Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

Hiring Tends For 2015

According to a recent article on Fast Company, 70% of today’s workforce is actively looking for another job or is open to hearing about a new job opportunity.

Another study tells us that a recent college graduate will hold between 15 to 20 jobs in their career. That means they are going to change jobs every three to four years. They will always be looking.

This certainly does not paint a rosy picture for CPA firm leaders. Growing firms hire extensively from the college campus and invest significant dollars in the first three years of their career in training and development. For them to leave at the end of three years is an expensive scenario. At three years, they are just at the point where they can be really productive.

Here are some trends:

Job boards are no longer the primary source used by job seekers. Job seekers, along with employers, are looking via social networking sites. Even the recruiters (the ones your firm has relied on) are finding their candidates via LinkedIn. According to a recent survey, 79% of recruiters said they found candidates via LinkedIn. 26% through Facebook and 14% via Twitter. Firm leaders are telling me that the recruiters are presenting to them the same people that they can find on LinkedIn themselves.

Here’s an important trend to follow for CPA firms. Employers will target marketing to job seekers. Accounting firms must invest in building an employer brand, just like they invest in building a brand to attract new tax and accounting clients. CPA firms can develop action steps for retention by surveying their people and talking to their people to determine what they need to do to become the CPA firm employer of choice in their market. What kind of impression does your website make on a potential new hire? It seems that the investment in, and focus on, building a unique career page on accounting firm websites no longer has the attention it had several years ago.

In-person networking is back. Since the social media space is so crowded, it’s now unique to network in person. Young people intent on building their careers and finding career opportunities are focused on building a base of “people they know.”

Do they know you and your firm? Are your people “out there” networking to identify future new hires as well as potential new clients?

In the world of public accounting it is all about the number of people you know. Using social media is key but so is face-to-face networking.

  • We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.
  • Aristotle

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

Bad News Hurts

IMG_4634I am reading Seth Godin’s new book, What To do When It’s Your Turn.

On one page he uses a quote from Andre Agassi on how it feels to lose:

“But I don’t feel that Wimbledon changed me. I feel, in fact, as if I’ve been let in on a dirty little secret: winning changes nothing. Now that I’ve won a slam, I know something that very few people on earth are permitted to know. A win doesn’t feel as good as a loss feels bad, and the good feeling doesn’t last as long as the bad. Not even close.”

All of us avoid bad feelings. It’s harder to get a No than it is to get a Yes. That’s why so many CPAs avoid marketing, sales, practice development. What if they say No? What if they don’t like me? What if I say something wrong during that speech? What if someone gives me a Thumbs Down on Facebook? What if they disagree with my tweet about that tax issue?

As Godin states, “No wonder we don’t want to speak up or stand up or do anything much that matters. We’ve persuaded ourselves that good feelings aren’t even close to outweighing bad ones.

My advice? Get over it! The more you do the better you get. The more you risk (and it doesn’t have to be much), the more gratifying the rewards.

I used to be afraid, embarrassed, hesitant.. whatever, when it came to asking what I thought would be a dumb question. Wow, I have sure learned a lot over the years and one of the most important lessons is always ask if you don’t understand, if you don’t know, or if you want to know more. I subscribe to Tom Peter’s quote: I shall lead the league in asking dumb questions.

  • Don't be afraid to ask dumb questions. They're more easily handled than dumb mistakes.
  • William Wister Haines

Friday, November 28th, 2014

Don’t Use Stock Photos On Your Website – Use Your People

One reason I think it is important to use pictures of your accounting firm team members on your website is the simple fact that it gives them exposure, makes them noteworthy to their friends and makes their family proud.

The argument I usually get from practitioners is… “If Suzy leaves then we have to change the website!” – – You should be continually updating and changing your website anyway – it is a living thing, not a history book.

Bonnie Buol Ruszczyk of bbr marketing addresses this issue in her recent newsletter and on a blog post, The Dangers of Stock Photography.

In case you haven’t noticed, it is world filled with pictures now – yes, selfies and more! People like to see pictures of the real people working at your firm. Make sure your entire team is on your website. Your clients really do like to see the people they work with and prospects want reassurance you and your team are real.

Here’s an example of a best-place-to-work firm with pictures of real people – Santos Postal in Rockville, Maryland.

Also, just my opinion, if you have a LinkedIn account and don’t have your picture there – people think you must be weird!

