Without sounding insensitive to businesses who sadly have had to close their doors, I must draw attention to a clear opportunity that exists for proactive accounting firms to really take some market share off the back of the COVID-19 crisis.
Now is the perfect time for accounting firms to reinvent themselves and ignite their brand light so it shines brighter than others when this is all over and give them a head start when we reach some kind of normalcy. Sadly, only a few are taking advantage of the opportunity. While others bury their head in the sand or are completely oblivious to the opportunity that is presenting itself.
What a lot of firms may be failing to realise is that accountants can be seen as the heroes for businesses, informing, comforting and softening the blow in this hellish journey we’re all on.
Start building brand engagement now, or you may find your firm will eventually struggle to find growth
Offering outstanding service to clients is only one slice of the pie and I see many boutique firms doing just that. Clients need a supportive shoulder to cry on, to give them the advice they need to get through this as unscathed as possible. Some clients even need to hear the hard truths that may see their livelihood shatter before their eyes. This is the service reality some firms are currently faced with during this crisis.
But service aside, why can’t a firm also bring some warmth and cheer into people’s currently disrupted daily lives? Why do Accountants always need to be so clinical and straight shooters, or at least be seen this way by a market who has pigeonholed an industry based on historical interpretation?
There’s a missing ingredient from a majority of firms’ marketing communications that could see their brand engagement grow quickly.
I recently published an article that talks about the one ingredient I think is missing from brands’ marketing communications during the COVID crisis. I posed the question, “When did Australian SME brands become so boring?”. Why are so many missing that one ingredient from their comms… entertainment. Check out the article here >>
So many brands are speeding up their tactical hampster wheel and screaming COVID comms to the market in order to either update or educate their audience on things that may be relevant to their situation. This is just what a lot of Accountants are currently doing. And it’s ok! You all have a duty of care to assist clients by keeping them well informed during a recession.
You’ll see many accounting firms doing pretty much the same thing at the same time. We get an update from the government of stimulus support options, an email goes out to people from every firm with the same update. A social post goes out to everyone and floods the internet with a barrage of coronavirus updates. I’d love to see firms find fresh and innovative ways to communicate with their market. Nimble firms who take a step back and ask “how do I tweak and change my comms to represent the new customer situation” are firms with a forward-thinking advantage.
But what if, for just a few moments a day or even a week, your Accountant helps you forget about your troubles. What if they could make you smile, or laugh? What if they could provide a much-needed dose of comfort during a crisis instead of pushing messages all about COVID.
There is a recipe for accounting brands, especially smaller firms, to reinvent themselves, differentiate the brand, and take some market share during this crisis. It lies in their ability and bravery to challenge the conventional marketing communication methods of the industry, and mix their education methods with a large dose of entertainment and comfort. Your clients are still people. And people love to be entertained. This is the ingredient many firms still need to welcome into their brand voice.
If a firm can help someone worry less about whatever crazy times they’re experiencing now, as well as educate the market on “what they need to know for their specific circumstances” in separate instances, then that firm has not only helped someone, they’ve created a strong bond in which that person (client or not) will most likely never forget. And that is how your firm can build brand equity.
Increasing consumer engagement leads to increased brand loyalty and brand equity
The National Cowboy Museum in Oklahoma City is a good example of increasing brand engagement to build brand equity. The Museum, unfortunately, had to close their doors which saw business come to a halt. That didn’t stop them from gaining over 250,000 X (Formerly Twitter) followers in just over a month. Museum management decided to hand the brand’s Twitter account over to their Director of Security, Tim. Tim was required to patrol the Museum regularly even though doors were closed. During his patrols through the Museum, he would be constantly tweeting from the brand account and show “the Museum to the world from the perspective of Tim.”
Tim’s authentic voice (and tech fumbles) would go on to resonate so much with people during this difficult time that their Twitter followers went from 9,789 followers in mid-March to over 250,000 followers and still growing.
Whilst they aren’t an accounting firm, the National Cowboy Museum is a marvellous example of a brand who have found a way to bring some entertainment to their audience who needed some fun and laughter to brighten their day. This is a great example of building brand equity during a recession.
Great brands are born or reborn in a recession. I would love to see accounting firms be more proactive in finding different ways to increase engagement and build brand equity not just with current clients, but the market in general. Building brand equity for your firm gives you the advantage to come out of a recession in much stronger growth than firms that don’t focus on brand building during a time like this.
Great brands are born or reborn in a recession.
Firms who put some focus on building brand equity by being helpful in a time like this won’t just increase the chances of surviving this thing, they’ll come out the other end of this crisis with a head start and as unscathed as possible.
Are you just like every other accounting firm who is on the COVID comms train or are you going to challenge the status quo and do it differently? Is your firm brave enough to challenge the conventional “accountant” image to stand out and really take some market share off the back of the COVID-19 crisis?
Challenge the status quo and do it differently
Use this opportunity in front of you to think about how you can reinvent your brand, your voice, your image, even your values, and find new ways to increase brand engagement so you can come out of this crisis in a much stronger growth shape than before.