Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

Friday, September 28th, 2018

The Firm Name

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” – William Shakespeare

I read an article in the news this morning about Macedonia’s upcoming vote on whether to change the country’s name. If you are a Macedonian, it is a very big deal.

Of course, to me, it brought to mind the name issue within CPA firms especially in this time of merger after merger.

Two things to remember:

  1. If you are in merger discussions with another firm – talk about the name issue early on in those discussions.
  2. Keep it short and simple.

Some firms have adopted names that do not even reflect a partner’s name, such as Apiro and Fluence.

Here’s some explanation about the Apiro name and here’s some insight about Fluence.

Recently, I heard about a firm that actually used six partners names. If your firm name is something like – Smith, Jones, Adams, Brown & Black – I bet your clients call you Smith Jones. Why not brand it?

  • Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.
  • Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, August 7th, 2018

You Are Good With Numbers But Can You Write?

“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.” – Jack Kerouac

I have observed that many CPAs in public practice do not like to write articles. They seem to love numbers more than words.

I have also observed that there is usually one or two partners who do have a talent for writing. The best ones are those who can explain complex tax and accounting issues so that their average client can better understand the topic and actually appreciate the information.

Many CPA firm marketing directors have voiced their great frustration with the “write an article for our newsletter” dance. The partner promises to write an article for the next issue. The Marketer begins nagging about two weeks before the deadline and continues to nag right up until the drop-dead date for publication. The partner always has a good excuse…. “give me one more day” is the battle cry.

CPAs who write for their firm newsletter – when you volunteer to write an article, write it immediately and side-step the drama.

Offer your articles to your local business newspaper. They are often looking for tax and accounting articles. Articles can be repurposed. Use them for blog posts!

If you want to build your personal reputation – write, write, write.

  • Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.
  • Benjamin Franklin

Thursday, July 12th, 2018

Accounting Firm Websites

 “If you want success, be unique.” – Natalie Massenet

Many firms I have talked to recently are focusing on updating their website this summer. Your website is so important. It is the first impression that a new client has of your firm. Does it look modern and trendy or does it look conservative, boring and old?

BNA logoI look at a lot of CPA firm websites and my favorite remains BNA CPAs & Advisors in Rock Hill, South Carolina. Their site is modern and trendy, clean and sleek and so are their offices and attitudes.

I met Bernie and Jason Ackerman many years ago at a conference and have stayed in touch over the years. They have been so proactive in improving their firm and its processes. They embrace technology to the fullest. Their focus remains on how they can provide even better client service.

Visit their site and explore. Learn how BNA delivers tax returns in 3 days. Then, compare it to your website. How do you stack up?

  • My personal ambition remains the same - to be creative, to be modern, to stay one step ahead, to enjoy life.
  • Natalie Massenet

Wednesday, June 6th, 2018

More About Client Acceptance

“You get to choose your customers, not the other way around.” – Seth Godin

Yesterday I wrote about providing too much information and spending too much time with a potential client before you know they are a suitable fit for your firm.

This is a tough issue inside many CPA firms.

Firms are competing heavily for new clients. You need them. So, you add new clients without subjecting them to a rigorous client acceptance process.

Has your firm grown by accepting every client that comes along and keeping them even when they are a collection headache?  Is there pressure on your partners to bring in new business so that they can claim their share of the profits during the year-end compensation dance?  If these type of actions are in your past, think hard about your future.

Ask your team members about the quality of your client base.  They will tell you immediately which ones they would nominate for out-placement.

Even though you really know you should serve clients that fit your mission, clients you like and admire and get rid of those that are poor business people, most of you will continue to work with clients that you really don’t like very much, who treat your people disrespectfully and then don’t pay you.

Seth Godin had a good post on his blog about Choosing Your Customers. Seth says, “Yes, you get to choose them, not the other way around. You choose them with your pricing, your content, your promotion, your outreach and your product line.”

  • The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.
  • Michael Porter

Wednesday, April 25th, 2018

Problems

“The work is to solve problems in a way that you’re proud of.” – Seth Godin

I love the above quotation from a post by Seth Godin. He is describing what it means to be an entrepreneur.

I believe that this quote describes my mission. I work to help my CPA firm clients solve problems, as the quote says, in a way that I am proud of. Often, it is very challenging, mostly because the problems I am trying to help solve can be solved by a simple solution – change.

You, working in a CPA firm, have the same exact mission. It’s not preparing tax returns or financial statements, it is solving problems for your clients and helping them make needed changes to be more profitable and successful.

Begin looking at your work this way. If you are solving problems, word will spread and you will have more clients. Solving problems is a great way to market.

  • We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
  • Albert Einstein

Friday, April 20th, 2018

Flashback Friday – Incentives For New Business

There is a lot of discussion in CPA circles about paying an incentive to team members for assisting in bringing in new business to the firm.

Here’s a flashback post on this topic – Incentive For New Business – Keep It Simple.

