Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

Thursday, June 25th, 2020

Purpose

“A business enterprise has two basic functions: marketing and innovation.” – Peter F. Drucker

Peter F. Drucker’s view on the purpose of a business is something you should consider. I want to share it with you today:

If we want to know what a business is, we have to start with its purpose. And the purpose must lie outside the business itself. In fact, it must lie in society, since a business enterprise is an organ of society. There is only one valid definition of business purpose: to create a customer. The customer is the foundation of a business and keeps it in existence. He alone gives employment. And it is to supply the customer that society entrusts wealth-producing resources to the business enterprise.

Because it is the purpose to create a customer, any business enterprise has two – and only two – basic functions: marketing and innovation. These are the entrepreneurial functions. Marketing is the distinguishing, the unique function of Business.

Do all of your people know the purpose of your business (firm)?

  • Find out what needs your customers want fulfilled today. Determine how well your products are meeting the needs of your customers.
  • Peter F. Drucker

Thursday, May 21st, 2020

Are You Also Responsible for Marketing?

“Business has only two functions – marketing and innovation.” – – Milan Kundera

Many firm administrators and managing partners are also charged with the role of Marketing Director. The vast majority of CPA firms are not of the size to support a full-time Marketing Director. If your firm is large enough, I am sure your Marketing Director is one of the busiest people in your firm.

Whether you are a smaller firm or larger firm, it takes discipline to effectively market your practice and reinforce your brand. A few years ago we thought Fall was marketing season for CPA firms. Today, it is a 24/7/365 activity.

Go through some simple exercises with all partners and managers:

  • Gather information about your firm’s uniqueness in your market. Identify any weaknesses and focus on strengths.
  • Make a list of each CPA and each community or charitable organization where they are active. Are there, key, high profile organizations where your firm is absent?
  • Have each CPA list their referral sources (bankers, attorneys, etc.) and identify the referrals they have given you in the last year. Are you referring more their way than they are your way? Are there some of the same referral sources on everyone’s list and some powerful ones that are missing altogether?
  • Have each CPA (no matter what their title) create a marketing action plan and report each month on their activities.
  • Hold pipeline meetings at least monthly.

Don’t let summer (or a pandemic) cause a lapse in vigorous attention to marketing activities. See my post from yesterday!

The Association for Accounting Marketing‘s annual conference has been canceled this year but you or your marketing director should put next year’s conference on your calendar. Here’s the message on their website:

We regret to announce the cancelation of our 2020 Summit due to the current projections of the coronavirus pandemic. We will hold our next Summit at the Loews Hotel in Philadelphia, May 24-27, 2021. We will announce when registration opens for 2021.

  • Content is fire, social media is gasoline.
  • Jay Baer

Wednesday, May 20th, 2020

Rebranding

“You must learn a new way to think before you can master a new way to be.” – Marianne Williamson

It was in the news last week. Maybe you read about it. Rehmann, a large Michigan based firm and one I have known and admired for years, even before they were a “large” firm, has rebranded and released a 30-second video as part of the brand launch.

Has your firm taken the time to think about the new opportunities you have during this troubling time? Are you making your clients aware of how perfectly placed your firm is to help them through the challenges that they are now experiencing? Do you have prospects that are beginning to realize they need a more progressive firm?

Maybe some rebranding would show your clients and prospects that you are right there beside them during this challenging time.

I loved the Rehmann video. Check it out here.

  • The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are.
  • J. Pierpont Morgan

Thursday, February 20th, 2020

Lack of Self-Confidence

“Great salespeople are relationship builders who provide value and help their customers win.” – Jeffrey Gitomer

I bet you have heard the classic line: “I didn’t major in accounting so that I could become a salesperson.”

If you are working in public accounting, you must embrace marketing and sales. It is the lifeblood of a growing and successful firm.

Many accountants actually have a fear of attempting to “sell” services to a potential client. I always claim that you can land new clients if you simply like people. It is about connecting to others and building relationships.

Begin by building your own self-confidence. You have SO MUCH valuable knowledge – you are worth every penny a client pays you. You have helped so many clients in the past. Take that air of success with you as you approach potential clients. Tell success stories.

Jeffrey Gitomer (famous sales guru) recommends that you keep the story of “The Little Engine That Could” in mind – “I think I can. I think I can.” He says that thinking you can is 50% of the outcome. Never show doubt or uncertainty – you are a winner and can be such an asset to that potential client’s future success.

  • Attitude drives actions. Actions drives results. Results drive lifestyles.
  • Jim Rohn

Tuesday, February 18th, 2020

Teaching Staff the Secrets of Marketing & Sales

“I recently went to a new doctor and noticed he was located in something called a Professional Building. I felt better right away.” – George Carlin

Are you teaching your young accountants how to become successful as rainmakers? If they want to be on the ownership track, they need to be able to bring in new business to the firm. That’s an overwhelming assignment for new hires.

The journey begins in their first week by having new recruits meet with your marketing director as part of orientation. The MD will simply explain how it all works and share all the tools the firm has available to help them succeed.

No expectations are set (that happens later down the road) except that the beginner CPA needs to be visible and attend business, civic and charitable events along with a more experienced CPA.

A helpful exercise is to host a lunch and learn where two or three of the firm’s best business developer partners participate in a panel discussion about how they became successful at attracting new clients to the firm. Each partner will have a slightly different success story and the entire staff is invited to the lunch and learn to listen and ask questions.

