Starting an accounting practice offers a major choice. Will you offer your expertise as the main item of sale or the indistinguishable routine work with which most accountants go out?

Accountancy Marketing Challenge

CPA Marketing Tips - Premiere Online Practice Management Guide for Accounting Professionals CPA Marketing Challenge: What's the best marketing strategy when starting an accounting practice?

Modern Accountancy Marketing & Sales Course

CPA - Accounting Marketing Challenge:
Choosing the best marketing strategy for a starting accounting practice

This CPA Challenge comes from HK in London and asks about the best marketing strategy when starting a new accounting practice.

Dear HK,

Thank you for your CPA challenge from our site.

Your challenge was:

"After being employed in an accounting practice I decided to start my own accounting practice... are there any marketing strategies or tips for starting an accounting firm?"

The short answer is "Yes" but obviously that’s not going to help you much.

The slightly more expanded reply is that when you start your own accounting practice, there are two things which I consider important for you to concentrate on.

1. Nature of your accounting services and your approach to clients

Let me be very clear here about WHAT you should deliver as the service model with which you FRONT your accounting services:

It would need to be one that focuses on EXPERTISE and ADVICE in financial matters, taxation, data-finding for the client’s decision-making process in matters involving direct financial consequences... that sort of thing.

In other words, I mean that you should think what you offer first and then focus on approaching businesses with some form of CONSULTING service.

It need NOT be anything fancy or complex at all but, at its simplest, just AVAILABILITY of your advice so that your monthly service INCLUDES regular communication with the client during which he can then ask for your advice.

Essentially, the world of accounting is plagued with attitudes that still hang in the past when it comes to WHAT to deliver or, rather, HOW to deliver accounting services.

The traditional thinking is that you just set up shop, acquire accounting software, hang a shingle on your door and await for clients to come in the door, all asking you to perform ROUTINE actions such as monthly accounts, compliance services, filling in tax forms and whatnot.

This concept is from way back when most people were too ignorant to fill in forms and there was no Internet to offer such services.

But today, there are solutions that can replace the accounting firm at far lower cost.

While this isn’t necessarily true objectively speaking, marketing and selling are NOT objective but based on what your intended BUYER thinks and understands... so I’m talking about the views, understanding (and lack thereof) within the majority of small businesses out there in your local market.

The difference of this thinking in terms of what you offer - or rather what you FRONT your services with, as you would deliver all compliance services as well but these come to you without asking from every consulting client - is basically in the popular terms used within accounting industry, namely proactive and reactive thinking.


The reactive accountant just records what has happened, does what comes his way, does the books, fills the forms and doesn’t really do anything effective to help the client UNDERSTAND finances or DO something about emerging problems immediately once they’re visible.

In fact, he doesn’t even MONITOR the client’s accounts from that viewpoint so that he would INFORM the business owner the moment something goes awry or a potential opportunity arises.

The PROACTIVE accountant is all about setting every new client up so that the accountant is helping the client RUN his business through monitoring of key financial figures (or key performance indicators) and going over these with the client on monthly basis... that the client...

- BECOMES AWARE of the changes immediately
- CAN ASK about the specific issue so as to UNDERSTAND its anatomy and the likely consequences of ignoring it and fixing it
- CAN DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT immediately... IF he so chooses.

Please note that the above points only ensure the client becomes AWARE of a problem and knows you stand available for assistance... but that it is left up to HIM to decide whether or not he wants to DO something about it and what that something would be.

You only inform and stand by to help if required. You do NOT try to force him into doing something and you do NOT "talk sense" to him. You simply inform and let it be known you'll help if he so wishes.

This is proactive accounting service and that’s what business owners want.

And I’m not just saying that but we’ve surveyed thousands of business owners on this point with some 68% of them desperately wanting this kind of service... if only they thought it was AVAILABLE from anyone.

But the vast majority of accounting professionals are still reactive in their approach to service delivery, so they don’t offer this.

OR, if they do, it’s delivered in a judgmental manner or forced down the throat of the client, which then makes it very difficult (or impossible) for him to accept the advice and act on it.

It’s really very simple to become a proactive accounting professional if only you want. The exact tools for this type of easy but extremely successful service delivery are part and parcel of the Modern Accountancy Marketing Course which you can read about by clicking the link.

Which brings us the SECOND important point in starting your new accounting practice:

2. An intelligent way of approaching your target group and setting up the routine of doing so

Essentially, if you just start calling businesses, offering the reactive type of accountancy service, you’ll soon find out that 99 out of 100 will give you an instant reply something along these lines:

"Thank you, we already have an accountant and we’re satisfied with his services..."

Yet surveys show that the vast majority of accounting clients are NOT satisfied with the service they receive from their accountant... but, see... they think that "all accountants are alike" so why change?

Changing accountants involves quite a bit of hassle, cost, and even embarrassment. Some 98% of your future accounting clients are NOW the clients of another accounting firm.

So, in order to have any chance of getting ahead in the game and acquiring new clients, you need to have something positively DIFFERENT that TEMPTS these business owners to go into the trouble of changing accountants.

Most of those you would call aren’t actually satisfied with their accountant, but they don’t hear YOU being any different, so to say they’re satisfied is just a way of getting rid of YOU quickly.

But really, they work on the premises of "better the devil you know than the one you don’t," choosing DOING NOTHING as their response to your offer...

...because you’re not offering anything that would JUSTIFY the trouble of changing accountants!

Now, please understand how this game plays out completely on what the business owners out there think, know, consider valuable... it’s all based on what THEY PERCEIVE (and don’t perceive).

Which brings me (finally) to my point:

To approach businesses in your area successfully, you need to be able to communicate IMMEDIATELY that your accounting services are DIFFERENT, based on continuous support of the client in terms of giving him accurate and timely information on which he can make correct decisions about his finances and on running his business.

