Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

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

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

Help Your Young CPAs Become Successful

I love to hear real-life stories of how young, CPA professionals developed, improved, grew professionally, worked hard and became a partner in their CPA firm.

Marc Rosenberg shared some wonderful information on a recent blog post. He featured three (young) partners on a panel and asked them how they succeeded and how some experienced partner/mentors helped them.

I’ve been on a roll lately about mentoring  (all my posts a couple of weeks ago were about mentoring).

One question Rosenberg asked these young partners was, “What are some techniques used by your mentors to help you learn and grow?

The 3 young partners replied:  Although we are improving at it, none of us made our mark by being a rainmaker.  But our partners did two things to help us along.  First, they understood that it’s easier to grow a book of business if you have one to begin with.  Partners delegated clients to us, allowing us to capitalize on our strong client relationship skills to develop more business with existing clients through expanded services and referrals.

Second, when clients called the senior partners and left a message, they would forward the message to us, fill us in on the details, give us some “talking points” and have us return the clients’ calls.  It didn’t take long for the clients to start calling us first.

Common thread:  the partners were proactive in helping us advance.

If you want to be a better mentor, re-read the reply above!  Kudos to them, Marc Rosenberg and to the partners at Weiss & Company, Pasquesi Shepard and Mowery & Schoenfeld.

  • The state of your life is nothing more than a reflection of your state of mind.
  • Dr. Wayne Dyer

Monday, April 28th, 2014

Funny Business On Your CPA Firm Website

If you are a CPA firm, you website is a critical part of your practice growth strategy. Sure, years ago we were told it was just an online brochure. Some of you haven’t upgraded and/or updated your website in several years. In 2014 your website is a web asset.

If a potential new client or new employee hears your firm name, the first thing they are going to do (yes, you guessed it) is Google you!

I visit a lot of CPA firm websites. Many are still very old fashioned, most look exactly like their competitors (everyone is using a scrolling WordPress template), and thankfully, some stand out.

Focus your website on your visitor. A potential client wants to know how your firm can help them. Honestly, they don’t care how long you have been in business.

A potential employee whether it’s an experienced person or a college student, wants to get a feel for your culture.

I bet you want to see a good example. I have one for you! Recently, I visited the website of Wiss & Company, a New Jersey/New York City firm. I clicked on “Careers” and saw something called Funny Business – I clicked and I loved it. A picture is worth a thousand words. Click on the picture below to visit Funny Business and play with the pictures.

Wiss

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then I returned to the home page. A potential new client hitting their site will immediately find items of interest to them, such as:

  • Tax Savings Tips for a Home-Based Business
  • Still A Need For Estate and Gift Planning
  • Mobile Payment Options for Small Business

Click on the picture below to check out their site.

Wiss & Company

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every year, about this time, I urge you to make this year your Summer of Website!

  • Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen.
  • Mark Twain

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

Everyone Is Part Of The Sales Force

Perhaps you have heard the stories from some of your friends in public accounting who are working at another firm. Maybe it applies to your own firm. I know I hear it often in my consulting role….

“We have 8 partners but we only have 2 rainmakers. I don’t know what we will do when they retire!”

If this hits too close to home, start tomorrow enlisting your entire workforce to become part of your sales force.

How do you do this, especially in public accounting? Here’s four suggestions:

  1. Don’t wait and surprise long-time employees, that in order to be a partner they have to bring in business.
  2. Introduce every new hire, experienced or college recruit, to the firm’s marketing activities and programs. 
  3. Involve every employee in building the firm’s reputation and brand – that’s the best marketing you can do and there is a role for every person in your firm.
  4. Show your appreciation to your employees. If your people are happy in their role and with your firm, if they feel appreciated, they will become a sales force on their own. They will talk to others about the great place they work and all of the great things the firm does for them and for the firm’s clients.

If your people truly believe your firm can do a better job for a potential client than their current CPA, they will talk about it. It would sure feel good to have 50 rainmakers with potential to grow and enhance their skills than just having two who are aging-out.

  • The best way to find new business is to talk to old business.
  • Jeffrey Gitomer

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

Hosting A Bookkeepers’ Day

I think this is a great idea – host a special luncheon for bookkeeping professionals working for your clients. I know that several firms across the country host such an event and it is well received by clients.

Your firm and your people often have a stronger relationship with a client’s bookkeeper, controller or CFO than they do with the actual business owner. Enhancing that relationship not only benefits your firm it can also be of great value to the bookkeeper.

Here’s how it works. As year-end comes to a close or at the beginning of January, a CPA firm invites client financial professionals (bookkeepers, controllers, CFOs, office managers, etc.), whoever “keeps the books” to a special expanded luncheon or breakfast. It is not only a social event, it is also used to provide an educational update session on the typical year-end activities – changes in tax laws, closing out the books, dealing with the year-end payroll tax requirements, etc.

The event not only builds a stronger personal relationship with this important person in your client’s office, it assists with receiving the client’s year-end information in a more organized format. Simply informing the bookkeeper of your expectations and helping them achieve the proper format is a win for everyone.

