Did you know that the custom of setting resolutions for the year ahead actually began in Rome? When the Romans selected the month of January to be the start of the New Year, they named it after Janus, the two-faced god who looks backward to the old year and forward to the new. This set the stage for a tradition that has lasted through modern times.
Today's most popular resolutions frequently include to become more fit (including quitting smoking or drinking), to spend more time with family, to enjoy life more, to get out of debt, to help others, and to learn something new.
While these often get tossed aside as quickly as they're committed to paper, nonetheless, there are some easy-to-follow New Year's resolution that every CPA can follow – in any firm, of any size. They're practical and achievable, and once you've begun the process of embracing these ideas, you'll probably see a difference in your attitude toward client service and business development!
Top Ten Marketing Resolutions for CPAs
1. Write a plan for yourself. Be sure not to shortcut the process. Go through all the steps to identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities that may prevail, and threats you need to be mindful of. By doing this, can you successfully get off to a meaningful start.
2. Adopt the plan and be more structured in your approach to marketing. Use an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of your initiatives and hold yourself accountable.
3. Be consistent in your approach. Don't start and stop as the mood strikes or as free time allows. Keep at it for results to pay off – even when it's not convenient to do so.
4. Use the hours around your typical day (e.g., breakfast and dinner) to meet with clients and colleagues if you're too busy throughout the day to do so.
5. Identify different A or B clients – every other week or once a month – and invite them to participate in an informal, one-hour, non-chargeable meeting with you designed so you can help them by being more proactive and learning firsthand about their deepest concerns. The hour you invest will be well worth it in the long run as you identify new opportunities and find new ways to add value.
6. Make important introductions. Clients, business owners, and centers of influence all appreciate when you help them connect to other essential and relevant professionals. Helping them will help you, by emphasizing your concern and demonstrating the depth of your resources.
7. Read the local newspaper – including the online version. Look to see which reporters are covering the business beat and introduce yourself (their bylines typically include an e-mail address). Reach out and see how you can provide assistance. Don't make it all about you; turn the conversation around to ensure that it's all about them. Who do they need to talk to? What interesting local trends do they need to know about? When you're not selfish, but rather focus on being a help, the media will come back to you time and again, and you'll soon enjoy a powerful relationship that's mutually beneficial.
8. Update your LinkedIn profile. Recognize that people are visiting LinkedIn with growing regularity. When you're speaking somewhere, writing an article, or attending an event, post the details to let others in the community know how engaged you are. It's OK to brag about doing well!
9. Join one business group in the coming year that focuses on the specific audience you serve most effectively and regularly. This can be an industry target, such as retail, nonprofit, manufacturing, or construction, or it can be a functional group, such as a human resource organization where you may meet decision makers who can help you grow your employee benefit plan audit group. Wherever you choose to invest your time, be wise about the decision and be prepared to roll up your sleeves and get involved. If you just hang around the periphery, you'll be wasting your time as well as the dues dollars or meeting fees you spend. To have an impact, be ready to be "present."
10. Lastly, set a goal to meet someone new each week. Ask clients, friends, neighbors, partners in your firm, bankers, financial planners, and attorneys to help you with this. In short, tell all the people you trust and with whom you already have a strong relationship that you want to meet new people and create situations where you can add value to them and they can add value to you. Then offer to do the same for those who helped you make the new connections.
These ten resolutions don't seem all that hard – do they? You don't have to starve yourself, work out for hours in the fitness center, or give up your favorite glass of wine. Those are all terrific suggestions, but I would love to see you give these ten ideas a try and see what happens!
About the author:
Sally Glick, CMO, principal, Sobel & Co, LLC, brings the experience and insights she has gained during her more than thirty years in the profession. She has spent her career working as a marketing consultant assisting a wide range of CPA firms across the country. At Sobel & Co., she has responsibility for the firm's marketing communications and its focus on business development.