Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category
Wednesday, September 17th, 2014
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.
Wednesday, August 20th, 2014
Jeremy 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:
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.
Thursday, August 7th, 2014
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:
- 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.”
- 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.
- Seek them out at the next event you attend, just to chat and connect.
On 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.
Tuesday, August 5th, 2014
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.
Friday, July 18th, 2014
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.
Seth 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.
Tuesday, June 24th, 2014
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.
Friday, May 30th, 2014
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.
During 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.
Wednesday, May 21st, 2014
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
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.
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.
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.
Tuesday, January 14th, 2014
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:
- Don’t wait and surprise long-time employees, that in order to be a partner they have to bring in business.
- Introduce every new hire, experienced or college recruit, to the firm’s marketing activities and programs.
- 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.
- 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.