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marketing your accounting services

Marketing Your Accounting Services: Part 1

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The intent of marketing is to take action that results in greater exposure and the increased likelihood of more sales.  Marketing does not have to be expensive or a highly complex undertaking; it can be something as basic as joining the local chamber of commerce and the chamber of commerce organizations in surrounding communities, placing an ad in a local paper, telemarketing or sending a mailing to local businesses. Whatever the marketing initiative, always start with an end goal in mind.  It must be targeted to be effective.

Follow these tips to increase your success with any initiative you adopt.

Think about your ideal client, the one you would love to replicate.  Think about who they are, how they heard about your business, and why they came to you in the first place.  For example, they may be a small business owner with five employees who found you because of a local reference, or perhaps your business location is close to theirs.  Define who they are and how they found you.  Don't be worried that your definition is detailed by eliminating a huge percentage of the population you can more easily navigate directly to those who share similar attributes.

When you have defined your ideal client, define an end goal for marketing your services which will help you measure the success of each marketing initiative. Tracking and measuring results will help you justify repeating an initiative, or changing it up in the future to improve results.

Determine what drove that ideal client to your business. Understanding their biggest pain point and how you resolved the problem is the information that should guide your marketing message. Asking your best clients why they came to you and what pains you relieved for them will make this task easy to complete.  Armed with this information, you will be on your way to developing the right marketing message designed to attract a very desirable targeted population.  Think of yourself as a problem-solver.  Focus on the benefits and the problems you resolved to help prospects easily understand how you can help them. For example, a message such as "Payroll services for small businesses" may be true to your service offering, however it does not speak to pains they may be having handling payroll on their own.  A more powerful message that speaks to pain points might be "Worry-free and timely payroll services for small business owners."

Define how your service differs from the competition.  It is possible there are a dozen competitors with the same offering who are trying to land the same prospect you are targeting. Standing out from the competition will require you to touch the prospect in a way that moves them to call you, versus anyone else.  For example, some use hometown appeal or years in service as a differentiator in their marketing material by stating "Proudly serving the payroll needs of small business owners for over 30 years."  All of this may be true for the business using this statement, however, this begs the question, "What if you opened a business in the last few years and do not have a long history in the community?" If this is the case, you can develop differentiating marketing messages to begin to cement the image you want to project.  If you are a younger business, you might consider a statement such as "Proudly serving worry-free and timely payroll services for small business owners." In this statement, the words "worry-free and timely" are the differentiator.

Test your differentiating message and prepare to explain your differentiators. First, test your marketing message around the office and with those you trust to give open constructive feedback.  The differentiating terms should be used when talking to prospects, where you explain what "worry-free and timely" means.  For example, in your marketing material and in conversation with prospects, you might explain your differentiators by saying, "When we say 'worry-free' we are referencing our guaranteed calculations and our 100% satisfaction guaranteed." You might go into further detail and explain your differentiator(s) to help prospects compare your payroll services and others.  Armed with explanations, the prospect now has a differentiator with which to compare your services with others.

Determine what you are going to promote to your target market. Promotions may be offerings that have a cost or discount associated with them, or, they can be done to increase awareness of your business while promoting a community food shelf or cause, such as "coats for kids".

Determine where your ideal prospects exist. Trying to replicate your best clients may be difficult unless you know where others like them exist. There are several ways to locate these prospects, such as searches on Google and local phone books. You should consider asking your existing clients where others like them gather. Perhaps they are members of a local organization, or maybe they know of others who gather for periodic meetings. Letting them know you would like to recruit more businesses like theirs may help generate more word-of-mouth advertising that often results in a quicker sale. People like to buy from who they know or who their friends know.  Take advantage of this and talk to your existing clients.

Developing a marketing piece. For example, if you have to do an outbound mailing because the prospects don't gather, or if you have to pick up the phone to call prospects, this will help you decide to do a mailer and telemarketing.  If your best clients indicate there is a place where others like them gather, you might develop a handout such as a brochure with testimonials, a mouse pad, or some other give-a-way item featuring your phone number, website and business name.