Do you view social media as a waste of time?
If you’re not careful, it can be rather time-consuming! However, social media can be one of your biggest sources of new business – if you’re willing to put in the work to be consistent!
Social media helps you connect authentically with an abundance of clients. With intentional, consistent work, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get abundant clients!
Yelp, LinkedIn, Facebook business pages – oh my! Does this sound overwhelming? It doesn’t have to be.
Small steps over time will lead you to GREAT results in your business. But you don’t have to take my word for it!
In this episode of The Abundant Accountant podcast, The Pitch Queen along with Aleksey Kaplan explains how to use social media to grow your firm and find ideal clients to have the firm of abundance!
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Should My Accounting Firm Use Social Media? With Aleksey Kaplan
In this episode, we are talking about should your accounting firm have a social media presence, and how you would best utilize it. Before we dive into this episode, I wanted to give a warm appreciation to a Reviewer of the Week. This one is from Yolly and she said, “Finally, Michelle hits the nail on the head with the questions she asked. This information is what I needed to hear all what’s going on with stuff from people that are successful and what it took for them to get there. I love it and I can’t wait to hear more.” Thank you, Yolly, for sharing.
She is the Reviewer of the Week, and with that said, I would love to hear from more of you. Please make sure to subscribe and also leave a written review for the show. Share with me what is the biggest takeaway that you took from the episode and what is something that you’re going to put into action. I want to make sure that you take a screenshot of the episode on your phone, and at the end, when you’re finished reading it, tag me, Michelle Weinstein, on LinkedIn and also tag yourself and then hashtag The Abundant Accountant Show. With that image, share your biggest takeaway from the episode because I want to know what you think about it.
Make sure to screenshot the episode, tag me, Michelle Weinstein, and also hashtag The Abundant Accountant Show and post it on your LinkedIn. I will make sure to get it shared on all of our social platforms. I am bringing on a special guest, Aleksey Kaplan, all the way from the East Coast in the United States of America. He has a lot of experience in owning and operating multiple business ventures in various industries and being successful out of them all, which is not luck to him.
He is a professional entrepreneur, Certified Public Accountant and Certified Tax Planner Coach, which enables him to leverage his experience and expertise in the professional entrepreneurship space. That is his niche. He has been in his own business for a couple of years. Let’s welcome Aleksey Kaplan to the show.
Thank you, Michelle. I’m glad to be here. Thank you for welcoming me to your show.
It’s awesome to have you here. This show is all about accounting firms having a life of abundance and a firm of abundance. You’ve accomplished a bit about the firm of abundance in life. You’ve traveled to Greece and somewhere else. I can’t even keep track of you anymore. For all of the other accounting professionals, could you please do an overview of who you are, what you do, what services you have, and where you live, so they can get an understanding of your background and what it is that you do?
My name is Aleksey Kaplan. I’m a Certified Public Accountant out of Staten Island, New York. I’ve had different partnership interests before, but I’ve been on my own for the past couple of years. My firm specializes in tax planning and taxpayer representation for professional entrepreneurs. I try to work exclusively with professional entrepreneurs.
That includes medical practitioners, legal practitioners, self-made investors that came from real estate backgrounds, architects and engineers, but they have to have professional designations after their names. I’ve been successful over the past few years. The company has been growing dramatically, and I’ve realized great successes and revenue streams. As a result of which, I was able to travel the world with my wife and family and get to enjoy life every single day.
That is the life of abundance. You’ve been on your own for a couple of years. What we’re going to be discussing is, should my accounting firm be on social media. How do you best utilize the tools out there? You do a great job at that. Many of my clients that I’ve worked with and other accounting professionals have come to me confused. Should they be involved in social media? Should they use Yelp or LinkedIn? I get it because it makes sense why they’re confused.
A lot of people think that social media is unprofessional and it is a waste of time, which I can agree with. It does consume a lot of time but Aleksey, you’ve done a great job at managing your time with this. In this episode, we will be discussing this. You can take the tools and things that you learned and put them into practice in your firm so that you can get the most out of your social media post and the time that you do dedicate to being at LinkedIn or Yelp.
We’ll talk to Aleksey to go over what was his return on investment at this time and how did it benefit you to not only grow your firm. I want to talk about the fact that you were able to go to Greece and travel. We don’t need to work 24/7 even though we are on our own and have our own firm. Aleksey, how did you start getting into social media? Your Yelp account is phenomenal.
