Many CPA and accounting firms have taken the leap into Web site marketing through both search engine optimization and social media marketing.

This is evidenced by the number of courses available within the profession on how to use Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and other SEO strategies to promote a practice and generate new business opportunities. But just as these strategies have come into the mainstream, a new marketing technique called mobile marketing is emerging.

Mobile marketing is the process of marketing to executives, business owners and other prospects through their mobile device. The most common use of mobile marketing is to have an ad, newsletter or other printed material contain a Quick Read code. The code is scanned by a QR reader on a mobile phone - the application is free for most smartphones - and opens a mobile Web site where additional information is available.

The approach has been effective at connecting prospects and companies through the mobile platform. A large portion of the advertising produced today includes QR codes and a mobile marketing component, because of the number of people accessing the Web from their mobile devices.

 

FIRMS GOIN' MOBILE

There are several CPA firms currently using QR codes and mobile marketing campaigns as part of their broader marketing strategy.

Eric Majchrzak, director of marketing for Buffalo, N.Y.-based Freed Maxick & Battaglia, was one of the first to experiment with the mobile platform. "We first launched a mobile site that provides targeted industry and eligibility information about the New York State Excelsior Jobs Program," he said. "The site was promoted through the use of QR codes used in traditional print and direct-marketing campaigns, seminars and other media."

"The QR codes, when scanned with smartphones, allow users to receive instant expanded information about the program and the services we provide to help companies claim these credits," Majchrzak continued. "Users will have options to connect with the firm by calling direct, submitting questions via their mobile device, or connecting via social media channels."

Katie Tolin, director of marketing for Ohio-based accounting firm Rea & Associates, is in the process of developing their first smartphone- accessible program. "We're developing a mobile-marketing program with unique information about a pressing issue in our area that will impact hundreds of thousands of businesses," she explained. "Our plan is to send a mail piece to targeted business that contains the QR code. The idea is to move people to act quickly and, by putting more information a click away, hopefully they grab their phones to get answers to all the questions we know they will have."

 

THE BENEFITS

There are several benefits to mobile marketing, including:

* The creation of a platform for cost-effective promotions in reaction to breaking news, events or legislative changes;

* Enhancing relationships through the distribution of timely and trusted content;

* The penetration of the smartphone marketing and the opportunity to build/reinforce brand; and,

* The opportunity to connect with prospects that are "on the go."

 

THE RESULTS

"Aside from the new leads and business development opportunities, which we expected, our firm has been able to be uniquely positioned as an innovator," Majchrzak said. "This has not only gained the attention of the local press, but our industry trades as well. It helps build a reputation that we are not only experts in the field of accounting services, but we are also a progressive firm that understands the world around us."

"The program hasn't launched yet. However, I am interested in learning how our geographic footprint will impact the results," said Tolin. "With diverse markets that cover everything from metropolitan areas to rural areas to Amish communities, it will be interesting to see where the mobile Web traffic comes from. I want to test them all to see if any stereotypes will be broken."

"The use of mobile devices has skyrocketed, and it's predicted that it will grow by 50 percent this year," she continued. "That's a statistic you can't deny has possibility. You need to take your marketing to where your potential buyers are, and I'm pretty sure you'll find a mobile device nearby."

 

Brian Swanson is a principal with Flashpoint Marketing, a marketing and lead-generation company focused on serving the accounting profession.

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