Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

Thursday, April 21st, 2022

Marketing – Defender of the Brand

“Marketing involves making a promise and keeping it.” – Seth Godin

A post from Seth Godin that, to me, is so important for CPAs. This is for all the dedicated, hardworking CPA firm marketers. Is the firm delivering what you expect? The following is his post from April 20th:

Defender of the brand

Some CMOs and marketing types simply do ads and promo. Give them average products for average people and some money, and they’ll do the ad thing.

And some are actually marketers. Marketing involves making a promise and keeping it. Marketers understand that your logo isn’t a brand, it’s simply a flag. The brand is the experience that people expect to have when they engage with you. It’s your benefit of the doubt.

If you’re that kind of marketer, you quickly come to learn that the single most important part of your job is being sure that you make great products and services. Because sooner or later, the experience is the brand. Sooner or later, the story you tell needs to be true.

Which means…

That your main job is persuading the people you work with to ship great stuff. No junk. No shortcuts.

If you are not the defender of the brand, who is?

  • Investigate. Innovate. And then communicate.
  • George Farris

Friday, April 15th, 2022

Flashback Friday – Know Your Competition

Your competition used to be down the street. Now, it is worldwide. I say, don’t worry about them much. You don’t need to if your firm is doing what it should be doing. Even if you don’t worry about them, you should know them. The following is a flashback post from 2017:

Know Your Competition

“It is nice to have valid competition; it pushes you to do better.” – Gianni Versace

As I have interacted with many firms over the years, I have observed that some partners are not worried at all about their competition and some partners are almost obsessed with beating their competition.

No matter your degree of concern, it is a good practice to be aware of your competition, their strengths, and their weaknesses. In reality, they are strongly targeting your best clients (just like you are targeting theirs).

As Jeffrey Gitomer (sales guru) says, it is a sales war and the winner takes all. He also suggests some Competition Success Strategies:

  • Speak kindly of your competition, or say nothing.
  • Respect competition and others will respect you.
  • If others speak negatively about anything or anyone, DO NOT join in.
  • Know your competition’s weaknesses, but focus on your strength and value.
  • Know why they won, when you should have.
  • Know how they speak about you, and build response into your presentation.
  • Know how to beat them until they hate you (hating them is a waste of energy).
  • Your only victory is when you get the job.

Read more here.

  • Do your work with your whole heart, and you will succeed - there's so little competition.
  • Elbert Hubbard

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2022

Which Side Are You On?

“Being cool is when you win, you don’t get too happy; and when you lose, you don’t get too mad.” – Ice T

You have all read and heard about the great resignation. On one side, firms are losing people and on the other side, firms are attracting people. Be the “attractive” firm; the one where people want to work.

You can do this by building a brand. What kind of brand have you built over the years? If you are not known for being a premier firm with top-notch people and premier clients, you are behind in the talent game already.

When I was actively working inside a growing CPA firm it was our ongoing goal to be the “cool and progressive firm” in our marketplace. We had client parties with themes like The Future’s So Bright You Gotta Wear Shades and gave everyone sunglasses with the firm name on the stem. At the firm’s 50th anniversary party we used the theme Fifty Years And Still Rockin’. We dressed in poodle skirts and white t-shirts with black leather jackets. An Elvis impersonator met everyone at the door and had their picture was taken which we later mailed to them in a special card.

Set a goal to become known as the cool firm in your market. Become the firm that attracts people rather than the firm losing people. It’s not easy and it takes constant focus. Start now!

  • It seems like once people grow up, they have no idea what's cool.
  • Bill Watterson

Thursday, February 17th, 2022

Difficult Clients

“The way to get rich is don’t get sucked into doing dumb stuff for people you don’t like.” – David Maister

I remember when I heard David Maister expand on this theme in one of his presentations years ago. What is sad to me is that CPAs are still providing services to people they do not like or even trust.

I think it is time to revisit this type of thinking.

