|Advertising accounting services is risky. Chances of finding the message that will elicit response are dependent on a few not commonly known factors to which ad agencies are oblivious.|
CPA Firm Advertising Guide
Accounting service advertising - avoid these mistakes
|Why CPA & accounting firms uniformly fail to get the expected (or accepted) results from their ad campaigns? What kind of a message elicits interest, creates need and desire for Accounting services? How do you handle the prospective clients you obtain?|
What you need to know before you spend another dime on advertising?
Advertising is a high-risk investment unless you KNOW that you're using a message and medium that have brought results previously.
Avoid spending a dime for advertising until you get proven FACTS on what brings RESULTS. That is to say, don't pay before you have at least a reasonable certainty that your investment will bring you more profits than it costs.
Advertising can be a very confusing (and confused) subject with lots of gurus, opinions, and theories of every imaginable kind abound.
Advertising people would like us take our facts from them - what is true and what isn't.
You're not supposed to evaluate advertising by results.
That's right. Advertising agencies aren't interested in giving any kind of guarantees that their campaign would bring you new clients and income.
Campaigns are evaluated by a jury of peers (other ad people) as artwork... and prizes given to the "best looking ads."
The only thing guaranteed is you get the bill
Seriously - are you aware of how much ads cost these days?
Have you asked for a quote from an ad agency on creating the ad itself?
Enquired about telemarketing or those "prospecting services" offered to accounting professionals?
If you have, you know that they cost an arm and a leg. Staggering costs - and absolutely NO guarantees that you would get RESULTS.
There are a lot of ways you can SPEND money advertising but very few that will give you results to justify the expenditure.
The only thing you get is "hope" - you get to live in a positive, expectant state of mind for a while. That's until the exchange (or lack thereof) for your investment becomes evident a few days after the publication date.
You bought the advertising on the hope of obtaining new clients. But the item of sale was the ad space or the service attempting to find you prospects.
The only thing you are guaranteed to GET is the the bill. While at least something tangible, it's not really the kind of concrete results you were looking for.
You also get to feel like you were doing something to benefit your Practice. The guy that sold you the hope rarely calls to ask if you are satisfied... and if he calls, he never fails to act "surprised" that you got little or no results. (You are an "exception," see... "our clients usually get..." and so on. But, I'm sure you've already heard that tune many a time, right?)
There are SO many uncertain elements in any advertising that the fact is your chances of losing out are astronimical. You'll be VERY lucky to break even - get one client - with a long return of investment to look forward to.
The reason why so few CPAs advertise - or do ANYTHING to attempt finding prospects - is because it has proved to be nothing but an expense.
And you're not a CPA for throwing away good money after bad.
What makes basic advertising such a risky gamble with little or no chance of winning?
I have no axe to grind with advertising and publishing industries. They are very useful, but only if you know exactly how to use their products and services.
The first thing to realize is that an advertising space or a direct mailing letter itself produces NOTHING.
No matter what media you use to convey your message, the media itself is only the CARRIER of your message.
It's the MESSAGE that does the trick - gets you the results you expected - or doesn't.
If successful, people will contact you to get more information.
But don't assume that accounting services could be sold with an ad or a letter only. Don't expect to get calls from business owners fully decided and ready to sign a contract.
You need to have a very carefully planned system to HANDLE the contacts your advertising, mailing or telemarketing campaign produces.
If you don't then you cannot get sales.
Don't confuse selling accounting services with selling a car of definite make, model, mileage and condition. You can sell a used card with an ad if the price is right.
But you cannot sell your accounting services that way. While the WHO of a used car has some bearing on it's value, it isn't a major point. But WHO my CPA is - the person himself, how well I like him, how easily I understand what he says and he what I want... these are CRUCIAL elements of decision.
Many accounting professionals think that if they only have a competitive hourly rate, they will automatically get clients.
Sorry - it doesn't work that way. Business owners KNOW that "an hour" is the vaguest of all definitions for exchanging money with work. See - they have LOTS of experience on this with their employees. An hour of work can mean just about anything - from something very valuable to nothing but nuisance.
Trying to get the price down is something most people at least think about no matter WHAT the think of buying. And business owners have little else to go on - they don't know how to evaluate your accounting services professionally.
So they talk price - but that's not the real item. Not by a long shot.
The real item is "what do I get out of this - how much easier and faster will it make the running of my business, the decisions I have to make? Can this CPA save me money, help me understand my finances better - will he return my calls, be available when I have questions...?" Things like that.
So you need to have a message that COMMUNICATES these things and does so in a split second - otherwise your moment is gone. And you need a very clever way to HANDLE the contacts you get. Once you have these two, you WILL get results. Results beyond what you could imagine, in fact.
But before you can achieve these, you need to understand the most fundamental of all causes behind the miserable failure of ad campaigns.
Would you create a new bookkeeping method for each new client?
Picture this: A CPA that would create a whole new system of accounting for every individual client he gets. He would compose a unique set of (generally accepted) accounting procedures for each Joe Doe that signs on.
And, to really gorge with creativity, he would use the alphabet instead of numbers in his Tax Report - and use a different set with each client... and hide these "secret codes" and refuse to show them to anyone.
