Author Archives: Mark Peall

Knowing Current Clients Helps Accountants Attract New Ones: Top 6 Tips

If you’re like the average accounting practice, you probably have somewhere between 700 and 1,000 clients; be they individuals or small businesses. You’re also probably trying to get more of the same – more clients, more business, more growth.


In the search for new business, you don’t have to look too far – your existing clients can tell you a lot about how to attract new ones. To look outward, you first need to look inward and ask yourself: what are my clients’ pain points? What are their drivers? Why did they choose me? Why do they stay with me?


The better you understand your existing clients, the better you’ll know how to find, and keep, your new clients.


Here are our practical tips for gaining customer insights that can help you secure new work.

1. Know what your client needs

Understanding your clients’ needs is the first step. Are more looking to sell their business and retire, or to buy another business? Are the majority just simply too busy to handle their accounts themselves? Look across your base of existing customers, on the hunt for trends in the drivers that are pushing them.


2. Know you can service that need

Most clients probably require several different services from you, but no doubt there will be some you prefer to provide than others. Find the sweet spot between your clients’ needs, and the services you want to provide. Then leverage customer insights to help you effectively pitch your preferred services at the right price to the right people.


3. Dedicate capacity to do this work


Now that you know what your customers want, it’s time to put your money, or rather your resources, where your mouth is. Focus your efforts with the 80/20 rule in mind – concentrate where you will get the most significant results and look for new customers which are similar to these that yield your best revenues.


4. Don’t be afraid to ask your clients about their business

The best people to tell you about your clients is your clients! Don’t be afraid to ask them what they like or don’t like about your service, what their challenges are, what their goals are and how you can help them achieve them.

These fact-finding missions can be formal, such as an email survey, or simply an informal chat over a coffee.

Talking to your clients doesn’t have to take up time. At Permission we use Act-On responsive emails to help gather insights from customers.

The system is completely automated, so all we need to do is analyse the results and put the data to work


5. Build a network of experts

It’s possible that the issue your clients are dealing with is outside your realm of expertise. That doesn’t mean it’s not your problem. Becoming a true partner in your client’s success not only makes them more loyal to your business but also more likely to refer other, similar clients to you. Build a professional network in the fields of HR, marketing, IT and law that you can refer your customers to (and who can also refer their customers to you).


6. Follow up with your clients regularly


Never stop talking to your clients. Their needs will change over time, and having regular ‘check-ins’ either face-to-face or over email will help you keep a finger on the customer pulse.
As a final bonus, this communication will not only help you better understand how to attract new customers, it will increase loyalty in your existing customers.


According to a recent survey, 53% of businesses said ongoing, personalised communication with existing customers had a moderate to significant impact on revenue. That sounds pretty good to us!


For more information why not call us on 1800 737 266 for a chat about a strategy to suit you? Or email us at We’d love to help!

Accountants: Enter a world where clients come to you

Cold calling from the phone book used to be a common method of getting new clients through the doors, but if you’ve ever tried it, you know just how hard it can be. Even the most enthusiastic pitch often didn’t get past the gatekeeper! And then there were the issues of inconvenient timing, and pitches that were just irrelevant.

Now, with the development of userfriendly digital platforms, marketing automation is an excellent way to attract (and keep!) clients to your accountancy firm – with attract being the operative word. Instead of pursuing clients, marketing automation is about letting them edge closer to you.

But that doesn’t mean you wait until they notice you – you entice clients by finding out what they want, and offering solutions.


Inbound marketing: the softer approach

Inbound marketing is about the client drawing closer to you, and marketing automation is the platform you use.

Rather than telling the client what you do and asking if they might be interested in doing business, you offer them guidance and resources that answer needs they have. Marketing automation responds to the cues clients give out, rather than going into the relationship with preconceptions.

Rather than hitting the potential client with: “Our company does X, do you want to use our services?”, you make the approach client-centric. “We noticed you’re doing Y, we think we can help you with that” The tone of the transaction has changed from confrontational to collaborative.

