Voices

Why a diversified marketing system is better

We've all seen one-hit wonders who get off to a blazing start but never diversify their approach, never connect with their audience and subsequently get stuck in first gear.

In your local area, I’m sure you can think of several restaurants that got off to a great start and quickly faded after the luster of being the "new hot spot" wore off. In the music business, examples range from “Who Let the Dogs Out” (Baha Men), “Kung Fu Fighting” (Carl Douglas), “It’s Raining Men” (The Weather Girls) and “99 Red Balloons” (Nena).

And in business, there are many one-trick wonders like Crocs, Timex, Napster, Priceline, Krispy Kreme and WorldCom. For whatever reason, these businesses were never able to capitalize upon their initial success by cross-selling their followers into other products and services.

The same can be said for marketing tactics. Some businesses learn how to master a particular approach for generating leads but never diversify beyond that initial approach. In my discussions with accountants, I often hear about how the tactics used 10 to 20 years ago no longer work and how they are searching to replace their marketing plans of yesteryear. For example, some will mention that we used to spend money on yellow page advertising, but with the deregulation of the telecommunications business combined with the shift from print over to the internet, that yellow page advertising no longer works. Others will say that cold-call telemarketing no longer works like it used to because the cost per lead is so high, leads are so challenging to close and those that close tend to be more price sensitive. And others will reference things like fax marketing and other tactics that faded away.

With the fragmentation of the marketplace, along with changing technologies, a marketer needs to change with the times to remain relevant. Rather than give you an example of an accounting firm that you've never heard of, let's take a familiar brand like ESPN, which was a new sports channel that started in 1979 in Bristol, Connecticut. Since then, ESPN has evolved from being a small cable channel showing Connecticut sports (Hartford Whalers, Bristol Red Sox, UConn Huskies) and gradually upgraded its sports programming over time. In addition to upgrading its sports programming, ESPN has constantly diversified its delivery to become much more than just a cable channel. ESPN is not just another cable TV channel like TNT or USA. ESPN has created an irreverent brand identity that is like MTV on steroids. In other words, ESPN has created iconic personalities that represent the essence of the ESPN brand and connects with its target audience across all types of media. Today, ESPN makes every effort to stay connected with sports enthusiasts using cable television, terrestrial radio, satellite radio, internet, smartphones, restaurants and magazines so its enthusiasts can get their fix 24/7. Clearly, ESPN is not a one-trick pony doing remnant Connecticut sporting events on cable TV.

As you think about your marketing and lead generation approach for your accounting practice, are you a one-trick pony? Or have you diversified by utilizing an integrated marketing approach to generate leads for your practice?

To diversify your marketing and lead generation, consider the following:

  • Referral marketing: Are you consistently letting your clients know that you gladly accept referrals? Do you occasionally ask your clients for referrals? Are you consistently thanking clients for referrals?
  • Newsletter (print or electronic): Are you consistently sending out a newsletter with updated and relevant content? Are you using the newsletter to proactively communicate new events within your practice?
  • Website marketing: Is your website search engine optimized so total strangers can easily find out about your practice? Are you supporting your website with pay-per-click advertising to generate higher levels of traffic?
  • Niche website: Have you considered having more than one website? For your niche services that most people in local market have no clue you provide, have you considered creating a totally separate website dedicated to marketing these unique services?
  • Search engine directories: Is your firm listed within Google Places, Yahoo Local or Bing Places for Business?
  • Online yellow page directories: Does your firm have a free listing with the major online yellow page vendors? Superpages? Citysearch? Insiderpages? Yellow Pages? Yellow Book? And smaller ones like InfoUSA, Kudzu, Dex, etc.?
  • LinkedIn: Are you effectively marketing yourself on LinkedIn? Does your profile link to your website?
  • Hosting workshops: Are you providing small workshops to clients and small business prospects in your local community on topics relevant to small business owners? Are you asking outside speakers to cover topics outside of your comfort zone?

If you'd like to update your marketing program and move beyond being a one trick pony, I highly recommend an integrated marketing approach using a variety of media to attract a flow of new leads for your accounting practice.