Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
Yeah, that’s an old quote–and in many ways, it’s also a recipe for business disaster.
You see, it’s a BAD idea to sell an “unproven” product, or to use an unproven marketing piece–at least if you’re investing a lot of coin in the venture.
But when this DOES make sense, is in your positioning, within an established industry (especially a *tired* one–hello tax & accounting industry?).
There’s an old letter (written in 1919) from the publisher of a magazine you’ve never heard of to the founder of a little magazine called Readers Digest:
But, personally, I don’t see how you will be able to get enough subscribers to support it. It is expensive for its size. It isn’t illustrated… I have my doubts about the undertaking as a publishing venture.
You see, criticism is something great to listen to, except when it isn’t. Of course, he was right–given his assumptions. And that’s the except part.
What are the assumptions you’re currently holding about how you can grow and promote your firm? Let’s address some of those this week, shall we? And see how we can get you into a new–even more profitable–paradigm for growth this fall and in 2011…
Don’t Accept The Status Quo In Your Tax or Accounting Firm Marketing
I have a difficult time explaining what I “do” to friends and acquaintances. This has been made worse by my family’s move to a new city. I usually end up telling people I “run a marketing company”…which, of course, doesn’t really answer the question.
(If people press, I explain that I help my clients form deeper relationships with prospects and clients, ensuring higher referrals, greater retention and more sales. But people don’t usually press. They just sort of say, “oh, uh, ok.” and shuffle off. Hey, I’m used to it.)
But when people ask what YOU do for a living, they sort of get “I’m a CPA” or “I’m an accountant” or “I’m a tax professional.” That’s an advantage at cocktail parties…but it’s a huge DISadvantage when you market your business.
Why is that? Simple–you’re seen as a commodity by your prospects. And the ones who understand the difference between an excellent accountant and a poor one–well, they don’t have a very good method for determining the quality of your work.
Which is why referrals are usually the lifeblood of new client acquisition in our line of work. (And, by the way, that’s exactly why our clients invest with us–because they know that a deeper relationship is the only “surefire” way to consistently attract referrals.)
But you can turn this approach into success in every marketing piece you use (as we do on behalf of our clients in email, social media and print newsletters).
Most tax and accounting firms spit out the same, boring list of services and do nothing to communicate the real difference-makers in their approach (their USP). Whether it’s in their advertising, one-on-one sales appointments or other marketing material, you must find that sweet spot where you stand out from your competition in the way that they deeply desire and need.
For small business prospects, this is usually in the area of communication and availability. So speak to that, darn it! For the family or individual prospect, it often comes down to straight expertise and ability to find “hidden” or unexploited deductions. Speak to it!
Don’t follow the madding crowd. Don’t let the hypnotic laziness of your cocktail party explanation become your hypnotically-boring (and commoditizingly-ineffective) pitch for new business.
These times require more from you to grow.