We all know that marketing is just one of those areas that gets cut from the budget in uncertain economic times. When you look a little closer, it seems counter intuitive, doesn’t it? Although marketing can be pricey, we need to do it now more than ever to sustain and grow our practices. When we are not seen in the marketplace, people start to wonder what happened to us. Over time they forget us. Is there really a better time to position ourselves and our practices to be top of mind? It is during these times when your clients and potential clients need you the most.
Marketing Tips That Don’t Break the Bank
Just because you are cutting your budget, doesn’t mean you have to eliminate marketing altogether. Marketing does not have to be expensive to be effective. In fact there are a number of low-cost options that can be quite effective as you look to build your practice. Promoting your business just takes a little more creativity these days. This departure from the norm can be a nice change of pace. Consider these options:
- Meet for coffee
Take advantage of the coffee shop trend. It’s inexpensive, less time consuming and puts you face-to-face with whom you are looking to connect. It works with clients, prospects and referral sources to name a few. A new setting can spark conversations that may lead to more business. For out-of-town clients and prospects, schedule a “virtual coffee.” Connect on Skype or over the phone and enjoy that same conversation over a cup of Joe. Although nothing is as good as sitting down in person, a
“virtual coffee” can serve the same purpose — connection.
- Brainstorm with referrals
Turn your next networking social into a brainstorming event. The next time you get together with a group of referral sources for a mixer, hold a working session to develop new ideas for building business. Share what’s working. Consider new strategies. Get your creative juices flowing as you get to know each other better. Make it fun! Offer prizes for the best ideas. Consider a follow-up session in a few months to update each other on the progress that each firm has made.
- Avoid the client pick up
It’s amazing how many CPAs leave reports at the front desk to be picked up by clients. Who knows how many face-to-face opportunities are lost. The saddest part is that clients are right there in your office. To make matters worse, it doesn’t cost a dime to spend a few minutes with them. Don’t miss this opportunity to just say hello or pick up some new work by discussing how you can solve an issue that arose at a recent engagement. So think hard before you leave another client report at the front desk for a pick up.
- Give social media a try
Okay, you’ve been hearing about social media for a while now, but have not made the move. Maybe you just don’t know how to get started. Don’t be embarrassed. You are not alone. The good news is that there is a lot of help out there to get you going. Ask someone in your office to give you a hand or reach out to a referral source. A great place to start is to set up a page on LinkedIn or Facebook. This one is absolutely free too! Once you get the hang of how easy it is, you might be tweeting or blogging before you know it.
- Share success stories
Telling success stories to others is one of the easiest and most effective ways to get people interested in what you can do for them. When they hear how you have helped similar clients solve problems it helps them see you as a solution provider. Stories help people open up and share insight on what they are dealing with or striving to achieve. Stories help people realize that there is hope for them, and can position you as the one to provide it.
- Help clients go viral about your firm
Are you really “WOW-ing” your clients? Are they so pleased with how you helped them that they are telling others? If not, it could be costing you valuable referrals. Did you know that referrals remain the number one way CPAs obtain new business? With customer service at all-time lows, now is the perfect time to focus on doing a “bang-up” job for every client. Get them talking about how great you are at delivering exceptional value. Is there really a better way to build your business?
- Recycle lost leads
How many leads and connections do you have from past tradeshows, networking events and seminars that were never properly followed up on? Don’t feel bad. We all have them. Now is the perfect time to dust them off and reconnect. Think of this as a new form of recycling. What a terrific way to improve your marketing ROI (return-on-investment).
- Use your e-mail signature as a billboard
Your e-mail signature is a great place to promote your practice. Consider adding a link to a recent article you have written or a seminar that you will be speaking at in the future. What about a link to your firm’s new blog or updated Web site? It’s easy. It’s free. Change it as often as you like.
In times like these we need to be doing all the marketing we can. Get creative. Make it fun. Find new inexpensive ways to get and keep your firm’s name at the top of your client’s mind. You and your clients will be glad you did!
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Tracy Crevar Warren is founder ofThe 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).