  • If you dread a phone call from a certain client.
  • If a client is continually a collection problem.
  • If a client is price sensitive and doesn’t seem to recognize your value.
  • If a client is rude, grumpy and even somewhat abusive.
  • If you don’t have the same values and morals as your client.

It’s time to eliminate some stress and make your life more enjoyable.

No matter how much money they pay you, is it really worth it? Seek out and accept new clients who are pleasant, polite, knowledgeable, and seem to be someone you wouldn’t mind spending time with. Seek out and accept new clients who are in an industry or service line that you enjoy serving. Read Maister’s quote, above, again.

  • If your clients aren't actively telling their friends about you, maybe your work isn't as great as you think it is.
  • David Maister

Tuesday, February 8th, 2022

People Will Seek You Out

“Professional is not a label you give yourself – it’s a description you hope others will apply to you.” – David Maister

As a CPA, have you thought much about how you get new clients? Why do clients like you and why might they not like you?

You can learn a lesson from David Maister. He is retired and his messages are from years ago but they certainly ring true today.

Maister asks his audience of attorneys (and it could be CPAs), what don’t you like about dealing with a certain doctor? The list – They talk down to me. They make me wait. They are in too much of a hurry. They don’t explain things in a language I understand. They don’t smile. And, you can continue this list.

Yet, they are the expert and you want them to take good care of you. After your interaction, you might not ever go back to them.

Now, take this situation and apply it to yourself… You realize that you do sometimes make them wait. You appear to be in a hurry and too busy. You use too much tax and accounting jargon… what else?

If you don’t do all the things that you hate about a doctor visit, new clients will seek you out and want you to be their CPA.

If you are not familiar with Maister, watch this 5 or 6 minute video. He was quite unique, in-your-face, and right on target about professional services. If you have never heard him speak in person, you will probably be dumbfounded by his style.

  • My experience has taught me that success comes not to those who swing for the fences every time at bat, but to those who commit themselves to a continuous program of constant improvement, base hit by base hit.
  • David Maister

Wednesday, January 26th, 2022

Enhance Your Brand

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” – Warren Buffett

Today, I am providing you a link to an article via Forbes. The title is, “Beefing Up Your Branding? Don’t Forget The XYZ Statement And Brand Manifesto.”

I like this article because it describes branding for an accounting firm. Here’s an excerpt:

Individuals, companies and products need to be branded correctly, with the target audience in mind. Put thought into the who, what, where, when and why. After all, branding is how you make people feel. It is the essence of what makes an individual, company or product unique in the broader marketplace. But too many people forget the steps in the branding process or take shortcuts, which can undermine their appeal to the target audience they have in mind. If you rush the branding process, it probably won’t be effective.

  • A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.
  • Jeff Bezos

Wednesday, September 1st, 2021

Build A Marketing Culture

“Doubt is a killer. You just have to know who you are and what you stand for.” -Jennifer Lopez

As baby boomers retire and many of them have already, the firm is usually faced with a shortage of rainmakers. Of course, their knowledge and experience with technical work are also missed.

Firms have spent many years and a lot of money developing technical experts. But, have they spent many years and lots of money developing rainmakers? The answer is no.

It is so important to instill the responsibility and expertise for bringing in new business in everyone working at the firm, especially the younger accountants. I have observed that firm leaders don’t begin early enough to develop future rainmakers. Here are some suggestions on how to build enthusiasm for marketing.

Marketing Education From Day One – As part of orientation, be sure your new hire spends some time with your marketing director (or firm administrator) to learn about firm marketing efforts. One marketing director gives the newbies a “tour” of the marketing closet, showing them the firm marketing collateral and giving them their business cards on the first day. Set a goal for them to distribute their business card to twenty people their first week at the firm. Assure them that they can give it to friends and even relatives, just for the practice. The marketing director has a lot to teach new hires.

Provide Opportunities to Practice – Organize a marketing skills lunch and learn for staff. At my firm, we even talked about the proper way to shake hands and had them practice with each other. Have them develop their elevator speech (how they quickly describe what they do and who they work for in an informative and brief way).

