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4 Ways The Accounting Industry Can Embrace Innovation and Disruption

Posted 2 years ago in Advisors by Alice Chan
Posted by Alice Chan

As one of the world’s leading Chief Marketing Officers, Xero’s Andy Lark is no stranger to innovation and disruption. From Sun Microsystems to Dell, CommBank and now Xero, Andy has seen everything from the death of bookstores (Amazon), the end of the PC era (smartphones) to the disruption of the taxi industry (Uber).

Australia’s first ever CMO50 list of the most innovative marketers for 2015 was announced this week and the team at Xero is thrilled that Andy was voted in Australia’s top three.  

“Andy is one of Australia’s most high-profile CMOs thanks to his social personality, world-class experience, strong views and innovation focus.” CMO50 #3: Andy Lark, Xero

Heads of marketing the world over are familiar with the challenge of delivering relevant, compelling marketing as people and businesses adopt new technology and communication channels. Being successful in 2015 is about having an enthusiasm to adapt to a rapidly changing world. Andy has always advocated that business leaders have to be as adept at the process of change as they are in adopting new technologies, data and customer insight.

Since joining Xero, Andy has steered the Xero brand to becoming a “beautiful alternative” to traditional small business accounting offerings in the market. At a recent industry event Andy commented:

“the legacy accounting software while successful in its own right, was unsuccessful in terms of overall market penetration and adoption. The majority of small businesses chose instead to ‘hack’ accounting, using spreadsheets, paper, or whatever alternative they could cook-up. Cloud, mobile and modern software has changed that. Suddenly the software they’ve always wanted is available, affordable and easily integrated with the other applications they need and use. We are at beginning of the end of small business accounting software and the dawn of small businesses platforms built beautifully in the Cloud”.

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So if accounting software has run its course, what happens next? According to Andy, it is the emergence of small business platforms, like Xero, which business owners will look to accountants and bookkeepers to manage. And it’s not just managing the ledger in the cloud, it’s also knowing which apps (Square, Shopify, Receipt Bank, etc) to plug into these platforms.

Against this backdrop, how can accountants and bookkeepers win over new clients? Andy suggests following these guidelines:

1. Engage with Content

With traditional advertising and print no longer working, Andy says, “the trick is creating killer content”. From small business guides to guest blog posts with tips on how to get things done, you can demonstrate your prowess and smarts to potential and existing clients. Not forgetting that video is what really creates cut-through in today’s noisy world.

”In fact,” Andy says, “why not make it clear to your customers that their subscription includes access to educational video content?”

2.  Meet Them On Mobile

The widespread adoption of mobile devices has created an enormous shift for anyone in business. “Make sure you optimize your online content for mobile,” says Andy. “Anyone searching for you online should see a Google card pop up with a map and overview of your business. Make that the first thing you fix about your online presence.”

With ‘off the charts’ velocity for mobile device use, make sure you’re there to solve potential moments of customer dissatisfaction, doubt and desire (MOD). Uber’s success has been due to the fact that their cars actually show up – not an experience most people have when they call a cab. And you can see where they are.

3. Predict Success

With rich business performance data now readily available through cloud platforms, Andy exhorts the accounting profession to think of themselves as data and business process management companies.

Accountants can now tap into the wealth of data their clients produce in order to get a greater grasp on their financial health. They can also provide valuable insights that were previously impossible without this information. Using software like Xero to quickly analyse that data allows accountants to dig deeper into what’s going right and what’s going on in a business, and provide a higher value service than data entry.

Financial issues cause more business failures than market conditions, recent Xero research shows. Survivors are much more likely to have invested in financial technology and work with an accountant or bookkeeper – in fact, that relationship even leads to increase revenues.

We’re moving from the attention economy to the intention economy. Can you help your clients understand and leverage this shift to their benefit?

4. Purpose

Data shows that purpose-driven companies outperform the general market 15:1. It’s hard to argue with those ratios. If the entirety of your business isn’t aligning with your purpose then you know what to do. Remember when CVS used to sell cigarettes? When it decided to focus on its purpose, helping people on their path to better health, it simply didn’t make sense to sell a product that kills people. Despite the revenue hit, it was the right thing to do.

Andy’s experience has proven that change is constant. Just as Xero is changing accounting software, accountants and bookkeepers are likely to face change and disruption themselves. They can, however, embrace that innovation and disruption and become the force that ensures they become an Uber or Amazon, and not the bookshop or cab sitting dormant.

Hear more from Andy Lark at Xerocon London 2016, 9-10 February. Tickets are on sale now. 

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