  • The camera can photograph thought.
  • Dirk Bogarde

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

Still A Great Way To Obtain New Clients – Networking

As I have worked with accountants over many years, I have truly come to realize that meeting and talking to people can be difficult, awkward and yes, even scary. All that is foreign to me because I love people and I love to talk (those of you who know me are smiling… maybe laughing… right now).

So, you may be an introvert but that doesn’t mean you can’t begin to enjoy meeting and talking with people. The huge chamber networking events are sometimes scary for experienced networkers, so don’t feel like you have to begin there. Make the networking you do fit your style.

I attended Accountants’ Bootcamp many years ago. We learned many great things there…. but one thing I liked was a way to help accountants feel comfortable with a form of networking.

Have your partners (maybe the ones who aren’t so comfortable in big groups) invite a banker, an attorney, an insurance person, a client and maybe two potential clients and form a breakfast group to simply discuss business issues relevant to your community.  Set the ground rules – – this is not a meeting to “sell” to each other, it is more like a self-help group.  Referral sources and business owners are likely to participate because YOU are the CPA and YOU know a lot that can help them!

Host it every month or every other month, in your office, serve a continental breakfast (or late after noon snack) and talk in round-table format for an hour or so. Ask each other questions about business issues and get to know each other personally. The members of the group will quickly begin looking forward to the meetings and begin to rely on each other’s opinions.

Don’t limit it to just partners. Have your up-and-comers host their own networking groups. Many CPAs across the country are doing exactly this or something very similar. It works!

Also, read this article on the HBR Blog network titled:  Networking for Introverts.  It’s all about doing this where you are comfortable not stressed-out.

  • Talk to someone about themselves and they will listen for hours.
  • Dale Carnegie

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

Growing Your Firm – Growing Your Career

Dillard150x150Jeremy Dillard, CPA recently presented on “Networking and Sales Best Practices” at the recent AICPA EDGE Conference in New Orleans. He offered some practical advice and his article was published this week via the AICPA.

I wholeheartedly agree with his assessment about the many misconceptions CPAs have about networking, such as it should be tackled only when billable work isn’t pressing and never during busy season. A networking plan should consider each of the following groups:

  • Firm/Organization
  • Clients
  • Industry
  • Others

Follow the link, above, to read more about each of these groups.

I contend that growing a book of business begins with a simple question – How many people do you know?

I also like Dillard’s “best sales practices.”

Know – Referral sources need to know (understand) your expertise and what differentiates you. Use LinkedIn!

Like – You need your referral sources to like you because you are counting on them for introductions. Clients must like you and staff/co-workers must like you. Make yourself likable by simply being helpful.

Trust – Earn their trust (keep your word, it’s as simple as that).

Refer – If you receive a referral, you owe a referral. If you refer, you should expect one in return – it’s how the game is played.

Thanks to Mr. Dillard for sharing his insight and experiences. Here’s a link to Dillard’s website:

 

  • Expect the best. Prepare for the worst. Capitalize on what comes.
  • Zig Ziglar

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

Female CPAs… You Must “Build A Book”

IMG_4086 I have observed, over many years, the one thing that holds women back on the path to partner is their lack of involvement in practice growth.

Practice growth is what we call it these days. We used to refer to it as marketing, sales and lead generation.

What male CPA partners have always called it is “the ability to build a book” meaning accumulating “your own” clients. Behind closed doors it is discussed. “She can’t build a book of business.”

Here are some steps that I recommend to female CPAs and to all young beginners in public accounting:

  1. Get known in your local market area – network, attend, join and be visible at business events, civic gatherings and charitable functions. Don’t think of it as “I have to attend that boring reception.” Think of it in simple, more enjoyable terms, “Can’t wait to attend the Chamber breakfast, I’ll get to meet so many successful people.”
  2. When you meet someone at an event, follow-up by connecting on LinkedIn and set a date to meet for lunch. Talk business, talk personal interests, simply get to know them.
  3. Seek them out at the next event you attend, just to chat and connect.

IMG_4087On a recent blog post I gave you the short answer to becoming successful in public accounting – it depends on the number of people you know.

If it is still scary for you to attend a business networking event, start by getting involved in your state CPA society or association. Practice your “talking to strangers” skills by networking with other accountants. Don’t miss the opportunity to build your personal brand. The women in accounting in these pictures were attendees at the Ohio CPA Society Women’s Initiative Networking Breakfast held in Dayton, Ohio recently. Special recognition to Battelle Rippe Kingston – they had six women in attendance.

