At my professional Leads Group meeting this week, I asked my colleague Tom about using his strategic alliances as referral sources. His industry is Business Services, payroll and the many ancillary services payroll companies offer. He was talking about accounting firms.
Tom sent me an enlightening article, The Top 10 concerns of CPA Firms published by AICPA (American Institute of CPAs). In this biennial survey, 5 of the 10 areas of concerns can be considered marketing issues.
Let’s look at the top 2:
- Bringing in new clients
- Retention of current clients
Clearly bringing in new clients and hanging on to the existing clientele are the lifeblood of any healthy business. Some of the article’s commentary is interesting and a jumping off point for the conversation. A basic analysis of a firm’s “positives” and “negatives”, both internally and externally, can reveal opportunities for growth and retention in any industry, even Accounting:
- Strength – What is it that your firm does that is different from your competition?
- Weakness – How does your client base rate your services on a scale of 1 to 10? If not a 10, what is it that your firm needs to push the results to a 10?
- Opportunities – What is the industry trends for marketing, information technology and client services?
- Threats – Who are your competitors? What is it that your competitor does that is different from your competition?
This is a SWOT analysis and one of the critical first steps in creating a marketing plan. While CPA firms understand their business, it takes a professional marketer to understand the proven tactics and best practices to bring in new clients and retain existing clients. They are two different professional disciplines; while the CPAs of your firm work in your business, careful thought should be given to hiring and designating a marketing pro to meet your goals for revenue growth and profitability. From there, attracting and retaining qualified candidates (#9 on the survey list) to support the business growth can also be addressed with an integrated marketing program.
One of the challenges of marketing for accountants is to redirect their thinking from considering marketing as an investment not a line item expense. Consider the return on marketing investment and the timeless words of the widely influential business thinker, Peter Drucker: “Business has only two functions — marketing and innovation.” If your accounting firm or professional practice needs innovation and marketing to boost the growth of your services, look outside the accounting profession and consult for marketing expertise. For a free consultation, you are welcome to call us at 888-235-3088 or email us at Marketing@1st-Straw.com[/box]