Accountants want successful people, like business owners, as clients. Getting them into a room and telling your story seems an efficient way to get your message across. But there's a problem: successful business owners are busy people. High-powered dual income couples have no free time because they are busy raising their high-powered children. CPAs know many of their likely prospects have an attention span of…is there a number less than zero? Maybe you should consider another way.
A successful financial advisor team in the Midwest discovered the people they most wanted to reach were no-shows at seminars and rarely agreed to appointments. They decided to cultivate them with a conference call or webinar format. You might say: "This sounds like a yawn." Well, these folks were good! Their ideas could easily work in your accounting practice, and I'm going to share them with you:
Step One: Identify Executives. They picked a professional organization where they had the right contacts. An association of chief financial officers was one of their groups, for example.
Step Two: Secure Permission. Through their contact they got approval to physically mail the members and invite them onto the call.
Step Three: Great Titling. They didn't organize "seminars"; they held "briefings." These virtual events, or webinar, were "Executive Conference Calls."
Step Four: Choose Engaging Topics. There are several approaches. For example, anxiety gathers interest. Topics like "Addressing Your Fiduciary Responsibility for Pension Plans" gets business owners thinking: "What am I doing to address this risk?"
Step Five: Establishing Contact. They mailed out printed, wedding-style invitations—hand-addressed, when feasible. The wording followed the standard seminar invitation format, except there was no location of course, as everything was virtual. But even with a virtual event, printed invitations demand readers' attention.
Step Six: It Gets Opened. Business letters have a certain look and feel, but event invitations fit into another category. Hand-addressing gets people curious.
Step Seven: Registering Participants. Interested attendees discover they must call a number to get the password required on the day of the call. It's easy for them: They write the code on the face of the invitation. It's easy for the organizers: They gather additional contact information when participants register.
Step Eight: Holding the Call. It starts and ends on time. People are busy, so you don't want to start late or run over.
Step Nine: Follow-up. They used one of two formats. For some of the webinars, they called each participant afterward, answered questions, and sought to schedule appointments. In other events, which were more relaxed, they let people stay on for a casual Q&A even after it was officially over. The organizers followed-up with the most interested people afterwards.
Why Does it Work?
The strategy is simple. You personally get dozens of webinar invitations. Why would this work for you?
- Executives are comfortable with conference calls. It's likely part of their business week, every week. They keep in touch with senior management and stay current with peers.
- No travel. Seminars put executives off because in addition to attending, they must get there somehow. Conference calls eliminate this hassle;
- Relevance. If the call doesn't address their issue, no problem. They quietly drop off the call.
- Distractions. If a problem develops in their office they can drop off the call, resolve it and rejoin the call. No ringing cellphones or slipping out of rooms.
- Inexpensive. The technology is cheap, and the mailing costs are marginal.
Why Doesn't It Work?
Avoid the temptation to cut corners:
- You might skip the organizational permission. Now you are offending people.
- You might mail to random business owners. What common interest binds them? How accurate are the addresses?
- You might skip the printed invitation. Now you are just another e-mail.
- You might use bulk mail to save on postage or use address labels. It's impersonal.
- You might skip the invitation cardstock and send a printed leaflet in a business envelope. Now it's indistinguishable from junk mail.
- You might skip slides and just do an audio call. That's OK, but you add a dimension with slides, graphics, and photos.
- You might skip follow-up. That's the biggest mistake of all.
Where Do You See Your Opportunities?
Why did we like these seminars? Oh yes—we got our name in front of lots of people. They can tell we are smart. We created a positive impression. So what organizations in your life might be a good fit? Alumni association? Homeowners association? Chamber of Commerce? Sure, many wouldn't be a good fit for a technical topic, but what about "Identity Theft" or "Changes in the Tax Laws"?
Remember the key point: executive conference call webinar might get you exposure, but it's the follow-up that gets you clients.
About the author:
Bryce Sanders is president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. in New Hope, Pennsylvania. He provides HNW client acquisition training for the financial services industry. His book "Captivating the Wealthy Investor" can be found on Amazon.com.