The number one reason that clients leave a professional service firm is that they don’t feel valued, and therefore don’t perceive value from the relationship. Leah Spielman gives her tips and tricks for building a client relationship and keeping it strong even when you handle multiple accounts.
A big anniversary is approaching. The number doesn’t matter as much as the nagging feeling that you should do something to promote and celebrate it. The problem: how to prioritize business anniversary marketing in the midst of other important marketing work.
Some firms will let the opportunity pass by or maybe have a nice employee party and call it good. But they are missing the power of demonstrating longevity — particularly after the Recession when so many companies do not survive due to insolvency or an inability to adapt to rapid change.
A few years ago, a professor at Yale, Richard Foster, noted that the average life expectancy of companies in the S&P 500 has dropped to just 15 years.
Now do you feel like your anniversary is a big deal? It’s a great opportunity to reinforce brand loyalty.
You don’t have to plan your anniversary celebration alone. Many firms work with an outsourced marketing group to support both internal and external business anniversary marketing. There are so many ways to celebrate an anniversary, and it depends on your goals, audience and resources. Start with a plan.
Here are some tips to leverage your business anniversary:
Assign a team.
Ask why your anniversary is important. Come up with two or three reasons.
Discuss your unique firm story and how to tie it to your anniversary with key messages.
Create a list of potential activities to promote your anniversary to internal and external audiences. Anniversaries can be a great source of pride and engagement for employees, so don’t miss this piece of the plan.
Discuss how your anniversary can stand out visually: with a special logo or icon, a website history timeline, photos from the past and present, a video, special event invitations and advertising campaign.
Identify media or associations that will share the news of your anniversary. Use it to create an anniversary PR plan.
Plan and host a few small events or one big event, inviting clients and influencers to celebrate with you. Event planning, promotion and management are time-consuming and need their own team.
Consider a commemorative item to give as a gift to clients and referrals to thank them for supporting your longevity. You may also dedicate something for your office or building such as a piece of art.
Develop a timeline and identify champions to carry out the anniversary activities. An activity can happen each month or each quarter. Just make it consistent.
Use social media to share the results of your celebration as appropriate.
As you can see, business anniversary marketing has many details to consider. It helps to plan at least a year in advance of a pending anniversary. Larger firms should plan even further out to organize people, processes and also the budget.
After considering all of this, do you think you’ll need help planning your business anniversary? Get started by talking to us at Ingenuity. We’ve helped many firms celebrate a milestone by supporting planning, visuals, event development and more.
Targeted Content Marketing Strategy Gets Media Attention
Buzz – an atmosphere of excitement or activity.
Social media is the dominant communicator of buzz today for your brand. You can create buzz through intentional content marketing or it can happen organically from an unrelated event that causes people to share, post and get excited about your services.
What’s so exciting about professional service industries? They have a reputation for being boring, but they are also known as stable, reliable, smart and indispensible for business owners. These latter traits are a journalist’s dream source. Professionals have seen, lived through – and helped their clients live through – all types of business climates and situations that make great stories.
Professionals sometimes tell us that they don’t know how to use their “boring” work to get media buzz. Well, here are eight tips from our experience as ghostwriters working with professionals and media. You can use them to provide story ideas, articles or quotes that actually get picked up in top trade and business publications.
Strategize your media buzz. Read the publications and listen to the broadcasts where you want to be visible. With that knowledge, tailor your story pitches. If they call a section “Business Briefings,” you should call it by the same name when pitching your idea. Look for the names of authors in the columns or sections where you want media coverage. Choose a few publications or news shows and focus exclusively on them.
Build up trust. Good business reporters don’t like to get information wrong. As a source – above everything else – be trustworthy. Share the facts. Tell the truth. Don’t jeopardize your chances of being quoted again.
Create relationships. When reporters and editors move around, they will take their best sources with them. Never blow off a reporter because you think the publication isn’t important enough. If it’s read by your target audience and fits your market, return the reporter’s call. Reporters will remember you as they move up the ranks of their journalism careers.
Don’t over-reach. One of the main mistakes we see with professionals is that they reach out to the wrong contact. Don’t call the main editor unless it’s a staff of three. Contact the business reporter or the freelancer who covers business frequently. This strategy relates well to the previous tip on building the right relationships.
Thank them. They like to pretend they don’t care, but every reporter will keep forever the few thank-you notes they’ve ever received. Send a sincere email or phone call, commenting specifically about something they’ve written. Just don’t send gifts, as journalists are ethically unable to accept them.
Repeat. Get quoted and published as frequently as you can. It can take at least six months (with professional ghostwriter support) to 12 months to get traction with reporters or publications and broadcasts. Become a regular contributor so that when other reporters or editors start looking for sources online, your name will pop up more frequently on specific topics. To increase your odds of coming up on an Internet search for a specific topic: write an op-ed piece, contribute a how-to article, speak at a conference and apply for an award. Be in the news and you will continue to be in the news through Internet search.
Tell the world. Don’t keep this great press to yourself! Share it on your website news page, post it on your social media profiles, send links to your friends for them to share. Add it to your speaker’s bio or PR bio. You PR bio is that little blurb that you use at the end of how-to articles to promote your experience and services. It’s the golden opportunity to talk about your experience without getting self-promotional in the article.