How did you start or say, “I need to be on Yelp?” Everything you do is a good lead generator, and a lead generator means that these are clients that you get to talk to to see if you want to work with them or not. Again, not everyone is a good client. What do you feel was the most powerful thing that you did when you first started a few years ago? Let’s go back in time.
First of all, Michelle, thank you for your compliments and beautiful words of wisdom. In terms of complimenting me on everything that I’ve done over a couple of years in social media, we live in the 21st Century. In this world, everything is on social media. A few years ago, when I started my practice with no clients, I sat down and asked myself, “Aleksey, what’s the best way to gain traction, expose yourself to everybody out there, make sure that people know about you and that people will be contacting you with the potential to hire you as their tax professional for whatever it is that they need to be done?”
An old way of doing things is by listing you’re buying the yellow page ad, buying the ad in a newspaper, even going to networking events with a Chamber of Commerce, doing a lot of handshaking, and wasting money and time. I asked myself, “Do I want to do the old-fashioned way or should I try something else?” I am not a Millennial, so for me, computers are not the first nature as it is for my kids, but it’s a learning curve. Everything that I’ve tried since the beginning was by trial and error.
Before I decided to reach out to Yelp, I went on Yelp and saw how many people were around my area. There are accountants who advertise or have a listing on Yelp. I found that there are not too many accountants that advertise there. When I went to Google, I googled the best accountant in Staten Island, and there were a lot of different listings that showed up. I realized that the opportunities with Yelp are not as saturated as Google, and it costs a lot less to advertise on it. Compared to Google, there is no pay-per-click. I reached out to Yelp. I started talking to my rep. We came up with a budget and a listing.
I started pouring some marketing money into them. My return on investments was phenomenal and still is. It’s growing every single year. The presence on Yelp is wonderful. The reviews that are being left by the people who decide to leave reviews are genuine. You cannot alter them or ask somebody to leave your reviews within a certain period of time because of the artificial intelligence and the algorithm that they use. Everything is real. The people that use Yelp are called Yelpers rely on the reviews and trust those reviews. That’s what set me apart from my “competition,” especially in the beginning stages. I was able to gain a lot of traction and clients from Yelp alone.The algorithm Yelp uses is all real and genuine. Click To Tweet
A lot of accounting professionals asked me that starting out, you had zero clients. In the beginning stages, that means you don’t have money. I’ve used Yelp in the past, too. Can you share with everyone how much did you invest in marketing with them when you were working with your reps so they understand it’s not that expensive? Real quick, I want to talk about the trust factor. Creating a Yelp account creates a richer customer experience for the people that find you.
It also helps build rapport and establishes trust because every single client you work with, as you said, is going to give a genuine review. In this show, we are talking about the fun stuff of sales. I know everyone doesn’t like that word, but I do. We do it in a way where we’re helping and serving our clients, but building rapport and trust is the foundation of any new client that you’re going to work with.
By you doing that, it is why you’ve had success in such a short amount of time. It also allows your clients to feel like there’s a person behind the firm. It’s not like there is a leader in the firm and they get to know your personality. On your Yelp reviews, and I’ve seen some of them in the past, they talk about your personality. It’s not a robot. It’s real people leaving real genuine reviews. Let’s talk about how much you spent in the beginning.
My rep and I came up with a budget. As you mentioned before, the money was tight, but I did know one thing, and that is you have to spend money to make money. Not spending money by blowing them away on useless things, but in essence, you are investing into your own self, your business and your future. We came up with a comfortable budget of $6,000 for the year. The number may sound a lot, but if you spread it over 12 months, it’s $500 a month on ad span budget. Keeping one thing in mind is that $500 sounds like a lot of money as well when you start out because you’re trying to keep your expenses low. However, all I did at that point is that I asked myself, “What would be my breakeven point?”You have to spend money to make money, and this is not by buying useless things. You have to invest in your business and yourself. Click To Tweet
The answer was one and a half clients. Would it be possible for me to get one and a half clients per month to get my money back and anything over it would be my profit? The answer is yes. That’s how I came up with that low budget. We were playing around with it, especially the first year, because in certain months, there are a lot more searches for accountants, especially during tax season, and off tax season, there are a lot less searches. As a result, the cost per customer lead varies. I did not know any of this until I tried it. Now, I’m an “expert” on this. With time, once again, by trial and error, I invested $6,000 in my first year.
