Gone are the days when passing out brochures or promotional items, sending holiday greeting cards through the post office, or throwing a customer appreciation party will bring new customers into your office. Even a website is not enough. Today, potential clients are searching the internet for quality content and connecting with social media friends to find the best CPA in their town. So, to attract qualified customers, CPAs must embrace inbound marketing, a content-driven internet marketing strategy, or risk being trumped by the competition.
As a CPA, part of your job is marketing, and your ultimate marketing goals are:
- to delight your current customers with ongoing, quality accounting advice, which will cause them to endorse your services to friends;
- to become an invaluable resource for taxpayers in your town;
- to establish your reputation as an expert; and
- to attract new customers.
To accomplish this, CPAs must begin by examining the performance of their website. If your website is not listed in the top pages of search queries related to your niche industry, many potential clients will not recognize you as a voice of authority or they might not even know that you exist.
Keywords are words and phrases that people will type into a search engines to find your services. For example, use long-tailed keywords in:
- Page URLs: Instead of publishing a page URL such as “cpacompany.com/services”, use titles like “cpacompany.com/tax-consulting” or “cpacompany.com/accounting-services”. Publish separate pages for each of your CPA services and populate it lightly with keyword phrases. Keep in mind that must people will not use CPA-specific jargon to search for your services, so, unless you are targeting industry professional, remove it.
- Page Titles: Title your pages with brief, specific words. For example, use “Small Business Accounting” instead of “Accounting”.
- Page Text
- Images: file names and “alt” tags
Social media for CPAs? Absolutely. If you post insightful and useful tips for your followers, you can expect to pick up new clients with time. Interact with your followers. Use this potentially wide-reaching platform to answer accounting questions and offer tax tips. Headlines such as “10 Common Tax Mistakes to Avoid”, “5 Changes to Tax Laws Every Business Owner Must Know”, or “Tax Exemptions for Homeowners” will keep your users tuned in.
Inbound marketing begins with a website that is optimized for search engines (SEO), a social media campaign that engages followers, and a blog populated with high-quality content.
Some CPAs dismiss marketing as a waste and believe that you just need to do a great job for clients or have lunch with a few possible referral sources and awesome new clients will consistently appear over time. Their fear of the unknown world of marketing and potentially wasting money prevents them from being open-minded and even trying to understand its value.
The “Definers:” Other accountants choose to define marketing as whatever feels most comfortable for them.
“Marketing is a brochure.”
“Marketing is a website.”
“Promotional items are marketing.”
“Marketing is advertising.”
Accountants with this mindset will “check the box” that they have done “marketing” and made the proper investment. What the “Definers” haven’t done is check out what their marketing-savvy competitors are doing to grow and even win over their clients! The fear factor prevents these professionals from taking a hard look at what’s going on around them and embracing current marketing strategies to compete.
FEAR OF FAILURE
You didn’t enter in the CPA profession to write creative blogs, build engaged audiences on social media, speak to the media as an authority or shoot videos for your firm’s website. Another reality check –> whether you like it or not, marketing is part of your job! The fear of not being good at particular forms of marketing is often accepted as an excuse, and these professionals – including Partners – are granted passes to not participate.
But what if your competitors push their CPAs out of their comfort zones? What if they mandate participation in marketing and provide training to their professionals from day one on the job? You may not see the impact of “no marketing” immediately, but over a period of time your firm will find it very challenging to win substantial new clients. You and your firm will be left behind.
If your firm has been paralyzed in some way by a fear of marketing, don’t try to make up for lost time in an ad-hoc, random and frenzied fashion. Hire or consult with an experienced marketing specialist who will be able to relate and understand the dynamics at play and develop strategies and programs to get your accounting firm on the right track. It’s never too late to conquer your marketing fears!