While much of marketing automation revolves around email, it also includes social media, landing pages, lead generation activities and management activities.


Marketing tools come of age

Marketing automation tools work by monitoring what clients want and creating automatic user segments based on the data they albeit unwittingly supply.

Landing pages gather data from visitors to your website. Depending on when they interact, the data collected, could for example, indicate the person’s position in the company. So, if a business owner visits your website, the marketing automation software automatically creates a new entry in your ‘business owner’ group.

Automated emails containing appropriately pitched resources, eBooks and offers are then channelled to them. You might schedule a new offer every month, or an eBook on tax tips towards the end of the financial year. As you add more value to them, their probability to do business with you is generally enhanced.

Clients need constant nurturing to remain convinced they have made the right decision in going with your firm, issuing special offers and resources to keep the relationship fresh and active. Automation is there to reinforce relationships both before and after they come on board.


Integrating the marketing technology

If you use emails and have a website, integrating marketing automation is easy. The platform will connect with your website and metrics you gather through the marketing automation platform about your site traffic will show who has received an email offer, how many opened it and how many clicked through to the site.

In other words, you can filter out the most interested people from those who need further coaxing before they make their decision. It’s totally configurable and you set the rules.

With marketing automation, you not only have a client-centric approach to lead generation, you have data to see the impact of your online marketing campaigns.


If you are interested in learning more about digital platforms, contact us on 1800 737  266 or for a chat on how we can help you achieve your goal.



How Accountants Leverage the Social Space to Generate Sales

Social media has traditionally been considered as the domain of young, hip, technologically-savvy brands – about as far away from accounting firms as one could imagine!

But the 2017 Sensis Social Media Report* tells us that 94% of adult Australians are using Facebook, and spending around 23 minutes a day on the site. LinkedIn has a penetration of 18% (skewed towards 50 to 64-year-olds), with Twitter’s penetration at 32%.

Social media is where people spend a great deal of their time today, and it presents a real opportunity to build and shape a brand – without the need to invest huge amounts of money.

The social space allows frequent, unobtrusive communication with clients and prospects in order to keep a business top of mind, which is important when the time comes for them to decide who to go to for their accounting needs.


Simply social, or targeted ads

With social media, accountants can reach people who both have an immediate need for their services, or grow awareness and remain on the radar amongst people who might need them down the track.

It can be used purely as a channel to interact with and inform existing and potential clients. Firms can demonstrate expertise and boost visibility by posting original content that keeps people engaged, up-to-date on new developments, and solves common problems.

Social media can also be used for paid advertising targeting specific audience segments. Paid ads can range from one-off promoted posts to full campaigns. Importantly, 31% of social media users who see ads are happy to click on them occasionally to find out more*.


How social can bring in the leads

A compelling social media advertisement with the right message will motivate users to click through to a landing page (a web page with more detail on the firm and offer).

There the prospects will fill in their details to arrange a consultation, download an offer (like a free tool or e-book) or join a mailing list if they are interested enough.

In any case, it brings leads – some to be cultivated through ongoing communication, and some who will contact immediately for a consultation. The number of leads depends on the strength and relevance of the message and the accuracy of the targeting, like with any marketing activity.


Why a good website is an important part of the mix

Before delving into the social media space, it’s important to have a strong website that is nicely designed, user friendly and shows current and prospective clients what the business offers them.

A business’s website is the anchor of its online presence, and the place people interacting with the business on social media will go to explore further.

This is particularly the case when it comes to advertisements. People generally very briefly glance at paid advertisements – essentially the advertisement is enough to pique their interest and prompt them to click to learn more. All social media platforms limit how much text can appear in ads, so messaging is restricted to a few impactful words. A website is an essential part of any social media campaign as it is what the user clicks through to, to give them more information on the company and offer.


So which platform is right?

Social media is excellent for generating website traffic and leads. To successfully plan social media marketing, accountants need to figure out who is to be targeted, and what exactly is to be achieved (get specific – generate x% increase in website traffic, generate x more leads in the next 12 months), then develop a content strategy with the right platforms.

Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter allow firms to reach a large number of relevant users, and are the platforms most used by Australian businesses in their marketing*.

Content must be tailored across each platform, as the audiences are different and their reasons for using the site also vary.



With more users than any other social media platform, Facebook is excellent for both pure social media use and paid advertising. It provides scale with more flexibility than LinkedIn or Twitter on the type of paid ads that can be used, and who the ads are targeted to. Advertising can be targeted by region, age, occupation, company, interests, the list goes on. To advertise on Facebook, accountants will need an image (or better, create a video) that captures the key message in an impactful way.



LinkedIn has a smaller reach and less sophisticated targeting (job title, workplace, education or size of business), but users are on the site to look for and generate business and network, rather than for social reasons. In addition to paid ads, accounting firms wanting to grow a B2B client base can use this platform to showcase their corporate accounting expertise, for example by posting original articles.



Twitter is all about frequent, brief timely communication with an audience. Communication is limited in characters so content needs to be made up of short, sharp updates that are of use to followers. There’s also a paid option for promoting tweets. Twitter is great for statistics – the latest data released on consumer confidence, the dollar, investments, or anything that might be influencing a target audience and their decision to seek accounting services.


Create a competitive advantage

Without any robust studies, it’s difficult to understand exactly how many accounting firms are utilising social media as part of their marketing activities. However, the Sensis research does indicate that just 32% of Australian businesses in the finance and insurance sectors use social media*.

This means there is a real opportunity for accounting firms, particularly SMEs, to stand out from the competition by adding social media into the marketing mix, starting now.

The good news for accounting firms is that social media is a cost-effective way to reach a large audience – with the right planning and execution it can be an ideal way to grow a business.


If you are interested in using social media or want to learn more, contact us on 1800 737  266 or for a chat on how we can help you achieve your goal.




Adapting to disruption – Essential Strategies for Accountants

There are over 32,573 accounting firms across Australia, with that number only increasing*. It was once easy for accountants to rely on referrals and flourish, but with the industry as it is today, this is no longer enough to survive. Accountants will need to adopt new strategies for growth if they don’t want to be left behind. There are multiple digital strategies that you can adopt like improving your online presence and content marketing to help you grow in this age of disruption.


Improve your Online Presence
Over 80% of buying decisions for both goods and services begin online, overwhelmingly the starting point for prospect’s research and the beginning of their buyer’s journey**. The average prospect sees 10 pieces of information before making a decision, so if they can’t find you or your presence is weak then chances are you’re missing out on new business growth.

There are many ways to ensure your website gets found, with the most popular being optimising your organic SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), using SEM (Search Engine Marketing), display advertising and more. SEO essentially means getting free traffic using Google. There are many ways to optimise your SEO so that Google places your business ahead of your competitors. Having good site speed, relevant terms throughout your site, links through your site are ways to improve your SEO.

SEM, on the other hand is paid marketing on search engines or websites that drive prospects to your site. Google lets you bid to have your ads displayed above competitors. It is always a good idea to use a mix of both SEO and SEM and you might be surprise how low the cost can be, but you will need professional help to set up and run these campaigns.


Content Marketing
Content marketing communicates credibility, improve search engine rankings and help differentiate from competitors. It is a great strategy for accountants as it gives clients and prospects access to your expertise in ways that will help build trust, leadership and show integrity.

You must have good content that is interesting, current and educational that helps clients and prospects find a solution to their problems and needs. There are two ways to approach this.

Content can be created, whereby you write or produce your own articles (of course this can be outsourced) or content can be curated, which is when someone else, perhaps a complimentary business has created relevant content which you can the post into social media. Both strategies create awareness, generate interest and drive leads to your website.


How to manage all this with limited resources
We understand you are all for growth but there’s one thing that’s stopping you – time and resource shortages. New marketing automation tools have been developed to allow you to spend more time and resources growing your business, instead of constantly feeling like you are falling behind your marketing needs.