Have a great Friday!

  • In the Spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours.
  • Mark Twain

Tuesday, April 10th, 2018

What If You Had More Time at Work?

“Either you run the day or the day runs you.” – Jim Rohn

If you had more time, what would you do with it?

If you are a CPA, accountant or support professional working in public accounting, it seems that you are always very busy and have very little extra time. What if you had just a little more free time at work? Wouldn’t it be great to focus on something other than social media?

Marketing guru, Mark Schaefer, interviewed some marketing professionals and asked them what they would do with a little extra time. Many of them said they would get away from social media and talk to people in person. What a concept!

After you wrap-up tax season, why not outline a plan for all of your professionals to make more personal contacts as the remainder of 2018 unfolds? You are in the service business. Talk to those you serve, in person. It is a very natural and non-threatening way to develop additional business for your firm.

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

Tuesday, February 27th, 2018

It’s An Important Role – DOFI

“Without hard work and discipline, it is difficult to be a top professional.” – Jahangir Khan

A key role in your firm is one that I call the Director of First Impressions (DOFI). Many firms have adopted this title because it really is very descriptive. Some firms just say it is their Receptionist or the front desk person. For some reason, and it probably goes back to the old days, team members look down on this position and no one wants to “sit at the front desk” even when that person goes to lunch!

I think you should be very selective in hiring for this position and demanding when it comes to their performance – set some high expectations. It really is NOT a no-brainer job!

Historically, this person just greeted clients and answered the phone. There wasn’t much else they could do without physically leaving their desk. Technology has changed all of that. Now, they can do a lot of what the other administrative assistants do. Plus, phone traffic has decreased in many firms because of direct phone numbers for your team.

One very important task this person should be handling in your firm is the monitoring of 8879s and releasing returns. Many firms have actually established this procedure and it is working very well. Reminding clients and following up if they don’t respond and then monitoring the release of returns is something that can be done without leaving the front desk.

Your DOFI also is an important part of your client service and marketing efforts. They make everyone feel welcome when they visit the firm, offering them refreshments and hanging up their coats. They have a smile (in their voice) when they answer the phone.

Many CPAs have told me that some clients call the firm’s main number just so they can talk to the DOFI. At my firm, we once landed a big client and in their acceptance letter, they mentioned how nice they were treated by Sonya (DOFI) when their executive team visited our firm.

If you are fortunate enough to have a top performer in this position, pay them well. They are worth more than an average administrative assistant.

  • If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.
  • Red Adair

Tuesday, February 20th, 2018

Enable Your Firm To Grow

Katie“Absorb what is useful, discard what is not, add what is uniquely your own.” – Bruce Lee

I enjoyed attending the CPAFMA Ohio Chapter meeting last week in Columbus. Katie Tolin of CPA Growth Guides enlightened the attendees about the importance of product development, something missing from most CPA firms.

Here are some bullet points from Tolin’s remarks. I hope you find them very thought-provoking!

  • For a CPA firm to grow, they need 3 things: marketing, business development, and product management.
  • In most firms, product management is missing – you need all three.
  • Accounting is a mature profession and compliance work has hit its peak.
  • We are in a sea of sameness. Starbucks elevated the cup of coffee. How have we changed the tax return? About the only thing is e-filing, now everyone does it.
  • Technology is speeding things up and that kills billing by the hour.
  • We have mature products and a mature industry, how do we innovate? It can’t only be about new products (services), we need to innovate things we already do.
  • You must always challenge the status quo. Make it part of your culture.
  • Employees need to be empowered to please clients. You need two things, happy clients and happy employees.
  • Katie Tolin

Thursday, February 15th, 2018

Be Bold

“Be original; don’t be scared of being bold!” – Ed Sheeran

Sometimes, I have observed that accountants are actually afraid to be bold. Don’t be!

Do things differently, treat your team differently, treat your clients differently and maybe it would be beneficial if YOU acted differently.

Many people believe that all accounting firms are pretty much alike. I have observed that fact over the years. I have also observed that there are some, a small number, that really are different.

I have also observed that there are some firms where there is one VERY bold partner. Well, almost too bold. That person lords over the partner group and the team and everyone seems to fall in line because they are afraid to be bold in return.

One of the questions I have heard over and over again is, “What are other firms doing?” This year, don’t follow the pack. Begin by giving your firm a “facelift.”

  • Is your office modern?
  • Is your logo trendy and modern?
  • Are you offering services that other firms are not?
  • Do you focus on something besides chargeable hours?
  • Are you making the client experience awesome?
  • Are you making the employee experience awesome?
  • Are you operating in the digital world – no more paper, no more fancy, expensive covers, client-friendly portals, lots of social media activity to benefit clients and prospects?
  • Is your website cool?

Read the Ed Sheeran quote, above, again. BE BOLD.

  • Originality implies being bold enough to go beyond accepted norms.
  • Anthony Storr