Recently, we gained a wonderful opportunity to go on retainer with a mid-sized CPA firm we knew about, but hadn’t yet had the chance to work with. The firm’s managing partner, let’s call him Len, came up to us at an accounting association event where we were speaking and said, “I think we need marketing help.”
Two months later, they were clients.
It would be nice to believe that speaking at that association event aligned all the stars in this partner’s world to believe we were the exact solution his firm needed. But we know better. We spent a lot of time and effort (months!) staying in front of that firm in various ways before Len ever decided to talk to us. Part psychology, part knowledge of the industry, our target client persona of Len came through brilliantly in the end with a new contract.
Target client persona? What’s that?
Well, a target client persona is a little like a profile, a description or a dossier to help you understand what concerns, motivates and attracts a specific client. It’s useful not only during the business development process, but also once someone becomes a client.
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During the business development and prospecting phase, you want to know:
- Who is the decision maker?
- What worries him or her?
- What is persuasive when this person is looking for a new service provider?
- Where does this person seek credible information in media or networks?
- What else motivates this person to make a decision?
Having identified the key characteristics of this target client, you can then decide where to best allocate your marketing and business development efforts. A target client persona helps you narrow your tactics and make efficient use of your budget.
If Len, for example, would never attend a local business networking event, we won’t advertise there. But if that’s his main place to network, we better show up with bells on.
If Len reads his trade journal every month, we can consider ads and article submissions there.
If Len is persuaded by referrals from other members in his trade association, we build some case studies and testimonials from the firms we’ve have worked with to share with him directly or on our website.
Our target persona of “Len, the CPA Firm Partner,” reads like a playbook to attract a CPA firm partner like the one who just became our client. It was amazing.
Now that we have a client, our work is done, right? Nope. Building a great relationship is just beginning. We can still use our target client persona to make sure that the things Len cares about most are delivered in our services. For example:
Len is concerned about staying competitive and building firm value.
Len wants to cultivate the next generation of leaders.
Len wants to expand services per client.
By confirming priorities like these with our new client, based on the characteristics of our target client persona, we can build them into the marketing and business development strategy from the beginning.
As we create these target client personas, we also make sure that everyone on the team recognizes the types of clients we most want to attract and serve. It keeps all of us on the same page when we come across opportunities, as well as delivering on client expectations.
Want to learn how to create your own target client personas for your accounting firm? You could have fun and even learn a few things about your target market by creating “Jane, the Health Care Administrator” or “Mark, the Manufacturing CFO.” Give them a name, build a profile based on what you know about current clients and key decision makers. We promise that this tool will radically improve your accounting firm business development.
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