Marketing automation can cut down on time used following up on leads individually, tracking where they are in the funnel, communicating appropriate messages and more all without lifting a finger. it can help accountants focus time solely on nurturing leads and ensuring consultations and meetings are successful instead of spending time replying to emails and scheduling appointments. Each lead will be automatically placed in the right segment based on triggers, and is nurtured all the way to conversion.

If you are interested in an in-depth overview of what marketing automation is, check out our article on Marketing Automation for Accountants.

Interested in learning more or are after a chat? Contact us on 1800 737 266 or for a chat on how we can help you grow and transform.





Marketing for Accountants

Marketing Automation for Accountants

Accountants aren’t marketers, but that doesn’t mean they should give up marketing. Marketing automation is the best tool that accountants can use to better communicate with current clients, attract new clients, increase revenue and foster trusting relationships.


What is marketing automation?

If you are wondering what exactly marketing automation is and how it could help, simply put it is software that can automate, streamline and measure marketing actions such as emails and social media campaigns. It will make these activities easier, faster, more efficient and will generate results.

By using marketing automation, you can consolidate client data, track client behaviour and other key metrics. You can also consolidate all your marketing into one tool making it easier to manage.

Marketing automation was traditionally used to gain, manage and nurture prospective clients. Nowadays, it is not limited to this use, as people now use it to communicate with current clients through triggered emails, to support other marketing efforts such as onboarding, to understand website behaviour and more.  What you decide to do with marketing automation all depends on what goal or objective you are trying to achieve.


How does it work?

Say your goal was to cross sell services such as advisory or auditing to clients, but current clients mainly used your tax services.

What would YOU do? There many features included in marketing automation platforms, but the best is a nurturing program. A nurturing program could include a series of emails educating clients on advice you provide, with each email offering a white paper, article or infographic that contains interesting information about how you can help them.

These emails can be sent every two weeks with a button such as “Book an appointment”, “Call now for more information” or “See how we can help you”.  This incentivises clients to take an action which leads them on the journey to purchasing an advisory service from you.

On the other hand, say your goal was to keep in contact with clients, then your solution would not be the same as the one described above. A monthly newsletter is more suitable for mass communication across your database. A newsletter can keep clients informed on your business and you can also include information such as an educational article.

In this newsletter, you can include buttons such as “Learn more” and “Explore” so that users actually interact with the content and absorb the message you are trying to communicate.


At Permission, we not only use marketing automation for our clients, but for ourselves. Through this, we have achieved our client’s and our own goals. If you are interested in using marketing automation or want to learn more, contact us on 1800 737  266 or for a chat on how we can help you achieve your goal.



Generate success: Combine Accounting and Marketing

Accounting and marketing are an unlikely combination, however they can be an effective pairing.

With the accounting industry experiencing disruption, accountants need to CHANGE their approach. With competition increasing, and traditional methods such as referrals not garnering the results they once did, accountants find themselves in a position whereby they need to transform. Accountants need to actively market their offerings by differentiating themselves through repositioning as a one stop shop for customers.


Become a one stop shop

The number of services customers want from an accountant is currently about four, which is a drastic increase from 10 years ago when customers only wanted one or two services. There is also an increase in demand for advisory services, as a result of business and consumer confidence rising. Overall accounting services demand however, has fallen.

But what does this all mean?

This means accountants need to communicate to prospects and customers that they have a wide range of services on offer to suit their needs. People are not aware of everything you can provide them with, unless you TELL them. Accountants also need to communicate that they are not just an accountant, but are a trusted advisor that can find the optimal solution to client’s issues.

Forging this connection will ensure that the transactional nature of the relationship is gone, and that customers will see you more as an ally that is indispensable due to an increase in loyalty and trust.


Start marketing, and success will follow

Ok, so now you have embraced the idea of marketing, but where do you start?

Always start with your brand. Your brand is who you are, your unique selling proposition and how you are identified. You will need to begin rebranding yourself starting with your current customer base and then the wider market.

