Are your prospects choosing another service provider just because of price? At every stage in the buying cycle (and the client service cycle) there are ways to boost your image to earn a premium fee and leave low-price competitors behind. We’ll give you 10 simple ideas: five here and five more on our website!
1. Let your fans do the talking. Too often, professionals assume that clients are satisfied and don’t ask why they are satisfied or what can be done better to serve them. But your competitors are always looking for ways to engage your customers. After an engagement, and at least once a year, discuss how you can better serve clients. Ask why they choose to stay with you. Promote those reasons through your marketing activities to engage new prospective clients.
2. Imagine your ideal match. We find that professional service audiences are usually too broadly focused or ambiguous to assist firms in clearly qualifying leads. Time and resources are devoted to chasing leads that aren’t ideally suited to your firm. One of our preferred tactics is to create detailed personas that embody your key audience or ideal audience, not only by revenue and industry, but also by title, work style, career goals, motivations and interests.
3. Dress to impress online. Your image online is just as important as your first impression at a meeting. Make sure that the content you share is high quality. Proof it to avoid grammatical mistakes. Employ elegant design. Share fresh and personalized information on a regular basis to prove you are still on top of your game — and in the game.
4. Ditch the tired business card. Out-of-the-ordinary materials add new energy to firm communications. Step out of your comfort zone of blue rectangles or cream stock paper and build a campaign that engages your audience in new ways. We recently created a campaign for a CPA firm that invited potential referral sources to have some old-fashioned barbeque. The campaign felt like a personal invitation to a fun lunch. The CPA firm received calls right away.
5. Rinse and Repeat. After you’ve spent time creating a wonderful presentation for a group of prospects or clients, what happens to it? Don’t just leave it on the firm server or you’re missing a huge opportunity to reach out to more people. Turn that presentation into an audio file. Write an article or blog based on the presentation. Add a tips sheet to the newsletter. Content should be used multiple times to maximize the nonbillable effort that went into it.
6. Lead them to water. Once prospective clients visit your website, don’t let them go! If they leave after viewing your home page (based on your web analytics), then you are losing an opportunity to differentiate your firm from the masses. Tell visitors what to do next and where to go on your website with calls to action, informative and client-focused content and interactive invitations to get them asking questions and checking out your firm’s professionals and resources.
7. Market in triplicate. When you send any communication to a prospective client, plan on reaching out at least three times. This can be a series of three emails, a postcard, a phone call and an invitation to coffee; three postcards; or an email, call and a hosted event. You get the idea. They are busy just like you. Reminders get them to act, especially if they are enticing reminders.
8. Don’t feed the fish. Unfortunately, some prospects who seem well qualified are simply fishing to see if their current advisors are good. They could be checking out their current CPA’s fees or their attorney’s strategy. Ask a lot of questions and listen for qualifiers that clearly indicate a prospect isn’t committed to switching.
9. Be a joiner. Prospects like to work with people who share their interests and understand their needs. It is still important to be involved in the associations, think tanks and groups where your prospects congregate. Don’t just attend the trade shows. Get involved in the committees and leadership positions when possible.
10. Break the rules. If everyone is sharing information the same way, how do you stand out? You have to take a risk sometimes. We often hear that firms want to be “more visible,” meaning that they’ve seen their competitors in the newspaper or on the radio and it makes them crazy! Just know that those competitors have increased their visibility by allowing themselves to be potentially misquoted, by paying for air time, and by being at peace with some uncertainty. In short, they are willing to be a bit vulnerable and do things differently in order to reap bigger rewards (and bigger clients).
Over the summer, Ingenuity Marketing conducted a survey of the best clients of our accounting clients. We wanted to know — based on changes in how professional services market their value difference — why decision makers choose, change or retain CPA firms. The answers from a small sample of clients nationwide are back — and reveal some surprising and not-so-surprising themes around why and how clients buy CPA services. It’s important to note that half of the respondents identified themselves as business owners while the other half identified as either CFO or President. Nearly 85 percent of respondents have worked at their firms for three or more years. More than 73 percent said they were directly involved in the decision to hire the company’s current CPA firm. Here are a few highlights from the survey results. To read the full article, visit our website.
Theme One: Most companies do not change because of the price.
When changing CPA firms, almost two thirds of decision makers ranked “Less expensive than previous firm” as “not important” or “somewhat important.”
Theme Two: Clients change firms because of communication and service.
When changing CPA firms, more than 85 percent of decision makers ranked “Better communication from the new service team” as “very important.”
Theme Three: Personal referrals lead to website research of CPA firms.
More than 87 percent of decision makers rely on personal recommendations for researching CPA firm options. This tells us that firm reputation (brand) contributes to selection. However, these firms also cite websites and sales materials as the second biggest way that they qualify or research potential CPA firms (up to 30%). Other forms of research included newsletters and specialized information from the firm (18%) and cold searches online (12.5%).
Theme Four: Decision makers compare their CPA firm with other CPAs they meet.
More than 57 percent of respondents interact with one to three CPA firms regularly, while 21.1 percent cite interaction with four to six CPA firms and another 21.1 percent noted interaction with six or more CPA firms. Thank you to all our client firms who provided us with the best clients to participate in the survey. We appreciate your time and interest in this topic. We will discuss more of the final results of the survey with our new presentation: “What decision-makers want now: a survey of how buyers buy CPA firms,” which will be featured by a number of CPA associations. For further information about the survey, contact Melissa Trost at 651-690-3358 or email@example.com.