A CPA represents professionalism, ethics and intelligence, but it’s still important to take control of your image and tell your personal story in a way that makes you unforgettable.
Now, this isn’t the same as storytelling, which, for me, conjures images of my uncle at the Thanksgiving table with his arms stretched wide, telling of the fish that got away. As a CPA, I never found it advantageous to undermine my professional credibility with exaggerations or dramatic flair. Yet, we want to leave a memorable impression when meeting prospective clients or even in casual conversation.
Why You Need a Personal Story
Don’t think of your story as a sales pitch. Your services speak for themselves. Rather, it’s a way to connect personally with a prospective client, current client, fellow CPA or a partner in your center of influence.
Similar to an elevator pitch, your story is your 30-second spiel on why you are worth someone’s time. It might tell people:
- Why you became an accountant
- Why you became an accountant who specializes in personal financial planning
- What drives you to serve your clients
- Why your clients choose to work with you instead of someone else
- What the most difficult part of your job is
- A time you knew you had made a difference
By the end of your story, your listener is so lifted they want to get to know you more. That is the end goal.
But how do you get started?
When crafting your story, answer the three questions below. These help your narrative flow naturally.
Why Do You Do What You Do?
First paragraph: explain why you started your practice or joined your firm or what gets you jazzed in three concise, no-jargon sentences.
Most people start their story with what they do or what services they offer. They may then articulate some benefits the client gets.
When you reverse it and start with the “why,” you’re instantly connecting. And in an increasingly competitive and saturated space, a connection is what is going to encourage the prospect to contact you rather than a competitor.
How Does This Help Your Client?
Second paragraph: link the “why” with how this will benefit the listener.
The “how” should fall into place with the “why.” You may want to talk about why you started your firm or the root of your passion to be an accountant.
This is a good place to mention your niche, or the type of clients your practice specializes in. You know the needs of your niche, so let that shine.
Stay away from grocery-listing problems or solutions. Focus on one, maybe two, ways you can make their lives better.
What Do You Offer?
Spill the beans. Tell them about your services.
Services can be your main service package, your pricing model, special technology platforms or excellent client support. The options are endless, but focus on a service that makes you unique. Make sure it links with the why and how of your story.
What Do You Do with Your Story?
Keep your story on the tip of your tongue so you’re ready to tell it when someone asks “So, what do you do?”
Your written story can be incorporated into your online presence:
- LinkedIn profile
- About page on your website
- Bio on the team page
- Facebook page
- CPA registration websites
The busy season may not be the best time to write your story. Then again, for your mental health, it may be an ideal time to remember why you got into this profession.
Take some creative time at home or on a lunch break to brainstorm why you do what you do. Mold an image of who you are and why you’re amazing at your job. Remember to write about you, your true self. There’s no need to stretch the truth.
Be you, and it will come through when you connect with a prospect.
About Erica Gellerman
Erica Gellerman, CPA, is the co-founder of The Worth Project Consulting. A boutique content marketing firm who helps CPAs and financial advisors differentiate themselves and build trust with the right messaging, copy, and content. After working as a CPA, she earned her MBA from Duke University and transitioned to a career in marketing with P&G. After leaving the world of big business, she’s enjoyed helping solo-practitioners and businesses craft the right messaging and compelling content that builds the foundation of trust and expertise in their business.