How to make your blog an effective firm marketing tool

By Brett Owens
 
I hope the title of this piece did not catch you off guard! The primary – and only – goal your firm’s blog should have is for it to be a worthwhile marketing vehicle. If it is not, then you shouldn’t bother blogging!
 
While your marketing efforts will always reach far beyond your blog, I believe you can make your blog a very productive tool for retaining existing clients and perhaps gaining new ones.
 
Using Your Blog to Retain Clients
 
You have a lot of expertise floating around in your head, so much that you might not realize it. Your clients tap this vast pool of knowledge when they meet with you and engage your services – it’s the value they receive from doing business with you.
 
If you could share this knowledge with them on a regular basis, in small but consistent quantities, it would further strengthen the regard they have for you. It may also help drive new business from existing clients because one of your posts may trigger them to take action, which would, of course, involve your assistance and expertise.
 
The best way I know to share knowledge and allow others to tap your expertise in a scalable manner is by blogging. Blogs are very easy to create and cost nothing if you use one of the free online services, including Blogger, BlogSpot, Wordpress.
 
Writing as little as one short article a week can reap huge rewards for you.
 
But What Should You Write About?
 
Ask yourself: “What would our clients/customers like to learn more about?,” then write about these topics.
 
Take some creative liberty here and write about topics that interest you as well as your customers. If you’re stumped, you might want to phone a few people and ask them what they’d like to hear you talk about.
 
Chrometa is a product company, so we usually keep our newsletters product-focused. We’ll talk about features we’re working on, suggestions we’ve received, alternate uses for our product, and the future roadmap. We’ve found this to be a very popular formula with our customers because they get the inside scoop.
 
You may also want to branch out and talk about broader topics that would be of interest to your clients. For example, my CPA firm’s monthly newsletter discusses tax-related topics that are relevant to business owners – because that’s the demographic of their clientele.
 
You’ve got a choice here to present news about your company/product, broader news and analysis that may be of interest to your client, or some combination of both. There’s no right or wrong approach, so go with the one that you think will appeal to your base the most.
 
Let Your Blog Publish Your Monthly Newsletter For You
 
The biggest hurdle to sending a monthly newsletter is often having quality information to share, but you’ve already got that!
 
Here’s my big shortcut: You can use the recent content of your blog to automatically generate your e-mail newsletter for you. This means that after the initial setup, there’s exactly ZERO work required of you each month. How cool is that?
 
To make this automation happen, set up an “RSS Driven Campaign” that delivers an e-mail to your blog membership list on a monthly basis. First, set up an e-mail template and format it as you’d like with a Subject Line, Title, and so on. Then, plug in the RSS address of your Blog … and voila! The e-mail newsletter will be generated automatically based on the blog posts you wrote over the last month.
 
Finally, Let New Clients Find You
 
Now that you’re publishing quality articles on a regular basis, and your clients are devouring your expertise, it’s time to make this knowledge available to potential clients as well. Good news: thanks to the Internet, you already did!
 
After time, by searching or cross-links or referrals, potential clients will find their way to your blog. From here, you have two goals:
 
1.    Prompt them to subscribe to your monthly newsletter.
2.    Tell them what you do and how they can contact you.
 
By getting them to subscribe to your monthly newsletter (which automatically contains your informative and engaging blog posts), you’re going to stay in front of them every month. This is a very good thing.
 
Make sure you have an e-mail signup form available in an obvious spot on your blog. The best place is the upper-right hand corner. Include some friendly text – something like “Please subscribe to our monthly newsletter here.” If your blog posts are good, you will get subscribers to sign up.
 
Then, make sure you periodically include a brief description of yourself and your firm – a “soft sell,” if you will. You’re generously sharing your knowledge and expertise, so make sure you’re there to capitalize on potential new business!
 
Examples of CPA Firm Blogs
 
Part of this listing of some of the more popular CPA firm blogs was originally published in The CPA Technology Advisor (now CPA Practice Advisor). It is a good start to review some of the various ways your colleagues are blogging. Also, as recommended in the article, try searching for content-specific blogs through Google BlogSearch and also through CPABlogger, an aggregator that tracks CPA and accounting-related blogs.
 
Bordeaux and Bordeaux CPAs – Beancounter ramblings
Brian Tankersley – CPA technology blog
ConvergenceCoaching – Inspired ideas
TickMarks – Dan Meyer’s blog
FromGregsHead – Greg Price’s blog on technology-related issues
SpeedTax – Blog for SpeedTax software
TaxMama – Eva Rosenberg’s blog
TaxGirl – Kelly Phillips Erb’s blog
ATaxingMatter – Linda Beal’s blog
The Tax Lady Blog – Roni Deutsch’s blog
 
About the Author
Brett Owens is CEO and Co-Founder of Chrometa, a Sacramento, CA-based provider of time management software that accurately records and reports back how you spend your time. Previously marketed to only the legal community, Chrometa is branching out to accounting prospects. Gains include the ability to discover previously undocumented billable time, saving time on billing reconciliation, and improving personal productivity. Brett is also a blogger and founder at ContraryInvesting.com, as well as a regular contributor to two financial media sites, SeekingAlpha.com and Minyanville.
 
 

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