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Why bookkeepers need to think about more than just the numbers

Posted 4 years ago in Bookkeepers by
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Creative marketing and accounting, how can they possibly go together? But they do! As a small business owner myself, prior to my accounting training I had a perception that my advisor was only someone that I would see once-a year for my taxes.

But now, after accounting education and a lifetime of running practices, I realize that accounting is simply a product that requires marketing just like anything else and one that unfortunately gets put in the “too hard” basket. As accountants, we don’t really get a lot of training and experience in that area.

Let’s take one example of the services we provide and how we can implement some marketing principles to amplify the importance of that service or product.

Bookkeeping is a vital part of the accounting cycle and one that a lot of small business owners fail to realize needs to take place before they can get the important advice from their advisor about what is going on in the life of their business and also the unavoidable process of compliance and payment of taxes.

What a lot of business owners do is essentially put the cart before the horse – they get things around the wrong way. This then makes it costly for them as the accountant or bookkeeper is backtracking and putting transactions in the general ledger often in a rush to meet compliance deadlines. The small business is presented with a large bill for important time spent and then often doesn’t see the value in investing further to get the advice that is required to allow them to make informed business decisions.

It becomes a vicious cycle, and not one that is facilitatory to a trusted advisor relationship. And let’s face it, this is the type of relationship that is most valuable to a practice, it builds asset value for us as well as maintains a healthy cashflow cycle.

It seems like it would make much more sense to take some time to educate the clients on HOW to keep their financial information in a systemized and automated process during the year. Yet a lot of small business don’t understand WHY they need to do this.

As accountants and bookkeepers providing the bookkeeping service, I believe that the road to success in educating this important function to business owners, should be very much part of our continued messaging, and form the foundation of our brand positioning statement. Connecting with your prospective clients up front with this message, sets the expectation for the types of clients you want to attract and maintain.

A brand positioning statement is a one or two sentence declaration that communicates your brand’s unique value to your customers in relation to your main competitors.  It can look something like this:

“At Blue Box Accounting we take pride in educating our customers on the importance of the bookkeeping process and how you can be informed in real-time about what is happening in the life of your business. Don’t settle for a once-a-year visit with your advisor to look in the rear view mirror. We can help you look to the future.”

“Shuffling paper in a shoebox and paying a small fortune to look after your business bookkeeping is something that lots of accounting practices offer, but with Boulderstone Bookkeeping on your team, we will help you put the words behind the numbers and take the stress out of compliance deadlines. We care about not only the numbers but the lifestyle balance we help our clients achieve.”

Brand positioning is all about you positioning your product into the market segment for clients who want high quality, competitively priced services. If a smaller firm tries to compete solely on price, it may not survive as bigger firms can use their size to drive down costs.

It really is all about building the relationship and showcasing the value. So for those practices offering bookkeeping services, stand tall and think about your brand positioning and realize the value you can bring to small business owners

You can find out more on this topic at my presentation at Xerocon South on ‘What does online dating have to do with Accounting – Positioning Your Brand’ https://www.xero.com/xerocon/south/

I would love to hear your brand positioning statement in the comments below! 

3 comments

Colin
July 29, 2016 at 8.39 pm

Love this Melanie!
We’re seeing more and more that without good bookkeeping processes and practices in place, businesses aren’t really taking advantage of the real-time nature of what Xero and other add-ons can provide…

Ian Horn
March 23, 2017 at 11.35 pm

It is quite often that most of the business owners mistakenly considered bookkeeping is same thing as accounting. Well, this confusion is quite understandable as the accounting process includes the bookkeeping function. So, I want to clear the fact that bookkeeping is just one part of the accounting process. A bookkeeper is responsible for handling and keeping properly all the financial transactions related to a business. It also happens that in SMEs, a bookkeeper may be the only sole financial member of the staff. Well, apart from bookkeeping another thing that I came to know after going through your blog was brand positioning. If I say, in its purest form, brand positioning is all about making the right marketing decisions at the right time. Making own brand relevant to the target market is one of the key factor of brand positioning. Well, effective brand positioning has a vital role in the success of the business.

http://unchainedfinancialservices.com/

Melanie Power
May 10, 2017 at 6.24 pm

Hi Ian,

Thankyou so much for your comments, it’s great when people take the time to respond! Bookkeeping is part of the accounting cycle and the foundation of it, if we have clean data, then we have the ability to then have the discussion with the business owner around what is happening in the life of the business so they can make informed decisions. A Bookkeeper is able to do so much more than just keeping the financial data, with a lot of the process automated, we are no longer data enterer’s, we are data verifiers and interpreters ! I see that your firm does exactly this from your website where you offer the following “we can show you how to read your financial statements and, more importantly, what those numbers mean” ! How awesome!

Brand Positioning is important – it helps us identify whom we are and how we position ourselves in market, creating a brand positioning statement for ourselves internally helps us define this. I have written an article on this here if you are interested https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/brand-positioning-bookkeeping-function-melanie-power

Having a look at your website, love your business model and what you are doing to help SMB with their Bookkeeping!!! I am in Atlanta right now actually delivering a workshop to bookkeepers, Id love to pop in for a coffee – you can reach me at melanie.power@xero.com

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