How Accountants Can Really Market Themselves

Read more from Scott Cytron here and in the "PR Matters" archive.

When you throw around the word “marketing,” sales and solicitation come to mind…but when it comes to “accounting marketing,” the scenario needs to be more professional than an infomercial or door-to-door Girl Scout cookies. This is much more than a sales pitch; this is your livelihood. Therefore, it is important to get past the notion of just selling a product or service, and focus on selling people “you.” Ultimately, it is your brand that people are going to invest in.

Your brand is made up of many components. To reach for the qualities and reasons your brand is so marketable, you must do some soul searching. Just like any relationship, this can take time. Here are some tips and tricks to get your marketing plan going.

Money Isn’t Everything
Companies spend a lot of dough on complex marketing plans to boost business. This is a logical move for a Fortune 500 company, but for the typical accountant reading this article, it simply isn’t necessary. Scale down your effort and focus on the nuts and bolts. Unlike the Fortune 500 companies, you have the advantage of being the face and voice for your clients. Spend time figuring out what kind of face and voice best fits your company and its message.

What Sets You Apart?
Whether you are the only accountant in a remote area, or you’re in an urban metropolitan jungle, there is always competition because of the Internet and word of mouth. As a result, you have to figure out what distinguishes your particular firm or company from the rest. Generalities such as customer orientation, quality, price, and creativity won’t cut it!

Dig Deeper
It’s time to tell your story in order to get your clients and prospects to know who you are. Essentially, you are telling the story of who you are and what you represent. This method is much more sincere and conducive to landing business than some sleazy sales pitch.

This concept is nothing without chapters to layer your story. A mix of life tales and personal qualities is a great start. Words like “heritage,” “leadership,” “market specialty,” “customer intimacy” and “preference” are the way to go.

Questions to Get You Started
Coming up with why your company is unique enough to stand above the pack is a challenge. The following set of questions will help guide you in the right direction (questions courtesy of Holland Communications Solutions):What problems do you help your clients/customers solve? Now, narrow it down to just one, primary problem, if possible.

  1. What unique solutions do you provide?
  2. What’s the main point of your business?
  3. Where are your clients/customers located?
  4. Why should clients/customers care about what you have to offer?
  5. What could you do that would make them care—or care more? Think “client/customer service.”
  6. When clients/customers think of you or your business, what words come to mind?
  7. What words do you want to come to mind?
  8. Does anybody else do what you do?
  9. Do they do it better? How?
  10. Do they mess it up? How?
  11. If you were looking for a product or service you provide, how would you want to find out about it?

How to Phrase Your Answers
After going through and deciding how you’d respond to these questions, now is the time to start phrasing your answers to better market yourself. Here are some of the ways to respond:

  • My business is about:
  • It helps clients by:
  • What makes it unique is:
  • The people who need to know this are:
  • They are located at:
  • To meet them, I need to:
  • When I meet them, I’m going to tell them:
  • They will be so glad to know about my services, they will:

Unless you have a rarefied product or service like Walter White’s concoction on Breaking Bad, you must first sell the client on “you.” Your service is secondary. There is so much competition that simply talking about what you offer isn’t good enough. Letting the client in on your story and what sets you apart gets you in the door.

Then, and only then, is your product or service going to take it home. An unsavory and insincere sales pitch may land a few customers, but the goal of your marketing plan should be to land a large net of them.

 

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