CPA Firm Marketing
While most accountants want to grow their accounting practice so their practice is worth more when they decide to retire, they typically lack the time, skills and desire needed to grow aggressively.
- Lack the Time – Most accountants get sucked into the operational side (back end) of their practice by staff and demanding clients. We all know that the squeaky wheel gets greased. As a result, accountants typically lack the time to aggressively market and generate enough leads.
- Skills – Let’s face it, accountants are technically proficient but not marketing savvy. The road to becoming proficient at accounting and tax has nothing to do with lead generation, reputation management, and branding.
- Desire – And worst, most accountants simply don’t have the desire to proactively market their own practice. They enjoy operating in a consultative manner but hate marketing.
Why Is Outsourced Marketing growing within the accounting industry?
For most accountants, the market value of their accounting practice is the most important component of their retirement plan. That’s right, the value of their accounting practice on the open market is the linchpin to how prosperous their retirement years will be.
Here are some of the other reasons why more accounting firms are outsourcing their marketing:
- Hiring marketing people is expensive. A competent marketer commands a six figure compensation package which is not feasible for most accounting firms.
- Partnering with marketing experts yields better results because they have much more experience testing which methodologies work, and which are worthless. This eliminates the need to throw spaghetti up against the wall and test everything under the sun. Savvy accountants would rather use a proven system to grow quicker.
- By partnering with marketing gurus, my practice will become easier to sell, more profitable and worth a higher multiple. It’s not about doing more of the same thing, it’s about improving our profit margins, hourly realization rates and obtaining a better balanced lifestyle.
- Hiring a marketing firm provides me with access to several different experts to better avoid problems and be more efficient with my time.
Why Do Accounting Firms Stick with Outsourced Marketing?
The business model for outsourced marketing within the accounting industry works. And because it works, accountants are now using outsourced marketing for 5-15 years to develop practices that are worth more on the open market, transition the practice from a job into a business, and make more money.
Said another way, the average accounting practice is typically worth 1.2 – 1.3 times gross revenues. And the cost to acquire $100,000 in revenues is approximately 0.5 – 0.6 times gross revenues, sometimes lower. Essentially, outsourced marketing enables savvy accountants to acquire new business at a 50-70% discount to the market value. This gap between the cost to acquire and sell has motivated many accountants to continue enhance their retirement nest egg for 5-15 years.
And if the practice operates at higher profit margins, then the multiple for this practice can be 1.3 – 1.7 times gross revenues because the profitability is higher. That’s right, a practice that operates at profit margins of 50-70% will command a higher multiple than a 30% profit margin accounting practice. The math is simple.
Build Your Firm’s Outsourced Marketing Program
Build Your Firm is the leader within the accounting industry for outsourced marketing and lead generation because our system is more effective, sustainable, and makes your accounting practice worth more on the open market. And, it works with a wider array of accounting practices.
The core components of the program provide:
- Training – At the onset, BYF’s program provides training on marketing, practice management and selling effectiveness.
- Coaching – Throughout the program, BYF’s is your coach and partner through the myriad of business challenges.
- Tangible Results – Our program is bottom-line focused. If the results are attained, we both will want to continue for 5-15 years. If the results are below expectations, we both will want to end the relationship. This win/win approach is why over 75% of firms continue beyond the initial program duration.
And like any professional, our wisdom and expertise gets better over time.
Million Dollar Example
Recently, we had an accounting client start from scratch and then grew to $1 million dollars in six years. And while on the surface that may sound hard to believe, this person managed to do with taking 8-10 weeks of vacation each summer. My gut instinct is that the next $1 million will be attained in less than four years.
If you are ready to turn up the volume on building your accounting practice, consider outsourcing your marketing for Build Your Firm. Let more by watching what accountants around the country are saying.
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.
In 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:
Real 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 doing 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, oral 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.
In 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
Because 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 – 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.
As many accountants are preparing for the upcoming busy season and have completed tax planning for their business clients, many overlook one easy tactic to grow their accounting practice. And it costs you nothing. That is asking your clients to post reviews about your accounting and tax services online.
If you stop and think about it, now is a wonderful time of the year to ask 10-20 of your business clients to kindly complete a review of your services on Google+, Intuit’s QuickBooks Find-a-ProAdvisor, and Yelp. Right now, you are a hero to most of your business clients because you’ve provided them with guidance on the steps necessary to avoid tax surprises in March. In return, you now should ask them to kindly help you too by providing a review or two.
I suggest 10-20 because you will want a few fresh, favorable reviews going into busy season. And, some of your clients will do nothing, which is par for the course.
Online reviews give prospective clients the confidence to choose your practice over competitive firms. And, they can improve your visibility on the internet. Now is the ideal time to ask your loyal clients to post 1-2 reviews about your accounting firm so others can learn about it in the months ahead. Just do it.