Because of CPA Insider™ readers’ overwhelmingly positive response to last month’s article, Eight Marketing Ideas That Won’t Break Your Bank, we’re providing you seven more.
Marketing is one of those areas that get cut from the budget in uncertain economic times. Although marketing can be pricey, CPA firms need to do it now more than ever to sustain and grow their practices. When we are not seen in the marketplace, people start to wonder what’s happened to us. Over time they forget us. It is in these transformational times when clients and potential clients need us the most.
Promoting your business just takes a little more creativity these days. Here are seven more low-cost options that can be quite effective as CPAs look to build their practices:
- Review Your Value Proposition
When was the last time you took looked at your firm’s value proposition? Does it truly capture the value you bring to your clients? Does it separate you from your competitors? Does it focus on outcomes or just service? Unless your value propositions focus on results, it will not effectively resonate with potential buyers. Consider such outcomes as dollar savings, improved efficiencies and decreased turnaround times. Don’t forget to help your employees effectively communicate your strengthened value propositions to others. Start with how-to sessions during lunch or in pipeline meetings.
- Have a Team Brainstorming Session
This a great time to get everyone on your team involved in growing your practice. Consider a brainstorming session with your employees to capture new marketing ideas and sales strategies. You will be amazed at the brainpower that exists within the walls of your own firm. Employees generally want to contribute to the firm’s growth, but don’t know how. All that they need is a challenge to contribute and an organized venue to do so. Make it fun and competitive, yet friendly. Offer prizes for the best ideas. Keep them involved and inspired by reviewing the progress of these new ideas in your upcoming marketing and pipeline meetings.
- Host a Social Media Seminar
Social media is all the rage these days, but let’s face it there are many people who don’t know how to get started, including many in your own firm. Take advantage of this opportunity by hosting a seminar. Identify a social media guru to help your audience understand this new form of communication, how to get started and the benefits they can achieve from it. Tap someone in your firm’s IT group who can share an inspiring and informative program or bring in an outside expert. Invite clients, prospects, referral sources and even the media to join your team. Advertise the seminar on your Web site and post a podcast from the session for those not able to attend. Position your firm as a trend-setter.
- Help Employees Understand How to Cross-Sell
Firm leaders are always talking about cross-selling and how important it is for their employees to uncover opportunities to offer additional services to clients. Although this is a noble goal, most firms forget that employees do not understand how to do this. More importantly, employees will not generally tell you they do not understand how to go about cross-selling. If you truly expect wide-spread cross-selling from your team, you must show them how. This starts with training and coaching. Set the stage by helping them to see this is something clients look for their trusted advisors to do on a regular basis. Help them understand how to uncover opportunities, understand what solutions they can offer and what services enable them to provide desired solutions. Then help them understand how to actually talk with clients about engaging them to provide the additional service, including a discussion of pricing. Finally, watch your firm grow with new engagements, while strengthening your client relationships.
- Host a Budget-Friendly Wine Tasting
A fun theme for a networking social with referral sources like bankers and attorneys is a wine tasting. We’re not talking your ordinary high-brow wine tasting event. Instead of focusing on pricey vintages, feature budget-friendly options. Set a price limit of $15. Ask your local wine shop or sommelier to recommend a number of wines that score high in taste and meet your price-point too. Consider a blind tasting so attendees can vote for their favorites, while guessing on the actual price. What a fun way to take advantage of the new economy we live in and build your referral networks too.
- Get in Front of Clients With Year-End Planning
We are now approaching the time when CPAs get face-to-face with a number of their clients to discuss ideas for tax planning. This year may create additional opportunities to get in front of clients who have not shown a strong interest in these types of planning sessions in the past. Take advantage of this situation. Do some real brainstorming and offer ideas that will truly help them save money. Also use the time to inquire about other challenges they may be experiencing. Work to uncover cross-selling opportunities for you to provide additional services with your new cross-selling skills.
- Celebrate Recent Wins
On a recent episode of the TV series, The Good Wife, one of the up-and-coming attorneys shared a victory that he experienced in the courtroom earlier in the day. The managing partner, with whom he shared the success, half-heartedly acknowledged the young attorney’s achievement while working on her billing. What message did this send to the new attorney? Don’t forget the importance of celebrating success. If we expect others to be successful marketing ambassadors for our firms, we must reward their achievements. Make it a big deal by holding an office celebration with cake or even champagne to recognize new business wins with your team. It will be the start of many more successes as enthusiasm swells.
In times like these we need to be doing all the marketing we can. Be creative. Find new inexpensive ways to get and keep your firm’s name at the top of your client’s minds. Both your clients and you will be glad you did!
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Tracy Crevar Warren is founder of The Crevar Group. She advises professional services firms on practice growth, growth-focused leadership, transformational change, niche development, sales and marketing. An author and frequent speaker for local, regional, national and international groups, she inspires and empowers audiences to do more of the work they love. Warren can be reached at 336-889-GROW (4769).