Marketing needn’t be elaborate or expensive for it to be successful. Here are 8 ways you can cost-effectively market your accounting, booking or consulting firm.
- Ensure job turn around time is excellent. Communicate with your clients before, during and after each job so your client knows exactly how long it will take. Imagine the referrals that will come from this level of service!
- Be different. It’s more important to be different than it is to be better, according to 2020 Member Jeremy Harbinson, CA out of Belfast, Northern Ireland. Sit with your team and generate a list of what makes you different. It could be as simple as the hours you keep. I know firms that are open on Saturdays for client meetings during tax season (FYI they’re closed on Mondays – well they’re not, but that’s what clients think).
- Identify opportunities in your existing client base. Rather than look for new clients, why not brainstorm how you can help your current clients even more. All clients and managers should be calling on their top 20 clients at least quarterly if not monthly. A cup of coffee and a how’s business, often open up the conversation for additional services.
- Say Welcome. When a new client ‘signs-on’ what do you do to affirm they made the right decision. A 2020 member in California sends all new clients a “Welcome Pack” that includes the standard branded post-it notes, rulers and pens, as well as a pound of coffee and coffee cup, a welcome card and a copy of their Client Bill of Rights. They get quite a few referrals from this alone!
- Say thank you. Two often overlooked words that mean a whole lot. Some firms send an email thank you, which is fine, but when we receive so much email, it’s likely this will be lost somewhere in the inbox. However a handwritten card will make an impression. Our interns wrote our thank you cards over the summer. So 5 days after the client pays – the thank you card goes out.
- Ask. Referrals continue to be the number 1 generator of new business for accounting firms yet very few firms proactively ask for referrals – oh and a line in your email signature doesn’t count as proactive either! If you feel uncomfortable about asking for a referral, change your tact and ask for an introduction. Sometimes people are uncomfortable referring, but certainly OK with introducing. LinkedIn is a great resource to see who knows your prospective clients. And make sure you implement a system to track referrals.
- Share your success. Why not share with your clients, your prospects and referral sources some success you have helped your clients achieve. You don’t need to disclose the details, but a few case studies will certainly help promote your services. You might have helped a client save taxes, save for college, or turn-around their business. One member firm’s most trafficked page on their website is titled “Success Stories”.
- Promote your clients. If you have a newsletter or social media platforms, why not promote your client’s businesses. One firm in Melbourne Australia includes a section in their bi-monthly e-newsletter to promote their clients. Another firm makes sure they share, re-tweet and like their client’s businesses on a routine basis. Who cares if it does or doesn’t generate a bump in sales for your client. It sends an incredibly strong message to your client that you support their business. Once you’ve been doing it for your clients, try sharing, liking and re-tweeting your prospects.
Before you spend money on elaborate brochures and fancy websites – don’t get me wrong, these are also important elements of your overall marketing plan – make sure you’re doing the simple things. Also make sure you systemize these activities so they become second nature regardless of who is sitting in the marketers chair.
Damien Greathead is Vice President, Business Development, North America for Receipt Bank. He has spent most of the past 10 years training accounting professionals in marketing and operations. He specializes in Marketing plan development and implementation, including social media integration, Technology advising, operational reviews and performance coaching. As the Director of Operations for 2020 Group he oversaw the growth of the membership group in the US; develops tools and resources for 2020 members to implement in their accounting practices; consults with firms regarding better practice management and growth techniques and looks for value-add relationships with vendors to the accounting profession that will be of benefit to the membership group.