I note with some shame that it is quite some time since I posted on this site. The intention was always to run an informal blog that would support my forensic accounting business web site. The trouble is, work gets in the way and market and business development time is the first to suffer. It is unfortunate, because I find that writing an article gives me cause to think about aspects of the work objectively and should not be though of as down time.
Web site development
Much of my work comes from repeat sources or word of mouth. However, I know that my web site attracts some potential clients and at the very least will be acting as a brochure providing credibility to those thinking of using my firm’s services. I was always very happy with its authority, and it ranked very well in the search engines for important terms such as “forensic accountant” and “fraud”. The market place is however becoming much more competitive, and Google has upset many web sites’ apple cart by revising its search engine criteria favouring those sites that pay large sums of money for exposure on the Internet.
I am learning that web sites like mine, that want to be authoritative while still selling a professional service, must be more canny and market a “brand” rather than a range of keyword driven services. It is a little bit like Tesco or John Lewis, who sell 1000’s of products – they need to rank for everything and so do not spend time focusing on “baked beans” or “bedside cabinets” but on their more general brand offering everything. This is not to say that I intend building my firm to the same scale as these big players, but to take a leaf out of their marketing book when it comes to selling regulatory defence services to my own customers. I must now embrace Facebook, Linked In and possibly even Twitter (though I am still not sure of the purpose of the latter!). Apparently it is all about people “liking” your brand.
Requests for pro-bono work
From time to time I still get approaches through my web site of persons wanting services for free. It is a shame, because very often the cases seem to be quite big and interesting! More importantly, they represent some very worthy causes where victims of fraud or inappropriate regulatory advances have suffered. Also, there could be quite a lot of money to be made for me in these situations from charging contingency fees, but the investment in time for a modest sized niche service provider would be difficult to bear.
I did provide services to somebody in this way a couple of years ago – and while it was reasonable to do a little forensic accountancy here and there – the problem was that everybody involved wanted to ring me up to chat continuously. It began to affect my other work and had to be curtailed. The trouble with forensic accounting is that the cases often require 100s of hours of time and once commenced, require a high level of commitment to the client and other parties involved in the matter. It is hard to give priority on such a large matter if you are not getting paid. I guess that if the involvement required was limited to a few hours input, it would be easier to help out worthy cases more.
The way forward involves quite a lot of the same, but more attention must be given to social media marketing. We will continue to offer our forensic accounting clients the type of services that they hopefully want while seeking out opportunities to assist companies and individuals who have been zealously targeted by the likes of insolvency practitioners, HMRC and other fraud regulators eager to rake in cash for their coffers while not properly considering the proportionality of their approach.