There, I said it.
Don’t take offense though, I mean no disrespect; this is just a common issue with most struggling businesses. And if you are not busy, stressed and lazy then you probably don’t need to read this newsletter because you’ve figured out how to run a profitable business.
So, if you feel like your Accounting / Tax Prep firm is running at top speed with a clear purpose and effective business building tools then go ahead and skip the next seven points.
Do you see what just happened?
In less than 75 words I’ve drawn a line in the sand, taken a stance, and touched on an emotional trigger. Hot buttons like profitability, success, quality of life, and fear of failure are common in every business owner – you included and your prospects.
When you can see an issue and address it in plain language, it gets people’s attention. And that’s a good thing when you are trying to differentiate in a crowded market.
This leads me to my first point.
1. Get Real and Be Bold
Don’t sugar-coat and water down your message or point of view. Be real and always talk to the person, not the title or the anonymous idea of a customer. Don’t generalize your audience or your appeal.
Do you think the average business owner is ill-equipped or uniformed, lazy, or overwhelmed? Do you think they are setting themselves up for unnecessary risks? Do you think you’re better equipped than the other firm down the road? Well, say so. And say it with a human touch using words that connect emotionally.
And always use words people can understand and relate to. Create emotional appeal not just intellectual appeal. Be the one who calls it like it is with words people can understand.
2. Stand for Something
Jelly fish CPAs look the same, sound the same, and generally cost the same. Why? Because the generic white-washed menu of services and fee list approach to accounting is par for the course.
Stop being generic. You’re training business owners to see forms and spreadsheets instead of the rock star you really are. Take a stand.
Carve out a premier service you specialize in. You can still offer everything you already do, but distinguish what you want to be known for and move it up front. And, if you can’t figure out how to do that, then claim a position like “Millionaire’s ONLY”, or “We Fix DIY and In-House Bookkeeping”, or “Specializing in International Non-profits”.
Doing this gives you a face among the generic and faceless and makes you stand out in a crowd.
3. Don’t be Lazy with Your Marketing
Most CPAs are lazy when it comes to things outside of their accounting skills. It’s easy to think everyone should know who you are, what you do and why it’s valuable. And perhaps 20 years ago when there wasn’t a CPA on every corner, you could get away with that.
Today it’s crowded. Owners and executives are busy and attention spans are shrinking meanwhile places to advertise are growing.
Stop throwing money away with traditional advertising or basic direct mail. Pushing dollars out the door to gain exposure isn’t going to help if you have a generic message. Sharpen your pencil and start saying something meaningful to your prospects. Talk about their problems and how you help. It’s not about you, it’s about the customer.
Stop buying ads that just list your services in hopes of buyers. Get strategic with your message and it’s placement to be at the right place at the right time. This could be conferences, mailboxes, seminars, websites, social networks, and emails and countless other places.
4. Create a Prospecting System
The sequence of these points is no accident. Steps 1 – 3 are intentionally focused on getting your head in the game with a clear point of view, a clear purpose and uniqueness, and to focus your thinking on marketing that matters.
With this in mind, you must have a prospecting system that accounts for all your channels, touch-points and business opportunities. With a prospecting system you identify what generates leads, what generates sales opportunities, and what creates stronger relationships and create a process to cultivate those prospects. This includes follow up letters, emails, and clear calls to action.
Your goal with a prospecting system is to jump start a relationship, reduce barriers to conduct business, and quickly qualify your best customers. This helps focus on the problems the business owner is facing and how you can help address them. And you are able to do this in a repeatable way regardless of the time or season.
5. Create a Referral System
Much like the prospecting system, your referral system is a business building tool designed to create business in a repeatable way.
The referral system should create new customers by leveraging the relationship you have fostered with your current customers. While this seems obvious, many businesses never encourage referrals from their own customer (or vendor networks). This is just wasted opportunity.
You should have clear points throughout the year or the relationship that you have a specific request for your happy customer to refer you to another customer.
And always make sure that you help your customer know what to say about your business and whom to say it too. Just saying “can you refer me” is not enough. Help them understand who you need to be referred to and how they can best do that. Give them the words to say, the benefit message, and make them feel great about doing it.
And always take referred business and speak well of the customer who did the referring. Everyone likes to feel special and feel connected.
6. Be Helpful, Honest and Referable
Be the kind of professional people like to know and work with. Be honest and helpful to others. If you’ve made everything about you, then you’ve severely reduced your opportunities to succeed. Helping others is a core part of your business success.
And if you’ve done steps 1 – 5, then your helpful deeds will only make you more referable to others because they will understand you, know how you work, and your systems will create consistent communication for your business.
When all these are working in harmony, you’ll have and endless flow of business, goodwill, and valuable services.
7. Don’t Wait to Improve
Lastly, there is no perfect time to start, so start now. Bit by bit you must improve your position in the market, the tools you are using for marketing and prospecting, and your service to others.
And, if you are not sure how to do it, hire a coach, strategist, or consultant to help you figure out the best starting point and the best plan of action for you based on where you are.
I recently had a client hire me for several months to align his strategy, create his business development system and generate all his letters, emails, calendar of events and targeted direct mail pieces. Now, his system runs around the clock and all he has to do is trust his assistant to keep using the tools and booking the appointments, the rest takes care of itself.
If you are interested in a one-time evaluation of your website and prospecting tools with confirmation of what’s being done right along with recommendations for what to fix and how, just send me an email through my website http://justinmccullough.com/ and I’ll give you more information. Anyone who emails before the end of April will get 50% off their one-time evaluation report.
With focus and effort you can generate the business you want using tools that are tailored to your needs. Good luck on your efforts.
Business Builder and Marketing Troubleshooter