Why a Diversified Marketing System for Your Accounting Firm is Better
Don't be a one trick pony
We've all seen one hit wonders who get off to a blazing start but never diversify their approach, never connect with their audience, and subsequently get stuck in first gear.
In your local area, I'm sure you can think of several restaurants that got off to a great start and quickly faded after the luster of being the "new hot spot" wore off. In the music business, examples range from Who Let the Dogs Out (Baha Men), Kung Fu Fighting (Carl Douglas), It's Raining Men (The Weather Girls) and 99 Red Balloons (Nena).
And in business, there are many one-trick wonders like Crocs, Timex, Napster, Priceline, Krispy Kreme, and WorldCom. For whatever reason, these businesses were never able to capitalize upon their initial success by cross-selling their followers into other products/services.
The same can be said for marketing tactics. Some businesses learn how to master a particular approach for generating leads but never diversify beyond that initial approach. In my discussions with accountants, I often hear about how the tactics used ten to twenty years ago no longer work and how they are searching to replace their marketing plans of yesteryear. For example, some will mention that we used to spend money on yellow page advertising but with the deregulation of the telecommunications business combined with the shift from print over to the internet, that yellow page advertising no longer works. Others will say that cold call telemarketing no longer works like it used to because the cost per lead is so high, leads are so challenging to close and those that close tend to be more price sensitive. And others will reference things like fax marketing and other tactics that faded away.
With the fragmentation of the marketplace along with changing technologies, a marketer needs to change with the times to remain relevant. Rather than give you an example of an accounting firm that you've never heard of, let's take a familiar brand like ESPN which was a new sports channel that started in 1979 in Bristol, CT. Over the past three decades, ESPN has evolved from being a small cable channel showing Connecticut sports (Hartford Whalers, Bristol Red Sox, UConn Huskies) and gradually upgraded their sports programming over time. In addition to upgrading their sports programming, ESPN has constantly diversified their delivery to become much much more than just a cable channel. ESPN is not just another cable TV channel like TNT or USA. ESPN has created an irreverent brand identity which is like MTV on steroids. In other words, ESPN has created iconic personalities that represent the essence of the ESPN brand and connects with their target audience across all types of mediums. Some examples of their personalities include Peter Gammons (baseball), Mel Kiper (NFL Draft), Chris Mortensen (NFL), Dick Vitale (college basketball), Mike Tirico (anchor), Keith Olbermann, Suzy Kolber, Tony Kornheiser/Mike Wilbon (PTI), Dan Patrick and many others. Unlike most cable television networks, ESPN has gone from just a sports cable channel into radio (ESPN Radio in 1992), ESPN2 in 1993, ESPNews in 1996, magazines (ESPN Magazine), restaurants (ESPN Zone), ESPN.com in 1995, and live events (ESPYs, NFL Draft, X Games, etc.). Today, ESPN is broadcasting sports in 16 languages in more than 200 countries and makes every effort to stay connected with sports enthusiasts using cable television, radio, satellite radio, internet, smart phones, restaurants and magazines so their enthusiasts can get their fix 24/7. Clearly, ESPN is not a one trick pony doing remnant Connecticut sporting events on cable TV.
As you think about your marketing and lead generation approach for your accounting practice, are you a one trick pony? Or have you diversified by utilizing an integrated marketing approach to generate leads for your practice?
To diversify your marketing and lead generation, consider the following:
- Referral marketing - Are you consistently letting your clients know that you gladly accept referrals? Do you occasionally ask your clients for referrals? Are you consistently thanking clients for referrals?
- Newsletter (print or electronic) - Are you consistently sending out a newsletter with updated and relevant content? Are you using the newsletter to proactively communicate new events within your practice?
- Website Marketing - Is your website search engine optimized so total strangers can easily find out about your practice? Are you supporting your website with pay per click advertising to generate higher levels of traffic?
- Niche Website - Have you considered having more than one website? For your niche services that most people in local market have no clue you provide, have you considered creating a totally separate website dedicated to marketing these unique services?
- Search Engine Directories - Is your firm listed within Google Places, Yahoo Local, Bing Business Portals?
- Online Yellow Page Directories - Does your firm have a free listing with the major online yellow page vendors? Superpages? Citysearch? Insiderpages? Yellow Pages? Yellow Book? And smaller ones like InfoUSA, Kudzu, Dex, etc?
- LinkedIn - Are you effectively marketing yourself on LinkedIn? Does your profile link to your website?
- Hosting workshops - Are you providing small workshops to clients and small business prospects in your local community on topics relevant to small business owners? Are you asking outside speakers to cover topics outside of your comfort zone?
If you'd like to update your marketing program and move beyond being a one trick pony, I highly recommend an integrated marketing approach using a variety of mediums to attract a flow of new leads for your accounting practice.
About the Author
Hugh Duffy is co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer for Build Your Firm, a leading practice development firm dedicated to the accounting industry. Build Your Firm works with small accounting firms providing website development for accountants, search engine optimization, custom niche website development and accounting marketing.