Every business should market itself or its products, yet very few CPAs are doing this. The struggle of CPAs to “sell their businesses” to the general public has always been difficult. Many families and small business owners do not consider the expense of a CPA to be necessary because they feel that they can do their own simple bookkeeping or taxes. This practice usually only leads to inefficiencies and frustration.
CPAs often feel that they have minimal time to try to acquire new business. Traditionally, referrals generate most new business in the accounting field. While this is a solid method, it is not entirely reliable because you have no real control over your brand. You are relying on someone else who you hope is happy with your services to convey what you are able to do well and you simply hope that one of your clients will refer you. Wouldn’t you rather have more control over how prospective clients perceive your services?
A more effective method is to be proactive and use marketing strategies to get your name out and your brand displayed the general public. More business can be generated through the use of marketing tools such as social media, search engine optimization (SEO), advertisements, and personal selling than one would think. Effective marketing can differentiate you from other CPAs in the area. Do not be afraid to boast about your accomplishments. You can educate prospective clients on their real need for CPA services. These strategies help people see you as a trusted and necessary individual and as someone who serves their clients year-round instead of just at tax season.
…a number of people are dissatisfied with their current accountant and would like to switch; however, they do not know to whom or where to go. By differentiating yourself from others and creating a brand, you can attract those people.
1. Attract New Clients
Using marketing methods puts your name in the public arena and is the perfect way to attract new clients. It is important to realize that you cannot just rely on existing client referrals and need to work on attracting new clients through other methods. According to recent polls, a number of people are dissatisfied with their current accountant and would like to switch; however, they do not know where or to whom to go. By differentiating yourself from others and creating a brand, you can attract those people.
Digital marketing allows your to reach out to new customers. Paid advertisements on sites like Google will allow your business to show on search pages, but using digital platforms like blogs and social media channels can be just as effective, not to mention cheaper. Many people are already a part of platforms such as Facebook and Twitter and are likely to come across your content there; additionally, Yelp is popular for seeing how business stack up to one another, so it’s important to maintain a presence there as well. The Internet is ubiquitous, being available on computers, tablets, phones, and even televisions, so if you aren’t making the most of digital marketing opportunities, you’re missing out on countless number of potential clients.
2. Improve Relations with Existing Clients
Rick Telberg, President and CEO of CPA Trendlines, wrote an article entitled “Client Satisfaction Ratings Show Signs of Decline.” In this article he states, “35% of CPAs could get good recommendations from ‘nearly every client.’” That number should be higher; you should be certain that your clients are happy with their services and would be willing to recommend you. Marketing allows you to engage with existing clients and improve your relationship with them, and social media is a wonderful way to do this.
It’s important to not limit yourself to one social media channel. Yelp, for example, allows customers to review companies, and this type of direct feedback can be valuable. If you know what your existing clients like about working with you, you can continue with and further those practices; just as importantly, negative reviews lets you know what you need to change. Don’t simply disregard negative reviews or act hostilely toward them. Instead, interact with the unhappy customer and see what you can do to rectify the problem.
Customers may try to connect with you through multiple channels, so be sure to address them through each channel appropriately. Yelp lets you see and respond to reviews, while Twitter will be used for short comments and it may be easier to communicate with the customer directly through another method rather than with 140-character sentences to resolve issues. You might have a more professional customer base using LinkedIn as opposed to Facebook, so you you’ll need to know your audience and how to speak to them. You shouldn’t just be using every platform at your disposal, but you should be using them wisely.
3. Educate the Public about Your CPA Services
Most people do not understand accounting or the fine detail that taxes require. The rules are quite confusing. There is no doubt that everyone wants to maximize their return or minimize their payments. By educating the public about your services, you can help potential new clients to understand the central role you play in working toward their monetary goals.
By educating the public about your services, you can help potential new clients to understand the central role you play in working toward their monetary goals.
Do not assume that everyone knows what you do – sell yourself. Help them realize that their lives would be easier just because they have availed themselves to your services. Again, social media is a great tool for this, and playing toward each platform’s strengths is still important. Twitter is great for short comments, providing your customers with links to articles and other engaging content, and addressing basic questions and issues, while Facebook can be used for long-form content, Instagram and Pinterest are best for visual content, and you can use your blog to post articles that show you’re a thought leader in the CPA field.
You can also repurpose content. If you have a blog article that that quantifies how you’ll be able to help prospective clients across multiple channels, you can create an infographic with that information and post it to Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest. Doing this will allow your knowledge to reach your audience no matter what channel they use or how they choose to consume information. Once prospective clients see your expertise and learn about your services, they will be more likely to give you their business.
4. Find Your Target Market
To effectively market your business it is important to first identify your target market. The key to success is to hone in on a specific audience for your particular services. You might have several audiences you’re trying to reach: prospective clients, current clients, industry peers, and so on. The specific markets can be broken down using criteria such as company size, demographics, industry, or even hobbies. The more you know about your audience the more efficiently you can directly reach them.
Creating buyer personas will help narrow down who your audiences is and allow you to tailor content and other marketing efforts toward them. Once you begin creating content and posting it to various channels, be sure to follow up with it to see how well it’s reaching your desired audience. Using tools such as Google Analytics is a great place to start. Finding out who is reading and viewing your content will let you know what you’re doing right, what isn’t effective, and what you need to change
Once you have set the parameters for your market and have established a marketing strategy you should be well on your way to expanding your client base and growing your business. After implementing your marketing campaign, you will be able to attract new clients, improve relations with existing clients, and educate the public about your services. Over the next couple of weeks, we will discuss some strategies for marketing for CPAs.