Social media: How CPA firms can use Google Insight
By Roy Keely
There are many forms of social media a CPA firm can use other than Twitter or Facebook. Google Insight is one that oftentimes goes unmentioned, yet I find it practical and enlightening because it reinforces traditional and easy-to-understand marketing tactics.
Take a tip from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and its use of technology. The CDC has turned to Google in recent years to predict flu outbreaks and the spread of disease. Google is able to help because our culture often turns to the Web to search for what ails us. The CDC, in turn, follows trends of what people are searching for on the Web and from what parts of the country those searches are originating. This allows the agency to be nimble with its public messaging campaigns in attempt to head off outbreaks before they become widespread.
So how does this help your marketing efforts as a CPA?
Perhaps more than when they are sick, people are turning to the Web to get answers to financial questions, both personal and professional. When it comes to your local market, what are the hot topics? What local tax issues are seeing rising interest? This is where the Google Insight  tool can help you find the relevant financial matters in your firm's market.
This tool provides insight on how to market. It doesn't do any marketing for you; that's still your job, but it can help you determine what and how you market.
Here is an example of how a Columbus, OH-based CPA firm with the ability to help businesses understand and implement GAAP might use Google Insight:
- What interest is there in GAAP in our local market?
- What should we do to market our expertise?
- Use Google Insight to do a search on GAAP. (Insight results here )
- You find out your region is in the Top 10 metro areas in the United States that is searching for help on GAAP.
You find out the way people are searching for help is by searching for IFRS vs. GAAP. Google has deemed it a breakout, which means that many people are using that terminology to find information relevant to the subject.
How to use the data:
- You have confirmed interest in your local area for knowledge regarding GAAP.
- Host a Webinar for local controllers, chief operating officers, etc., explaining the difference between the two standards, and call the Webcast IFRS vs. GAAP – How to Proceed with Confidence.
- Do a mail piece to a list of contacts (building a list is another topic) drawing attention to your firm's expertise in GAAP.
- If you have a cold-call campaign, develop a script around the subject and start dialing.
- Write two to three articles explaining GAAP.
- If you have a blog, write about the subject. Call it IFRS and GAAP: Understanding the Differences. Do multiple posts and pull from the content in your articles.
- Find local gatherings of financially-minded people and send them a speaker sheet/bio that mentions this as a desired subject among decision makers and that you are available to speak about the topic.
Logic behind using a tool such as Google Insight
The above example is not all that important, but the logic is. The reality is that there is a tool readily available and, not too long ago, would have cost millions to tap into. But today it's free and only a few clicks away.
This tool can be used to find local financial interests and insight on how to speak about them. As with any data, decisions and actions around the data are where the marketing battles are won and lost. If yours is like most firms, your talent problem has become a marketing/sales problem. This is a tool for your tool belt. Use it. Don't just think about it.
Other simple examples of how to use Google Insight:
- When is the ideal time to send out information regarding W-2 forms to your clients? Per this chart it makes sense to send it January 17th because that's when people go hunting for it. (Insight results here )
- Have a niche for helping people in bankruptcy? If so, see if your state is one of the top 10 where people need the service. (Insight results here )
- Let's face it, not everyone understands how to read balance sheets – even business owners. Through a search on balance sheet, you can see that the need to understand Classified Balance Sheets is going through the roof. (Insight results here ) You can help your clients learn what they are and how to read them.
About the author:
Roy Keely is director of marketing at Xcentric , which specializes in Cloud Computing and IT consulting for CPA firms. Keely graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in Marketing and has extensive experience in marketing, branding, and sales. He can be reached at (678) 297-0066, ext. 525, or firstname.lastname@example.org . Follow Xcentric at www.xcentric.com/blog  and www.twitter.com/xcentric .