Establish Accountability – A simple, easy-to-use marketing activity report is an important tool for new staff. Sometimes, even managers need marketing education. The marketing activity report is submitted to the marketing director every month.

Leaders Setting The Example – Young people learn from observing others. Do all your partners frequently attend community and business events? Are your partners writing articles for the firm newsletter? Do you have some partners who blog, tweet, or do podcasts?

Always Have A Shadow – Partners and more experienced accountants should always offer to take a beginner along on a prospect meeting. When you have a lunch meeting with a current client, invite a beginner. You can flatter your important client by saying, “Today I have asked Ned Newbie to join us for lunch. He is new to the firm and just learning how CPAs work. I thought he could learn benefit from attending a lunch meeting with an important client like you.”

Building the enthusiasm for marketing doesn’t happen naturally for accountants. Don’t wait until a manager is being considered for partnership before they know that bringing in business is an expectation.

  • Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.
  • Zig Ziglar

Monday, August 30th, 2021

How Does A Prospective New Client View Your Firm?

“Details matter, it’s worth waiting to get it right.” – Steve Jobs

Those of you who know me, know that I am, and always have been, an Apple fan. I had the first Mac when it looked like a little robot box and of all things, it had something called a Mouse! Our son had an Apple IIe when he was in middle school. I wish I had bought stock back then!

I came across a great article via Inc. A story about a Windows devotee who had an Apple Store experience. Take a few minutes and read it. See if there is something you can learn about client service from the story.

I love this one sentence in the article, “I’m deathly allergic to inauthenticity.”

Here’s the story, “I Spent $2,000 at the Apple Store and Got an Invaluable Lesson in Consumer Psychology.”

  • You have to be burning with an idea, or a problem, or a wrong that you want to right. If you're not passionate enough from the start, you'll never stick it out.
  • Steve Jobs

Monday, May 10th, 2021

How Is Your Firm Perceived?

“There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.” – Aldous Huxley

Ever wonder how you are really perceived in your business community?

“Oh, yes… I know Smith, Jones & Company, they are the ___________ firm.”

Try this fun exercise with your entire team during a Lunch & Learn session or at a regular team meeting.

Use the above line.  Insert the name of your firm. Have each person write down a word or phrase that fills in the BLANK.

After everyone is done – share them and discuss them.  How is your firm really perceived?

It could be……

  • They are the auto-dealer firm.
  • They are the new firm.
  • They are the oldest firm in town.
  • They are the audit firm.
  • They are an estate planning firm.
  • They are the innovative firm.
  • They are the old school firm.
  • They are the big firm.
  • They are the small firm.
  • They are the cool firm.

You might find out some eye-opening perceptions about your firm.

  • We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
  • Oscar Wilde

Monday, April 12th, 2021

Change Your Image

“Behavior is the mirror in which everyone shows their image.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

An interesting article via FastCompany about Major League Baseball needing to attract younger fans. The average TV viewer for MLB is 57 years old. How old is your average client? Think about it.

An example of being stuck in the past (via FastCompany) is the Boston Red Sox. Their logo and colors (red, of course and a pair of socks) have been the same for years.

Nike’s new uniform for the team (it debuts on the field on April 17) features none of that old stuff. The new uniform is yellow/gold with “Boston” written in a modernist, light blue script. Check it out here. As for me (not being a Boston fan), I like it a lot. I notice the cap still has the traditional “B”.

Now, what about your firm? Look how Boston is written on the front of the uniform – very contemporary. Does your firm’s logo and website say:

  • We’re an old-fashioned firm.
  • We have been around for years.
  • We are traditional and conservative.
  • We do taxes.
  • We could be called Old School.

Are your colors dark blue or burgundy? If you have a partner named Green is your website color green?

There is lots of conversations going on right now about accountants needing to be more creative. Put refreshing your image on your to do list for 2021.

  • The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.
  • Steven Spielberg