Embrace the chaos of media. Many people have a love/hate relationship with ‘the media.’ They like to stay informed and they love when they get positive press, but sometimes reporters make mistakes. Sometimes your competitor gets quoted and you don’t. Sometimes you just can’t seem to get their attention with your ideas. Don’t give up. Don’t complain or ask for equal billing with your competitors. Earned media doesn’t work that way.
Keep trying with new ideas or ask Ingenuity for help with your content marketing strategy. Earned media is a big part of building the media buzz that leads to real business leads and new clients.
BONUS TIP: If you get attention from someone in the news media, have something to say…even if it’s a written statement or talking points. Lack of follow-up with a reporter or using “no comment” is just a good way to get dropped off their source list. Ingenuity’s professional ghostwriters can help with this too!
How should professional service firm partners identify and prepare their future partners? Principal Dawn Wagenaar provides five ways to help emerging leaders develop the mindset of a future owner. Help them prepare now as a key retention strategy.
One word you might see a lot of in marketing circles is “authenticity” – usually touted as the secret to succeeding online with prospects. But what does it really mean? You clearly don’t want to show the world everything about your firm, so how do you choose what to show and what not to show? Read more
You don’t have to be a master gardener to know how much work goes into a pretty plot. You start by planting the garden. Once planted, the garden requires regular attention like watering, fertilizing and weeding. With that consistency, you’ll soon be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
As an advisor, your job is similar to a gardener with your clients. Business owners need regular tending for success and fruitful relationships (I promise, I’ll stop with the metaphors now).
The number one reason business owners look for a new accounting firm is because the current firm is not proactive, according to a study by the Sleeter Group.Small and mid-sized businesses in particular want proactive and strategic services in addition to the core reporting and compliance services that CPAs provide. Get in a position to plan and consistently look ahead for your clients – that’s proactive. Keep your clients happy and returning to your firm with these six tips for proactive consulting.
Debrief at project completion.
Did you perform at optimum levels or could something have gone better? Ask your client for ideas on how to improve your service, then show genuine interest in the feedback. Debriefing is a great way to build rapport and make the client feel respected.
The end of an engagement is not necessarily the end. Every good advisor should ask: now what? Ask yourself this question a few weeks before the end of an engagement. Do some research. Offer some next steps to the client. Brainstorm additional resources or services the client may need. Your goal is to build a relationship, not just finish a job. Your client will notice the difference.
In the midst of an engagement, your client may have questions about other issues going on in the business. Don’t miss this opportunity to add value! When clients start coming to you with questions, it’s a great sign that they trust your knowledge and experience. These clients are much more likely to refer your firm.
Keep them focused.
Entrepreneurs like new ideas, but they are also very busy. They can get sidetracked by things they read or see that might not fit their goals. Take this opportunity to examine the idea on its merits and make recommendations. Sometimes it’s a great fit and sometimes not, but your clients will gain confidence that you are willing to research an idea, collaborate and look out for their best interests.
Translate complexity into simple steps forward.
Make it easier for your client to succeed. Save them time. By interpreting intricate and difficult information, you can help them set goals and work towards future growth. They rely on you to explain “what it means” so they can focus on taking action.
Celebrate milestones reached.
When clients reach their goals, take time to celebrate! Send them a little gift or a handwritten note. Acknowledge any social media announcements they make by liking or sharing them. Suggest taking photos of any team celebrations. Celebrations motivate and unite people to pursue the next goal.
At the time Ingenuity started working with the leadership team at Rudler, PSC, this mid-sized CPA firm’s managing shareholder already anticipated a longer tenure before he could exit. However, talent retention and client loyalty were strong due to a dedication to flexible schedules and community involvement.
The firm really needed a consistent focus on marketing and business development to remain independent — avoiding the merger trend among CPA firms in their city.
Working with leadership and niche team members, Ingenuity has assisted with the following:
Competitive research and differentiation
Brand messaging and visual brand refresh with new tagline
Training on distinct brand messages and leadership types
Website updates to emphasize niches, improve SEO, build out careers pages and improve bios
A process for client highlighter meetings to expand cross-servicing
Public relations support, including award copy review
Eblast copywriting and content strategy
Social media support to showcase culture and talent brand
Internally, Rudler revived its coop program to introduce interns to the firm culture and services — resulting in an 85% retention rate for interns offered a full-time position. The firm leadership developed a three-year strategic plan and positioned emerging leaders for the partnership track. Involvement in an international accounting alliance, BKR International, opened opportunities for new business through referrals from other independent public accounting firms across the country. Technology investments now allow remote employee opportunities to support recruitment. ING provided employee case studies to promote flexible career options on the firm’s website. A new president is also positioned to lead the next generation of professionals.
Today, Rudler has a solid foundation to remain independent: talent, marketing savvy, technology investment and client loyalty.
Accounting firms and engineering firms often call us when they see a competitor suddenly showing up in their market space and winning bids seemingly “out of the blue.”
A closer look at the competition reveals that those firms have set up a strategy to target a certain buyer, market or industry and are now reaping the rewards of months of focused effort. They didn’t just show up. They’ve been there for a while. Read more