With more young people entering or staying in the gig economy, there’s a growing opportunity for accounting professionals to market to those who have the potential to take their gigs full-time and become self-employed workers in need of financial advice. The accounting profession, then, is presented the challenge of determining what to offer those workers and how to become trusted advisors for this segment of potential clients.
A varied take on accounting and taxes
A new survey released by QuickBooks Self-Employed found a variance in accounting practices between older self-employed workers and younger self-employed workers.
The study, which looked at 500 self-employed workers, found only 27 percent of respondents under the age of 55 view their accountant as an essential business advisor. Another piece of the research shows 37 percent of the same demographic admit they tend to use one because they have never done their own taxes.
While 42 percent of self-employed workers over 55 say they use tax software to file their taxes, a third (33 percent) of self-employed workers 18- to 24-years-old say they file their taxes on paper, which opens them up to calculation errors and audits that can threaten the health of their business.
Interestingly, 18- to 24-year-olds are more likely to be audited by the IRS. The same survey found 46 percent of self-employed workers in this age category had been audited. Only 11 percent of the 54-and-older demographic had been audited. This information alone presents a big opportunity for the profession.
But with all of this in mind, how do firms market themselves to a workforce that likes to hire accountants for tax purposes, and not necessarily as financial advisors?
Building your marketing strategy
If you put yourself in the shoes of a young business owner with a young business, you might find yourself thinking about your personal savings and the scalability of your business. While these plans might be put on the back burner behind more pressing day-to-day business challenges, they’re still hugely important.
But that doesn’t mean a young business owner will automatically seek out an accountant. That’s where marketing comes in. Although there is a big opportunity in the younger self-employed segment, there’s work to be done to align your services with their goals.
To get started, find a sample of your target customer (the younger self-employed, in this case) and get to know them. Conduct interviews with millennials, or run a survey. Reach out to your social networks. Learn how to walk in the shoes of a young business owner and remember you too might have been in their position.
Here are the three questions that will help you create your strategy:
- What are your biggest struggles running your own business?
- Where do you go online for business advice?
- What social media platforms do you use the most?
The first question about challenges will help you determine the pain points you should focus on in the messaging of your marketing. How will your services address these pain points? With this information, you can create engaging content around these topics. All your ads, blogs, articles, social media posts, videos, and webinars should be targeted and relevant to the younger self-employed audience.
The second and third questions, regarding where they go for business advice and the types of social media platforms they use, are designed to teach you where to disseminate the content you create. Reach out to publications and pitch your content. Become more visible on social media platforms (if you aren’t already) by posting and sharing valuable content regularly and engaging with thought leaders your prospects might follow.
Although the younger self-employed segment might not know how much they need an accountant, let alone a trusted advisor, the data shows they do. By asking the right questions and finding the pain points and the right arenas for your messaging, you can better reach the self-employed industry, especially the younger crowd.