Fun fact: My undergraduate degree is in Business Administration, with a double concentration in Accounting and Marketing. I saw marketing as cool and exciting, and accounting as reliable and secure. My goal after finishing college was to make sure I had a job in the field I studied in, so once I received several job offers in my junior year of college, all of which were with accounting firms, it was decided – I was an accountant. I feel really content in the profession that chose me, but I’ll always hold a special place for the marketing side of things. Here are seven tips we share with potential and current public relations and marketing agency clients to help them grow their firms:
1. Track your revenue and expenses: This feels like a nuisance, but it’s your first tax planning tool. If you want to maximize your tax deductions and minimize your tax liability, you have to know how much you earned and how much you spent. Revenue and expenses are captured on your income statement. Software like QuickBooks Online allows you to view this data for any given period (i.e. by day, week, month, or year). With a few clicks, you can produce reports to determine the profitability of your business, and with the help of your accounting professional, determine how to use the current data to scale future profits. Knowing how and when you make and spend money gives you the ability to course-correct to ensure that you’re building a strong and sustainable business. There are also tons of other features that will help to maintain the financial well-being of your business, like budget versus actual reporting, and integrated payroll and contractor payment solutions as you begin to grow.
2. Define Your Niche and Target Audience: This is major for marketing clients – you’ll need to clearly define your niche and identify your target audience. Specializing in a specific area allows you to establish yourself as an expert, making it easier to attract clients who resonate with your services. Conduct market research to understand the needs, preferences, and pain points of your target audience. By tailoring your approach to address their specific challenges, you can differentiate yourself from competitors and build a loyal client base.
3. Systemize your business: If your intention is to scale your business, expand your team, and create capacity to work on your business instead of solely working in your business, the secret is systems. If onboarding new clients or team members feels like Groundhog’s Day every time you do it, it’s because you lack systems in these areas of your business.Create standard operating procedures (SOPs) for repetitive tasks, such as client onboarding, scheduling, and invoicing. Utilize project management tools and customer relationship management (CRM) software to streamline your operations. Growing and scaling your business requires that your processes exist outside of your head. It also makes delegation and process optimization so much easier!
Consider outsourcing to or hiring a virtual assistant to handle administrative tasks, social media management, or content creation, allowing you to concentrate on business development. Delegating effectively enables you to scale your agency while maintaining quality and ensuring a smooth client experience.
4. Develop Strategic Partnerships and Collaborations: Collaborating with complementary businesses and professionals can significantly enhance the growth of your firm. Seek out strategic partnerships with individuals or organizations that share your target audience but offer different services. For example, if you are a PR firm, you could collaborate with a web development and design agency. By cross-promoting each other's services or conducting joint webinars and workshops, you can tap into new networks and expand your reach.
5. Simplify your cash inflows: In business, cash is king. You want to have and hold it for as long as possible, so the sooner you can get it in, the better. The key to making this happen effortlessly is to (a) make payments easy for your clients, and (b) get payment authorization from your clients to auto-debit their account if they are on a recurring billing schedule. At ASE Group, we accept ACH and debit/credit card payments, and payment can be made electronically from the emailed invoice they receive. This only applies to one-off invoices because all monthly clients sign a payment authorization form with their engagement letter.
If your client is billed the same amount each month, instead of sending an invoice and waiting 30 days for payment, ask your client to authorize an auto-debit from their account on the same day each month. It saves you time since there’s no invoice follow-up, and significantly decreases the Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) ratio. Less time spent on collections equals more time spent on growing the business.
6. Create a budget: If you plan to grow, you need a plan. Your budget can act as your roadmap – it tells your money where to go. If you create a living budget (one that you review regularly and update as-needed), you’ll have a baseline to compare actuals to so that you can quickly identify when you’re off-course and why. Intentional growth requires intentional planning and action, and the process of creating and monitoring a budget is a fantastic tool to get you there. Software like QuickBooks Online allows you to create multiple budget scenarios, and run budget versus actual reports with the click of a button.
7. Use your non-financial client data for good: We’re an accounting firm, so we love financial data, but secretly, we love all data. The difference between guessing and making an informed decision is….data! As a PR firm or marketing agency, you have information about your clients – their demographics, the services they receive, and how often they return for additional services. This information is all really helpful in determining trends, which can lead to better defining your ideal clients and opportunities for growth. If you see that many of your clients return for services a few times per year? Perhaps a subscription-based model could present an opportunity for growth.
If your goal is to grow and scale your firm, getting your finances in order is the key. Staying aligned with an accounting professional who understands your needs and can help you create systems that promote growth, you’ll be on your way to maintaining a successful and sustainable agency.