Wrecking your firm's marketing before you start

"Create a definite plan for carrying out your desire, and begin at once, whether you're ready or not, to put it into action."
-Napoleon Hill

Back from KCMO, and we bought a house in a weekend. (Nobody ever accused me of moving slow!)

But to the subject at hand: look--I've seen a TON of accountant and tax marketing over the years.

Not only in my capacity with BuildaHerd (where I still see plenty), but I've coached and consulted with hundreds of firm owners, and I spent a few years speaking around the country to groups of tax/accounting professionals on marketing and firm development. And what I've seen usually wasn't too pretty.

Though, perhaps that's the wrong choice of words--"pretty" some of it is, just ... highly ineffective. People go for "pretty" far too much because that's what "everybody else does".

But that's not the worst part about it all.

THIS is ... (below)

+++ Client Story of the Week +++

"Nate, I appreciate your encouragement! Just FYI, here are my results I can attribute to the emails after running your system for just the past 4 weeks:
* Responses from referral sources (all positive):  6
* New referral sources generated:  1
* Responses from clients (positive):  6
* New Viable Leads generated:  6
* Leads converted to clients (to date):  1
Thanks again,
Gary Winter
Clovis, CA
Get started with the service Gary uses...

+++++++++++

Losing the Game Before You Start

Are you frustrated with your outbound marketing?

Well, there could be lots of reasons this is the case, but this is the most common one for accountants and tax professionals:

Failure to communicate a unique message.

Oh, and when somebody like Seth Godin notices your profession, you KNOW it's an issue. Here's what he had to say in one of his recent blog posts (which I highly recommend you put on your daily list). My emphasis:

Take a look at just about any industry with many competitors--colleges, hotels, sedans, accounting firms (especially accounting firms)...The websites bend over backwards to be just like all the others. You can't identify one hotel website from another if you delete the name of the hotel (unless there's a beach or a snow-capped mountain in the background).

Sometimes, we try so hard to fit in we give consumers no choice but to seek out the cheapest. After all, if everything is the same, why not buy what's cheap and close?

He's exactly right.

This is a HUGE problem for firm websites -- and it's not solved by "picking a different template", as certain companies would have you believe.

No, what you need is a Unique Selling Proposition. And that term is thrown around so much, that too many business owners just sort of nod to themselves, and say yeah, we got that.

Really? If that's the case, why do your marketing materials (if you even HAVE them!) talk about the same bland services:
Small Business Accounting
QuickBooks Services
Payroll
Part-Time CFO Services
Personal Financial Planning
Bank Products

Yada, yada, yada, ad infinitum, ad barf-um.

Sorry to rain on your parade, Nate, but that just don't cut it. What you NEED, is a conversational, *direct* reason why your prospects (and yes, your clients too--they need continual "re-selling") should choose to engage your services.

It needs to be a part of everything you communicate, from your website to your brochures, to your client-intake forms--EVERYTHING is marketing, my friend.

And "copying" what every other accountant or tax firm in the country is doing is a surefire recipe for becoming a commodity. Which, if you haven't yet noticed, is the worst kind of position to be in (hello, newspaper industry).

This was just one of the subjects we covered (in greater detail) during last month's Clients-Only Coaching Call, and I'll go into more next week.

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