You are a CPA in private practice in a large metro area. You are not alone. Licensing records show thousands of CPAs are also competing for business in your market. All the discounters run ads and have prominent storefront locations. How do you raise your visibility?
The task can seem daunting. For example, Birmingham, Alabama has more than 2,500 CPAs. Its population is only 212,000. The market might seem saturated, yet you can approach the challenge from a different direction.
Neighborhoods. Most cities are similar to a collection of small towns. New York City's 8.4 million people are spread across five boroughs, including Brooklyn. These five boroughs account for more than 2.6 million residents who reside in dozens of neighborhoods, including Park Slope with its 65,000-plus population. âThe Slopeâ is further divided into the North, Center, and South Slopes. Even neighborhoods have neighborhoods!
Cultures. As many as 800 languages are spoken in New York City. If your roots are in a different culture, consider building your clientele among people who share your heritage. You understand their values better than the average accountant. Everyone needs to file taxes.
Professions. A major advantage of metro markets can be the concentration of wealth. A city with thousands of CPAs likely contains thousands of physicians, attorneys, and others with tax situations unique to their profession. Specialize. Professionals want to do business with other professionals familiar with their industry.
Generations. Younger people want to make their own mark in the world, not transition into their parents' world as a junior member. Successful younger people often prefer doing business with people their own age. They see recent credentialed graduates are up-to-date on current tax law, more accepting of technology, comfortable with social media, and sharing the same life experiences.
Strategies for Raising Your Visibility in a Big City
Here are nine strategies to raise your visibility in a large metropolis:
1. The right bar. Your clientele is specialized. You focus on attorneys. Large law firms occupy multiple floors in office towers. There's usually a bar off the lobby. Become a regular, visiting for an hour or two most weeknights. Sit at the bar, and watch the game on TV. Chat with the person next to you. Don't push business.
Advantage: You will become one of the regular crowd, most of which happen to be lawyers.
2. Public television. Most big cities have a public television station. The station runs fund drives at least once a year. Volunteers on camera staff the phone bank. Can your firm volunteer as a group? Often, the people on the phone bank wear logoed shirts. Sometimes, a banner is featured on the back wall. The head of the firm is often thanked on camera by the telethon host.
Advantage: It's positive TV exposure at little or no cost.
3. Alumni association. It's likely your school has a concentration of alumni in metro markets. This presents plenty of opportunities. You can speak at monthly alumni luncheons, write for the newsletter, advertise in the magazine, and attend events and network.
Advantage: The school bond can be very strong. When a British firm wants to cultivate a high-net-worth individual as a potential client, the university connection is often the starting point.
4. Neighborhood association. Community and block associations abound. It's a great way to get to know your neighbors. If apartments and homes start around a million dollars, chances are the local residents are in good financial shape. New people move in from time to time.
Advantage: Many people prefer doing business with people they already know.
5. Children's school. Public or private, if you live in a good area, parents are involved at their children's school. This often involves school sports. Become a sideline parent. It's the natural thing to do. Wear tastefully logoed gear to subtly advertise what you do. Get to know the other parents.
Advantage: Even celebrities cheer on their children.
6. Chamber of commerce. The chamber might be overrun with CPAs, but don't assume there's only one chamber. Your city likely features cultural chambers for people from specific backgrounds. Different sections of the city often have their own chamber. Do some Google research. Identify the multiple chambers. Visit the membership directory, and count the accountants.
Advantage: Some people stop looking after discovering the first chamber. Keep digging.
7. Subject-matter expert. Taxation is complicated. TV, radio, and print media need experts to make complex subjects simple. They need resources. Make a list of all the local media outlets, and identify the right contact person from their websites. Write a letter offering your services as an expert in your area of taxes. Provide some examples of the questions you can answer. Stay on their radar screen.
Advantage: Editors work under deadlines. They need easy solutions.
8. âBest ofâ lists. Do local magazines run âReaders' Choiceâ polls? When? How does a business get nominated? If you can get on the list, let your clients know. Show how they can vote. Share this information with your social media network.
Advantage: If you win, display the banner proudly. Maximize the publicity value.
9. Private clubs. City clubs have declined in popularity over the years, yet they still draw an established clientele. Some are easy to join but target the best. Learn what it takes to join. It's a great place to entertain clients, attend events, and meet other members.
Advantage: Clubs are often their own little society. Become part of it.
In metro areas, many professionals are competing for attention. In addition to the obvious strategies, you can cultivate a niche at a reasonable cost.
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.