Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

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

Thursday, May 16th, 2019

Client Service and Technology

“The team at your firm needs to know how to provide excellent client service. It should be clear to them what the firm’s expectation is and that you enable each person to provide excellent client service.” – Randy Johnston

I believe that excellent, over-the-top, client service is your best marketing strategy. Your clients will brag about you to others because that kind of client/customer service is rare these days.

I usually visit two groceries on a regular basis. One is huge and offers everything you could possibly need in the grocery category. The other is also a chain but a small, specialized type. The large one offers self-checkout and a few full-service lanes are open even though they have numerous ones that are always closed. The smaller one has no self-checkout. The clerks in the large one rarely talk to you and almost never smile. The clerks in the smaller one are always friendly, talkative and helpful. The large one has cheaper prices. The smaller one is usually slightly higher in price. Which one do I visit the most? You guessed it. Friendly, caring, engaging customer service out-weighs pricing.

Today,  am sending you to an article by Randy Johnston via CPA Practice Advisor. He gives us lots of technology tools to help with awesome client service.

He notes: But most of you who have been in business for a while recognize right away that there is a difference between academic smart, book smart, certification smart, common sense, clever, innovative and practical. 

And: How can we use technology to enable great client service? First, we should define what we want as our client service deliverable. Technology tools can make each client service interaction easier, more seamless and professional.

 

  • Just having satisfied customers isn’t good enough anymore. If you really want a booming business, you have to create raving fans.
  • Ken Blanchard

Friday, May 3rd, 2019

An Opportunity Exists

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” – Bill Gates

For many years CPAs working in small to mid-size firms have been delighted when a client of a big, national firm realized they were paying way too much for services that a smaller firm could provide in a more affordable manner and with more care and attention.

Sometimes the larger firms will actually refer certain clients to local and regional firms because they were just too small to fit the big firm’s profile. A too small client of a national firm is often a very large client for a local/regional firm.

This opportunity continues, but another opportunity has been created by the merger mania within the CPA profession.

When one of your local competitors merge-up, there will be clients who do not want to be part of the larger, acquiring firm. We usually see the departure of clients after the first tax season. The “new” firm just does not provide the same, intimate client relationship as the former firm. This is partly because their key contact is retiring and a new person has been introduced and partly because the larger firm has different methods and maybe those methods are just not as friendly and comfortable to the smaller firm clients.

Make sure that any client who is dissatisfied with their current firm knows about your firm – build your brand and reputation and be visible in your business community. Even more important, always be in tune with how your own clients feel about your service.

  • Spend a lot time talking to customers fact to face. You'd be amazed how many companies don't listen to their customers.
  • Ross Perot

Thursday, April 18th, 2019

Exceptional Service

“Every contact we have with a customer influences whether or not they’ll come back. We have to be great every time or we’ll lose them.” – Kevin Stirtz

Want to attract new clients? Then make your current clients say, “Wow!” Providing exceptional service is your best marketing activity.

This is from Tom Peters:

There’s a big Bain study I quote: 8% of customers think the service they RECEIVE is “exceptional.” 80% of companies think the service they GIVE is “exceptional.” I call it “the 8-80 chasm.”

If you want your clients to say, “Wow!” you have to do something unique, out of the ordinary. Enlist the help of all your people. What do they think you could do to achieve Wow?

Read more about your clients saying WOW.

  • Assumptions are the termites of relationships.
  • Henry Winkler

Friday, March 15th, 2019

Are You The Ritz Carlton of Accounting Firms?

“We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen.”  – Ritz Carlton Motto

Right now you are very, very busy. Everyone is the firm is very busy. Are you too busy to take the extra steps necessary to become known as the Ritz Carlton of accounting firms in your market?

Have you ever stayed at a Ritz Carlton? Here’s a site that will give you some info on the Ritz Carlton Gold Standards:

  • The Credo
  • Motto
  • The Three Steps of Service
  • Service Values
  • The 6thDiamond
  • The Employee Promise.

As you read them, you will see how they can apply to a client service business like a CPA firm.

It’s still early into 2019. How will you make your firm the gold standard when it comes to client service?

It’s Friday – time to smile.

  • A hot dog at the game beats roast beef at the Ritz.
  • Humphrey Bogart

Monday, March 11th, 2019

Make Friends

“If you win the rat race, you’re still a rat.” – Anna Quindlen

It is a common activity in the CPA profession. Firm leaders advise and encourage their managers and younger team members to get out there and network.

Attend every Chamber function. Take part in those non-profit fundraiser events. Don’t stand in a corner and eat or drink. Talk to people and exchange business cards. Add their name to your contact list.

It does rather seem like a merry-go-round. You go round and round and never get anywhere. That’s because gathering contacts is not making friends. Suzy Welch suggests a different approach. Rather than make contacts, make friends.

Meet people, sure. Find a few you actually like and build a friendship over time. People love to do business with friends. Hundreds of contacts rarely turn into friends who will recommend you and refer others to you.

  • A friend may be waiting behind a stranger's face.
  • Maya Angelou

Thursday, January 24th, 2019

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? I believe that if a CPA firm focused intensely on client service they would become the leading firm in their market. If a CPA firm did extensive training with their people on making client interactions satisfying and even fun, they would become the leading firm in their market.

Some examples from Seth Godin:

A b2b insurance agency spent two million dollars ripping out voice mail from their agency. Every call gets answered by a human every time. It paid for itself in four months. That’s a strategic investment, not a cost-cutting shortcut.

When Fedex was building relationships with busy businesspeople who would become the backbone of their customer base, they answered the phone on the first ring, every time.

Has anyone at your firm ever answered the phone on the first ring? Do any of your partners actually dodge calls from some clients? Read: Your Customer Service Strategy.

  • You can treat your customers like they don’t have a choice, but in the long run, customers always have a choice.
  • Seth Godin

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2019

Just Send Us Your Information

“Assumptions are the termites of relationships.” – Henry Winkler

It is easy to just have clients mail their information to you or use your portal to submit it. You don’t have to do anything. Some clients, who are close by, just drop it off at the front desk and walk out the door.

Why not think about increasing communication with your clients at this time of year. Many of your 1040 clients are also business clients. Ask them to stop by and spend 15 minutes with you (or talk to them via phone) to talk about their business or personal situation.

A brief conversation like this can uncover additional services that your firm could provide to clients. Tax time is marketing time. Many of your clients might be greatly under-served and you do not even know it.

Have you talked to a client at tax time and found out that during the past year they have used another provider for something your firm provides? Their comment might be, “I didn’t know YOU could do that!”

  • “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