In many firms this annual luncheon/breakfast meeting event has become tradition and is valued highly by the bookkeeping professionals.

I recently read a news article about C&D LLP hosting such an event. It was held at a nice facility (a guest ranch) and has been a tradition at the firm since 1994.

An added benefit is that they used it for public relations by sending a press release to the local newspaper.

Bookkeepers working for non-clients in their area are probably wondering why their CPA isn’t doing such an event…. and perhaps thinking….  maybe we better talk to C&D LLP.

 

  • A cardinal principle of Total Quality escapes too many managers; you cannot continuously improve interdependent systems and processes until you progressively perfect interdependent, interpersonal relationships.
  • Stephen Covey

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

More WE & Less ME

DSC02808I received Gale Crosley’s newsletter last week and I want to share her article titled, “Why Strategic Growth Matters More Than Ever. Individual Tactics Are No Longer Enough.”

As usual, my thoughts align with hers. Significant change has occurred and firms need to be much more strategic in their thinking and actions. Per Crosley, strategic growth is a mindful, firm-based approach that contrasts starkly with the notion that a firm can grow sustainably by partners increasing their individual books of business.

Here’s Crosley’s closing lines:

Gauge the willingness to try a different approach that’s more “we” and less “me.” Then move forward, clear-eyed and committed to the future you desire.

Read the full article here. Check out the picture from 2006!

  • There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.
  • Peter Drucker

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

Client Service – Be Honest, Are You Really Different?

CPAs working in public practice tell me all the time….. “We are different!” They go on to relate how they do this different and how they do that different. They truly believe they are different.

When I inquire as to exactly how they are different from their competitors most of them say, “It’s because of our client service.”  They continue to describe how they are responsive, return phone calls quickly and are available to their clients.

They are reacting to client requests and questions. Notice I said REACTING. Most CPAs will honestly disclose, they are more reactive than PROACTIVE.

Here’s my personal story from a visit to a Ritz Carlton Hotel. Eddie, the bellman/valet guy (young, smiling gentleman), opened the door to my taxi and welcomed me inquiring as to my name. As he walked me to the registration desk he asked where I was from. When I said Dayton, Ohio he remarked, “I attended UD!” (University of Dayton). As we arrived at the desk he introduced the gentleman at the desk to me, “This is Ms. Keller, she’s ready to check-in.”

During my stay, at both hotel restaurants (lunch & dinner), so many people asked… Can I help you? May I be of assistance? Is there anything you need? At both restaurants they inquired, “Are you staying with us?” Last name? and then from that point forward everyone in the restaurant(s) called me by name, “Ms. Keller.” After dinner when I departed the restaurant a different maitre d’ was on duty and said, “Good night, Ms. Keller.”

People enjoy being called by name and they hate it if their name is mispronounced or mis-spelled. Have you every mis-spelled a client name on a email, letter, tax organizer or other paper mailing? It’s a huge faux pas! Even worse, has your firm ever mailed something to a deceased client? The relatives sure hate that one!

The Ritz Carlton has systems. They teach them and they practice them. The next day as I was leaving the hotel Eddie greeted me again and immediately said, “Did you enjoy your stay, Ms. Keller? Are you heading back to Dayton? Why don’t you use our car, it’s just slightly more than a taxi and much more comfortable?”

I couldn’t keep track of how many people (employees) asked me during my 30-hour visit if they could help me, assist me, do anything for me.

What’s it like at your firm? How often do you ask your clients if you can help them in any way? How often do your employees, during client interactions, use the client’s name and inquire if they can assist or if the client has any questions? Have you trained your people to introduce themselves to visitors waiting in the lobby, to simply be friendly?

Practice civility. See the quote below from the Dali Lama.

  • Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.
  • Dali Lama

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

Women CPAs, Partners, Young Accountants – Focus on Business Development

This is a familiar topic. I talk and write about it all the time. I continue to meet women in accounting and young accountants just entering the profession who “don’t get it.”

What’s worse, I continue to talk to CPAs, both males and females, with many years of experience who do not participate in business development!

If you are in public accounting and you want to grow as a CPA and as a person in your profession, be sure to devote time to business development. There are things you can do in just 15 minutes a day.

Read Michael Hsu‘s blog post aimed at his entrepreneurial clients (it applies to YOU as a CPA):

Daily Habit: Devote Time to Business Development

If you are a CPA working in public accounting, it’s easy!

  • Send a link to an article on the web that is on-point for one of your client’s niche.
  • Attend a business networking event (Chamber, charitable fundraiser, etc.)
  • Write a handwritten note to a client on their anniversary with the firm.
  • Send a thank-you note to a client who ALWAYS pays on time and tell them how much you appreciate it.
  • Send a birthday card to your client.
  • When talking with you clients, be a better listener (also listen to your team)
  • Offer to speak at a client’s event.
  • Write a blog post just once a week!
  • Get on Twitter

You are going into a time of year when you will be busy. You are also going into a time of year when you will naturally be more visible, CPAs are heroes in tax season! Visibility creates opportunity, take advantage of it.

  • A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.
  • Winston Churchill