The Ten Commandments of Marketing Your Accounting Practice
When it comes to marketing your practice, you might occasionally feel overwhelmed with which direction to take. While you will never find these 10 Commandments on two stone tablets, they should provide you with direction as you seek to grow and develop your practice each and every day.
1. Thou shall not look at marketing as a temporary project.
While marketing may not be your functional expertise and it is expensive, it is integral to the development of every enterprise. If you want to ramp up your practice and become selective about the type of clients you attract, marketing should be an ongoing responsibility like eating and sleeping. Don't treat it like a diet or exercise regiment.
2. Thou shall not quit marketing.
Improvement should be continuous. As your practice nears capacity, seek ways to acquire additional capacity or improve the quality of your clientele. Turning off the marketing spigot will have long-term consequences because the sales cycle is normally much longer than we realize. The marketing you do now often yields results much further down the road. It's not something to be turned on and off when you want a lead.
3. Thou shall continue to fertilize the marketing funnel.
The sales process starts with awareness of your brand name, information sharing, consultative selling, and eventually, some will become clients. After they become clients, some of those satisfied clients will become referrors and bear fruit. To maximize this marketing funnel, always push yourself to invest in fertilizer to nudge them thru your funnel. The most expensive fertilizer should be used on your existing clients.
4. Thou shall not abdicate the responsibility for marketing.
Marketing for your practice is not hiring a person. Marketing your practice is a holistic function that everyone in your company must embrace and drink the Kool-Aid. Each employee in your firm plays a vital role in marketing at every touch point. Your brand is only as strong as the weakest link in your organizational chain. While you can certainly outsource some marketing and lead generation, or enroll in a system designed to help you improve your marketing, the holistic approach to your marketing needs to be adopted by all.
5. Thou shall not use the exact same marketing approach year-in and year-out.
As the marketplace continues to evolve, we must continue to update our marketing acumen and test new things each year. Using the same old tactics of yesteryear (like fax marketing and cold call telemarketing) have diminishing returns. Don't be a dinosaur. Be willing to try new tactics, learn the new ways of marketing, and stay ahead of the game.
6. Thou shall not lose track of prospects that you did not close immediately.
While we all have some cracks in our system, we should seek to cover up the gaping holes in the floor. Acquire a contact management system like Act to manage your new leads, prospects, suspects, and existing clients. Recognize that your prospects are the asset of your firm and should be managed accordingly.
7. Thou shall seek to minimize the discord amongst existing clients and employees.
We can never please everyone all of the time. However, we can seek to negate the damage caused by dissatisfied clients and employees as they depart. Assume that you live in a glass house, life is not fair, give 110% each and every time, and smile even if it hurts.
8. Thou shall thank often.
Savvy business owners are like popular coaches on a sports team. It's easy to spot a weak coach but we must learn from the few that shine. The outstanding coaches have an ability to connect with the entire team, staff, administration/owners, and all stakeholders. They know how to motivate, say thank you for the little things, and share the credit.
9. Thou shall overhaul or discontinue one marketing tactic each year.
Within everyone's stock portfolio, there are always a couple of dogs and most of us loathe to cut our losses. Despite this tendency, we must either overhaul our losers or cut them off. This will free up time and energy to invest in the best performing tactics. After you cut off the loser, try and figure out why you were unsuccessful with the program that was cut. Was it the medium? Was it the execution? Is it worth overhauling by incorporating some best practices and testing again?
10. Thou shall track the source of each new prospect.
At the onset of EVERY new inquiry about your firm, we must ask "how did you hear about our firm" and keep track. Because marketing takes much longer than we would like to believe, we must track the original source of every lead. Our memories have too much stuff crammed in there to ever remember how many new clients came from program XYZ. Keep a log and periodically review well after the program concluded.
By Hugh Duffy
Hugh Duffy is the Chief Marketing Officer and Co-Founder of Build Your Firm, a practice development and marketing provider for accounting firms. They work with small and medium sized accounting firms and offer a free email newsletter.