How to market advisory services as a CPA firm

Apr 3, 2023

CPA firms are experiencing rapid change right now from the AI revolution. Repeatable tasks like bookkeeping are more and more entering the territory where AI will be able to handle them. How does that change CPA’s role in the current landscape? Well, it means that CPAs will have to build their advisory services if they want to stay competitive in their industry. 

Part of that process is developing messaging for your marketing around this idea. Why? Well, because the process that worked for you in the past won’t work in the future. Here’s how and why you should be marketing advisory services if you’re a CPA firm. 

Why market advisory services? The times are a-changing

Traditionally, it’s been easy to market your wares as a CPA firm. After all, people want help with their books – that could be changing. We’re seeing massive changes to many task-oriented solutions – mostly driven by AI. You’ve probably been dealing with this somewhat with businesses that outsource these tasks to other countries, but that is about to take another huge step forward with the AI revolution. Simply put, these tasks are going to take less and less time as we move forward into the future. They may still be a profit source for your company, but it will be less and less as you move forward. 

These days a business owner is looking for someone to move past the deliverables and want someone who acts as an advisor. This isn’t just about external growth, they want someone who  will let them know that they’re making good business decisions so they have peace of mind. That’s something a CPA firm can provide. 

Advisory services are relational more than transactional

One thing to think about: the way you advertise and market your services for task-oriented solutions will be a lot different than how you market advisory services. Instead of talking about transactional deliverables, you’ll want to highlight the incredibly valuable thing you give to owners instead: peace of mind.

How? Well, you know what their numbers look like – and you know what they should look like. Offering advice to a business owner can be as simple as pointing out inconsistencies and opportunities to fix them. That does mean that your team will have to have the people skills and ability to pull that off – this type of work is much more client facing than some of your team might be useful. 

Reverse Trojan Horse: Start with the biggest problems you solve first

When you think about your job, the most useful things might be what come to mind first. You know, the bookkeeping, the reporting, and all of that – but that might not be the most effective when it comes to your marketing. Why?

Because if you’re marketing advisory services, those are typically going to cost a lot more money. So when you start with your lowest cost services, it will be really hard for a lot of your clients to make that leap with you. That said, if you start with your advisory services and what they do, people will understand your value: your brain. People will pay a lot more money for your brain than they will for your time. 

Create clear messaging around what your advisory services provide: have institutional knowledge

One thing that we talk alot about with CPAs is that their clients don’t want to be working IN their business, they want to be working ON their business. It’s really that simple when it comes to marketing advisory skills. The owner or lead person is looking for ways to simplify and have less of a role in the day-to-day work of their business. So how do you convince them you’re the right person for the job?

By giving them the one thing they don’t have: experience. Find which industry works best for you and then SPECIALIZE in it. Doing so will give you authority in that space as a CPA. This works for a few reasons that resonate with potential clients:

It gives you the confidence to be able to offer sound advisory services by understanding their industry and the context of their business within it.

It clarifies your audience and the market for your services. People want to know you fit their niche.

It will allow you to SCALE. Advisory services in a particular industry means that you’ll often run into the same problems over and over again. 

While that might sound boring to some, it’s actually the easiest and best way to experience meaningful growth as a business. You want repeatable processes that can work often. No one wants to reinvent the wheel every time. 

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