Once you have begun your rebrand, it may be a good idea to update your website to communicate your new message and showcase your new brand identity. You can then begin to create campaigns to connect with current customers through nurturing emails to let them know of your transition and to include them in the change. You will then also create campaigns aimed at the wider market to show that you understand and can cater for their needs, and that you’re the only one that can help them. This can be achieved through a variety of channels such as social media, print and more, dependant on who you want to target.

It may sound daunting, but take it one step at a time, by first trying to get into to mindset of sales and marketing. If you need help finding the best marketing solution for you, contact us on 1800 737 266 or for a chat on how we can help you achieve your goal.



The new value equation, Accounting and Financial Services Benchmarking Report, Macquarie Group, 2016

How to accurately identify what your accounting clients really need


Pain – it’s not a word that usually evokes thoughts of opportunity or growth but when used in the context of identifying the unmet needs of your clients, suddenly it has a whole new meaning.

I’ve had an interesting few months listening to Principals of accounting firms, and in particular, their answers when I ask about their ‘pain points’. Sometimes the question is met with confusion – “what do you mean by our pain points?”.

Sorry, that’s marketing jargon for finding out what’s hurting a business so a solution can be found to heal it.

From the perspective of running an accounting practice, let’s start with knowing what your clients’ pain points are so you can offer specific solutions. A solution might be a service you already offer or it could be something new. Identifying your clients’ pain points may not only generate more revenue from your current service offering, but it can often help to create opportunities on which to expand your business.


How does this benefit accounting firms?

Simple – business clients have management problems – ‘their pain points’ – but don’t go to their accountants for ‘the cure’. This is probably because the client doesn’t know their accountant can offer a solution… usually because their accountant has never told them.

“But how do we find out what our clients’ pain points are so that we can offer to fix them?”

I smile when asked this because it’s not something you get by sending out an email with the subject line “Tell us your pain points”. Well, I suppose you could do that but I’m pretty sure you’re not going to get too many responses! There is a far more effective method – feed them information.

We produce relevant content focused on various issues/pain points and we measure what people engage with. It could be a blog post they read or an e-book they download. This activity gives us insights about what they need help with. Our system tracks this activity and alerts the Partner to the related opportunities.


Here it comes, the biggest pain point of all

“That’s all sounds great, but we don’t have the time to do all that.”

Partners and their staff obviously work hard expanding their service offering to existing clients, but they lack the time and resources to effectively communicate this on a regular basis. (See my point above about accountants not telling their clients what else they can do). And more importantly, to communicate it in a way that measures clients’ interest.

So how does marketing automation help?

Typically, a series of emails is prepared. The first email is carefully crafted to pique the interest of your clients by discussing their pain points and how your firm’s solutions can address their pain. The automation platform then tracks which clients engage with the content and – based on how they engage  – triggers a series of highly relevant, personalised follow up emails. The platform is also configured to send an alert to the Partner who manages the client or service which informs them of the client’s interest, behaviour pattern and even their contact details.

This level of business development support makes it much easier for the Partner to engage the client in a meaningful discussion and provide information about additional services and solutions relevant to them.

The process can be repeated, with each subsequent email or web interaction adding more value as your client’s pain points are explored further. In time, using this approach we’ve seen the share of clients only using tax return services declining in favour of those also using higher-value business advisory services.

Overall we have been able to deliver a 25-30% improvement to the firm’s billings by assisting with the development and introduction of new advice services via this process.


No more pain – we do all the hard work

Believe it or not, marketing automation is nothing new. Many of the Partners I’ve met have been exposed to the technology because they’ve been tracked themselves while using search engines. Still when they hear about this approach they assume it’s a lot of hard work. And it can be if you use old sales tools.

So you should see the reactions I get when I tell them that their involvement is minimal because my team and I do all the configuration work and then it largely runs itself!

We set everything up so the marketing automation program tracks their clients’ interest through the information the firm sends (which we also create) showing the Partner what their clients want. It’s a non-invasive way of gathering data; giving the firm precise intelligence about its client base that no amount of surveys will ever achieve.