Now, there's a fresh if crazy viewpoint - phew!
Let me ask you this: Would you consider this imaginary CPA a good professional, a genius... or something else?
Right. This guy would be seen as insane and carted off to the funny farm in no time!
Every accounting professional knows that standard procedure, using the proven and accepted methods and tools is the ONLY way to do accounting... and end up with something that is CORRECT and WORKS.
But very few CPAs have ever questioned the logic of contrary methodology in marketing and advertising!
Think about it: Every single campaign is ALWAYS created totally unique, totally new - EVERYTHING IS FRESHLY INVENTED AND TOTALLY UNTRIED!
The three MAJOR REASONS why CPA campaigns fail and area a waste of money are:
ALWAYS NEW, UNPROVEN AND UNTESTED APPROACH (AD, MESSAGE, IDEA)
We've been fooled into thinking that it's CLEVER to always create a totally new "fresh approach!"
We NEVER research, test, or pilot these new elements included in the campaigns! It's all new, all untried, based on someone's personal ideas and opinions.
What it SHOULD be based on is the viewpoints of your target audience. It should offer them what THEY perceive valuable and aren't getting from their currect CPA. It should use THEIR terminology, their wordings on accounting & finance services... and so on.
NEVER A PROVEN, DOCUMENTED AND EXPANSIVE ENOUGH SYSTEM TO HANDLE PROSPECTS OBTAINED
If you're lucky (or skillful) enough to actually GET prospects from your campaign, the traditional way of HANDLING these contacts is by presentations of your own services - almost always done ad lib, committed to memory... and so on.
To interest a prospect, you need to put the attention on HIM, not you. You need a very specific, piloted and proven DOCUMENTED system to handle the prospects in order to close the majority of them onto your services.
NOT HAVING THE BASIC KNOWLEDGE OF MARKETING, ADVERTISING, AND SALES
The reason you can be pulled into hopeless deals - or refuse to try ANY prospecting and sales at all - is simply not knowing the basics of how your practice CAN get clients.
This isn't a big step - but you have to drop all those "theories" and concentrate only on what aims at DIRECT RESULTS and is proven to work.
The main thing in this point is understanding that obtaining new clients is a bigger system that needs to have proven parts for each phase - and once you have a system, you just KEEP AT IT and don't EVER CHANGE IT as long as it produces results. (And that will be YEARS, not months!)
A message that works
Starting with your advertising / prospecting, you need a message that...
EFFECTS AN IMMEDIATE POSITIVE REACTION in those that receive it - it is NOTICED and experienced postively,
CREATES A HIGH INTEREST in what you offer in the target audience you are communicating to to,
GENERATES A DESIRE TOWARD (and an understanding of benefits of) the offered service, and
EFFECTS AND ELICITS A RESPONSE so that decision-makers contact you for more information (or free introductory servce, or whatever it is you're offering as the NEXT STEP TO TAKE).
If your message is based of those underlying factors that govern the interest and selection process of your target audience... you WILL get results.
A presentation & sales system that works
To handle the prospects you receive, you need a CPA service presentation & sales system that effects, among others, such things as...
STABILIZING THE CONTACT as the first action so that he won't just ask for a price an "run"
PREQUALIFYING THE CONTACT so you won't waste time with someone that either has no authority do decide or isn't the kind of client you'd want
CREATING DIFFRENTIATED IMAGE of you and your practice in the mind of the prospect so that HE formulates several positive opinions about you - without any prompting from you
CONTROLLING THE DIRECTION of the sales action so that you constantly advance toward the point where it is possible to get a sale
ASSOCIATING YOURSELF with those things the prospect wants and considers extremely valuable, so that he will see your service as something he has long been looking for - not something that's being pushed at him
CONSULTING THE PROSPECT - as if it were: Your sales actions have to be in form of a consultation in order for you to not have to take the (ineffective) traditional sales approach
INTERVIEWING TECHNIQUE that will allow you to ask pleasant questions but effect the prospect forming favorable opinions (making small, positive decisions) about you, your service and the benefits of the future cooperation with you
...and so on. This is a huge list - there are well over a hundred small steps in this system, all in correct sequence to take the prospect a little bit closer to a positive decision.
Ideally, this system takes about 20 minutes on the phone with each prospect and then about 1 hour at a sales meeting in your (or his) office.
Despite the gigantic number of parts it really translates into some ready and very easy-to-use tools. That's functionality - the end result is something ANY accounting professional can use without prior sales experience or long studies.
All the marketing & sales techniques are woven into the tools. You just have to use the tools.
You don't have to do any research. It's been done and you get the report on the results with your system.
You don't have to create elaborate added-value accounting services or value pricing. That's included, too.
It's all there. Each tested part in correct sequence, with clear and simple step-by-step instructions to follow.
Click here to read more about the Modern Accountancy Marketing & Sales Course - the system that is used by countless CPA & accounting firms in 45 U.S. states and 30 countries worldwide.
It'll forever change the way you can obtain new clients when you want - and the kind you want.
|Which are the effective elements in a CPA service presentation and sales system - which parts are essential if you want RESULTS with certainty?|
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