Tag Archives: networking

Does your business card scream “I’m broke, clueless or stuck in 1980??

by Karen Post

Tuesday I attended a networking event. I met many interesting entrepreneurs and business professionals. I was also blown away by the number of butt-ugly, unprofessional and down right cheesy business cards that were passed out.

If you are seven years old and selling lemonade, OK, I’ll cut you some slack. But if you are or expecting to sell at least $10,000 of good or services in year, you need to invest in an effective business card that best reflects your value, quality and expertise. Business cards are often the first impression a new contact gets and the lasting impression that is filed for future connections.

Buying a preprinted template is a big mistake no matter what industry you are in. It implies you the smallest potato you can be and most buyers will not be turned on by this status as most are looking for experts with a history of success.

Even if this means skipping a meal to pay a professional to help you, your business card is one of the most important branding touch points.

4 must do moves to make sure your business card is working with you, and not against you.

1) Think differently How can your card stand out from the pack of totally boring ones? Size of card, material that it’s printed on or does it have a scent?

2) Keep copy concise and compelling A business card is not intended to be a book. In most cases, your company name, your name, a graphic mark, your web site, email and phone is enough. Give them a reason to go to your website to learn more.

3) Use typefaces that are relevant to your brand Society is conditioned to associate type with many brand attributes. A typeface can communicate innovation, creativity or a blue leisure suit from 1980. Select the one that best articulates your brand.

4) Leverage the white space and the back of the card too. Sounds conflicting? Don’t fill every inch of the card with stuff. White space is good. This is the most cost effective way to communicate a quality and upscale image. Think of an old yellow pages add vs. a stark Neiman Marcus ad, I rest my case. Use the of back of the card too. Consider a simple image, a provocative question or your web address.

Investing in a memorable, on-brand business card is not an option. If you are a startup and you can only launch with two tools for your new business, make them a killer business card and a website. Then let your product or service carry the load until you can do more.

If you are interested in other ideas, check out an older blog on the subject of business cards and branding.

About the Author


Accountants: What’s the Best Way to Find New Clients?

by Brian O’Connell

When folks learn what I do for work they often ask me the same thing, “What’s the best way to obtain new clients?”

That’s not an easy question to answer. There’s no one answer. Whole books have been penned on that topic. It’s dependant on the type of practice you have, where you’re located, where you’re trying to take your firm, and of course, your character. Each firm needs to craft a marketing scheme appropriate to the talents of it’s people but I’ll give you a short, generic, abstract to kick-start you.

There’s almost no immediate benefit to networking, but get started on it right out of the gates anyway.

Networking may be the life’s blood of any successful firm, but it’s a long term strategy. Take the time to cultivate prospects. At first the time will feel wasted. It will likely seem to be frustrating and senseless at the start, but as the years pass and quality prospects start contacting you you’ll be glad you did it. The most thoughtful, wisest business people rely on networking to find their accountants. Period.

In the meantime there are a lot of rank and file clients to be had, but there are also a lot of accountants competing for them. When you first get started these people will form the bulk of your client base. These clients are what used to be called “walk-ins”.

Ten years ago direct marketing was very effective, but times have changed. Direct marketing is pretty much useless these days. You could track down recent business licenses in your area and try to contact the owners by phone. For many years I made a a good living out of this strategy. It just doesn’t work any more, though. I don’t recommend it.

Get yourself some business cards (with web address and tag line) and network your butt off. Give them to everyone. And don’t forget the tag line. Every time you hand someone your card give them a reason to visit your site. Don’t be shy. Get cards. Just ask for them. Get phone numbers and email addresses. Once you have them, cultivate them. Sign them up for your newsletter. Send them an Email wishing them a happy thanksgiving.

In my admittedly biased opinion the internet is one of the best sources of clients. Get a good website and a monthly email newsletter. SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is a lot of work and very slow and expensive, but it’s also an AWESOME prospect magnet. For the long term it’s worth investing in. For short term just buy ad space on Google using Google Adwords. Also, get your business on Google Maps and optimize your site for Google Places (Local search). This will probably also require some investment on your part, but local search is a let cheaper and easier to get a good ranking in than old-school SEO. Expect a one-time cost of about $500.

So how can websites help accountants network?

The basic strategy of networking is to identify a prospects need, then to offer a solution to fill that need. It’s all about demonstrating the benefit of your service to the prospect. As an accountant you’re in a unique position to offer solutions to problems that really matter to people. Perhaps they’re buying or selling a house. Maybe they’re saving for their children’s education, or retirement, or maybe they’re not certain if they should buy or lease an expensive piece of equipment for their business.