I got back $18,000 in business. That’s the same first year of brand-new business from Yelpers that hired me as their accountant. Michelle, you mentioned building rapport with your prospects. The good thing with Yelp is they have a feature where you can message the accountant. I get a notification that somebody sent me a message, and I respond to their question. It has to be done on a consistent basis.
You cannot slack because your response times go down and the Yelpers do see the approximate or average response time. It does matter in terms of their decision-making who they are going to contact first. Whenever they contact the first three people and if you’re the number and you were able to help them on the phone or via a message for them to take the next step and either meet with you or hire you, you’ve done your job and they will not look anywhere else.
If they sent a message to you and you were sleeping on it for eight hours, they sent it to somebody else, and the next person closed the deal, then you lost the client. You have to stay on top of it. It is time-consuming, especially during tax season, because that’s the busiest time. You have to stay busy and make sure that you monitor your activity, account, and messages. Be on top of it at all times. Do not slack off. Fast forward to 2022, and the year is not over yet. Keep in mind, in terms of revenues, you wanted to know about the numbers.
It’s important for people reading. I agree with you. You have to spend money to make money, and we’re not talking about Vegas-style spending that you just throw it in the trash. This is strategic spending. I’m going to get to what else your Yelp reviews can create for you, so you get a 2-for-1 special. Go ahead. Let’s talk about 2022 real quick.
In the first year, as I said, the return on investment was 3 to 1. In 2022, I spent $7,000 in total on ad spends. I’ve generated $70,000 in new revenue. You could see the trend. It’s 1 to 10 ROI. It’s ten times your investment, and I will continue doing this. Once again, with time, I became smarter in terms of budgeting. Which month do I have to pour more money into advertising, and which month do I do nothing? For the most part, 10 to 1 is an awesome return on investment, and every one of you should be using and advertising on Yelp.
Aleksey and I invite each of you that if you don’t have a Yelp account, to go to Yelp.com and create one. It is free to create. It’s a great way to put some information out there about your firm and start to build what I call the know, like and trust factor. Also, one of the great things about this is that you can turn a lot of your Yelp reviews into great testimonials and client reviews. You could put a whole page on your website called Client Reviews.
You have asked some of your clients for a photo, and for some of the great reviews, you can use them for multiple purposes. I call this your 2-for-1 special. You kill 2 birds with 1 stone by getting these reviews. You can get off the Yelp platform and have your other people, clients, future prospects, and referrals see this on your website.
I do this all the time. I only have five-star reviews. Knock on wood. I also copy and paste it onto my Facebook page and share it with everybody I know. I do it on my LinkedIn page. I want the world to see what people say about me. I do have it on my webpage as a separate page with all the reviews and testimonials. It does get updated once a month with all the additional reviews and testimonials from all the sources. Yelp is one of the ways to get those reviews. The other way is you should have a Google listing.
It’s free and people do leave reviews on Google as well. You should also have a Facebook page, not just your personal page. I’m talking about your business pages. In terms of Yelp, Michelle, you did say that Yelp.com but you’ll have a private account if you do this. What you need to do is go to www.Biz.Yelp.com. That’s the business listing. That’s where you want to create your business listing and make sure that you are up there. This is a good start and you’ll get some traction. In order to get the maximum results, you obviously have to invest your time and money.If you have a business, you should have a Facebook page, and it shouldn't be your personal page. Click To Tweet
I 1000% agree. Also, with Google, as long as you get a minimum of five reviews. When you Google your firm, you’ll pop up on the right-hand side. You do need a minimum of five reviews, from what I recall. Create a Biz Yelp account and a Google, your review account, and also the other thing is your Business Facebook Page. As Aleksey said, you can copy and paste the reviews that you get from Yelp and put them on your Facebook page. Also, clients can leave reviews on your Facebook page. It gets a little much when you start asking people to leave reviews in three places.
The best bang for your conversion on your ROI is definitely going to be Yelp. It is one of the most important tools and for each of you in the industry that you’re in, it’s important. You’re also good at another platform, and this platform, I’m sure each of you is familiar with, is called LinkedIn. LinkedIn is another great tool for social media that should not be a complete waste of time but a very high ROI. Can you share with us how LinkedIn has helped you grow your firm?
