Accounting Marketing

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Dental CPA Summit – Strengthening Your Niche Capabilities

Logo - PNGTo improve upon our dental practice coaching capabilities and strengthen our niche offerings, the Dental Accounting Association will be headed to San Diego immediately after tax season.  All members of the Dental Accounting Association will be in attendance sharing best practices and hearing first hand from dental industry experts on dental practice management, fraud prevention, dental practice benchmarking, profit improvement techniques and legal challenges for dental practice owners.

AAO AnnualImmediately following the Dental CPA Summit on dental practice coaching, we will attend the American Association of Orthodontists Annual from April 22nd to April 25th meeting prospective orthodontists from North America.  The trade show is expected to attract 15,000 orthodontists into the San Diego Convention Center.  The Dental Accounting Association will have a booth that will be collaboratively staffed by members of the Dental Accounting Association (all independently owned CPAs).

The Dental Accounting Association is a collaborative group of CPA Firms that are focused on tax savings, practice benchmarking and profit improvement for dentists.  Each member of the Dental Accounting Association provides fixed fees (no hourly billing) and works with the dental specialists such as:

Dental Room

Dental Practice Management Coaches

Dental Law Firms

Dental Transition Brokers

Dental Practice Real Estate 

Dental Loan Providers

In fact, our keynote speaker for the Dental CPA Summit is Patrick Wood, founder of the largest dental law firm in the United States, Wood & Delgado.  Patrick will be providing a Dental Legal Update so all Dental Accounting Association members understand the changing legal landscape for dental practice owners.

 

Outsourced Marketing for CPA Accountants

All members of the Dental Accounting Association are independent CPA Firms scattered throughout North America.  Each member CPA Firm works with Build Your Firm (BYF) in the Outsourced Marketing Program.  BYF has been providing Outsourced Marketing and Coaching for over twelve years and is the leader within the accounting industry for outsourced marketing and lead generation programs.   This Dental CPA Summit is the second annual in-person meeting and is supplemented by regular educational webinars throughout the year.

To learn more about BYF’s Outsourced Marketing comprehensive system, visit our Outsourced Marketing video library.  BYF’s Outsourced Marketing Program extends well beyond the dental and medical industry.

International Tax Alliance for Multinational Businesses

Intl Tax AllianceThe International Tax Practitioners just relaunched their online presence and continues to expand their global footprint.

The international tax global alliance dates back to 2013 and consists of independent accountants and tax lawyers who are focused on international taxation as goods and services become more global in nature.

If you are searching for international taxation guidance, then this website is well worth investigating.

Intl Tax Alliance Flags

CPA Accounting Firms for Lawyers and Attorneys

Law Firm 2Just like there are all kinds of law firms and specialties, the same applies to the CPA Firms.  There are generalists and then there are specialists who provide additional expertise to law firms.  Below are examples of CPA Accounting Firms that focus on the legal industry and provide additional guidance to

Law Firm Accounting and IOLTA Compliance – Maryland CPA – Graber and Associates – Graber and Associates has operated since 1993.  They have two offices locations to better service lawyers throughout Baltimore, Annapolis and greater Maryland.

Law Firm Accounting – New York City CPA – Mark Feinsot CPA services law firms throughout the Tri-State region of New York.  They have two offices in New York City.  Mark has been a CPA for over twenty years.

Law Firm Accounting – Chicago – 1st Chicago Accounting services law firms throughout Chicago.  They have three office locations to conveniently service busy law firms.

More examples of law firm accounting websites designed by Build Your Firm.

Law Firm3

Restaurant Accounting and Tax Compliance

RestaurantRestaurant businesses constantly juggle staff turnover, inventory management, and operating costs in order to stay profitable and ahead of the competitive pack.  In fact, today’s competition is not only the newest restaurant in town but it often means competing against food trucks and food delivery (Uber, Amazon, and Google).

To help restaurants make better decisions, minimize taxes and avoid compliance issues, the savvy restaurateurs align themselves with CPA Firms that specialize in the food and beverage industry rather than the closest CPA Firm nearby.  With today’s technology, specialized advice trumps location when it comes choosing the right CPA Firm for your business.

