Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

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

Monday, December 17th, 2018

Digital Client Advisory Services Roadmap Workshop

“Opportunity does not knock, it presents itself when you beat down the door.” – Kyle Chandler

I have talked to many CPAs about truly organizing and adding Client Accounting Services to their menu of services. Many firms are experiencing great success. It is important for you to understand the digital part of the equation.

CPA.com is offering a helpful workshop – Digital Client Advisory Services Roadmap Workshop – on January 23-24, 2019 in Burlingame, CA. Here a link to more information.

There is a $300 discount that expires on December 23.

Who should attend:

  • Client accounting service practice leaders
  • Key staff
  • Partners in small, midsize and large CPA firms
  • Accounting firm business development and marketing professionals

I hope you explore this opportunity.

  • The game of life is a lot like football. You have to tackle your problems, block your fears, and score your points when you get the opportunity.
  • Lewis Grizzard

Tuesday, December 4th, 2018

Attention Small Firms!

“If I am to meet with a disappointment, the sooner I know it, the more of life I shall have to wear it off.” – Thomas Jefferson     

I am delighted to work with many small firms. That means I am often Googling smaller firms to look at their websites.

I am usually very depressed after doing so. Just because you are small doesn’t mean you can’t be mighty!

Please, please immediately devote some time to your website, that is if you want to attract new clients. The most recent one I visited had no pictures, no email addresses, no listing of owners or staff, no social media links. When I filled out the contact section it had an “internal error.” Their URL said “not secure.” – What a disappointment.

Prospects judge you on your website.

  • One's best success comes after their greatest disappointments.
  • Henry Ward Beecher

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