We are all creatures of habit, comfortable doing things the way we always have. It worked before so it must be the best way. That may be true, but if you explore a little you might find another way of doing things. If it tests successfully, then you will at least have an alternative, and maybe even a better and more efficient way. Let's look at three examples with regard to attracting new clients.

Part of your practice is advising delinquent taxpayers. Over the years, you have gotten most new clients from referrals. What's diifferent now that you should know about? There are 18 states and the District of Columbia that maintain some type of list of delinquent taxpayers on a Web Site. For example, the Wisconsin Department at dor.state.wi.us/html/delqlist.html posts detailed information about delinquent taxpayers if they owe more than $25,000 and it is unpaid more than 90 days after all appeal rights have expired. It doesn't post taxpayers who have entered into an installment agreement, submitted a complete petition for compromise, or filed for bankruptcy. The delinquent taxpayers are arranged by name, city with their last mailing address, the type of tax involved, and the amount owed. Why not incorporate that information into a marketing initiative? Of course, that information is also invaluable for any accounting firm in completing a due diligence of an existing or potential client.

The second example involves the seminars that your firm probably conducts. Let's say your firm did a great seminar on long-term care insurance, and you are getting calls as to when are you going to hold it again. So rather then renting new facilities all the time or consuming more staff hours, wouldn't it be nice to simply provide access to some of the seminars your firm gives on your Web site? Do what CBS Evening News does. I saw a piece on May 17. The next day I wanted to tell someone about it, so what did I do? I e-mailed him the hyperlink for CBS Evening News (www.bsnews.com/sections/eveningnews/main3420.shtml) and he was able to read the interview or actually see and listen to the segment. Why can't you do the same with regard to some of your seminars?

The third example is how a potential client evaluates whether to contact your firm. In the past, many relied on a referral. In the future, expect that to be only one aspect. They might also go to a site like Angie's List (angieslist.com). For a low monthly fee, they can check out reviews of service providers from consumers. On this particular site, the providers are graded A through F on price, quality, responsiveness, punctuality, professionalism, and overall satisfaction by the consumer. You can search various ways, including by location proximity and grade.

And when did I come in contact with these three examples? All in the last 15 hours. True, part of my job is to look for what's new. But that's my point. Spend a portion of your workday looking at what's new and should be incorporated into the way your firm operates.

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