Restaurant - bar imageHere are several CPA Firms that specialize in the food service industry and work with all types of restaurants, bars and hotels.

1. CPA Accounting for Restaurants – Florida Panhandle – Pensacola – Turner CPA works with all formats within the food and beverage industry.  Tallahassee to Pensacola and Alabama as well.

2.  CPA Accounting for Restaurants – Indianapolis – Garrison Sims CPA works with independently owned restaurants, franchises, catering, bars and brew pubs throughout Indiana.

3. CPA Accounting for Restaurants in Long Island NY – James Castaldo CPA & Associates works with restaurants, bars, brew pubs and hotels across Long Island.  They understand the need to limit costs, minimize compliance issues, and financial reporting requirements to help your business operate more competitively.

4. Hospitality Accounting in Georgia – Roe CPA works with hotels, golf clubs, restaurants and bars throughout Georgia and understands the needs and demands for various hospitality formats.  In some cases, a focus on internal controls is key and others need to focus on operating costs.

5. Restaurant Accounting in Northern California – Chahal & Associates works with franchise restaurants, family owned restaurants, hotels and bars across the Bay area.

6. Restaurant Accounting in Houston TX – Mike C Manoloff PC is a leading CPA Firm for restaurants, bars and nightclubs in Houston providing restaurant accounting, tax and payroll services.

7.  Hospitality Accounting for Restaurants, Bars and Hotels in Atlanta GA – Delerme CPA works with all types of restaurants, lodging and night clubs throughout Atlanta.

More custom design examples of restaurant accounting websites.

Rest Acctg4 - video

 

Oil and Gas Accounting Expertise

Oil Gas CPAThe petroleum industry has been steadily rebounding and has been a primary economic driver in Texas.

However, accounting for the oil and gas sector requires additional expertise and decades of experience.   That’s why many energy businesses in Texas reach out to McKinnon Patten CPA.  McKinnon Patten has been helping oil and gas clients for over fourty years, which very few CPA Firms can say.

To be a long term player in the oil patch, you need to balance risk and uncertainty.  That’s why experience in a dynamically changing marketplace is imperative.  The original founder of McKinnon Patten CPA was a roustabout in West Texas oil fields and later served as a senior executive in Sun Oil Company.  The oil patch permeates all aspects of the CPAs at McKinnon Patten.

If you are searching for additional guidance from your CPA Firm and would like additional connections to open doors, contact Mark at 214-696-1922.

 

 

 

 

What’s Wrong with Your Sales Process?

The sales process can be arduous when you have a steady flow of leads coming into your office and plenty of existing work sitting on your desk.  Between the appointments that stand you up and unproductive consultations, many accountants get discouraged with the process and wonder how to perfect it.

Conceptually, the sales process is an upside down funnel (a.k.a. inverted pyramid) that has several layers which lead-gen-funnelyour prospects must go through.  In other words, you start with a wide base of leads and the prospects work way down the funnel to a tiny spout at the bottom when you close clients and bring them into your practice.

Much to my surprise, most small accounting firms struggle with separating the wheat from the chaff (e.g., qualifying leads), how long it takes close prospects, and then wonder why diamonds are not dropping thru the spout of the funnel.

Breaking your sales process into individual steps makes it much easier for non-sales professionals to appreciate how the process (or dance) works.  Below is an illustration of twelve steps that you can take to capture more diamonds.

Step 1 – Define your target audience into monthly buckets – Rather than target businesses based on proximity to your office location, target businesses by industry sector (e.g., restaurants, lawyers, manufacturing, wineries, etc.).

field-of-dreamStep 2 – Build your “field of dream” – To establish yourself as a subject matter expert, develop a niche website which establishes your firm as having an expertise within an industry.  Build a compelling story to address their pain points.  To overcome their skepticism, acquire certifications and/or become a member of an association which gives them the confidence to hire your firm over their current “generalist” accountant.  In other words, the niche website should become the needle in the haystack they are searching for…

Step 3 – Craft a targeted message – Develop a direct mail letter that speaks to your target audience.  You want a letter that is compelling and identifies with the problem that keeps the prospect up at night and how your service helps to solve this problem.  The most effective message will have emotion and passion wrapped into the letter, not industry jargon.

