Serve your clients better and watch your practice revenues grow.
by Sandi Smith, CPA
The latest marketing strategies and trends are almost as hard to keep up with as the tax law changes these days. Here is a quick taste of four relatively new or underutilized marketing trends that can solve a couple of issues in the accounting industry and increase firm profits in 2011.
1 – Timeographics
One of the hottest trends in marketing is timeographics, and it affects the accounting industry greatly. Timeographics is understanding our clients’ sensitivity to time and modifying your services to fill these needs. Most of your clients are in a hurry and impatient. They need tips and ways to get their documents to you faster than ever. They want their return done yesterday, they want their emails answered in one hour, and they’re willing to pay you extra for your trouble.
Action item: Customize your service and your services to the time-sensitive client, and you’ll have us for life. There are some amazing market opportunities to be created here for those who, er, well, move fast.
Tax Tip: The fat old organizer is a super-big turn-off to countless time-starved executives. (The firm I hire to do my taxes just sent me one, so I know there’s still at least one regional firm putting them out.) How can you streamline the client document intake process?
2 – Consumption marketing
Does client attrition keep your firm’s managing partner up at night? Consumption marketing is one of several solutions to this challenge. Consumption marketing is designed to increase the consumer’s use of the product and avoid returns (think avoid write-offs).
Action item: Build in tips to show your client how to consume your services for better client satisfaction and retention. This can be anything from extra status emails during the project to additional handholding through implementation and follow up. Go beyond the regulatory requirement and show the client how to improve their business with all the work you just did.
Audit tip: Show your client how to use the information in the audit to save money, tighten procedures beyond what’s necessary for the audit, and otherwise repurpose the information for their benefit. Your fee will be more palatable and pay back a little more.
3 – Social metrics
The three lowest cost ways for accounting professionals to market is retention, referrals, and reputation. I call them the 3 R’s. We talked about retention above; social media is a great way for accounting professionals to build reputation. Social metrics allows the public to rate your reputation to the community.
Action item: Engage your community; you will learn exactly how you can modify your services to meet needs and soar your revenues. I believe there is great opportunity here, but only the most progressive firms will do this.
Management consulting tip: Ask your community where their pain points are and move fast to solve them.
4 – Bundling
It’s not new, but it’s underused, and the accounting industry could definitely benefit. Bundling is packaging individual products and services together. This is the answer to de-commoditizing the tax return. Bundle the tax return with other value-added services so that the client benefits much more than simply getting the return filed.
Action item: Make a list of every service and product you offer and figure out what can go together. If you don’t have anything that fits together, develop something synergistic. I’ve bundled my marketing, coaching, and client retention tools in a nice little year-long membership package. I’ve bundled my foundation marketing course with my one-on-one coaching.
Small business tip: If you’re not already bundling, bundle payroll, sales tax, and the 1120 for a small business, and take them out of their deadline misery. You could call it Tax Triple Play, I don’t know. I’d buy it. The benefit of bundling is you won’t be compared hour for hour and when you add all the extra service, you won’t be comparable to the big box tax services.
Sandi Smith, CPA, is a marketing and high performance coach, and an affiliate of Bay Street Group LLC. Sign up for Sandi’s free newsletter here.