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Vikram Rajan
Vikram Rajan
 

Make Your Year-End Count

Five marketing strategies show you how.

October 26, 2009
by Vikram Rajan

You survived September’s quarterlies, and this month’s extensions. As you begin to endure the flurry of compilations, audits, and review, don’t let your marketing lapse! The last quarter is the perfect time for CPAs to grow new business, for two main reasons:

  1. In the next few weeks, you will naturally be speaking to your clients.
  2. Financial review is end-of-year zeitgeist.

Seize These Strategies

Everybody is thinking about your expertise — they want to hear from you. Here are five marketing opportunities to seize the day, in bold.

There are less than 10 weeks left in 2009. Start this week by scheduling some quality time with your most complex (often largest) clients. Your marketing need not interfere with billable hours. Rather, the opposite. The more deeply you discuss their financials, the more you will discover opportunities to improve their accounting process. How can you resolve your clients’ deficiencies with your breadth of services? Some may call this cross-selling; I call it being full service.

To manage a full-service practice, you must have a visual matrix of services offered matching with client names. A simple Excel spreadsheet is sufficient. You will quickly realize that not every client can consume every service. More importantly, there are probably blatant gaps of under-service. “Who definitely needs what?” Set up an appointment with your client to explain. Keep repeating.

You may have a simpler practice or simpler clients. Cross-selling may not be as apparent; you may be full-service by default — billable hours or retainers may be maxed. Still, a visual matrix coupled with meaningful conversation is always worthwhile. Moreover, thought-provoking conversations lead to deeper relationships. Inevitably you will be thanked. This is the perfect time to ask for referrals, “You’re welcome. Do you know anybody (like you) that I should speak with about my services?” (Have your brochure handy.)

Most clients will respond favorably with a generic, “Not right now, but I’ll think about it.” The conversation can end there or you can make it more fruitful by remarking “Thanks for thinking of me … Do you send out a newsletter?”

If they do, they can very easily insert a From My Accountant segment. Again, an end-of-year financial tip makes sense and your column can become regular. Of course, this begs the question: “Why don’t you to publish your own newsletter?” You should produce your own end-of-year Frequently Asked Questions (and Answers) or checklist, tailored to your market.

Are your clients active in any professional associations? End-of-year is the perfect time for every trade, civic and even social clubs to invite a CPA to offer tax tips, address nuances or answer questions. Ask your clients to copy you on an e-mail introducing you to their chapter president: “My CPA can put together a presentation on end-of-year accounting for us.” Even if you don’t get a response, you should follow up on your own. There are no small groups, only small eyes; look for opportunities to springboard.

Many CPAs offer end-of-year accounting tips in local newspapers and trade publications. Look for opportunities to do so on their Web site (or blog). They probably also have an e-newsletter. While e-mail may have a shorter shelf-life than paper, Google caches Web sites (for eternity). Simply put, the more you do online, the higher up your search results will be.

The fall networking season culminates with a bounty of holiday parties. Before you’re all exhausted, you should meet with the other professionals who work with your clients. Beyond what’s best for the client, you can refer more to business to one another.

Of course, they want referrals to your clients. Yet, you need not only share database trades. Of your clientele, is there a small group that you both want to grow? Is there a low-cost, direct way to get your messages to this niche market that neither of you have explored? Upon vetting friendly relationships, you can share the cost and the recognition — call it co-marketing.

Conclusion

Be bold enough to launch these five marketing projects this week. It is easy to delegate and involve your assistants and associates. Assistants can schedule time for you to speak with clients. Your associates can write Q&A, checklists, end-of-year articles and blog posts. They can also start or improve your seminar PowerPoint slides and handouts.

Is growing new business a priority this year? Show it by scheduling a series of appointments in your calendar and tackling these five opportunities. Use the allotted time to speak with (current and former) clients about improving their accounting, their associations and their other advisors. As such, this is also a great time to completely organize your contact database for 2010.

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Vikram Rajan is a Practice Marketing Advisor™ with CoGrow. Rajan helps CPA practices with their marketing action plans, within professional codes of ethics and compliance. You can read more marketing tips on PracticeMarketingBlog.com.