 

  • Do one thing every day that scares you.
  • Eleanor Roosevelt

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

How To Be Successful In Public Accounting – Short Answer

Want to know how to be successful as you build your career in public accounting? It’s simple, it’s easy!

There is one question that you need to address. How many people do you know?

CPAs get clients by being visible, connecting with others and becoming well-known for their expertise.

  • Get out there and get better known – in person and via social media.
  • How many people do you have via LinkedIn connections? Needs to be at least 500.
  • David Maister used to always ask CPAs – What do you want to be famous for? Identify it and pursue it.

People will ask around when deciding upon a CPA. You need to have lots of people talking about your expertise and personality. They learn all that from seeing you often and talking with you.

Keep in mind….. they will ask people for recommendations but they will then immediately Google you. How does your online presence look?

If you are already a very successful CPA – share this with an up-and-comer.

  • You’ll have more fun and success when you stop trying to get what you want and start helping other people get what they want.
  • Dale Carnegie

Friday, July 18th, 2014

Marketing To Your Core Audience

Accounting firms are notorious for seeking out new clients by writing articles, advertising in the business newspaper, using some direct mail and networking at local events so they can meet new people (prospects). Often their social media campaigns are designed to target and engage the non-client, new client, potential client.

SethGodinSeth Godin uses the example of Broadway. They spend so much money to attract tourists and those who rarely see a play, yet it is clear that the people who go to the theater regularly are often the ones who fill the seats, pay the bills and spread the word.

Spending money, time and effort on people who already like you is much more productive and profitable than “yelling” at people who don’t know you.

This is not a NEW message to CPAs trying to grow their practice. It is one of those BFO  topics (Blinding Flash of the Obvious) that all of the CPA management consultants stress with firm leaders – – it is nothing new, it is basic.

Focus on your current clients. Provide them with more services. Provide them with awesome client service. Talk, talk, talk to them about other things you can offer them and how you can help THEM grow their own business.

As Godin states: “This one shift, a shift to building relationships between and among the core audience, to make plays for your audience instead of finding an audience for your plays, is the golden lesson that applies to just about every organization.”

 

  • Don't try to make a product for everybody, because that is a product for nobody.
  • Seth Godin

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

Promote Your CPA Firm – Do New Things, Try New Things

I love this video from Sarah Johnson Dobek of Inovautus Consulting.

Why not try using short promo videos like this to promote your CPA firm? You don’t have a YouTube page? Why not try it?

 

  • The world is a university and everyone in it is a teacher. Make sure when you wake up in the morning you go to school.
  • Bishop T.D.Jakes

Friday, May 30th, 2014

I Have Enjoyed Getting To Know Sarah Johnson Dobek

If you have a growing CPA firm, I bet you have a lot of marketing and practice growth challenges. I have had the privilege to get to know and become friends with several marketing/sales focused people in the public accounting profession over my many years in the profession and have learned so much from them.

Having old friends is priceless. However, don’t limit yourself just because you have many old friends. To grow as a professional, explore and nurture new relationships on a continual basis.

Johnson DobekDuring the last four years or so, I have met and gotten to know Sarah Johnson Dobek. Sarah has been active in the CPA profession for many years and is a long-time member (and leader) of The Association for Accounting Marketing.

Sarah and I are both members of The CPA Consultants’ Alliance and she has been a real asset to the Alliance and to me personally.

Sarah’s firm is called Inovautus Consulting. On her website it says, “Practical Ideas For Growth.” No nonsense, practical (easily to implement) ideas – we all need those!

Recently, Rob Nance interviewed Sarah for a Spotlight on her website. Here’s the Question and Answer that grabbed my attention:

Q:  You were once a firm’s marketing director. How has that role changed over the years and where do you see it headed?

Sarah:  It’s changed a lot. Marketing today isn’t just about making something look pretty. The technical landscape has changed a lot and so have he expectations. Firms are looking for results and are expecting their marketing and business development staff to produce. Today’s growth professionals are savvy leaders within their organizations who have to be educators, politicians, and change agents.

CPA marketers must be more than marketing administrators; firms need “growth professionals.”

To learn more, read the full interview with Sara.

  • Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you're climbing it.
  • Andy Rooney