Apr 16th 2013
By Lauren Hoit Chappell, Sageworks
With busy season now behind them, CPAs have an opportunity to put more focus on areas of business development that take a backseat during tax season. One of these areas is the firm's marketing strategy.
Exposure is vital to the growth of your firm, but the different channels can be intimidating. With endless social media avenues, websites, and networking events, it's easy to get overwhelmed. There are, of course, several different approaches to social media and marketing strategy, so we've outlined a few steps to help simplify the process.
1. Have a website or at least a landing page. It doesn't have to be extravagant. The main purpose is for people to find you, so if you're planning on putting some money into a website, spend it on search engine optimization (SEO) and not creative design bells and whistles. Make sure you have industry-specific keywords in the title tag of the website. These are what search engines look for when they search.
2. Find as many places as you can to publish the firm's website address. There are free directories online where you can publish your site address, and every place you put your web address gives you more exposure and helps your site be found.
3. Internet marketing is a great way to make sure people are visiting your site. You can use things like pay per click (PPC), which allows your site to show up at the very top of web search results. You pay each time a person clicks on your site, so keep an eye on it – it can become very expensive if not monitored.
4. Use free outlets like LinkedIn and Twitter. For those of you who don't feel like you have anything to post on these sites, utilize free content from accounting blogs. Content is easy to find if you need it, and you can set up the content to fill both your LinkedIn and Twitter automatically. Remember to work smarter, not harder.
5. Use your peers. Another great part of being on social media is being able to hear success stories from other accountants. Use their stories to help improve how you position your firm.
6. Contribute to blogs. Sending in contributions to business blogs is a great way to gain exposure. This gives you an open audience of business owners who may be in need of your services.
7. Networking events are also a great place to expand your business. For most, this isn't a new concept. But I often hear that accounting firms don't think to ask prior to an event if they can set up a table with their business cards and brochures. This means their only exposure will be to the people they speak with at an event.
8. Conferences and trade shows are an up-and-coming way to market as well. Set up a booth at a doctors' conference or auto repair trade show. They're all small businesses that will need your services, and face-to-face meetings help build rapport.
These are just a few ways you can market your firm, and they're simple enough for a sole proprietor to manage on his or her own. Marketing will continue to be an integral part of growing your business, especially as a social media presence becomes increasingly "the norm." Finding simple ways to incorporate this in your daily routine could be a seemingly small but ultimately impactful step toward taking your firm to the next level.
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About the author:
Lauren Hoit Chappell is a senior consultant at Sageworks, a financial information company and a leading provider of financial analysis and risk management software for accounting firms and financial institutions. Hoit has worked with hundreds of CPA firms to implement Sageworks' solutions for standardizing and documenting regulatory requirements, marketing, benchmarking, and adding value to client relationships.