BLOG: The evolution of Accounting - through the eyes of FM Radio

For quite a few years now I’ve had an interest in radio - not just listening live or to podcasts of my favourite shows, I’ve also delved into the “behind the scenes” of how radio works. I find it captivating to see an industry continually evolving to meet their audience.

BLOG: The evolution of Accounting - through the eyes of FM Radio

I recently heard Australian radio personalities Meshel Laurie and Osher Günsberg describe radio as “a desk job disguised as a glamourous showbiz gig” so perhaps radio and accounting aren’t as different as we’d think? Let’s take a look..

Video killed the radio star, or did it?

The Buggles’ song “Video killed the radio star” was the first video to be played on MTV in August 1981 – a cheeky way of saying that the launch of this new format would be such a frame breaking change that music lovers would suddenly stop listening to their favourite radio station in favour of MTV and the many other music video channels that would soon pop up.

25 years later, MTV has now dropped the “Music Television” moniker they once held in favour of a traditional television programming format. MTV Vice President of Marketing Tina Exarhos said “Music is still at the heart of everything we do, but it's about a lot more now," she added "If MTV didn't change, we'd be irrelevant."

While radio wasn’t slaughtered by television as was forecasted, it certainly did encourage the industry to evolve and retain an audience, just like MTV has done. People have more places to access their favourite music, so radio has become a more personality driven medium – more than just music: a hub for entertainment and conversation. It’s for this reason that Spotify and other music streaming services haven’t impacted radio listening figures. In fact, a Nielsen report states that radio reached more people than ever before in 2015 with 245 million Americans (or 91% of the population aged 12+).

Are accounting firms dying?

Technology has threatened the radio industry, and it’s considered a threat to some in the accounting industry too. Is automation going to kill the accountant? The short answer is no – if you evolve.

Compliance work won’t disappear because of new technology, but it will (and has) become a more efficient process. The need for accountants then shifts to a focus on strategic advice. Because of this, the industry needs to move to a point where processes, systems and services are truly centred around the client, not the firm. It of course represents a significant challenge, as it is a fundamentally different business model and it completely flips the way a lot of these firms operate and have comfortably operated until now. The accounting profession has endless opportunities for innovation. Each practice is unique and you can devise some quite creative ideas that would work well for your situation.

Knowledge is a key factor in facing the threat of automation. Industry insight, experience, and understanding of clients are all things that can’t be easily replicated by the competition or machines. Your practice and staff have accrued plenty of experience with working with various businesses, so leverage this to educate the new generation of business owners and entrepreneurs. Use your experience as a marketing device to potential clients through blog posts, webinars, information evenings – whatever fits with your practice. Content is king!

Content is king, distribution is queen

So you develop content – great! Now you need to get your message out there. A great website or blog post on its own is like a train station with no trains coming in.

Content is king, distribution is queen, and she wears the pants,” said Jonathan Perelman, VP of Agency Strategy at BuzzFeed. As the Internet has evolved, so has the ways that people discover content. Content used to be discovered on forums, then through email, highly-trafficked blogs, and search, leading to the SEO craze, explained Perelman. Now, it’s primarily discovered through social media. Content distribution expedites the growth of your brand’s audience, so it’s best to capitalize.

In the case of radio, the evolved view is that all three “content pillars” should be seen as equal – on-air/online/social. Developing on-air product, developing radio on demand (podcasts) are vital, as well as developing a social presence to deliver new content and audience. A “share” on social media is considered a brand extension and an endorsement.

For accountants, the content pillars will be client services/online/social. Develop “the perfect advisory relationship” with clients, develop educational articles and information that conveys your message and develop a social presence to deliver it to an audience.

Why? Why should the audience choose you? Know the answer to that. You need to be as good online and on social as you are at being an accountant.

Retention the key to success

How does a radio station go from 6th place to number one within eight weeks? Sydney radio hosts Kyle Sandilands and Jackie “O” Henderson hold the answer to that. For eight years they held the number one Sydney FM breakfast show position on 2DayFM before moving their show to rival KIIS 1065 in 2014. It was a risk for all parties involved, but their show soared to #1 yet again. While they are quite edgy and aren’t loved by all, they have a fan base that is extremely loyal – with over 600,000 listeners in their 15th year on air together there’s no denying their power in the industry.

How do they do it? And how can you do it with your Practice? Stay relevant, stay at the top of your game and deliver a consistently excellent service that your clients can rely on. Your “fan base” will continue to be loyal if they know exactly what they’re going to get from you.

Tune in and evolve

While we might not gather around the radio on a Sunday night to listen to music countdown shows like people did in the years of Casey Kasem, the medium is still part of most of our lives every single day in one way or another. Technology has not broken radio, and it’s not going to break the accounting industry – in fact it’s making it easier for you to add value and build for the future with your clients. Evolve and you could be #1!

Travis Gordon PracticePlus

As a Project Coordinator for PracticePlus, Travis is always looking for new marketing initiatives to offer accountants and bookkeepers to build their business.