A marketing plan was developed and is refreshed regularly in order to execute an integrated marketing strategy across PR, events, social media and digital marketing.
It was announced that Making Tax Digital (MTD) was planned to come into effect on April 1st 2019.
From April 2019 all VAT registered businesses, with a turnover over £85,000 will need to submit their VAT returns through accounting software, as the option currently available of logging onto the Government Gateway will no longer be available.
Our brief for this particular campaign, was to make Yorkshire-based businesses aware that Sheards Accountancy were there to help them plan and get ready for this change in legislation. The objectives were to make new business contacts, who may in turn convert into a client and ultimately to increase client numbers.
The idea, research and planning
From November 2017, we started to plan the ‘Making Tax Digital’ campaign. We looked at some key times of the year when people might be starting to think about MTD and planned in events around these dates. We researched what the competitors were doing with regards to MTD, which was very little and spoke to current Sheards’ clients to find out how much they knew about the upcoming change. We also implemented a lot of research using HMRC webinars for statistics and content planning.
Strategy, tactics, creativity and innovation
The idea was to have a campaign based around getting businesses ready for MTD. This would include Sheards hosting a MTD Connection Event, several Making Tax Digital Workshops, an online survey to local businesses and to promote all of this thorough PR, Blogs, E-mail campaigns and social media.
We also planned to pitch Sheards Accountants’ thought-led leadership pieces to business press and to journalists who were looking for expert comments in this area.
We were hot on the announcement about Making Tax Digital coming into effect in April 2019 and Sheards ran their “Connection18: Making Tax Digital” event to help businesses get up to speed on digital tax, by focusing on the upcoming changes and the importance of cloud accounting. Over 50 people attended the event and we had some fantastic feedback.
In September 2018, Sheards, announced to the local and trade press that they would be hosting free workshops from October, to help advise businesses on HMRC’s Making Tax Digital. With a special emphasis on their specialism in cloud accounting, and offering services to help bring businesses into the digital age. The monthly workshops focussed on critical areas that business owners will need to know, to comply with MTD regulations. The workshops shared the impact it will have on businesses and the extensive benefits cloud accounting can bring.
In October 2018, Sheards ran an online survey to find out if Yorkshire businesses were ready for Making Tax Digital. As an incentive to fill this out, the entrants were entered into a prize draw to win a prize. The survey found that 29% of businesses are ‘completely in the dark’ about what they need to do to ensure they comply with next years’ Making Tax Digital legislations, while 37% said they ‘need more help’. The research also concluded that just 50% of businesses have their accounts fully up to date.
Measurement and evaluation
As part of the MTD press coverage, Sheards were featured in the Kirklees Business News, Yorkshire Post, Topic UK, Business Up North, House Ladder.co.uk and Landlord Today amongst other publications. Over a 12-month period we have achieved an Average Value Equivalent (AVE) of £133K and a reach of 1.9 million.
In the period April 2018 – April 2019 there were 6,510 users, which was a 24% YOY increase for that period. The number of sessions also increased by 30% compared to the previous 12-month period and the average session duration increased by 13%, to 01:44.
We still work with Sheards and during the last 5 years, significant improvements have been made across their marketing, PR and Social Media. Twitter followers have increased by 68% and LinkedIn has seen an increase of 220%. We have achieved an AVE of over £220K since January 2017.
They have seen an increase in new customers and have great customer retention and satisfaction. In 2017/2018 alone, they increased customer numbers by 73, taking them to almost 500 business customers. They have exceeded turnover and profit targets for their most recently ended financial year, with an increased turnover of 11% and with targets of a further 11% growth this financial year.
Sheards have grown their staff numbers to 19 and have hired a Practice Manager to help expand their offering. They were also shortlisted for the Yorkshire Accountancy Awards in both 2018 and 2019.
We spend 3 days a month working on the Sheards account and this includes PR, social media, Blogs, Event support and digital marketing.