[IMGCAP(1)]In my profession, I have always believed we were not on the cutting edge of marketing.
Expert after expert, firm after firm and seminar after seminar suggested the same old process and the same tired advice. So I set out to write new rules about marketing and business development for CPAs, but can apply to your business also. With the support, patience and input of my partners, we did it. And here are some of the things I learned to do or not do.
1. DO break the mold of your industry website. When we developed our website, we instructed the team at Adhere Creative to not make us look like a CPA firm. Do what every other organization would do to drive our clients and prospects to our website. The first impression is now your website, LinkedIn, Facebook. Twitter and other social media channels. Not your office. Put your money in your Web presence. More people will see and judge you by that than by the number that walk into your office. GroSocial says, “82 percent of consumers trust a brand more when their executives are active on social media.” Where are you?
2. DO build your website with the goal of inbound marketing. We listened and built our website on Hubspot. What a great decision. While I appreciate the Google analytics, Hubspot adds so much more to content, client and prospect management.
3. DO NOT hire a party planner. Here is what I mean: In my experience, we had always hired marketing graduates and they were relegated to planning events, firm parties and newsletters. When our practice growth partner introduced me to a potential new hire who was a new grad, a strong writer and Hubspot certified, I didn’t get it. Catherine didn’t fit “the mold” that I had been used to. But we listened, and wow. What a difference it makes to have her skills in this role. Yes, there is event planning and all of those things, but that is NOT her role or job. Her role is to manage the content and communications of our firm.
4. DO write your own content. Don’t buy canned content. If you follow #3, you will have a person that can do this! Be your own expert and write your own content. It is what the search engines respect. I learned quickly that SEO does not work long term. meaning you can buy your way to the top, but you can’t stay there without real, credible content. And best of all, it is free! You won’t need to buy space on Google for search results. Great content gets you to the top. Be yourself and DROP the accounting speak. You aren’t reaching out to other accountants. You are writing to people who don’t understand the lingo and technical language. I see this with a lot of accountant and attorney blogs. They don’t know their audience. Be social. Everything doesn’t have to sound like advertising.
5. DO live dangerously and listen to the experts you pay. Selecting the right expert is so important. I stayed away from canned CPA websites and promoters that could do it in a few days. Adhere brought us more than a great website. They gave us marketing advice, and trust me, it was hard to listen to them. They didn’t put us in a CPA box or a professional service box. They gave us advice that went against everything we had heard before. But we listened, and it has paid off. Empower your marketing team and follow them. They are the marketing experts, not you. Sign up for the Hubspot blog and keep your finger on the pulse of what is going on in this digital age. It can change in a split second.
Take small bites and small steps. It seems overwhelming, but it is not so bad. Once you get started, it is hard to stop.
Wesley Middleton, CPA, is managing partner at Middleton Raines + Zapata LLP in Houston, Texas.
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