Is Your Firm Using the Holidays for Marketing?

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By Allan Boress, CPA, CVAThe very essence of successful marketing is continuous contact.

Just pay attention the next time you watch TV. How many times do you have to see the same commercial over again for you to realize what is being advertised and why you should buy it? I must’ve seen the one with the pregnant lady in the pink sweater sitting on a park bench at least 50 times (her pregnant tummy kicks a soccer ball) before I realized it wasn’t something for diapers, or indigestion, but for the March of Dimes.

The CPA firm that successfully markets itself does so not only to people who aren't currently doing business with it, but seeks to be upper-mind in its existing clients' minds. This is vital as when a referral opportunity arises, or when the client is looking to buy a service that the CPA firm might provide, so that the CPA gets the referral and additional business.

A great proportion of new business must come from the firm's existing clients in the manner of buying additional services and referrals. However, it's a marketing fact of life that people refer business to, and buy additional services from, CPAs they like, not just those who are technically proficient or excellent at their work. Many superior CPAs don't receive their share of referrals because they simply are not seen as anything more than an expensive vendor.

Business is relationships.

And people go out of their way not to do business with people who don't actively appreciate their business. Do you enjoy shopping where your business isn't appreciated? Do you give referrals to people you believe will do a good job, like, and will appreciate it?

Showing gratitude to the client and referral source is a sure-fire way to win at the game of marketing, and this is the time of year to do it.

Why This Topic?

The reason I am so adamant about showing gratitude is because it has worked so beautifully in building my own international consulting practice and CPA firm. Positive feelings about you and your firm can only help the client perceive more and higher value from your services.

Every year, starting in November, I carry holiday cards with me almost everywhere I go. When I find a space in time, I write a personal note consisting of two or three paragraphs telling the client or referral source how important they are, what an honor it is to work with them and reinforce the value of what we've accomplished together during the year. The envelope is hand written, as well. This process takes an average of ten minutes per card -- every single client (that we want to keep!) gets one.

Why? Because you never know where your next referral is going to come from. Every person knows about 250 other people that they have influence over. I have received some of my best referrals over the years from "C" clients who perceived and appreciated the value of the services provided to them.

In addition, we send out gifts to our best clients and referral sources. These gifts are selected by classification. Last year we did Harry & David. If you don’t know what that is, google it.

How is this perceived by the client? We receive phone calls, letters, and comments from all over the country in thanks. As we've increased this activity over the years we've tracked additional work sold, referrals received and improved relationships with the recipients. Those gifts not only positively affected the client or referral source, but the WHOLE OFFICE.

Where's your competition on this topic?

Less than 25% of all the 500+ CPA firms we’ve consulted to with over the last 28 years admitted to going out of their way to say thanks to their clients and referral sources. That's your competition -- people who have their noses so buried in their work that they aren't even aware of the importance of these little acts of kindness to building and sustaining a practice.

And, of course, gifts cost money. Need I say more?

Those firms who go the extra mile for their clients and referral sources strongly believe it has a powerful impact on their business building success. It’s the right thing to do and it’s great marketing.

Here’s an “Out-of-the-Box” gift idea for clients or yourself:

Old friend Laura Inge, formerly of the AICPA, has taken her passion of planning trips for visitors to NYC. Laura says, “I always enjoy the challenge of taking visitors beyond Broadway and introducing them to the concerts, dance events, opera, jazz and art that fill the City. She is now proprietor of Check it out and see what your next trip to the Apple should be like!

Getting back to using the holidays for marketing: Here’s what my old friend, marketing guru Chris Frederiksen said about using the holidays for marketing:

"I'm a big believer in gifts! I find that giving a gift at the holidays removes the idea of commercialism One hundred dollars spent on a good referral source translates into thousands the following year."

What are you doing this holiday season to say “Thanks?”

By Allan Boress, CPA, CVA – author of The “I-Hate-Selling” Book, available at


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