Step 4 – Send a follow up message – Develop another letter that builds upon your first letter.  If need be, break the target audience into sub-targets (e.g., break general construction into HVAC, electricians, painters, roofers/siders, etc.).  Craft a letter targeting this specific subsegment (e.g., HVAC/plumbers), not to the general construction industry.  Hit this audience 3-5 times within a six month period.

Step 5 – Qualify ALL leads generated – As the leads come into your office, ALL leads must be pre-qualified by answering a series of questions before you agree to a meeting.  Start the selling process on the phone before meeting in person.

Step 6 – Add ALL prospects to your LinkedIn profile – Add each new lead to your LinkedIn profile.

Step 7 – Add ALL leads to your email newsletter list – All existing clients and prospects should be getting your email newsletter.  This will add value to your relationship and educate them on the breath and depth of your services and keep your firm top of mind.  Even if they don’t come on board after your initial consultation, keep them on the list.  They may come on board many months later or refer someone to you.

Step 7 – Keep a running list of all leads generated and status on a spreadsheet – Every lead that comes into your office should be recorded onto one spreadsheet with the source of the lead, date, contact info, service requested, quote, and next steps.

Step 8 – Send follow-up letters to promising leads from 1-3 months ago – For those consultations that are pending and getting cold, it’s time to warm them up and send them a letter that keeps them luke warm.  Customize it around their situation and why they should get started now.

Step 9 – Call the luke warm prospects again – Make a follow-up phone call to your prospects that are still on the fence (e.g., prospects you met 2-6 months ago).  Try to identify why they haven’t taken a step forward and address their fear.  Try to make the move risk free for them and address their inertia.  Get them to take a baby step forward.

Step 10 – Invite the old prospects to meet you for coffee – Send an email and invite the fence sitters from 6-12 months ago to coffee.  Create a compelling reason to get together and mention that you have something to share with them (e.g., free book or special report) that is relevant to their business and can help them improve the quality of their life.  Soften up the approach and use the meeting as a vehicle to discuss their business in this economy.  Operate like a business coach trying to help them oversee their business, not an accountant.

Step 11 – Send invitations to clients and prospects for upcoming events – Create a prospect event that is informational in nature.  For some events, you can be the presenter and others can be done by outside professionals.  The more you make the event specific to their industry, the better off you will be in getting them to attend.

My point is that the selling process is ongoing because some prospects take 1-3 years to close while others are instantaneous.  Yes, the courting process takes ongoing effort to remain top of mind and overcome their inertia.  The challenge is to recognize that the process is not transactional, it’s evolutionary and takes a series of steps to capture more than your fair share of new business.

Marketing Is Not a Department

marketing-deptIn small businesses, marketing is what YOUR business is all about. That’s right, there is no such thing as a marketing department in a small business.

Yes, I fully understand that marketing is not your forte and most accountants hate marketing.  However, marketing is the heart of every successful business.  And if you do it well, your business will grow easily each and every year despite the overall economy.  Quite frankly, marketing enables you to continuously improve the “quality” of your practice and grow at the pace you desire.

Marketing is the responsibility of each business owner, regardless of the industry.  And when done well, shrewd business owners turn their employees into marketing evangelists, to spread the word and generate word-of-mouth advertising and referrals.

To give you a classic example of grass roots marketing, think about Harley Davidson in the early 1980’s and the phenomenal turnaround they accomplished against competitors like Kawasaki, Honda, and Yamaha who were underpricing Harley and providing higher quality motorcycles.  While Harley made enormous investments to improve their manufacturing operations and product quality, they were facing the fight of their lifetime to stay in business.  Their advertising budget was zero from 1984 to 1996.   However, they created a groundswell of support by creating the Harley Owners Group (HOG) and creating a sense of community.  Using newsletters and club magazines, they managed to grow from one HOG chapter in 1983 to over 1,300 chapters around the world (over 750,000 members).

Keep in mind, I don’t ride a motorcycle but this is truly a classic example of using grass roots marketing to help a company turn around their business.

To improve the quality of your accounting practice, embrace marketing holistically and turn your employees into evangelists.  Marketing is what YOUR business is all about!

