Tag Archives: website

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.

How to Choose Your Customers Wisely

by Hamilton Wallace

But hey, don’t customers choose us? Well, the answer is yes and no (spoken like a true consultant!).

Yes, they choose us in terms of if and when they buy.

No, we choose them in terms of how we approach our marketing.

So, choose wisely.

We choose our customers by the price we charge, our message, how much information we offer, what our website looks like, how we treat prospects and everything else that makes up our marketing.

Stupid customers- Stupid customers respond to lowest-common-denominator and we’re-the-expert messages. The car that’s advertised at one-third the normal price that doesn’t exist. The arrogant salesperson/brochure/website who/that talks down to prospects. Stupid customers take more time than smart customers because the aren’t really stupid. They can see through your clever offer and resist, resist, resist. That’s human nature and that adds up to more of your time and a lower closing ratio.

Smart customers- Smart customers respond to information and authenticity. They’re an easier sale than stupid customers because they’re further along the sales cycle when they get to you. They also feel attracted to you instead of manipulated so, less resistance. And they give you referrals.

Loyal customers- Loyal customers are customers you’ve made smart. They appreciate how you treat them. They tell their friends about you. They don’t need huge discounts to buy again. They “get” why you’re better. Every smart/loyal customer is worth 5-6 one-timer/stupid customers. Because they buy again and tell their friends. Plus, the friends they tell tend to also be smart customers.

One-timers- One-timer customers are those who end up buying and feel manipulated. You won’t see them again. Or they buy because of your “huge, gigantic sale” and only buy for that reason. There’s no profit in them, in case you didn’t already figure that out. Okay, so clearly, you want smart customers. Customers you don’t manipulate. Customers you educate. Don’t feel I’m taking away something from you; your ability to “sell hard” in your marketing or get attention in creative ways. I’m not. I am, however, taking away the headline or promise that is/borders on too good to be true or has to have an asterisk after it. You know:

70% OFF Sale!!*

*Excludes all our good merchandise and is limited to the crap in the back corner of the store nobody wants.

Don’t be lazy. Find out what your customers are interested in, what will motivate them to act now. Ask them, because now is very different than a couple years ago when you last asked your customers how they were doing.

If you know more about your customers you won’t have to make these dumb offers or write dumb headlines:

Our CRM Software Will Make You the King-Kong of Your Industry

Of course, accompanied by a picture of King-Kong!

Or:

Our CRM Software Helps You Find More Customers in Your Prospect List No picture of King-Kong required.

Make the effort to understand what’s going on with your target customer so you can choose more wisely.

About the Author

Hamilton Wallace is a small business marketing consultant in Scottsdale, Arizona. He is an expert in direct response marketing, including sponsored search, SEO, direct mail, message and story, and in creating simplified, effective marketing consulting solutions for small businesses.

How to Get Results for Your Business with Craigslist

by Benton Ford

Craigslist can prove to be an excellent avenue for business promotion. Whether an individual has a small business which they operate on a part time basis or a thriving business which has become a time consuming endeavor, Craigslist can help the business to increase in profits and popularity. The two main components to successfully promoting a business on Craigslist include reaching the target audience and running a marketing campaign which will appeal to this target audience. This article will discuss these two components in greater detail to help the reader realize how Craigslist can be used to grow a business.

Reaching Your Target Audience on Craigslist Promoting a business on Craigslist doesn’t have to be a difficult process. However, it is not necessarily automatically easier than promoting offline either. Promoting your business through Craigslist does have some similarities to the process of promoting your business offline. The main similarity is that the business promoter musts do their research to find out who is included in their target audience.

Even the most well thought out and innovative marketing campaign will falter if it is not reaching the intended audience. This is why it is so important for those who are trying to promote their business on Craigslist to be sure they categorize their advertisement correctly to ensure their intended audience will receive the intended message. The majority of posts on Craigslist are available free of charge with the exception of job listings in New York City, Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay area as well as brokered housing listings in New York City. Therefore small business owners can take advantage of the free posting on Craigslist to reach their target audience in a number of different locations.

Consider an example of a company offering moving services in Portland, Oregon. A small moving company that is relatively new might want to take advantage of the free advertising available on Craigslist. To have the best opportunity to reach the target audience the company should place a services offered posting under the labor and moving category for the counties in which the services are offered. Placing the post this way makes it far more likely to reach an audience of those who are planning a move in the desired county than it would if the same exact advertisement was placed as a job advertisement under the category of government jobs in a county in New Hampshire.

Besides being free for most postings, Craigslist offers additional benefits. The most significant benefit is a large audience. Craigslist receives over 4 billion page views per month. With such a large audience it makes it possible for those who post on Craigslist to reach a large audience. However, as previously mentioned, care should be taken when placing the post to categorize the advertisement correctly to ensure the advertisement is reaching the target audience.

Effectively Marketing on Craigslist Marketing effectively on Craigslist is not very different from marketing effectively in other forms of print media. One of the most important elements of an effective marketing campaign on Craigslist is professionally written copy that appeals directly to the target audience. Hiring a freelance writer skilled in writing sales copy is an excellent idea in this situation. The business owner might be quite knowledgeable about their business but they do not likely have the skills necessary to convey the purpose of the business while also effectively convincing those who read the posting to perform a specific action. The specific action may include visiting a website and making a purchase, requesting additional information about the products or services or performing some other desired action such as visiting a traditional store or place of business.

The other component to marketing effectively, as previously mentioned, is placing the advertisement in the correct section of Craigslist. Categorizing the advertisement correctly is important but it is also important to place the advertisement in the right physical location. Products and services which are only offered in a limited area such as a particular city or county should be advertised in these exact locations. However, those who offer products via a website might consider placing their advertisement in all of the location to which they are willing to ship their products.

About the Author

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