The truth is you cannot – and you have not – stopped marketing! Yet, I keep hearing from CPAs that they have stopped conducting their marketing meetings and have reassigned their business development staff – or, worse, laid them off – because “now is not the time for marketing.”
It is time I set you all straight.
Marketing, as I define it, is
REGULAR and COMPELLING Communication that DEFINES YOUR VALUE to a SPECIFIC TARGET AUDIENCE
Many of you have been meeting with your marketing folks – albeit to discuss the latest communication that you will be distributing to the world about Covid-19 related topics – which often include details of the confusing and evolving CARES Act, questions about the stimulus and issues around unemployment (giving and receiving).
I realize that you have the unruly task of figuring out these ever evolving and chaotically confusing new laws and try to figure out how these programs will be accounted for down the road. Although I feel for you – THIS IS YOUR JOB.
When we apply definition of marketing I have provided, you will see that you been marketing after all. I have read all your generic and lack luster e-mails and blog posts that tell me what I have already heard from a multiple array of other sources – and many of you include a link elsewhere for more information. As I shake my head here, I will tell you – you are completely missing the point.
The content you are distributing only meets a small part of the criteria that defines effectively persuasive marketing – you have regularly communicated about a complicated topic to your target audience – you have sorted through it and, in many cases, published some very cool outlines and graphs – but how compelling have your messages been? And how have you communicated your VALUE? Yes, I know – you have been painstakingly paying close attention to all the new laws and you are trying to figure it out and have spent countless hours on it… and I will remind you here – thank you! You are doing your job well! Your clients and referral sources appreciate this – and expect this – of you.
The missing and most important link to the marketing message right now is the piece that compels and differentiates you from the rest out there – the message that relays “We are different because …” “We can help you like no other professional services firm out there by …” “We can assure you that we are better-poised to lead you through this economic / financial crisis and here’s how …” You might ask me
“Well, how SHOULD I be marketing right now?
What DO I SAY?!”
That depends on what you are ready, willing and able to do for your clients – each segment / niche is facing their own unique set of circumstances – healthcare, real estate, construction, manufacturing, non-profits, labor unions, retail, professional services, funeral homes, government, education, etc.
Just as your services need to expand outside of – above and beyond – simply providing a one size fits all tax or audit solution – in order to be seen as a true consultant and advisor to your clients, you need to understand their particular issues and concerns, empathize with them, and work together – brainstorm with them – to figure out how best they can combat these concerns and overcome their issues. Will it always be feasible? Will you be able to solve all their problems? No, unfortunately. But for those who do bounce back in their current business – or eventually start a new one – they will stick with YOU as their professional service provider – surely! And for those who do not make it, you will have provided to them a much-needed service that you can most likely be paid for.
I suggest you and your fellow partners pay careful attention to which of your other clients can benefit from an approach to a solution – and how that solution may be tweaked for another segment of your clientele. There are new problems to solve and it is in our best interests to work together to solve those problems.
This is a time to remain mindful of which types of clients you should focus on moving forward. I have been talking with many CPAs who are being compelled to switch gears in order to change their focus on certain clients.
So, please consider how you might use this shutdown to slow down and re-evaluate your Value Proposition:
What You DO, for Whom You Do it and Why
Here is a HOT TIP:
Consider hosting a Roundtable / Peer Group / Virtual Meeting with a small group (6-8) of the decision-makers at similarly niched clients (Small Business Owners in Retail, Firm Administrators of Law Firms, Council Members of Government Municipalities) and facilitate a brainstorm with the intention of creating an open, honest, strategic alliance among to connect and share the problems and work on the solutions together. These small groups instill a strong sense of “unity through community” and have been a staple recommendation in my coaching practice to my CPA and law firm clients for many years.
Peer Groups / Roundtables for Similar/ Like Businesses – facilitated by a CPA or Lawyer – is One of the Easiest and Most Effective Ways to Market yourself and your Firm – It will nurture key relationships, reveal issues and concerns you didn’t know exist, educate less experienced staff and, ultimately enhance your reputation as a credible leader for that industry – helping to boost your position as an expert in your field. If you would like TIERNEY Coaching & Consulting’s “cheat sheet” on How to Conduct a Brainstorming Session – let me know and I will send it over to you.