 

How to Make It Rain: Four Tips to Increase Your Close Ratio

dale-carnegieDale Carnegie may have been the first person to say that people buy on emotion by saying, “When dealing with people, let us remember, we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.”

 

Over past few decades, many behavioral economists and marketing gurus said that we do buy emotionally, and then subsequently rationalize our purchase decision. The challenge is knowing how to use the proper techniques to connect with your prospects in a fashion that captivates their emotional desires, and compels them to do business with you and your firm.

 

To become a successful rainmaker for your accounting practice, you have to differentiate yourself from the competition, and tap into your prospects pain points and emotional needs. Marketing and sales gurus refer to this technique as need-based selling, solution selling and/or customer centric selling.

 

rainmakerIn a nutshell, the rainmaker focuses on the needs of the prospect by asking probing questions, listening intently to the prospects responses while showing empathy with the prospects pain, and then connecting the benefits of your firm’s services to alleviate their pain while articulating the benefits (e.g., less stress, fewer headaches and ROI). When done effectively, the accountant will be able to evolve toward consultative selling by establishing trust earlier in the process.

 

Here are four tips for deploying this approach so you can become more effective generating new business:

  • interviewTreat the initial dialogue with the prospect more like an interview – Your initial meeting should focus on understanding your prospect’s business situation, listening more than talking, and then illustrating how your firm is unique and can eliminate the pains they’ve been experiencing. With the right questions, many prospects will walk right into the sale.
  • Keep it conversational – Although you’ve probably got a script and process for selling, approach your prospect in a conversational tone. Seek to understand before trying to be understood.
  • Connect the attributes of your service to benefits – Rather than just focusing on the types of services you offer, paint them a picture that explains what’s in it for them. Whether those benefits are lower taxes for a more comfortable lifestyle, outsourcing their accounting so they have fewer employees to manage, or reducing the risk of an IRS audit, which can be expensive, time consuming and full of sleepless nights.
  • Offer solutions that save them time – Assume your customers are busy like you are during tax season. Offer solutionsthem solutions to work with your practice virtually and avoid the hassles of making appointments to meet with you.

Unbundle Your Message To Attract More Leads..

unbundle

Have you considered “unbundling” your marketing message to attract more leads?

Over the past ten years, many industries have begun unbundling their services into smaller bite size nuggets to generate more inquiries for their services.  Sometimes, this change is forced upon them and other times, it’s opportunistic to generate that initial discussion, which leads into multiple engagements down the road.

 

Unbundling has been huge for the music industry.  In the olden ages, the music industry would bundle together a batch of songs (e.g., album) and sell the bundle for higher price.  With the digital age, songs are now unbundled and purchased a la carte.  As a result, the barriers between music artists and genres has lowered thus creating over 1,000 bewildering microgenres.

In the restaurant business, have you found yourself getting sucked into ordering tapas which end up costing you more than buying one comprehensive entrée?  This is what unbundling your services can accomplish for your accounting practice.

To illustrate my point, have you considered delivering your services in the comprehensive manner that you’ve always done but also offering them in smaller pieces?  In other words, breaking a full service, comprehensive set of “we do it all” generalist message  into smaller micro websites which break the message into smaller, more meaningful  a la carte pieces.

gomze-logoIn addition to your main website which communicates you are a CPA Firm in Raleigh serving all types of businesses, have you developed micro websites which break your marketing message into smaller bite site messages which make it appear that your firm is dedicated to a certain type of client who is searching for more expertise?  Here are examples all from one accounting firm:

gomez-real-estateReal Estate Accounting – This website is designed to attract property management, real estate developers and construction firms.  It paints a picture for the prospect that we understand real estate accounting so the prospect is more inclined to call Gomez CPA.

 

 

International Tax – This website is designed to attract interest from companies outside of the US gomez-base-webdoing business in the Raleigh Durham area ranging from manufacturing, import export, to distribution businesses of all types.  It also generates leads from expatriates and local residents with more complex filing requirements (e.g., foreign bank accounts, multinationals, etc.) seeking international tax expertise.

