In marketing, doing something is often better than doing nothing. Of course, doing it right consistently is even better.
I have put together a fairly exhaustive list of all you can do in the world of marketing, which I call Our Practice Marketing CheatSheet. This is designed in four quadrants, with the top two focused on traditional marketing and the bottom two on online efforts.
The right side lists all possible marketing channels. The left side lists marketing collaterals. Confusing the two can waste valuable resources.
Channels are actionable; they are the active ways prospective clients learn about you. Collaterals support channels. By themselves, however, they are metaphorically (and literally) akin to the box of brochures you have in the corner.
Practice marketing cheat sheet
The marketing channels spell a handy acronym: WATERS. The more consistently you use WATERS, the more consistent the flow of clients:
- Word-of-mouth: All other marketing channels ultimately flow back to word-of-mouth recommendations and referrals. Your cheat sheet should itemize specific word-of-mouth opportunities, including but not limited to past clients, past prospects, lost prospects, and others.
- Advertising: Traditional media buys can cost a lot of money. Doing anything just once is very inefficient in marketing; recognition, trust, and response build over time. Your cheat sheet should detail low-cost ad methods like newspaper calendars. Remember, the ad itself is supporting collateral, so remember to focus on where it can go and how interactive it should be.
- Telephone: The telephone can be used as an effective marketing channel in a supporting role. You can make use of your hold time for marketing messages instead of music.
- Electronic: This is a catch-all that includes email and text messaging. Naturally, this fits in well with other internet marketing. Last week I had to talk a client “off the ledge.” He wanted to purchase email lists and blast marketing messages to those lists. While technically legal, if the lists represented double opt-in addresses, it’s woefully ineffective. Think about how much spam you get. You may end up deleting all the newsletters including the ones you receive from colleagues. In marketing, every second counts, while in advertising, every second costs.
- Regular mail: See above and also see the section on the telephone. Regular mail can be used as a mix of both of those channels. Many CPAs pride themselves on handwritten thank you notes and greeting cards. When done out of appreciation (and not just holiday tradition), they make both you and your practice stand out. The more you are remembered, the more you can be recommended.
- Shows: As stated above, seminars may or may not be a channel. Shows in which you can speak or exhibit can be wonderful opportunities to start or refresh relationships. The best referrals from clients often come when I’m standing beside them. Ask your clients about upcoming tradeshows they’ll be attending. Go with clients and see what happens. Meet the leaders from the steering committee and offer to speak on an already chosen presentation topic or propose a new one.
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Vikram Rajan authors the PracticeMarketingBLOG.com. He is a co-founder of phoneBlogger.net, a word-of-mouth marketing service for CPAs and attorneys.