When it comes to marketing during busy season, the common complaint amongst
smaller firms is “I don’t have time to market during tax season.”
During crunch time in a small practice, tax and accounting professionals find
themselves challenged with serving the needs of existing clients, managing the
office operationally, encouraging clients to get their work in early, managing
staff, meeting with clients, and reviewing the quality of the work. As a result,
generating leads using marketing becomes one more item on the endless “to
do” list. That’s one way of thinking about marketing.
those practitioners who want to continuously improve the quality of their clientele
and improve the practice, marketing is and must become a habitual activity in
the practice. Otherwise, the practitioner will find himself/herself constantly
applying grease to the squeaky wheel in a knee jerk, reactive mode.
Here are five proven marketing tips that require very little lead-time to
1. Grass roots marketing — Shotgun your message locally.
Make every effort possible to get your message out right now. While your tactics
may vary depending on the size of your practice, grass roots marketing efforts
include signage, sandwich boards, local bulletin boards, e-mail networks, craigslist
postings, car signage, incenting staff members to bring in clients, and paying
someone to hold a sign in front of your office. Yes, I understand that some
of these tactics may make you cringe, but rationalize this by telling yourself
it’s just temporary.
2. Create a referral program — Proactively encourage
your existing clients to recommend your services to friends of theirs. While
this may sound hokey, you might want to create a sweepstakes for your clients
who refer clients to you whereby each referral earns them an entry to win a
large ticket prize (e.g., large screen TV, vacation package at a time share
property, etc.). In fact, some of your clients may have their own vehicles (e.g.,
blogs, e-mail newsletters, etc.) to make their clients aware of your services.
3. Develop a top 20 hit list — Over the past year or
so, you probably met with tons of prospects for your firm services. Develop
a list of the 20 best prospects who considered your services over the past year.
Personally reach out to them and persuade them to reconsider your firm. Send
them a letter and then an e-mail, and make a phone call to ask to meet briefly
for coffee. Seek to close a couple of these over the next 60 days.
4. Take full advantage of website marketing — The Internet
is a wonderful opportunity to market your firm services to total strangers and
educate your existing clients about the range of services you provide. If you
have a website that is well constructed so it can be found on the search engines
(e.g., search engine optimized), this is a wonderful way to attract new business.
5. E-mail newsletter — To keep your firm top-of-mind
during tax season and draw in some of your fence sitters, I strongly recommend
sending out an e-mail newsletter (e-newsletter) that drives readers to your
website. With integrated e-newsletter solutions that leading website providers
offer, this can be completed in less than 15 to 20 minutes each month.
Marketing and improving the quality of your practice should be job one during
busy season. Incorporate these five proven tips into your marketing plans, and
you will be pleasantly surprised.
Hugh Duffy is co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer for Build
Your Firm (www.buildyourfirm.com),
a leading practice development firm dedicated to the accounting industry and
profession. Build Your Firm works with small accounting firms providing accounting
marketing, practice management and website development services. Hugh has 25
years of marketing experience and holds an MBA degree in Marketing from the
University of Rochester.