Dental Practices – This website is designed to attract leads from pediatric dentists, orthodontists, gomez-dentaloral surgeons, and general dentistry across North Carolina.  The visual images and content are focused on dental practices who are looking for a Dental CPA Firm.

 

 

 

Try the best of both worlds to maximize your lead generation.  That’s right, you can position yourself as both a local generalist with the one stop shopping approach, and also break your message into smaller bite size pieces like tasty tapas.

Developing a 5 Star Online Reputation

5-star-reviewsIn today’s online world, 85% of consumers say that they read online reviews about local businesses as part of their decision making process.  Whether this is looking online for a movie, restaurant, contractor or hiring an accountant, we all use online reviews to lower our risk of a bad experience.

There are review websites that rate contractors, employers, products, doctors, and all kinds of professional services.  These online review websites make the world more transparent for buyers and shoppers of all kinds.  Eventually, it will be very hard to hide underneath the online review radar screen.

Focus Your Efforts

Yelp reviewsBecause obtaining reviews takes a concerted effort, we recommend that you focus your efforts on the review websites that will give you the highest return.  Typically, this means trying to obtain reviews from your clients in Google, Yelp, and Intuit Find-a-ProAdvisor.  We would recommend skipping things like Angie’s List, Judy’s Book, and smaller review websites.  For our industry, they just don’t have enough market share to support the effort.

What Is Taboo

The review websites take reviews to heart and go the extra mile to protect their brand.  For example, Yelp actually reviews nearly all of your reviews and looks for patterns to filter out fake reviews.  Google looks at your IP address to see if the review is the same IP address as the business and filters this out.  Here are some of the things that are taboo in this new online review world:

  • Placing testimonials on my website – In today’s jaded world, most website prospects will tend to ignore your carefully crafted testimonials on your website.  That’s because most realize that you ignore the negative reviews, only show the positive reviews, and probably wrote the review for your client.  Quite frankly, negative reviews often are very enlightening and helps the buyer more than you realize.  For example, Amazon has made this into a major selling point for their online reviews (e.g., best/worst review).
  • Asking clients for reviews – Yelp has a policy of discouraging businesses from asking clients to post happy reviews.  One way that they spot this is if your accounting firm has 0 reviews for years and then all of a sudden, gets a few in one day.  To avoid getting filtered out, space out your reviews over time so they appear more organic.  However, it is fine to make customers aware that you encourage their feedback and online reviews.  Yes, this is a subtle difference.
  • Fake reviews – This is a major no no and has consequences.  In 2013, Samsung was fined over $340,000 for building fake reviews.  In NYC, there was a major sting operation called Operation Clean Turf and fines totaling over $350,000 were dished out to 19 companies for fake Yelp reviews.

Process We Recommend

The process for Google, Yelp and Intuit are very different.  Below is my recommendation on how you can proceed down this path and develop a 5 star reputation online.  I will assume that your back office is worthy of 5 star reviews and seldom has complaints.

  • Local Listings – To obtain reviews, you must “claim” your business in Google and Yelp.
  • Google – To obtain reviews in Google, the person posting the review must have a Google account of some kind (e.g., Gmail, Google+, etc.) to authenticate who they are.  While a pain, we all have to play by Google’s rules given their market share.  Their intentions are valid because they want to validate your identity before posting your online review on their review service.
  • yelp-reviews-chahalYelp – Given the filtering process that Yelp has created to weed out suspicious reviews, we recommend posting a few reviews of your favorite restaurants.  After posting 3-4 online reviews, then you should post online reviews for business clients that you genuinely support and recommend.  Pace this out gradually at say 3-4 per day.  Start with business clients that will appreciate this the most like restaurants, retail outlets, fitness trainers, subcontractors, etc.  In other words, pay your clients a compliment forward by scratching their back before asking them to reciprocate for your accounting practice.
  • Intuit Find-a-ProAdvisor – If you want more QB clients, then create a profile within Intuit’s Find-a-ProAdvisor website fully and support the profile by obtaining QB Certifications.  Then, create a list of satisfied QB clients.  These reviews will be the easiest to get posted.

Having a solid online reputation generates leads, increases your conversion rate on prospects, and creates word-of-mouth advertising benefits that benefit your practice in ways you never anticipated.

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