How many times have you actually heard a CPA/Financial Planner complain about how much money he or she has spent on marketing? Does anyone actually market their practice these days? Do you? Does your competition?
In today’s increasingly competitive market, many CPA and Financial Planning firms are feeling that if they do not market, they will quickly be left behind their competitors. But when it comes to making this investment in marketing, most CPAs and Financial Planners are more inclined to do what feels comfortable – which is nothing. Or, in most cases, have such an informal or haphazard approach to marketing that their efforts are spotty at best. Some even consider marketing as behavior unbefitting a serious professional.
But what is marketing and how does one market effectively?
One definition for marketing is the process for creating, communicating, and delivering value to customers and for managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organization and its stakeholders. Or, in other words, marketing is the process of obtaining new clients and generating new business from existing clients. Sounds simple, right?
But if CPAs and Financial Planners as a whole are unfamiliar with marketing and are rarely using this tool to increase their practices, how can one begin to �market� his or her practice?
First of all, these professionals are actively practicing the art of marketing, even if they are unaware of this fact themselves. Most of us start our marketing campaign with our business card. A business card can say so much and, yet at the same time, say so little about a CPA or Financial Planner. Your business card is the first example that a prospect or potential referral source gets to see who you are. Most �professionals� have overlooked this point and have failed to take advantage of this fact. If you have not done so, meet with a graphic artist to help you design a logo for your business that speaks to your clientele and is a true reflection of who you are and what you want to convey to the public. Many people feel that this expense is an unnecessary one. But remember this: you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. Whether you know it or not, your business card makes an impression with a prospect, even before you open your mouth!
However, if a business card is the only marketing piece you have to help tell about who you are and what you offer to your clients and prospective customers, you’re selling yourself short. Professionals who strategically brand themselves create a positive brand image, and then use that image to market themselves and achieve success in their target markets. Creating and using a personal brochure or profile that highlights all you have to offer is critical to branding yourself and providing you with a competitive advantage. Make yourself stand out with a personal brochure or profile. Good quality paper and a sophisticated design can help show that you are a successful professional.
On another front, whether you believe this or not, your clients want to hear from you. Most of us think that our clients do business with us because of the knowledge that we bring to the table. That is partly true. However, clients have also stressed that they work with their current CPAs and Financial Planners because they felt that they were passionate about what they do, they were trustworthy, and because they cared. For whatever the reason, it is important that you stay connected with your clients.
One quick and easy way that has worked for some financial professionals is to send monthly letters to clients, prospective clients, connections and strategic partners. The initial thought would be that these letters must have some sort of tie to the Financial Services Industry and that they must be informative in nature. What some of us have found, though, is that by sending just general �feel-good� letters that suggest that there is more to life than simply business and that clients should stop and �smell the roses� every once in a while, we can remain in the forefront of clients’ minds and can generate some very effective top-of-mind awareness.
Top-of-mind awareness is a marketing strategy that actively markets your name in front of clients and prospects, but does not actively solicit them. While this is not a terribly sophisticated strategy, it does work very well as part of a financial advisor marketing strategy. Believe it or not, clients and prospects have actually enjoyed receiving these letters and have thanked their CPAs and Financial Planners for sending them. How often do you know of a marketing strategy that people actually look forward to receiving?