Recently, we had the opportunity to develop a Client Accounting Services (CAS) business toolkit for public accounting firms. It was designed with best practices to help firm leaders get their ducks in a row to launch or grow a CAS practice.
Some firms get by with offering a version of CAS without proactively branding and marketing it. That’s fine if you don’t believe it can be a true profit center. However, industry advocates such as AICPA and firm leaders who formally pursue CAS experience faster growth and client retention. That’s because the whole firm participates, and their clients experience the real value and benefits of outsourcing their accounting and CFO functions.
In fact, the AICPA has reported that CAS practices that surpass the $2 million mark are different because they have dedicated staff (from accountant to partner level), and the firm actively offers these services to current and new clients…they market it.*
Here is what we learned when discussing niche-marketing strategies with the recipients of our CAS business toolkit: It needs to be treated like a real niche practice. And that means it needs:
- Staffing and budgeting;
- Technology investment;
- Consistent marketing, and
- A team trained to talk about its value and benefit to clients.
Often, firms get hung up in the marketing component because they assume that clients just know that they offer QuickBooks ProAdvisor team or outsourced accounting or controllership services. After all, they are a public accounting firm! But CAS is not your grandfather’s accounting service.
Know Your Target Audience
- Prospects – cold to warm
- Existing clients – warm to hot
- Referral sources – cold to warm
Who are your prospective CAS clients? What is the size and characteristic of a business that will find outsourced CAS appealing? Detail out the kind of client you want who will bring you $3,000-$7,000 a month as a baseline.
Determine referral sources that can send clients to you. Next, create a plan with talking points about why CAS is the right fit for many of your existing clients.
Build Your CAS Niche Marketing Strategy
Set a financial and staffing goal for your practice. Where do you want to grow the practice in 12 months to 3 years?
Take that goal and break it down into measurable objectives for brand visibility, growth among existing clients and attraction of new CAS-specific clients. What marketing activities will you need to reach these objectives?
To succeed, someone has to take the lead on marketing and measuring your progress toward these objectives and firm goals. Your partners and technical people are too busy serving clients. They need a guide and ongoing activities to support practice growth.
Digital Marketing Agency Support
To make visibility with a CAS practice easier, take stock of your search engine optimization and website content. Are you actively seeking web visitors and leads for your CAS practice or leaving it up to chance? Leaving it up to chance means that your firm might pop up as a search result for CAS and it might not — even in your local market!
Make use of client stories and social media engagement to highlight your CAS team and their amazing knowledge that supports client goals every day. Do your research and ask for the business online as well as in person. What does that look like?
- Offer CAS content subscriptions
- Produce webinars or videos to share CAS features
- Create an assessment to attract prospects
- Develop an FAQ resource
In the beginning, you don’t have to do all of these. Just pick one or two. When clients and potential clients can self-serve and qualify themselves for CAS services, you are halfway to closing the deal. But your audience has to know that the resources are there and available 24/7. Marketing and team training points them to it.
Like clients who need CAS, your firm leadership may not all realize that outsourced marketing services can jumpstart your CAS practice growth. We are happy to answer your questions at Ingenuity. Contact Dawn Wagenaar for a consultation.