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The DOs and DON’Ts of newsletters for accounting firms

Newsletters are an essential form of communication between companies and their stakeholders. More often than not though, those that sign up to a newsletter are (potential) customers who are interested in what you do. Many accounting firms are adding newsletters into their regular marketing activities and we’re here to help you build your newsletters for new business success.

We’ve taken time to analyse a couple of newsletters from accounting firms around New Zealand and we’ve noticed one major pitfall – these newsletters are LONG!

They often involve several articles, a lack of links and often their content just isn’t well focused on their business or those who may be signing up to their newsletter.

For a broader picture, lets take a look at the common successes and mistakes some accounting firm newsletters are making…

 

Successful elements in accounting newsletters

Relevant content: accounting firms are experts in their field and they show that well through the article content they provide in newsletters.

1Great use of spacing: the newsletters we’ve seen space out their content well and use headlines or boxes to separate content. Making content discernable is a good thing as it draws readers eyes in and encourages them to read. Content that is jumbled or squished together deters readers, and you should want your newsletters to be read.

Well planned structure: titles, headlines, blocks of content and different sections are commonplace in accounting firm newsletters. This differs from spacing as a coherent structure helps a reader flow from one piece of content to the next, until they’ve read the entire newsletter. It’s simply another way to encourage readers to read all the way through.

Include social media/ web page links: newsletters help drive website traffic, and so integrating links to online presences is vital. What’s more is that accounting firms include these links well by using images. These links are often included in sidebars or at the bottom of the newsletter so as not to distract from main newsletter content.

 

Common mistakes

Text-heavy/ too much content: often entire pages are included in accounting firm newsletters for any one of the articles they include. This is more so for less frequent, quarterly newsletters than regular monthly ones but does still happen. Entire articles belong on web pages or blogs, and we’ll tell you why after pointing out some more common mistakes.

Content Heavy Newsletters Risk Losing Reader Interest

Content Heavy Newsletters Risk Losing Reader Interest.

3Irrelevant or unnecessary content: we’ve seen accounting firm newsletters that point out nearby office areas to buy or that their neighbours or friends are raising money for a charity and would like some help. While this content may be great to share with your readers, it isn’t NEWSLETTER content. Share these bits of information in email blasts to your email lists (possibly including your newsletter mailing list) instead. Your newsletter subscribers subscribed to a newsletter for information about YOU, not about local news.

Lack of an introduction or voice: some newsletters we’ve seen don’t include introductions or conclusions at all. Instead they’re collections of potentially exciting articles lumped into a series of pages.  This is a great place for the marketing partner to be the voice of the firm and to give a good face, tone and feel to the newsletter.

No website link backs or calls to action: one big thing missing from accounting firm newsletters to date are links and calls to action. Newsletters do more than inform, yes, but more importantly they exist to bring readers closer to the sender.

 

Our suggestions / good practice for newsletters

Short is successful: newsletters aren’t books. Newsletters are in fact short notes and pockets of information that a company provides its readers to keep them informed of their expertise and activities. Short is the key word there, and there are many ways to shorten a newsletter while also keeping it informative!

One great way to do this is to post articles or news reels on your blog or website, while linking to them in the newsletter along with an excerpt of the article – this encourages newsletter readers to navigate to your website and helps with google page ranking so that people searching for accounting firms find YOU!

Call to action: while you shouldn’t flood your newsletter with links it’s a good idea to link back to your website in some way shape or form. Getting newsletter readers (people who are interested in YOU) on your website improves the chances of them becoming a future client! You don’t necessarily have to develop a call to action or sales pitch but newsletters a good place to redirect readers to such a thing. A blog (if you have one on your website) is a great example of an opportunity to include articles in your newsletter and include a link back to your website that entices readers to click and read more.

 

Sidekick accounting brand mascot.

Build a brand, use a voice and provide colour: a newsletter can be the essence of your firm and how you share your company culture with stakeholders. Use it to build a brand by creating a voice and an image! Sidekick Accounting achieves this with their superhero icons and friendly writing style.

 

Conclusion

In short – accounting newsletters should embrace a short and unique style of presentation while providing links back to their website and social media as they beware of including irrelevant content. If they follow these guidelines it’ll result on a more engaged audience and better chances for turning a potential customer into a full client!

 

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Interview with TrustRadius founder, Vinay Bhagat

Image representing Vinay Bhagat as depicted in...

Vinay Bhagat, TrustRadius Image via CrunchBase

We were lucky to find out about TrustRadius the enterprise software comparison site founded by Vinay Bhagat

Image representing TrustRadius as depicted in ...

Image via CrunchBase

through a search we were doing for clients.  As a result, we got in touch with them and secured an interview.

Why did you start TrustRadius?

We’re trying to change the way software is bought and sold. If you’re a consumer who wants to buy a product or service there’s a wealth of information out there.  But if you’re trying to buy a piece of technology which could have a huge impact on your career, or business – it’s more challenging; more opaque.

Technology marketers try to control the information flow a customer gets.

Our belief is that through a platform like TrustRadius we can give buyers a more authentic, rapid way to make smarter decisions.  It’s not just picking the right product – it’s the right product for your use case.

Every business has unique needs – on TrustRadius you can crowdsource different perspectives about the context around the problem the business is trying to solve. This allows the user to made a more informed choice.

This isn’t trying to provide all the answers.  TrustRadius is a layer to get intelligent and get insights, way to avoid mistakes.  It’s more than a content layer, it’s a way to allow people to connect with each other. a contextual social network.

What are the issues with other solutions?

The Gartner magic quadrant is not appropriate for everyone.
We have a user who contacted people through the site and did information exchanges to get to the real story behind their tech selection and purchase.

People have tried to do backchannel references for years – it’s hard to get peer input rapidly at scale.
Reviewers have authentication – and we use Linked In – in connect button to verify identities.

What’s your business model?

Today we are not focused on making money – we’re trying to create a trusted at scale network – as a young company we

have to concentrate at this.  If we can wedge ourselves between the buyer and seller its a $4trilliion marketplace.  We bootstrapped for 1 year and now have raised VC money last June – we maniacally focus on getting to scale through effectively recruiting reviewers, sourcing content and engaging vendors. Read more

3 ways to improve proposal writing next steps

We advised a client today about how to make 3 improvements to their proposal ending texts.  Writing a descriptive of your service or product and pricing it is only part of the new business development process.  It is essential that it leads to a next step to keep the discussion going and lead towards a buy/no-buy decision by the prospect.

Three key information points in a proposal

  1. clarifying next steps
  2. adding a timescale
  3. pushing the client towards buying what you want to sell

Here is the original ending paragraph they wrote:

Let me know if you are interested in talking more. If it would help, we can quickly provide a demo of steps 1 and 2 if you provide us with some game event data. As part of that demo we can demonstrate how simple creating new reports / analyses is.

By improving the text the reader is given clear expectations about next steps in the discussion process .

We recommended editing the last paragraph to give clarity on the 3 key information points

“The next step is for you to send us with some game event data and we can quickly provide a demo of steps 1 and 2.  

As part of that demo we can demonstrate how simple creating new reports / analyses is.  We would make a nominal charge for this work of $XXX which will be fully refundable if we proceed to a full implementation.  

I will call you on Wednesday next week to confirm when you can send us the data and a date for the demo.”  

Although sounding rather presumptuous this text sets clear expectations with regard to timeframes and next steps against which you can update your biz dev pipeline.

What are your favourite closing sentences in a proposal?7 Make New Biz Happen icon