Never let marketing/sales be a surprise to your team members. Make it part of your culture and provide the tools necessary to help them succeed.

  • Nine tenths of education is encouragement.
  • Anatole France

Monday, February 3rd, 2020

Make Your Clients Say Wow

“Don’t be yourself – be someone nicer.” – Mignon McLaughlin

When was the last time you did something to show your most valued clients and lucrative prospects that you are thinking about them?

What about doing something for your team members during the next few stressful months?

How about sending them some green bagels on St. Patrick’s Day (I know a local law firm that did this every year)? Deliver a pumpkin pie just before Thanksgiving. It could be something as small as some of your promo items – pens, post-it notes, notepads, coffee mugs or candy with the firm logo.

For your team, it could be a thank-you note to their family for being so understanding during tax season. A handwritten thank-you note to the team member when they have gone above and beyond. It could also be new coffee mugs, portfolios, logo shirts or candy sent to their home on their birthday.

fullsizeoutput_45bdThis came to mind because I received a promo package from OnPay, an online payroll processing service last week. It contained a small box of candy, a nice coffee mug, lip balm, and some great coffee. I was thrilled and it did cause me to write this blog post.

What can you “cause” your clients and team members to do by just being thoughtful?

  • I always prefer to believe the best of everybody, it saves so much trouble.
  • Rudyard Kipling

Wednesday, January 29th, 2020

Old School

“There’s definitely an old school element to my music, but I also think it’s modern.” – Lenny Kravitz

How is your firm viewed by clients and prospects?

Progressive, innovative, passionate and future-focused or “old school”?

Many firms still have partners, in their 60s or older, who have been long-time rainmakers still out there being the “face of the firm.” Young partners, managers, and staff are often completely happy letting them do it.

The word on the street becomes, “they’re old school.”

Even in the age of online visibility and branding, the importance of being heard and seen in your local business community is still very important for most accounting firms. Educate your entire team about being “on stage” and representing the firm not only during business hours but after hours, too.

Older rainmakers, it is your duty to replace yourself. ALWAYS take a younger person along when you are out and about. Younger, less experienced CPAs – it’s your responsibility to ask them to take you along.

  • I don't exactly know what I mean by that, but I mean it.
  • J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Thursday, January 16th, 2020

Rainmakers Retiring

“What differentiates sellers today is their ability to bring fresh ideas.” – Jill Konrath

In many CPA firms, the most successful rainmakers are still in the baby boomer category. Yet, as we all know, baby boomers are retiring at the rate of 10,000 per day.

Who will replace your top rainmaker(s)? This is a valid concern in many accounting firms. But, times are changing and so is the role of the CPA firm rainmaker.

In an informative article via Accounting Today, written by Lee Frederiksen, he notes that the rainmaker model is beginning to dry up!

Attracting new clients used to be based on the personalities of certain partners. These partners were out and about in the business community and made contacts that led to new business.

Now, a prospective client has checked out the firm, it’s leaders and the services they provide before anyone at the firm has actually met them. Future clients are searching for the firm with the right expertise to solve their specific business challenges. Hopefully, your firm possesses the services and expertise they are looking for and they can find it on your website.

Be sure to read the entire article.

  • The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.
  • Walt Disney

Monday, January 13th, 2020

Keeping Your Clients Informed

“Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” – Carl Sagan

Recently, I wrote about doing unexpected and helpful things for your clients. I am always surprised by the number of CPAs I talk to who do not send a newsletter to their clients. I always think of that old saying, “out of sight, out of mind.” It applies to CPAs.

Use your newsletter software to also send important reminders to your clients. These reminders are certainly unexpected and helpful.

Here’s a great example from Snyder & Company in Lancaster, Ohio that I received last week:

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  • Friendship, like love, is destroyed by long absence, though it may be increased by short intermissions.
  • Samuel Johnson

Tuesday, December 17th, 2019

Listen to Learn What Clients Need

“If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand.” – Howard Schultz

We have heard it over and over again from speakers at conferences and read it over and over again in CPA marketing publications. It is seven times easier to sell services to current clients than it is to obtain a brand new client. Client loyalty is priceless.

As with many activities inside a firm, you need a system, a process, a questionnaire or a checklist. You need some type of tool to help your accountants actually explore the future needs of current clients.

Some firms call it the Additional Services Checklist.  Others may call it The Expanded Services Questionnaire or The Enhanced Opportunity Checklist.  No matter what you name it, it is a sales tool that your team can use to find out how the firm can truly better and fully serve your clients. Once they have the checklist/questionnaire, they can simply listen more intently when they are talking with a client or working in the client’s office.

The goal is to bring extra value to your clients.  CPAs call it value-added as if their normal services don’t have much value. In these changing times, compliance services are looked upon as only a way to discover advisory services that the client needs.

Do all of your team members, even the most recent college recruits:

  • Know what to look and listen for while they are at the client’s location?
  • Been educated/informed about all of the firm’s service offerings?
  • Know what to do if they recognize an opportunity and who to refer it to inside your firm?

If you answered “no” to any of these, take action.  Host a lunch & learn in early January and talk about all the value-added services your firm offers. Provide the entire team, including the admin team, with a listing of questions/items to apply to the clients and give them the name of the partner to seek out for guidance if they identify an area where your firm can bring more value to the client.  Just having this simple questionnaire or checklist seems to give everyone more confidence.

During the lunch and learn, experienced partners and managers can speak-up and give practical advice to the less-experienced team members.

  • Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.
  • Steve Jobs