This post was authored by Ryan Lazanis, CPA, CA. In 2013, Ryan founded Xen Accounting, a 100% cloud-based accounting firm. Following its acquisition in 2018, Ryan started Future Firm which provides resources & consulting to firms looking to setup an online, automated and modern firm of their own. In a multi-part series, “Power Up Your Future Firm,” Ryan will share advice & insight for how firms can leverage the latest technology and trends to propel you into the future.
Accountants are not typically known for their marketing prowess. So, as a CPA, I never thought I would be writing about marketing or presenting on personal branding for accountants at the upcoming Xerocon San Diego conference. Although I didn’t knowingly set out to create a personal brand for myself, it has taken me a long way.
Today I’m going to show you why personal branding for accountants like you is easier than ever, what it is, why it’s important and how you can get started.
What Is Personal Branding?
Apple, Nike & Coca-Cola are all very well known brands. Apple is known for crafting premium computer equipment, Nike is viewed as a high-performing sports equipment company and Coca-Cola is synonymous with happiness.
The perception you have of these companies did not happen magically on its own. It was carefully crafted by marketing teams through different mediums.
When you think about branding, you typically think about corporations. But there’s something else that you can brand: yourself.
Just like corporate branding, personal branding is about how you are perceived by others and the message that you put out to the world about yourself.
In the online world that we live in, personal branding for accountants is easier than ever thanks to social media & Youtube. Savvy professionals are capitalizing on this to reap some of the rewards.
Why Is Personal Branding for Accountants Important?
We’re all in business to primarily do one thing: connect and sell your services/goods to a certain market. A strong brand just makes it that much easier. Similarly, a personal brand is designed to do the same thing.
If you go about it properly, you will be able to establish yourself as an authority in a particular domain or subject. This will afford you more trust among your target market (something your customers look for in accounting, bookkeeping & tax) and it will help you be more visible. This means more leads and better chances to close those leads.
Before social media, most personal branding had to do with designing a logo and printing business cards and then going to various cocktails and networking functions to spread your message. By all means, go ahead and continue with this, but if you’re not playing in the online world, you’re missing out on a much larger opportunity.
On my end, most of what has gone well in my career has to do with how I presented myself to the online world. From building an online firm from scratch, to making connections with like-minded folks around the world, to a relatively quick start to my new project Future Firm. All of this has been possible thanks to online personal branding.
4 Steps To Get Started
So now that we know the online personal branding for accountants is important, how do you get started? Let’s take a look at what has worked well for me and how you can get a lot of online exposure for yourself.
Step 1 – Pick an Angle & Attack It
What do you want to be known for in business? How do you want your peers and customers to perceive you? Before you build a personal brand you need to pick an angle and usually you want something that falls within your natural career path.
Do you want to be known as a top accountant in e-commerce businesses? Do you want the world to see you as an elite tax planner for high net worth individuals? Or maybe you want to be known for providing the most automated bookkeeping services on the market.
Once you pick your angle, you’ll need to attack it by using the techniques described below. If you hammer out your angle, after a certain period of time, people will know you for it. Guaranteed.
Step 2 – Post Frequently (But Not Too Frequently) on Social Media
Next, you need to start building up an audience among your target market. Social media is a good place for this if you take some time to understand the nuances between Linkedin, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook & Youtube. Some mediums work better than others so you might need to test them out.
This won’t be a social media lesson (and I’m far from an expert), but if you post interesting stuff frequently relating to your angle in Step 1, you will be able to build up a base of followers in your particular target market.
But remember, there’s a fine line between being visible online and being flat out annoying. Those that are posting 40 times a day without any substance will get blocked or unfollowed. Remember, it’s quality over quantity.
Not a social media person? Hint: you’ve got to get over it. I barely understood Twitter until a year ago but it’s a critical online tool for personal branding, though my personal fav is Linkedin. I’ve developed many real connections there for my particular target market and I think it’s a great place to start for professionals.
Step 3 – Blog At Least Once a Month
The key is to provide valuable content specific to your angle and useful to your particular target market. If you post at least one quality piece a month, that will go a long way over the course of a year to help you get recognized as an authority on a particular subject and to help build your personal brand online.
Additionally, if you can optimize your post for particular keywords that are popular among your target market, people will find you and they will reach out to you. Many of my deep professional relationships have panned out in this exact manner.
To post, you can setup your own personal website (ex: www.yourname.com) or you can reach out to other blogs and guest post there. As long as the content is quality and useful, you can’t go wrong.
Step 4 – Get Started with Email Marketing
A newsletter? Who the heck wants that! Turns out if you’re delivering quality content regularly, lots of people.
Email marketing has been an epiphany for me as of late. I wish I could have started earlier. The idea is to send people in your target market a useful email consistently & periodically.
I would recommend choosing a theme. For instance, I write a weekly newsletter targeted to accountants and bookkeepers looking to evolve their firms in the future and each week I curate the top 5 pieces of news to know about (shameless plug: sign up here!). Every Tuesday morning, my audience can expect that in their inbox and the results have been unbelievable.
Yes, there’s a ton more that you can do to help build an online personal brand for accountants. The above is merely a way for you to get started to helping you build a personal brand online. Other ways you can do so would be to start a podcast, moderate Facebook groups that you create & start a Youtube channel.
What have your experiences been with personal branding? Share your comments below or reach out to me on Linkedin with your thoughts and what’s worked for you.
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