Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

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

Monday, September 30th, 2019

CPA Firm Marketing

“Marketing is telling the world you’re a rock star. Content Marketing is showing the world you are one.” – Robert Rose

There continues to be a lot of questions from practitioners about marketing – activities, budgets, staffing, etc.

Of course, a big percent of your marketing budget is devoted to salaries. More and more firms are devoting more time and money to online marketing while still continuing much of the traditional methods… sponsorships, etc.

Once again, the Association for Accounting Marketing (AAM) partnered with the Hinge Research Institute to conduct the bi-annual Marketing Budget Benchmark Study. The purpose of this study was to provide marketing professionals, firm leaders and business developers with the insights needed to determine whether their efforts are effective – especially when compared to the marketing efforts of firms that may be similar in size or with regard to a chosen marketplace.

You can download a summary or the full report here.

  • Don’t settle: Don’t finish crappy books. If you don’t like the menu, leave the restaurant. If you’re not on the right path, get off it.
  • Chris Brogan

Thursday, August 29th, 2019

Be Proactive – Show Your Clients You Care

“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.” – Voltaire

Client surveys tell us that they wish their CPA was more proactive. What kind of Action Plan do you have in place to continually communicate with clients?

These actions fall under the “this is how we do it here” category. Teach your staff how to do it.

  • We take new hires along to client meetings.
  • We expect every person in the firm to have a role in marketing.
  • We provide continual performance feedback to our employees.
  • We close the office on Fridays in the summer.
  • We acknowledge every team members birthday.
  • We have a client service plan for “A” clients and a different one for “B” clients.
  • We send our clients a birthday card.
  • We thank our clients in different ways for simply trusting us as their financial and business advisor.

Should any of these “this is how we do it here” bullets apply to your firm? What else can you add?

 

  • As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.
  • John F. Kennedy

Friday, July 19th, 2019

Flashback Friday – Client Service is Your Best Marketing

“If you are doing what everyone else is doing, if you are inside the band of common, then it’s not an approach that will move you forward.”  – Seth Godin

What is your firm known for? Accuracy, understanding, caring, knowledge, maybe expensive?

Has anyone said that you have the best client service? Read more here.

Happy Friday – I hope you enjoy a wonderful summer weekend!

 

  • There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.
  • Sam Walton

Monday, July 15th, 2019

Business Getting Means Making Friends

“Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold the world together.” – Woodrow Wilson

Maybe they didn’t talk about it when you were interviewed for the job. That interview might have been this year, last year or MANY years ago. Sometimes, it is even a big surprise to a Manager in a firm. If you want to be really successful, advance to owner and make a lot of money working in public accounting, you need to bring in new business.

You love accounting and making sense of it all to help clients become successful. You love tax and all the challenges and creativity that advising clients demands. You do NOT love selling.

But wait! It’s easy. The most important aspect of bringing new clients to the firm is liking people and enjoying making new friends.

It is something you should have learned in pre-school or kindergarten, meeting other people and making them your friends.

If you like people, they will like you. If you don’t really like (and enjoy) dealing with people, why are you in PUBLIC accounting?

  • Friendship consists in forgetting what one gives and remembering what one receives.
  • Alexander Dumas

Friday, June 7th, 2019

Flashback Friday – Does Your Firm Have a Motto or Tagline?

“It has been a motto of mine my whole life – just be yourself.” – Patrick Kane

Most firms have them. Many firms have them prominently displayed on their website. I am referring to the firm motto or tagline. Most are rather boring.

Read more here.

  • Concentration is my motto - first honesty, then industry, then concentration.
  • Andrew Carnegie

Tuesday, June 4th, 2019

You Cannot Avoid Selling

“Approach each customer with the idea of helping him or her to solve a problem or achieve a goal, not of selling a product or service.” – Brian Tracy.

I have heard it repeated for years and years by accountants of all ages and genders – “I didn’t go into accounting to be a salesperson!”

Get over it. Everyone has something to sell. Sales is a fundamental skill. Selling is not pushing people to buy something they don’t want. Selling is moving somebody else to action. No matter what your role, you are continually selling yourself!

Firm leaders should not wait to introduce young accountants to marketing and sales. Teaching and including them at the very beginning of their career makes it a natural part of their career advancement.

Too many managers have told me that they didn’t realize the importance of marketing/sales until they were almost ready to become a partner.

In an accounting firm, the secret to practice development (bringing in clients) is to simply like people. People are naturally drawn to CPAs because they realize the knowledge you possess. Selling is also all about understanding what you are selling. Do your young accountants know?

Read this article via HBR – How to Improve Your Sales Skills Even If You’re Not a Salesperson by Rebecca Knight. Send a link to all you young accountants

  • Keep Your Sales Pipeline Full By Prospecting Continuously. Always Have More People To See Than You Have Time To See Them.
  • Brian Tracy

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019

Focus On Your Fans

“The foundation stones for a balanced success are honesty, character, integrity, faith, love and loyalty.” – Zip Ziglar

You had a successful first quarter. Busy season was busy for both tax and audit and you and your team interacted with some wonderful, loyal clients, also known as your fans. They keep coming back year after year because they like you, they trust you and are pleased with the services you provide.

In a recent partner meeting or retreat, you have probably explored ways to land new clients. Lots of good ideas were expressed, new ways to attract exactly the right type of client.

Of course, you should do things to build your brand but don’t forget about the loyal following you already have.

Develop ways to engage devoted clients (your fans) to help you spread the word. A referral from a current client is golden. However, what happens most often with accountants is the fact that they simply don’t ask current clients for their help.

As Seth Godin tells us, “Ideas spread from person to person. Horizontally.” Read his helpful post here.

  • I'm as loyal as anyone and will do anything for people I respect. But if you don't give that back to me in return, you're dead to me.
  • Eric Weddle