Vikram Rajan
Vikram Rajan

R&R and KISS

… are just two of four ways CPAs can get more referrals.

April 19, 2010
by Vikram Rajan

The purpose of all-marketing writing is two-fold, R&R: It must help you be more Remembered and trigger Response. To enable the right response, e.g., Referrals, your writing must Repeat a simple “call to action.” In other words, what do you want the reader to do? When should they take action? Why should they choose you?

Often, a prospective client or referral source won’t drop everything to give you a call (or give your number to someone else). Rather, you must be Remembered at the right time (“trigger moment”). Moreover, there must be a Reason for them to Recommend you. Beyond your personality, your Reputation increases as you distinguish your expertise, while Keeping It Short and Simple (K.I.S.S.).

Reader Note: Don’t miss Vikram Rajan as he reveals more strategies on how to get referrals at the upcoming AICPA/PCPS The Future Is Write Now: How Marketing Your Expertise Must Change! Webinar on May 11, 2 – 3:30 pm (EDT).

We always remember what is Repeated. From logos, jingles, taglines, to sound-bites, Repetition is the end all, be all, of branding. Lengthy, esoteric jargon is difficult for your referral sources to Remember, let alone Repeat. There are seven rungs of action-enabling expertise. As you proceed up the seven rungs, you and your expertise will be more Remembered and Recommended. Here are the first four rungs:


Anecdotes are short stories or quick examples of how you’ve helped a client. The trick is to showcase achievements that most peers would miss or ignore. All anecdotes have three parts:

  • Adversity (problem);
  • Advice/action (solution);
  • Accomplishment (benefit to client).

By detailing an actual predicament of a real client (without identifying names of course), you immediately describe an ideal client referral. If you work with more than one type of client, share more than one anecdote. Remember, less is more.

A few years ago, I created a series of networking events called The Anecdote Game. Upon sharing client success stories, we took turns critiquing each other’s delivery and distinctiveness. As you lead with your best anecdotes, your referral sources will follow.

Bullet Points

It’s called a PowerPoint — not a PowerParagraph for a reason! Examples:

  • Titles: Author of, Founder of, Director of …
  • Taglines: Repeated one-liners and Web site addresses, e.g. BrandedExpert.com.

Like Anecdotes, Bullet Points are placeholders for your expertise. Meaning, bullets don’t share what you know; rather, it merely implies that you know something your peers don’t. Remember, get your foot in the door. Don’t throw your whole body of knowledge at someone.


Checklists are great ways to:

  • Outline your client service process,
  • Identify all documents & information needed,
  • Ensure all steps are covered or even
  • Show a myriad of options.

For example, ask me for our Practice Marketing Cheatsheet™, which lists every type of marketing there is.

Interactive or action-enabling, checklists are also known as forms. They are handy ways to convey your knowledge, collect data and thus customize your answers and advice. Forms and quizzes make your brochures and Web sites more useful for you and your readers. Thus, they are less likely to throw out your brochure and take action on your website.

Checklists can even imply priority. While the first two rungs (Anecdotes and Bullet Points) simply imply expertise, Checklists and Diagrams can package your knowledge.


A picture is worth a thousand words. A simple illustration, metaphor, or graph can provide a memorable depiction of your competency. Moreover, Diagrams can often be translated into Checklists and explained with Bullet Points. Diagrams’ use can also be showcased through Anecdotes. In other words, Diagrams are powerful springboards for the earlier rungs.

Diagrams are by nature eye-catching. Don’t be too wordy. Don’t take the time to explain all that you do, who you do it for, and how well you’ve done. Picture it as a flowchart, bar graph, Venn diagram, etc.

Your clients may be overwhelmed by their financial mountains. You carve out steps they can easily walk up. Likewise, beautiful photographs can visualize other metaphors of your distinguished expertise.

Show it, don’t say it: Use rungs A, B, C, D to brand your expertise. Marketing materials should be tested with actual clients and colleagues. You can improve your writings’ form and function by focusing on being Remembered, Repeated, and Recommended.


Your brochures, blog articles, and books will be more Response-able with testimonial Anecdotes, biographical Bullet points, interactive Checklists and informative Diagrams. There are more ways to distinguish your expertise:

On May 11, AICPA/PCPS will be hosting The Future Is Write Now:How Marketing Your Expertise Must Change! As technology advances, it continues to shorten attention spans more than ever while our inboxes get flooded. It’s easy to Google up any accounting question. As a CPA, you must market your accounting knowledge to enable action. In this upcoming webinar’s 90 minutes, I will cover the latest trends in writing for blogs, brochures and books.

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Vikram Rajan is a Practice Marketing Advisor™ for CPAs. In addition to the AICPA webinar, you can learn more accounting practice marketing ideas and seminars through his PracticeMarketingBLOG.com.