When we add the fact that most of those business owners don’t really understand financial planning and have negative emotions about accounting and taxation... well, you begin to see the challenge involved.

So you need a method or technique of approaching businesses in such a way that...

- this automatic rejection mechanism ("thanks, we already have an accountant") is NOT triggered and, if it is, you can still CONTINUE the communication...
- your communication teaches (discreetly) the true POTENTIAL of proactive accounting consultation but without making it challenging or difficult (because they don’t understand finance and would reject anything that makes them feel unintelligent)...
- your method of approaching them and your conversation is in itself a sample of how easy, comfortable, pleasant and USEFUL it is to communicate with you (thus proving they would ENJOY your consultation if they signed on and BENEFIT from it)...
- you need to ensure they realise things that make them feel MORE ABLE TO CONTROL THEIR FINANCES WITH YOUR HELP...
- the first contact leads quite naturally to a second one without making them feel you’re selling something or that the next action will obligate them...

...and, finally, your approach must GIVE THEM HOPE that there is a way to achieve good control over their finances and that financial planning can become as familiar to them as their own expertise is currently, so that their natural energetic approach to those things can be extended to finances WITH YOUR SUPPORT.

Now, IF you can approach businesses in this way then you will find yourself signing on new clients on weekly basis, guaranteed.

You truly offer something that’s BETTER than what most businesses receive from their current service provider of accounting services.

You offer it in sufficiently GRADUAL manner so they learn to understand the benefits of your service while simultaneously building a MUTUAL TRUST between you and the prospect.

You present your services in such a way that they perceive YOUR financial consulting as totally UNIQUE, extremely VALUABLE, and completely SUPPORTIVE so they feel they can trust you and that changing over to you will make a difference.

That’s the way to approach businesses (who are currently clients of other accountants) effectively.

Once you have the effective way of approaching them, then you only need to ensure that the ROUTINE of doing so is put in.

You need to set up some form of outflow - direct mailing letters, a few telephone calls every day... that sort of thing, the ACTIONS that reach out to businesses in your area to communicate to them so that the message of your positively unique and worthwhile services is relayed to sufficiently many business owners on weekly basis to warrant RESPONSE.

Marketing and client-acquisition are quantitative games of numbers too in that you need to send out enough messages to sufficiently many decision-makers every week to guarantee that you receive interested prospects in return.

But here’s the thing:

FIRST make sure that your APPROACH to them, your MESSAGE, what you SAY, is laden with the QUALITY factor explained above, so that there’s a point in marketing.

Frankly, if you want to offer the reactive service model of accounting, you’ll need to have some 20 times MORE outflow (and cost) to receive the same amount of response, because your message won’t appeal to anyone except startups and those who’ve gotten into grave disagreement with their current accountant (usually because of unpaid fees...)

... and those types of clients provide NEITHER a good source of profitable income NOR much job satisfaction for the accounting professional.

If you’re interested in obtaining ready-to-use TOOLS that will do the trick of making a difference and communicating your uniqueness and proactive attitude (direct mailing letters, unique prospecting scripts, etc.) then I strongly recommend investing in the Modern Accountancy Marketing Course, as its tools were tested for three years with some 50 accounting firms before the system was launched in its current "do-it-yourself" format.

And if you first want to read what other accounting professionals have said about these tools then please read some of the testimonials given about the Modern Accountancy Marketing Course.

Summary of marketing strategy for a start-up accounting practice

To recap, you need to plan HOW you want to serve your clients.
If you insist on the reactive and passive service model then I cannot help you.

If you choose to go for the proactive service concept, then you need to figure out how to INFLUENCE their business activity in a positive way, supporting their goals and assisting them with accurate financial information and, above all, a monthly opportunity to discuss with you so they can focus on their finances and make small corrections to their course immediately.

It goes without saying that you’ll need to ensure their monthly accounts are kept up to date as that’s where you obtain YOUR data to give them, right?

Once you have decided your service concept approach, it’s time to find a way to COMMUNICATE this difference to your target audience in your local area.

This is a big challenge that you’re welcome to try on your own, but I must warn you that it took our team of 12 marketing experts THREE YEARS to crack this nut because, quite frankly, there’s so much negativity and so many preconceptions out there ABOUT accountants that it’s really difficult to get past the first few words without triggering the rejection mechanism.

During those three years we wasted an inordinate amount of money, time, and effort in various tests and trials until finally the exact steps and actions (down to exact wordings of sentences) that produce results were found.

And finally, once you have a way of creating that unique impression in your target group members about your proactive accounting services, you need to install a firm routine in which the actions of getting the message to the decision-makers in your area are done in sufficient quantity so that you’ll be able to sign on new clients.

Do try it on your own by all means.

I cannot tell you what to do and your decisions are what form your future, so I leave it up to you.

But I will say that the EASY and FAST way of securing all this expertise, all the tools and all the instructions, is to acquire the Modern Accountancy Marketing Course NOW rather than waste a lot of money and effort in trying to reinvent the wheel.

If you want others to take your advice then don't be afraid to take some advice yourself from an expert, in other words!

HK, I hope this answered your challenge. I’m located in the UK so if you want to discuss this with me, feel free to telephone me.

Best wishes,

Harry Kafka
HDK Consultants U.S.A. Inc.
PMB 211
411 Cleveland
FL 33755
Phone (727) 474 1206
Calls from outside USA: +1 727 474 1206

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HDK Consultants USA Inc.
HDK Consultants U.S.A. Inc.
PMB 211
411 Cleveland
FL 33755
Phone (727) 474 1206
Calls from outside USA:
+1 727 474 1206

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