Don’t misunderstand the purpose of this kind of marketing. Prospects will almost never be so impressed with that value that they’ll fire their CPA and hire you right there on the spot. It won’t rack up billable hours for your firm. Networking is a long term marketing strategy. The goal of your networking efforts is to demonstrate your value to the prospect. You’re trying to put your brand in front of the prospect and keep it there so that in a year, or two, or five; when the prospect is ready to switch accountants; yours will be the first name they think of.

A well designed accountant’s website can significantly impact your networking power. Online financial calculators and a libraray of financial articles will bring visitors back to your website over and over. As we’ve already established, when networking your job is to figure out what that persons needs are and demonstrate your value by presenting a solution. Your website can help with that. Next time you hand a prospect your business card you can offer a solution that takes them to your website, complete with your brand at the top of the page and your phone number at the bottom.

Learn the art of the Tag Line. Nobody is going to call you or even visit your website unless you give them a compelling reason to.

These “walk-ins” will pretty much take care of themselves if you do a good job setting up your website. Just pop into your adwords account from time to time and make sure you’re not getting outbid by too many competitors.

It’s time to get busy networking again.

Learn to use online social networks too. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook…

Then network your butt off. Everyone is a potential prospect. Parents, friends, vendors, everyone. Be careful not to judge prospects. That’s a trap. Nobody is too poor for a business card. In 5 or 6 years they may well be standing someplace very different.

About the Author

Brian O’Connell is the CEO and founder of CPA Site Solutions, one of the country’s leading web design companies dedicated entirely to websites for accountants. His firm presently provides websites for more than 4000 CPA, accounting, bookkeeping, and tax preparation firms.

Transparency as a Marketing Tool

by Loren Fogelman

Transparency. It has become the norm with social networking and online marketing. We each have our own barometer between too much information and not enough revealed.

Wikipedia states: “transparency in a social context more generally, implies openness, communication, and accountability. It is a metaphorical extension of the meaning a “transparent” object is one that can be seen through.”

Weaving transparency is important for an effective marketing message and branding. How much though is too much? This has been one of the most challenging areas I have wrestled with in social networking.

My training as a therapist has always reinforced the necessity to “remain a blank wall,” allowing the client to create her own picture about me. I always prided myself on sharing as little personal information as possible with my clients unless it benefitted them in some way. My clients knew I deeply cared about them; they just never knew much about me or my personal life.

So here comes social networking. Transparency is the “name of the game.” Well, I was immediately out of my comfort zone because it went against everything I had been doing in my counseling practice. My beliefs were getting in the way of progress.

Professional tenets, began to be questioned. Slowly I experimented with sharing parts of my life. At first I wasn’t sure what to say. That unease was probably reflected in my message.

I continue to explore how much to share about me and my life. My coach continues to encourage me to reveal more. There were suggestions I resisted, but after letting them simmer for awhile I always gave it a shot. I trust her and know she wants the best for me.

Revealing parts about my life was uncomfortable. I felt very vulnerable. I had always been a private person. Connecting to others through social networking was more important to me than firmly holding onto my beliefs. Now was the time to step out of my comfort zone.

Okay, I was ready to do what was necessary. Of course, I made mistakes along the way. Sometimes I can be very opinionated. Other times I was resistant. Using video was one of the biggest hurdles to get past.

There are some people who I feel are way over the top. They share TMI (too much information). This was actually helpful for figuring out what I felt was inappropriate. At an event where Mari Smith spoke she helped me determine the difference between personal and private. Basically if I was not comfortable with something being a headline on the New York Times, then it was private. Okay. I could work with that.

Social networking and your marketing campaign is designed to build relationships. There is value to allowing people to catch a glimpse behind the curtain. Transparency helps to foster the relationship.

People buy from someone they know, like and trust. If I don’t know someone providing a service I need, then I will ask my friends and associates if they know of someone. That feels much more comfortable than picking someone out of a phone book or Google.

In order to reach your ideal client, you must take that first step in creating a relationship. As they know, like and trust you they will begin to see you as a resource and the person to help solve their problem. Isn’t that what you wanted all along?

Activity: So think about where you might be holding yourself back. Do you know why? Is it because it is uncomfortable for you? You feel vulnerable? There is always the possibility someone might disagree with you. I know you will be judged by others. That is just a matter of fact.

About the Author

And now I would like to invite you to claim your FREE E-course “Step Into Your Greatness” available at: => http://mindsetformarketingsuccess.com

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From Loren Fogelman, the success expert, founder of Mindset for Marketing Success.