a multi-year honoree of CPA Practice Advisor’s “Top 40 Under 40”, has been published widely in industry publications, and is the author & editor of two Amazon bestsellers. He is a father of 7 children, four of whom he and his wife adopted from overseas. Yes, he has a lot on his plate, and has few hobbies.

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