June 18th, 2010 | Edwin Dearborn, Chief Brand Officer

When you dwell on the fast-paced world of marketing, with all its dynamic and aesthetic qualities, accountants and accounting firms are not the first thought that comes to mind. But in actual fact, B2B financial services is one of the most deficient fields in regards to effective marketing, despite the huge need for their invaluable services that the offer the B2B market.

Having lead many business management workshops for accountants, CPAs, EAs and bookkeepers, I have found that the prevailing logic in marketing, within in each of their respective fields, is to build over time with word of mouth. Now while word of mouth is the backbone of success for the majority of businesses worldwide, this can become an all too “Everybody knows that” that obviates necessary and more modern means to reach the B2B contacts that are vitally needed to expand any firm or practice.

But many are still left with this burning question, “What business marketing strategies are best for accounting firms?”

The word Branding has become the latest buzz word within financial circles and academia as a means to make an attempt at a marketing strategy. Using the word can make us sound like we understand marketing, but in all truth branding is not the major problem with most accountant’s marketing strategy. Sure, small business branding is important. But once you are past the logo, the stationary and the signage, now where do you go? And this is where most business marketing strategies start on their long-term plunge into stagnation.

Ultimately, the success of any marketing, including branding as an important and vital part of the marketing paradigm, is judged solely by increased sales and higher profits. How else can we truly measure about the branding experience that we are projecting? This decpetive marketing battle has been the Waterloo for too many businesses trying to buy feelings rather than to generate more sales and profits. Our world today is in an economic maelstrom,so you must focus on expanding measurable, sustainable profits.

Here are a few things that any accounting firm can engage in that are relatively simple, but highly effective. I would to also note, that  in speaking to and working with hundreds of professionals in the accounting and financial fields for over the last two decades, that these tactics have been vetted as highly successful. In other words, I am not sharing theory or attempting a stab in the dark.

  1. Join a business networking group. I suggest Business Network International (BNI). Why? Because I know a CPA in San Francisco who has built her firm to almost two million dollars in annual gross sales. She clearly demonstrated to me, on a very meticulous spread sheet, that one-quarter of that annual income was derived from her 11 year involvement in her local BNI chapter. There are other business referral groups similar to BNI, but the point is be a joiner and a committed member.
  2. Utilize the services of an outside company to call and set appointments for you. This is a highly effective marketing method that Kep Kepner, a CPA from Dallas, Texas recently turned me onto. He recently secured the services of an outbound calling company that is only paid when you make a personal presentation. Kep is closing about 60% and is paying a company called Callbox Inc. about $1,800 for 15 appointments. Kep shared with me that this has been one of the best sources of new business.
  3. Activate your past clients. In other words, be sure to keep an accurate mailing list and mail a letter or newsletter at least once every quarter and remind them what you do, that you render high-quality service and that you appreciate any referrals. People are busy, so remind them that you exist and care.
  4. Ninety percent of firms have either no web site or one that is so ineffective, that in actual fact their out-dated website positions their brand and their business as old and outmoded. You need a simple, attractive website with a blog installed within it. Your company blog must be networked with online directories, social media and other distribution methodologies. Blogs can be an effective means of attracting more and more B2B contacts. Moreover, a blog that consistently performs and offers helpful, original quality content will be a super performer for increasing your presence and thus more sales.

I would enjoy your feedback on this blog post to see if this was helpful or if any other information would be if use.

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