Personal Branding For Chartered Accountants: A Fail-proof Way To Acquire New Clients And Grow Your Firm
“I know the vital importance of digital marketing in today’s business world,” a CA friend mentioned over a cup of coffee.
“Then why don’t you invest in digital marketing to acquire clients and expand your CA firm?” I was curious.
“Professional ethics restrict Chartered Accountants to do promotional activities and advertise their services,” he explained.
“Then, build a personal brand and create thought leadership around your domain,” I suggested.
“Personal branding? Thought leadership? Why, how, what, when?” he shot multiple questions at me.
As a CA, do you also have similar questions or doubts?
Well, hang in there with me and read this article till the end. All your questions will be answered!
Traditionally, Chartered Accountants acquired clients via their family network, professional events and trade seminars, word-of-mouth promotion, and clients referrals.
Mostly, CA firms operate in their own city or state and don’t focus aggressively on acquiring clients from other cities, states, or countries.
Since Big 4 consulting firms have a wider network and better brand presence, they handle accounting, taxation, and auditing assignments for big clients across the nation and even internationally. Other CA firms find it relatively difficult to work with multinational companies and large corporate houses in the absence of a suitable reference.
COVID-19 has curbed physical events and face-to-face meetings which have resulted in a sharp decline in client acquisition for CA firms.
However, it may prove to be a blessing in disguise for the fraternity.
Now is the best time for Chartered Accountants to invest in building a personal brand and creating thought leadership around their domain expertise.
If CAs jump on the bandwagon, it will help them and their firms reach the unexplored territory and reap benefits in the form of client acquisition and expansion of the current network.
Why should CAs build a sound personal brand?
Clients don’t work with firms; they work with a face whom they trust.
In today’s fast-paced business environment, you can’t rely solely on your firm’s credentials to acquire new clients. Before hiring or even discussing the requirements with a professional firm, every business owner, c-suite executive, or startup founder wants to know about the partner(s) and their proven expertise.
As a Chartered Accountant, when you build a sound personal brand, it unlocks the following opportunities for you and your firm:
How can Chartered Accountants build thought leadership?
Today, CAs have various options available to them to build a sound personal brand and create thought leadership around their domain expertise. Let’s look at some of the most common and reliable ways for CAs to create thought leadership:
Publish articles in CA Journal
The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) publishes a monthly ICAI Journal where a CA can publish an article on any relevant topic.
Since this magazine is circulated to the entire CA fraternity, it is a golden opportunity for you to expand your reach among the CA fraternity.
Publish articles in newspapers and industry-specific magazines
Almost every local and national newspaper, a trade publication, and an industry-specific magazine invites columns from Chartered Accountants on topics around taxation, finance, law, startups, etc.
Since CEOs, business owners, and industry leaders read these newspapers and publications, it can build your thought leadership and help you connect with the ultimate decision-makers. Online editions of newspapers (like e-Economic Times) also invite guest columns from subject matter experts and professionals such as CAs, lawyers, etc.
Get active on online forums
CAclubindia, TaxGuru, Casansaar, etc. are renowned online communities where people ask queries and find solutions to their problems. By answering these questions and solving people’s problems, you can build a genuine community and add value to people’s lives.
Besides, you can publish long-form articles on these websites. Since these forums are highly optimized for SEO, your article may rank on the first page of Google search results for specific keywords.
Suppose someone searches for “Section 44AB” on Google and finds your article in the snippet section. Imagine how much credibility it will add to your name.
Post consistently on social media platforms
Social media platforms, especially, LinkedIn holds tremendous potential for the CA fraternity. You can write posts, provide tips, debunk myths, and solve people’s problems.
Besides, if you target Gen-Z or millennials, you can also create content on Instagram and share tips around taxation, accounting, and business management.
Build your own website and start a blog
Build your website and start a blog there. Publish long-form articles (at least twice every month) and share tips on taxation, personal finance, auditing, etc. You can also mention your services and explain how you make your clients’ life easier by working alongside them instead of working as “just another service provider.”
What are the main steps involved in the journey to build a personal brand?
If you follow the set structure as mentioned below, you can build a sound personal brand in just a few months and leverage it to acquire clients, collaborate with other professionals, and unlock opportunities across the globe.
Find a domain
As a chartered accountant, you may possess knowledge and expertise in various domains. But you should start with one domain and gradually expand. It’s far better and easier to be a master of one domain rather than becoming a jack of all trades.
Map your buyer persona
Ask yourself these questions to find your target audience and target them with your content and personal branding effort:
– What kind of businesses, startups, or companies will get benefited from my services?
– Which geographical locations do I want to have clients from?
– What is the size of the business, revenue (in numbers), employees strength, etc. that my firm wants to target?
– What kind of services they may be looking for?
By answering these questions, you can understand your prospective clients and tailor your content accordingly. For instance, if you want to target startup owners looking for GST or income tax consulting, you should create content to explain basic concepts applicable to individuals or partnership firms.
Whereas, if you want to provide services to multinational companies or large corporate houses, you need to demonstrate your expertise in front of CFOs and CEOs.
This step is at the core of everything you want to do around personal branding or marketing. Without consistent, high-quality content creation, you can’t expect things to go your way.
You need to write articles and Quora answers, post on LinkedIn and other social media platforms, answer people’s queries on forums, etc. to build thought-leadership.
Build a community
Besides targeting prospective clients, you can also begin conversations with professionals from other fields and countries, CAs in other cities or states, and stakeholders such as investors, startup mentors, consultants, etc. The more conversations you do, the more opportunities you can unlock.
By now, like my CA friend, you would have also understood how personal branding can help you and your firm grow and succeed. If done rightly, it can prove to be the most cost-and-time effective medium to acquire new clients and build visibility.
When you build a personal brand, you don’t advertise your services. You help people genuinely by creating valuable content. There is no question here of violating professional ethics or code of conduct as prescribed by the ICAI.
This is, indeed, the best time for Chartered Accountants to invest in personal branding and thought leadership.
Are you ready to jump on the bandwagon and open doors to opportunities?