The more things change at CPA firms, the more they stay the same.
Take marketing for example.
Your CPA firm marketing sucks. You know it. Your client knows it.
Your marketing was terrible last year. It's going to be terrible again in 2006.
"Not much changes except "glacial" pace in CPA firms," says Patrick McEvoy, president of CPA Marketing Best Practices .
McEvoy continues, "Your marketing is always going to be horrific unless you do something about it." He suggests starting off 2006 by addressing these seven mistakes:
- You have no clear purpose, goal or vision for your professional practice as a business.
Ninety-five percent of people reading this cannot tell me why you went to the office this morning. Seriously, other than "paying your bills," why are you there? What purpose does your practice serve for your clients? Who are your clients? What do you want your business to look like 36 short months from now?
What you need to do is simple. You need to take an hour or so and write down the purpose of your business...the biggest reason that your practice exists. Then write down your vision of what your business to look like three years from now. Finally, write down between three and five big, measurable goals for the coming year.
- You have no compelling marketing message.
If you don't have a powerful and attention-grabbing, marketing message, how can you ever expect a prospective client to know what you can do for them? How do you get their attention? How do you get them to take the next step? How do you get them to tell others about what you do?
Craft your message in this format:
"I work with ABC types of business or people who are having trouble with XYZ types of problems."
That's it. Make it simple. Make it powerful.
Example: "I work with CPAs and lawyers, in small to medium size firms, that are struggling to attract new and highly profitable clients."
- Stop relying on passive marketing methods.
Every professional I know will tell you, if asked, that these are the ways to get clients:
Networking, Chamber of Commerce, Association Memberships, Affinity Groups, Referrals etc.
Yes...these do bring you clients.
But...these methods bring you clients in a random and haphazard fashion; (quick...tell me exactly how many clients you will acquire, next month, from each of these methods.)
You rely on these methods because they allow you to hide. They provide lots of room to justify your failure to market your practice like a business. They give you lots of excuses, on Friday night, when you're having a beer with your more successful friends.
Take your new, well crafted marketing message and go after some new business with direct mail, web sites that work and the telephone.
Accept reality. Sales of professional services is a "game of large numbers." You will not and cannot "sell" every prospect that you will ever meet.
But, you can massively tip the odds in your favor.
The more prospective new clients that you contact each and every week...the more new clients you will acquire each and every week.
- Get visible.
Put your face in front of people that can buy your services.
You won't sell anything sitting in your office. You won't sell anything to your associates or colleagues by having lunch with them everyday. You won't sell anything at the local Chamber of Commerce when you and 85 other local schlep lawyers and CPAs, are trying to do the same thing to the same people.
Start thinking. Be different. Go where the crowds aren't.
- Develop a targeted mailing list and "stay in touch" strategy
Get your top 100 prospects into a database.
Mail them powerful, problem solving reports and white papers. Call them. Stay in touch with the individuals or firms on this list, every two weeks, for 12 months.
The amount of new business from this will astound you.
- Design a powerful presentation and closing strategy
Show your prospective clients what has worked for other clients in similar situations.
Offer a little "free" relevant advice.
Then...ask for the check.
Get to the point. Focus on the client. Show powerful, big examples and powerful, big solutions. Ask for the business. Get the money. Leave.
- Accept that you're in business and live with it.
If you want success in your practice, get over the "marketing is beneath me" mind set.
When you've got this mind set, you're "finished" before you start.
Learn how to market yourself. Learn how to run a business. Learn how to think like your clients. Learn how to make money and learn how to like making money.
Spend one hour per week working "on" your business, instead of just "in" it.
Stop "taking care" of old things. Start "creating" new exciting things. Stop looking for the "easy" way out of your problems.
Now, throw this article in the wastebasket...just like you did last year when you found it "far too hard" to think about this stuff.
Small wonder nothing ever changes at your firm.
Written by: Patrick McEvoy, President
CPA Marketing Best Practices