Yelp is great for immediate results. LinkedIn is great for not-so-immediate results, at least for me, but it’s great to establish and build your network of individuals you want to target later on for the different types of services that you are offering. What’s great with LinkedIn is that you are able to target your connections that you try to connect with by industry and company size. You can’t do it by revenue, but on Facebook, you can. You could filter out the prospects on LinkedIn and try to connect with them using different types of tools that are add-ons there that will automate the process for you.
LinkedIn will take time. However, it is definitely worth it. It took me about a year to start seeing results from LinkedIn marketing, and the results are phenomenal because the type of clients that you pick up from LinkedIn are already pre-sold. You’ve been connected with them and marketing to them for a while, and you established credibility on LinkedIn. When they contact you, they’re 90% in and easy to convert to be your clients. They’re typically very high-paying clients as well for high-value services that you might offer.
I’ll give you an example of Yelp clients. Once again, you never know who’s coming in from Yelp. You can’t target the audience from Yelp because it’s whoever it is. However, it gives you an opportunity to pick up the client for their immediate needs and fix that problem. You could always “upsell” them for different services that you think they will benefit from. As long as you’re able to relay that value and make sure that they see it from you, you’ll get them for additional services, which you have also been successful in doing. LinkedIn is an awesome tool for you to not be out there networking and wasting your time and money unless you prefer to do it. Instead, do it out of the convenience of your home or office, and you could automate the process.
There’s a poll system to the madness, you have to start with baby steps, and that is simply by creating a LinkedIn account. Try to connect with all your friends first, and then from there on, perhaps upgrade to the paid account and start targeting the type of professional connections you would like to work with for your business.
On LinkedIn and Facebook, one of the ways to establish authority as you are a thought leader in your industry and you’re the expert in, be it tax, audit, tax resolution, tax planning, or whatever it is of the services that you offer is about posting content on your profiles and having it consistent, which I consistently see you do. Can you talk about how often you are posting a week consistently? What types of information are you posting so that everyone reading can maybe get an idea or two?
It’s not only about reaching out to clients and finding clients. This is also an opportunity for each of you to build trust with potential future clients and create social engagement. You’re building your community and sharing your knowledge with other people so they can understand who you are, what you do, and how you’re different from your competition. Maybe you’re working with a specific niche. On LinkedIn, you can also use hashtags. Aleksey, what is the niche that you typically work with?
On LinkedIn, I primarily target tax planning clients. I go for professional entrepreneurs in different industries. I connect with them and then market to them.
Some of the hashtags that you can use on LinkedIn when you’re doing your post are #Entrepreneur, #TaxPlanning, and #ReduceTaxes. You have to speak the language of your future clients because they don’t understand technical accounting lingo. Let’s talk about your posting plan. What do you post each week, what type of content, and how often?
There’s a tax tip that gets posted once a week on Fridays that concentrates on different tax tips for tax planning. Once again, clients, in terms of how to save money on taxes, it’s the low-hanging fruit that everybody knows about, yet I’m posting it and it’s been shared amongst all my connections. If they like it, they share their connections, and so on and so forth. Once a week is a tax tip. I also do a monthly newsletter that is more in detail and covers a variety of different topics with tax planning in mind for basically identifying the different missed types of opportunities that the clients or prospects normally do not think about.
It is done for one reason only. That reason is to take the next step, reach out to me, schedule the appointment so we can talk about your situation, and see how I could help you get to the next level by accomplishing all of your needs and wants while still saving a ton of money in taxes. It does build credibility. It establishes trust. I do it on a consistent basis, no matter what. It’s automated. For me, I don’t physically go out there and post even though I can. I have it set up where it’s automated and it’s posted by certain tools that I use.
One of those tools for everyone reading is called Hootsuite. It’s a great tool that you can put in your content for the month or maybe you want to do it weekly and it will push it our to Facebook and your LinkedIn all at the same time once you get it set up. Once you set it up once, you only have to do it once. Another extra bonus tip. The newsletter that you send out to your email list, you can also post it on your LinkedIn profile as an article. You can change it and post it on LinkedIn as an actual article. You can use certain hashtags about the clients that you want to attract. If it’s entrepreneurs, you can use the #Entrepreneur in a few different areas in your article.
