Riddle me this:

“Not chest or box is now discussed. Money can be held in it, but just as we test its metal, within there is rest.”

“Neither bought nor sold but more valuable than gold. It is built but not by hand. What is it?”

“What is it that you ought to keep after you have it to someone else?”

If you guessed the answer to be “trust” then you guessed it right, although it was probably obvious given the title of this blog post!

Trust is a quality that we often overlook in people. The riddles ring true: we can’t buy trust. It has to be built overtime. We often neglect the notion that trust is probably the single most important factor in building a relationship.

For example, if you’d met someone for the first time in the pub, you wouldn’t instantly walk up to them and say “Hey, nice to meet you. I think we should get married.” By the same token, you can’t expect a prospective client to walk in on their first visit, having NEVER met you, the accountant, and be ready to spend hundreds if not thousands of pounds with you each year.

Put yourself in the shoes of your prospective client. They’re coming to you to put the security of their finances, and the security of your business in your hands.

That’s no small feat. That’s a big decision, huge in fact. It’s not something they’ll do a whim. They’ll want to do months of research. And that’s the part that a lot of accountancy firms fall down on.


The zero moment of truth

The reality is the 70% of your prospective client’s decision is made online.

70%… before they even get in touch with you.

That’s huge. That’s a hella lot of research done before they pick up the phone, or sign the dotted line on the proposal.

So what are they doing? What goes into that 70% of research?

Chances are they’re looking at your website, prices, services, comparisons, so on and so forth.

They’re looking to answer the most important question that could ever be asked – Do I trust them enough to buy from them?

That answer lies in your marketing.

That’s how powerful it is. Your marketing is wholeheartedly responsible for building trust throughout the zero moment of truth. It’s your marketing that they look at when they’re doing the research – blog posts, guides, videos, webinars, FAQs, price lists, service offerings.

So if you don’t have this marketing in place, how in the world do you build that trust?

Marketing is that important. It’s what creates value for your prospective clients, because as they research you and find the answers to their questions, they become more educated and more engaged with you. It’s your marketing that addresses their concerns before you’ve even voiced them. It’s your marketing that answers questions that would be asked in a sales meeting. It’s your marketing that educates them to the point that they say “Yes, I trust these guys. They sound like they know what they’re talking about. I’m going to get in touch with them!”

(Disclaimer: I’m pretty sure your prospective clients will say something to that effect, but probably not verbatim!)

“So Tom, how exactly do I do this?” I’m hearing you screaming at the screen. Well… I’ll tell you!


Read this book: They Ask, You Answer

One of the best things I did in 2017 was read They Ask, You Answer by Marcus Sheridan. It has literally changed my whole perspective on marketing and how it works in today’s world.

I’ll give you the highlights assuming you’re currently getting the card out to pay for your copy now… In the book, Marcus posits that content marketing is based around the act of answering questions, more specifically your clients and prospective clients questions.

Quite literally, they ask and you answer – (5 points if you guessed that’s where the book title comes from!)

Now if you’re thinking “I can’t be that easy”, believe me I thought the same, but think about it. Think about how you type into Google, especially when you’re looking for information. You type questions, like “how much does a tax return cost?” or “do I need an accountant?”

And that’s exactly what the “They ask, you answer” concept is – answering those questions.

That’s what your marketing needs to do. It needs to answer those questions in a way that is helpful, that your prospective clients will want to read and that ultimately answers their needs.

And when you’ve mastered that, you’re identifying their needs, addressing them and ultimately providing value for your audience on a regular basis. It’s a drip feed that keeps them engaged and informed from the moment they first heard of you to months, even years after they become a client. They become more educated and they trust you evermore.


What to do now

If like me, your mind has been blown by the “They Ask, You Answer” (trust me, mine was pretty blown!), then here’s what you need to do now.

Step One: Get everyone in a room together: Partners, client managers, trainees, receptionist, heck your whole firm!

Step Two: Run a “They Ask, You Answer” session: By this I mean, have an hour, a few hours, a day, however long brainstorming questions your clients have asked you. It could be something trivial. It could be something that impacts a major decision someone has made. It doesn’t matter. Write down as many questions that have been asked by clients and even prospects who didn’t even become a client. Go back through your sent inbox and see what answers you’ve sent.

Step Three: Turn this into content marketing: Now that you’ve got this undoubtedly massive list of questions, it’s time to turn it into marketing. Write blogs, record videos, publish tweets, write guides – Start churning it out. You can go one step further and categorise your content into 5 categories (spoiler, if you haven’t read Marcus’ book:

  • “Cost and price” articles – Content around how much your products or services cost.
  • “Problem” articles – Content around a top number of products or services for a certain problem (or conversely solution.)
  • “Comparisons” – Versus content answering the question of which is better.
  • “Reviews” – What is says on the tin!
  • “Best of” or “Top” articles – Content reviewing the top or best product/service.

That’s what your audience wants. Content that does all of that.

If you master that, you’ve got content marketing nailed, and content for that zero moment of truth. It educates. It inspires. It answers the question. It builds trust – the most important quality of all.

The question remains – is your marketing doing that?