So you think your accounting firms marketing plan is in need of improvement? You are not alone. Lots of accounting firms neglect their marketing plans. Some have no plan at all, and I have a lot of people ask me for advice in finding a marketing plan that suits them best.
Whether you are revitalizing an existing plan or building one for the first time you may choose to hire some professional help. This can be tricky if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Unfortunately there’s no one size fits all firm I can refer you to. But there are some basic guidelines that will make your search easier.
What Should You Look For in a Marketing Program
First, steer clear of companies that offer financing. For the most part these guys clean up on the back end, and you’ll be paying the bill long after you stopped getting any benefit for your outlay.
Stay away from companies who have undefined fees or ones that gain most of their returns from other products they push. Be sure to ask specifically about costs and fees that might not be caught at first blush and make sure you get any assurances and promises in writing.
Now… think about this question: What is it that you should look for? What is it you want to achieve?
OK… now we’re ready to start looking for a rainmaker for your firm. Here are a few things to look for.
- An exact blueprint of the plan
- Unlimited support
A marketing program must be totally intact in every area. The plan should never be limited to things like social media, sponsor websites and emails. The perfect plan should always include programs for all areas of your firm.
A plan should be able to supply you with a proven blueprint for success. A great plan should not leave anything for you to create after implementation. Plans should always include the material necessary, what processes will be used, any forms needed, formulated letters for prospective clients etc.
A program should be willing to offer unlimited support to whatever area in your firm needs the most help or even bring in persons who have had success in this area and can walk you through every step.
Marketing plans should be implemented on a budget.
CPA market plans should be geographically focused. Most firms work mainly with local accountants.
You do not want to become a statistic, a lot of accounting practices have short lives. You want to build a company that will be around for decades. This usually means cultivating long term relationships with businesses and affluent clientele rather than running a tax prep mill. It also means respecting your authority and reputation. Marketing programs that offer shady techniques and “one weird trick” ads have nothing to offer a reputable accounting firm.
What should you stay away from when beginning a marketing plan?
This is another good question. What should you avoid?
- Unrealistic Guarantees
- High Budgets
- Undefined/Hidden Costs
Many CPA practices draw prospects in with an unrealistic set of guarantees. Don’t let some self-declared marketing “guru” lead you down this particular garden path! This might work fine for a fly by night retail operation, but growing an accounting firm means cultivating long term relationships. Making promises you can’t keep is not a good way to do that.
As we talked about earlier, marketing plans should not be expensive. High marketing costs hurt your bottom line. Many cookie cutter marketing programs will concentrate on attracting large numbers of discount-hunting low-end tax preparation clients. Low end clientele combined with high implementation costs could leave you working long hours and seeing almost no money.