The word “marketing” continues to plague firms as an unknown, unfamiliar (and almost ominous) force. The notion that marketing is too hard or takes too much time to execute isn’t reality. The fact is that many firms already have a marketing program in place, because marketing is really just communicating.
Do you send emails to clients when their tax return is ready for review or when there is a significant tax code change? Do you send reminders to clients when forms need to be signed? Does your receptionist greet people in a warm and friendly manner when they enter your office? Do you have at least one printed communication that explains your firm’s services (perhaps a one-page information sheet)? If you answered yes to any of these examples, then you are already marketing…because you are communicating.
This means that you’ve already launched a marketing program, and all you have to do is continue to build upon it.
So, if you are communicating with clients in some fashion, then you already have a communications program in place, right? Right. The question on your mind should no longer be, “How do I start?,” but rather, “How can I expand my program?”
Feel stuck once more? Well, don’t. Expanding communication with clients, and even prospects, is much easier than you might think. There are numerous resources available to help you set up and deliver communications with very little effort. From full-package client magazines and newsletters to the volumes of helpful content on the web, you can easily get your communications program humming along in no time.
Here are a few tips for expanding your communications program right away, and with little effort:
- Send a Client Newsletter or Magazine—This type of communication is scheduled on a regular basis, usually monthly or bi-monthly. If you are worried about developing the content yourself, don’t be. There are many accounting-specific newsletter and magazine services available to you—in both print and digital, whichever you prefer. Some services offer a complete package, which can include a professional client magazine (digital and print), an pre-written email to announce each issue to clients, and even ready-made, highly educational social media posts. How easy is that?
- Add Just One Helpful Communication to Start—Your main goal is always to best serve your clients, but a rich client experience doesn’t end with tax and accounting deliverables. Think outside the box and create just one communication (to start) that clients will find inherently helpful. This could be an email explaining tax code changes in plain English or a blog post that breaks down financial statements so they are easily understandable. You can also venture into timely small business topics that your clients will find helpful. A simple Google search on small business trends or news will bring up a plethora of useful resources from which you can borrow content. Once you get going, you can begin to send regular monthly or even weekly communications. If the information is truly helpful, clients will begin to look forward to receiving these communication assets.
- Don’t Underestimate the Small Stuff—Sometimes it’s the small things that can make your clients very happy…while also communicating that you care. For example, if your office is equipped with WiFi (and it should be), make it easy for clients to connect to your network while waiting. Have a printed card (business card size) available in your reception area that provides your firm’s WIFI information, including network name and guest password. It’s much more convenient than having the receptionist jot it down on a Post-it note. And, it’s another way to positively communicate to your clients that you understand their needs.
These are just a few examples of how you can easily augment your communications program. The more interactions with your clients, the stronger the relationship grows—so be sure to continue communicating. With all the resources available to the accounting profession, it’s truly not that hard to build a program that runs throughout the year and consistently provides your clients with useful, helpful information.
And that’s the best kind of marketing!
Kristy Short, Ed.D, is president of rwc360, LLC (rwc360.com)—a firm dedicated to providing marketing and public relations services to the accounting profession. She is also a professor of English and marketing. Reach her at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
See inside November 2014
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