[IMGCAP(1)]I know, I know, it’s called busy season for a reason. But if you think about it, busy season is really the best time for you and your firm to market your services.

Here are some reasons why and tips on ways to make it happen.

Capitalize on the fact that you speak to, and see, your clients more during busy season than any other time of the year. For many firms, the period just before and during busy season may be the only time each year when you meet with certain clients.

But too often, these meetings are quickly executed and only focus on the client’s immediate tax needs. What if you took a few more minutes to talk about what is going on in their businesses or personal lives? See if there are other ways you can help them and even inform them about some of the other services your firm offers. Many people don’t realize their tax firm offers many other services in addition to tax preparation, so here’s an opportunity for you to let them know.

TIP: If the idea of adding time to your tax planning meetings is too much, here’s another option. Make sure you have some sort of collateral material that you can give them along with their tax organizer that explains the other services your firm offers, and ideally, shares some case studies about how you’ve helped other businesses like theirs thrive. Or, create a PDF file that you can attach to an e-mail, or even add as content to the body of the email, which you send as a follow-up to your meeting.

Busy season is the best time to ask for referrals. Trust me, if you just saved your clients a lot of money on their taxes, they are more than happy to refer you to their friends and colleagues. But many times, in the rush of just getting the work done, many CPAs miss this fantastic opportunity. Why not take a few minutes at the end of your meetings to ask your clients if they know of any other businesses who would benefit from your services?

TIP: Many CPAs are simply not comfortable asking for referrals in person, so make it easier on yourself. Create a PDF with your firm information and send it to your client at the end of the engagement. Simply ask them to forward it to their friends and colleagues if they were happy with your services. If you really want to measure the results of your efforts, create individual URLs that lead visitors to a special “referral” landing page. This will allow you to review the traffic and visitor analytics, so you can measure how successful the campaign was and also determine how you may want to tweak it in the future.

Set aside time for marketing and business development. I know, you are already working insane hours. But if you stop marketing completely for three months, you will lose a lot of ground and spend most of May wondering why there’s no business. Set aside one hour a week for marketing efforts, and you’ll be surprised how it pays off.

TIP: It’s always best if the entire firm is involved in marketing and business development activities. Why not set aside one hour a week for the ENTIRE firm to focus on business development. For example, at 2 pm on Wednesdays, everyone stops what they are doing and starts following up on calls, sending e-mails to clients and prospects, scheduling networking meetings for late April and May, whatever needs to be done. By making it a group effort, no one will feel like they are focusing on the wrong thing, and that one lost hour of billable time will pay off greatly later in the year.

These are just a few ideas that can allow you to continue marketing during your busiest time of the year. I’d love to hear your ideas too. What works for you? What could your marketing staff do to help you take advantage of this time of year? Please share!

Bonnie Buol Ruszczyk is president of BBR Marketing, a firm that specializes in strategic planning and tactical implementation for professional services firms.

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