In a typical market, 75 per cent of all accounting firms will do no marketing at all. Of the remainder, 10 per cent will be assertive marketers and and 15 per cent passive marketers.
Assertive marketers use a wide variety of marketing activities including direct contact with potential clients and considerable involvement with professional network of referral sources. Typically they use between six and fifteen different marketing tactics within their overall marketing strategy.
There is no doubt that assertive marketing is by far the more successful. It creates a great number of leads, involves direct interaction with prospective clients, and produces a measurable return. Even so, some accountants may feel that an assertive marketing strategy is beyond their scope, or even ‘out of character’, and would prefer to develop their practice by passive means.
The benefits of passive marketing
- It fits the ‘psychological profile’ of most accountants, who generally feel uncomfortable promoting their services aggressively
- While it does not thrust your practice to the forefront of the local accounting market, it does provide an organised program with measurable goals
- It does not cost as much as assertive marketing, in terms of money or time
- It will help to maintain the firm’s image of being above ‘intrusive’ marketing techniques
- It will help you to develop your referral sources
Though a passive marketing strategy will not bring even a quarter of the leads an assertive program would, it is better than no marketing at all.
The seven pillars of passive marketing
Even a passive marketing strategy can be wide-ranging and complex, but the seven most important elements are as follows:
- 1. Provide a high level of client service
This is the cornerstone of a passive marketing program. It involves:
- catering for the requirements of your client, his partners, his likely successors and his children
- conducting periodic client surveys
- devising innovative methods for collecting debts
- performing work at your client’s premises that you would normally perform at your office
- asking your clients for referrals
- positioning yourself as a specialist
- cross-selling as many services as possible to your client
- 2. Provide profit-enhancement services
Most accountants now realise that the future of accounting lies not in compliance services but in helping your client to increase his profits. Try to build up a range of such services – it is these services that will get you noticed.
- 3. Get to know your clients’ other professionals
This is the most under used marketing tactic among firms that do not aggressively market their practices. These people should form the hub of your referral network.
- 4. Examine your physical presentation
How does your office look inside and out? Is the receptionist professional? Do your premises need improving? How close are you to your major clients? Is access simple?
- 5. Streamline your administration
Repeatedly examine justifications for any activity that is not chargeable or designed to bring in chargeable work.
- 6. Upgrade your employees
A major part of excellent client service is excellent employees. Make sure yours are fully trained and competent.
- 7. Make yourself visible
Most practices suffer from invisibility. To get new business, you must make yourself known. Try some of the following:
- producing a newsletter
- writing articles
All these activities are passive in that they do not require direct solicitation of potential clients, but used correctly they can bring in a steady flow of new leads.