Have you considered setting up a blog for your practice? Perhaps you already have one but you need some help making it work for your business. Sage Business Expert Jonny Ross, Founder of Jonny Ross Consultancy gives some guidance to accountants on how they can write a better business blog.
Marketing your business is a whole different world to what it was ten years ago. It’s no longer enough to take out newspaper ads and distributing leaflets – today it’s far more effective to concentrate your efforts online to reach your target audience.
Online marketing isn’t some kind of mysterious secret shared amongst digital experts. Instead of spending a fortune on outsourcing all of your digital marketing, there are things that you could be doing yourself, and managing your own blog is one of the easiest. After all, no one knows your practice as well as you, so why would you pay someone else to communicate to the outside world all the news and views relating to your business and industry? Having a regular, well-written blog is also a good way of giving the SEO rankings of your website a healthy boost. Sharing your blog on social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn will help find engagement with a wider audience.
Blogging isn’t something you should be thinking about doing in the future when you get the time; it should be a key part of your marketing strategy, and you need to be doing it now. Here are five ways in which you can get the best use of your blog:
- Don’t be a bore: It’s easy to take the safe option and write formally about bland topics, but try to inject some personality into your views. People want to read about you rather than some faceless organisation. That doesn’t mean you need to regale your readers with witty repartee; just be interesting. There’s nothing wrong either with airing quite strong or controversial views, just make sure you’re not being offensive. Bloggers who come across as being more opinionated may find their posts are shared more often and generate more comments.
- Get writing: There is no mysterious art to writing either. A blog isn’t the place to showcase your impressive command of English, you need to keep the tone friendly (imagine you are talking to a neighbour) and simple. Some accountants may be a lot more comfortable dealing with numbers, but the more blog posts you write, the easier and more enjoyable it will become. Keep your posts quite short and you’ll get into the swing of it in no time. Post regularly too; if you’re aiming to blog twice a week, try and stick to it so that it becomes a habit. Also, look at posting blogs from in-house experts on various subjects, but make sure the tone remains consistent.
- Variety is the spice of life: There’s no rule to say that you have to stick to writing about things that are appropriate to the accounting world. Obviously, most of your posts need to have relevancy, but you don’t want to be too one-dimensional. If something catches your eye on the internet, or you come across something interesting on social media, share it on your blog. Often you can find a way of commenting on something topical that is pertinent to your industry.
- Maximise your blog: You need to have a blog strategy. It may be a good idea to do some forward planning and pencil in blog posts that are seasonal such as self assessment season. Blogs are good for engaging with your clients and building trust, but you don’t want to miss an opportunity to tie it in with your own promotions. For example, if you are hosting a tax surgery in the hope of signing up more clients, blog about subjects related to it, and include links to a page detailing the event. Provide value by allowing readers to download white papers and guides from your blog, but don’t be afraid of promoting your own initiatives to win new business. If you are also offering free guidance and advice as well, you don’t need to worry about being too ‘salesy’.
- Learn to take it on the chin: If someone leaves a negative comment on one of your blog posts, the first thing you will be tempted to do is delete it. Don’t! You may be unfortunate enough to encounter an internet troll, but the best way to deal with abusive comments is to report them as spam. First of all, ask yourself if the comment is valid. If it is, address the issue by responding within the comments section and make sure you rectify the matter. You can even make the situation the subject of your next blog, and score a PR coup by turning a negative into a positive. If your audience sees you reacting in the right way to criticism, you will gain their trust by being transparent, and demonstrating that your customer service skills are top notch. If however the criticism isn’t justified i.e. someone is questioning your pricing system, try to re-educate them by responding politely to validate your position. Your positive attitude and willingness to deal with a tricky situation will only serve to make your business halo shine even brighter.