You’re giving some good tips to our audience. LinkedIn is phenomenal. The bottom line is it’s phenomenal, but it does take time to work as long as you are willing to commit to continuously and constantly dealing. I set aside about half an hour to 45 minutes a day for my LinkedIn and any other social media type of marketing. For me to oversee the process, I have to make sure that I do at least 100 connection requests a day. I do at least 150 messages to my existing connections. I do it every single day except for the weekend.LinkedIn is phenomenal, but it does take time to work. So you have to be willing to commit before you start getting quality type clients. Click To Tweet
You do not get a lot of traction right away as you do with Yelp, but you do get the quality type of clients that are willing to work with you and invest their money into your relationship and the services you provide. They’re willing to listen to you because you have already established your credibility with them. That is something that you cannot buy.
This is an investment of time instead of money. You don’t have to spend $6,000 a year for this, but you do need to spend consistently half an hour to 45 minutes a day. Put whatever plan you can in place that’s consistent, and stick to it. What I like to say is to have a social media checklist of what you want to achieve in those 30 minutes each day. You don’t deviate from the plan because consistency is what’s creating this ROI. Aleksey, I like to say there’s an author-speaker named Erik, and he had this quote. It’s, “We don’t have a choice whether we do social media. The question is how well we do it.”
As you said, we’re in the 21st Century. I know when we’re speaking, it’s 2018, almost 2019, and unfortunately, the old-fashioned way can work, but it’s going to take a lot longer. By doing this, it’s fun. As Aleksey has seen, the ROI has been significant. I invite each of you to look at that and put something into action. Otherwise, it doesn’t happen. I want to say thank you so much for being here with us on the show and sharing what’s worked for you. It’s so simple. If you’re a CPA or even if you’re working for someone else, this can help increase the value that you bring to that firm. Aleksey, thank you so much for joining us.
Thank you for having me. I hope that each one of the readers will take the next step and will do something about it in terms of growing their firm by doing the things that you mentioned, which are commitment, dedication, and perseverance. If you have it, you stick to the plan and you’ll make it work. Michelle, thank you for having me. I was happy to contribute anything and everything to whoever is reading and, of course, to you.
Thank you for being here. We like to pay it forward here so everyone can live a life of abundance and have the firm of abundance like you’ve created so they can go to Greece for about a month. Thank you, Aleksey.
Thank you, Michelle. It’s been my pleasure.
What an amazing show with Aleksey hearing all of his great success by using social media and doing it consistently. One thing I want to hone in on is the consistency piece, as you’re consistently getting returns done and meeting deadlines on April 15th and October 15th. We’re consistent with all the compliance work in our businesses.
What I see happens a lot with accounting professionals is that we’re not as consistent on the marketing side of our work, the follow-up or the other things that allow us to do the real work that we love to do. Consistency is key to everything. Unlike Aleksey, he spends 30 minutes to 45 minutes a day. If that sounds overwhelming, I invite each of you to maybe start with one hour per week.
Every Friday, you sit down, look at your Yelp account, and respond to messages or look on LinkedIn and respond to messages. It doesn’t matter what you do, but we have to have a consistent plan. I always say let’s set a small goal that you can consistently achieve each week. As that becomes the norm, then you can add to that. Find something that works for you that’s consistent because consistency, as you learn with Aleksey, does pay off. I want each of you to experience that success at such a quick rate.
Thank you again for being here with us. Also, if you have a quick second, please leave me a rating and review on iTunes and subscribe to the show. I always like hearing from you and I always love reading the reviews. By leaving reviews, it helps spread the show to other accountants that might not have even known about this.
One last thing before I let you go. If you ever felt like you’ve given away too much information for free, like Aleksey, he’s got his ask-the-accountant questions. He does limit what he answers there, so he does not give any valuable information for free. If you’re sick and tired of not getting paid what you’re worth and you want to live that life of abundance, you can join us over at my Accountants Masterclass at TheAbundantAccountant.com and learn how to communicate your value, collect those higher fees, and build that confidence, so you do get paid what you’re worth and can go travel to Greece for a month like Aleksey. Thank you so much for reading and have an amazing day.
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