It transforms the way accountants identify their clients’ pain points to enable them to deliver expanded services and personalised solutions – profitably.

58% of clients generate fees of less than $5, 000 per year. Produce more yield from clients by cross-selling added value services.


For a chat email me at or call us on 1800 737 266.



Succession planning statistic:

Are you a time poor accountant? Here’s your solution


Over the past year, I’ve spoken with many Partners of accounting firms, asking them what their biggest hurdle is when it comes to growing revenue from their existing client base.

You probably won’t be surprised to learn that it’s something as simple as lack of time. My research tells me that 45-55% of Partners don’t have enough time, and say their main challenge is getting drowned in email, paperwork and compliance.

The comment about having to be compliant with ever-increasing regulation is understandable. But I was confounded to hear that paperwork and communication eats up so much of their time because there is a range of readily available technology that provides great solutions for managing both.

So diving a bit further down I discovered that the issue is not really lack of time; the problem facing exasperated Partners is not knowing what solutions are available to handle these tasks. They are not aware, for example, that marketing to existing clients can be fully automated, allowing Partners and their staff to reach into the pot of gold that is right under their noses – with minimal demand on time.


Transactions are no longer business builders – so what is?

We all know that more businesses, particularly SMEs, are utilising cloud-based programs like XERO and MYOB to reduce time and money spent on accounting, causing transactional revenue to disappear into thin air.

Smart accountants are building their firm’s revenue and value by taking a strategic role in their clients’ businesses, such as offering advice on business structuring and the often over-looked succession planning. Partners sometimes join the client’s business in a board advisory role bringing corporate governance and financial management to the table.

But, again from my conversations with Partners, most are only doing this with the top 5% of their client base – the remaining 95% are left untapped. “We don’t have time to build relationships with everyone.”


A powerful solution is now available to time-poor Partners

For some years now anyone who’s used a search engine has been aware that big companies have been tracking our internet activity via our searches and other online behaviour. You know what I mean; you’re thinking of upgrading your Audi so do a few searches and then on your subsequent Google visits you see advertisements for new cars popping up. Well, that technology is no longer restricted to big budget conglomerates. That technology, called marketing automation, is now available through affordable platforms to help you reach and correspond effectively with the untapped 95% of your clients.


I’ve seen it work – here’s a great example

Working with an accounting firm whose Partners only had time to build full relationships with just the top 5% of their client base, we set about looking for a campaign focus that might appeal to a sizeable proportion of their client base.

“It is reported that 75% of business owners do not have a formal exit plan.”

Identifying this glaring statistic as an opportunity, we created a campaign to reach every single client with information about the importance of succession planning – what is involved and how professional advice would help to add more value to their business when the time came to sell.

The end result was that more clients realised the accountant could help them in other ways they hadn’t considered. This repositioned the firm/Partner as someone to rely on for a range of business assistance – with little impact on the firm’s time or resources.

“79% of high performing firms believe adding value to existing customers is the most effective strategy for growth – seems to be working for them”

The program guided clients and prospective clients through a range of helpful online material educating them about the advisory capacity of the Partner and how it can improve their business. It automatically tracked the client’s journey through the campaign, identifying when their interest reached a targeted level and then triggering a ‘hot’ sales alert to the Partner to follow up.

So that’s a single call to a highly qualified lead, instead of trying to call the entire client list and wasting everybody’s time. Plus, automating the communication process guarantees that no-one falls through the cracks.


We know what accounting firms need and we do all the hard work

What’s so easy about using marketing automation is that we do all the hard work at Permission.

My team and I use Act-on technology to deliver the information necessary to build a trusted adviser relationship. We track clients’ consumption of this information and deliver reports to the Partner with names of clients interested in meeting them and what they want to talk about.

It literally transforms the way accountants attract, convert and retain clients.

“Companies using marketing automation generate twice as many leads and see 53% higher conversion rates.”


For a chat email me at or call us on 1800 737 266.



Succession planning statistic: