Despite being a practical need for many, marketing your accounting firm may prove to be a difficult task. Without marketing, you don’t get a lot of sales. And without sales, you don’t get revenue. Today, Seth Greene joins host Michelle Weinstein to demystify the process of getting your accounting firm out there well in view of many more people. Stay tuned to this episode for more actionable tips for marketing your firm that won’t take up a lot of time OR a lot of money! This is perfect for any accountant or CPA who wants to spread awareness of their firm so they can help more people!
Listen to the podcast here:
Tips For Marketing Your Firm When You’re Busy With Seth Greene
On this episode, we have a special guest. He is the nation’s foremost authority on online lead generation for professional practices. He is also the cohost of the Sharkpreneur Podcast with Shark Tank vets Kevin Harrington and others, which was named the number six podcast to listen to in 2019. He is also the Founder of the direct response marketing firm called Market Domination LLC. He is the seven-time bestselling author who has been interviewed on places that you might’ve heard of, NBC News, CBS News, Forbes, CBS MoneyWatch and many more. He is an expert in online lead generation for professional practices like yours. He’s here to show us how you can tweak and make things better as it relates to marketing your firm when you don’t have much time, especially during those busy months.
Before we welcome our special guest, if you are an accountingpreneur and you might be feeling a little frustrated and stressed because you’re trying to get those right referrals. You feel like you don’t have any control over what you work with or how much you can charge or maybe you don’t believe you can get the yes to someone paying you a high price. Head on over to FiveStepsToAbundance.com and get my simple five-step process that accountants use to go from waiting around for those busy seasons to converting more high-level clients that say yes. It’s completely free. Type in your email and start to learn how to collect higher fees with confidence. Get paid like the expert accountingpreneur that you are and start working a little bit less because we all want a little bit more time off. I would like to take a moment to extend an invitation for you to subscribe and leave a written review about what has helped you so I can keep on delivering the content that you want and love. Please take a moment, hit that subscribe button and leave a written review at the end. Share with me what has helped you and inspired you that you’ve taken action on in your firm because that will help other accountingpreneurs out.
This episode was brought to you by Xero.
With Xero’s cloud accounting software, small businesses and accountants can work together and collaborate anytime, anywhere. With real-time financials, bank connections, unlimited users, and online invoicing, it’s beautiful accounting software that’s powered by people. Xero provides its 2+ million subscribers with connections to a thriving ecosystem of 800+ third-party apps and 200+ connections to banks and financial service providers.
Learn more at www.xero.com.
Thank you so much, Michelle. I am super excited to be here.
I am excited for you to be here too because I always love the interviews. You never know what’s going to happen, but we try to make it fun for everyone. This is semi-entertaining. Seth, I help a lot on the conversion side with sales, but a lot of the accountants that I train always ask me about leads or how can they market themselves better. I understand why I get asked this question pretty much all the time because I know without marketing, you can’t get a lot of sales, but marketing and sales are definitely two different things. I thought we would cover that first. I’d love to hear from you. What do you feel are maybe a few of your top, maybe 3, 4 or 5 tips for them to market their firm where it won’t take a lot of time? Because most of the accountants, you could probably relate. Who has time? That won’t be a ton of money because for an accountant, a CPA or an accountingprenuer, that’s what I like to call them, Seth, you want to spread awareness of what you do in whatever your niche is. How do you do it on a budget? That’s what I thought we’d chat about. I’m super happy to be here. Before we start, can you share with everyone what it is that you do?
I own two companies. I am the Founder and CEO of Market Domination LLC, which is a direct response marketing firm in the financial industry. The majority of our clients are professional practices like accountants and financial advisors. We help them generate leads or do it for them every single day. I also own HowToFindMoneyForCollege.com which is my financial services college planning firm. It was where I originally started in the business before I learned direct response marketing and was able to not only grow that business tremendously but then help others do the same thing.
For each of the accountingpreneurs reading, let’s hear from that before we dive into all the other ways that they can do this without spending a ton of time or a lot of money. What do you feel or how would you define the difference between marketing and sales? They’re two different things, but I think a lot of accountingpreneurs that I’ve met, they think it’s all the same thing and they’re not.Marketing is what gets people in your firm's door. Click To Tweet
I would agree with you. They are two completely different things. The sales process, that’s what you do. You teach them how to sell, how to close and how to position themselves differently so that they charge higher fees, convert more clients who love them even more and have a better business and a better lifestyle. That’s sales. To me, marketing is what gets them in the door. The sales process starts after a lead has been generated. Someone who’s a qualified prospect has raised their hand, qualified themselves, said they’re interested and wants to learn more and then gets educated about who you are, what you do, why you do it, who you do it for. Until that moves to a sales conversation where your accountingpreneur closes the deal, gives them a proposal and gets them to write a check. I think sales are what get them across the finish line. Marketing is what generates the leads and educates them to the point where they are ready to speak one-on-one to an accountingpreneur about what they do.
What do you think an accountingpreneur needs to do first? I think a lot of them are like, “I need a lot of leads and stuff,” and I’m the one saying hold the brakes on that one. If you invest a lot of money in leads but you can’t do the conversion piece or charge higher prices and have that better lifestyle and know truly what you should be charging them, then it’s a catch-22. What do you feel is the best process for even someone who’s had a firm for a while? There are a lot of readers who have been doing this a while, but you work with every single person that might be calling you and that doesn’t do you any good either. What do you think is the best process?
You are absolutely right. They don’t want to pour a whole bunch of expensive water in a leaky bucket filled with holes. That would be going out and starting a lead generation program before they had learned how to position themselves, how to close and how to do that. They need your process first so that when they pour some water in that bucket, there are no holes in it. The first marketing thing they need to do is not be boring. A lot of marketing and I’m sure you can vouch for this, in the accounting industry is incredibly boring and looks exactly the same. There’s literally an accountant in my office building. I could take his brochure, take his logo off, take his phone number off and there’s another accounting firm two blocks away. I could slap that mom and pop logo on there and that phone number and nothing else is not true. It’s interchangeable. To the prospect, they all look the same as well. The first thing you’ve got to identify is how do you stand out?
How do you not be boring? How do you be different? What is your value proposition that is not just I’m the lowest price tax return or that is an H&R Block? That’s a lousy lifestyle. It’s a race to the bottom, which you teach. We want to be the premium price provider, the one who’s at the top of the mountain and who’s in demand. The most important thing before you get to any marketing is defining, what is that value proposition and then who is that value proposition for? You can’t be all things to all people. You don’t have the marketing budget unless you’re a billionaire to reach everybody who might need a tax return done. Identifying who that target market is and driving a laser focus to market your unique value proposition to those ideal prospects is the first place to start.
I would love for you to share a story of the most boring accountingpreneur that came to work with you where you made it not boring. I want to hear all the details so our readers can visualize. They might have a light bulb moment and they could implement this now if they changed a few things. What’s that one client that you can vividly see the shift, where they were before and where you took them so they weren’t so boring and what happened to their firm?
I had a woman accountingpreneur who came to me. My first question in any marketing consultation is always, who is your ideal client. Everybody thinks they’ve thought about it. No one’s ever thought about it or very rarely have they thought about it enough. She said, “I can help anybody who needs a tax return.” I said, “That’s great. I’ve got $20. Do you want to do my tax return?” She said, “No.” I said, “I’ve got to be able to afford you first and you need to be charging a lot more.” What we did is we took her through an analysis of who her client base was. We said, “Who do you like working with the most? Who do you get the most emotional gratification of helping? Who can afford to pay you? Who has helped you realize what you’re worth and who refers the most?”
After a detailed analysis of her existing practice, we were able to find out that her ideal client was an affluent suburban woman, 40 to 55 years old who’s getting divorced. She had been divorced and got emotional satisfaction. She branched out. She became more than an accountingpreneur. It wasn’t just about the tax return anymore, it was now about coaching that woman through her divorce. It was about helping her identify was her soon-to-be ex-husband hiding any money? Sometimes these women hadn’t seen a checkbook or a bank statement in many years. They didn’t know where the money was or how much there was. She was coaching her through financial literacy, how to make sure she got a good settlement and how to make sure her kids were going to be okay.
It went way beyond, “Give me your W-2s and I’ll do your tax return.” This became at least a one-year, if not multi-year coaching process because then after the divorce was over, she would help them balance their checkbook. She would help them pay their bills. She would certainly do their taxes every year, but she would help them with a whole lot of other things to make sure that they were financially okay. The good news is because she was offering a unique value proposition specific to that target market, once you immediately specialize and offer something for a specific target market, you can raise your prices as you teach. Because she was offering extra, there was no other accountingpreneur in town who was even targeting that market, let alone offering a specialized made-up suite of services. Granted bill paying and other stuff like that is not a “normal” accounting practice, but it’s relatively easy to set up. She had them on an auto-deduct every single month. She set up the online banking once but got paid for overseeing it every single month.
She had a whole bunch of different services that she “made-up” to offer and she was able to charge not only more money for the tax return but more money for her divorce and post-divorce coaching package. Now she’s got clients on multi-year retainers that are paying her via credit card every single month to almost be there to hold their hands, coach them through their financial life, get them through their divorce and then hang around. Now they’re almost like she’s got this little tribe of women that are her best friends. She takes them to movie nights together. She takes them to a wine tasting. She does all kinds of things and she’s built this entire practice on a small number of affluent women who can afford to pay her way more than a couple of hundred bucks a tax return. They’re thrilled to do it because they’re getting way more than number crunching and bean-counting. They’re getting a new best friend. They’re getting a lifestyle. They’re getting a confidante. They’re getting a whole lot more than just a tax return. She can build a lucrative practice on a small number of clients.
Can you share average revenue ranges of where she was to where she is now? I think this also goes into what we’re talking about. This is a great way to market your firm when you’re busy. She literally looked inside her own firm with your help to identify who the exact person is that put her and changed her emotional state, which are the people she got excited to work with. Now, she transformed this whole thing into BFFs, confidantes, movie night and wine tasting. What’s her firm doing in revenue now?
She was charging $300 to $500 for a regular W-2 tax return. She’s now charging $5,000 a year per client. She used to be like everybody else and be frantic January until April. She used to be frantic come extension time and feast or famine. The whole rest of the seeds, the whole rest of the year had no money coming in and hit or miss revenue. Now she’s got guaranteed revenue every month. She was making $50,000 to $80,000 as a regular account and working her butt off. Her family didn’t know her 3, 4 months out of the year. They didn’t see her. Now, she’s doing close to $1 million.
That’s the first thing you have, which is figuring out who your ideal client is, diving deep into that and then going into your existing client list and seeing which ones bring you the most joy. That is how she also became your main thing, don’t be boring. That is the first transition into marketing your firm in a different way because it starts with you, the accountingpreneur and you can’t be boring. A little bit about the branding. What do you feel, Seth, is that next main thing that you know will help with leads? From that point, she got a lot of leads. She got the other person getting divorced down the street and then her friends, and then I’m sure at wine night, they invite other people. If you think about it from a marketing perspective, it’s genius. What else for someone reading right now that they could go and make a change or look at their client roster and say, “I need to be focusing on these people?” What’s the next new tip that you have for them, that second most crucial one?You have to identify who sees your ideal client. Click To Tweet
After we decided who she would be for and we put together what her newly-branded service offering would be and what her packages were for those divorcing women. The next thing we worked on was developing her strategic referral partners. We can run Facebook ads, run YouTube ads, run LinkedIn ads and generate online leads for her practice. That’s great. She loves it and there’s a follow-up system that gets us people in the door. That’s attracting one lead at a time, depending on what her ad budget is every day. However, one of the real points of leverage comes in, “Who else sees your target market?” In her case, the obvious ones would be like the divorce attorney, the divorce financial planner and the therapist. Those would be the ones you would think of first that you can build a strategic relationship with. We found that there were two others that were counterintuitive that you wouldn’t normally think of that it became even bigger referral sources. One of which, her biggest referral source is her hairstylist.
Hairstylists are basically like therapists. I don’t know if you’ve been to the hairstylist, but I go. It’s a two-hour session of what’s going on in your life. They should go to Psychology degrees and get therapy licenses.
My wife has that experience. Hers is three hours. It’s funny, I’m like, “Honey, I can go to Great Clips and get a haircut in twelve minutes. I’ve timed it. Why does it take you three hours?” Because they don’t stop talking. She’s getting her hair done but they don’t stop talking. We found out that the hairstylist finds out before everybody else. Before the woman, in this case, calls a divorce attorney, before she calls her financial advisor to ask about the money, she tells her hairstylist. We found building strategic referral relationships with hairstylists worked incredibly well to generate more referrals. The other one we found surprising was the Mary Kay lady. It was the lady she was getting her makeup from, also she told first because she would buy more makeup. She would either want to cover up the emotional effects of her impending divorce or she would want to look better to attract somebody else hypothetically. We found strategic referral relationships that were obvious, like the divorce attorney and the financial advisors made sense. Surprisingly, the hairstylist and the Mary Kay makeup lady also worked out well.
What is the thought process on that, Seth? I’m not good at this marketing stuff. I’m super amazing in the sales department and the conversion. If you were to walk someone through this process, are there a few questions that they should ask themselves when they’re thinking about how can they get the best strategic referral partners? How do you figure out the obvious? For this situation, it was the divorce attorney, the financial advisor or the therapist they were seeing. You got a better one through the hairstylist or the Mary Kay lady or the makeup lady at the department store. What are some questions that they can ask themselves to start brainstorming and getting creative? They have to be different to attract these types of strategic referral partners.
You’ve got to ask yourself who else sees your ideal client? You’ve got to think a little bit sideways because you’ll get the obvious ones right away. For a traditional accountingpreneur, that might be who else you could generate. That might be the financial advisor, it might be a lawyer. Is it a mortgage broker and a realtor for the new house or for the house they own? Is it a kid’s play place or a daycare center because you want young parents? You’ve got to think about what else do your clients do when they’re not with you. Who else do they see? What other professionals do they see? What bills do they pay every month and where do they go? Is there a wine bar that everybody goes to? Is there a cigar bar? Where are other places and other things they might do to socialize where you would be the only one fishing in that pond because nobody else would have thought this way?
Other questions we got are, who else sees your ideal clients if you’re going after the parents? I love your daycare idea or Gymboree or maybe a Build-A-Bear place. Where else your clients go when they’re not with you? I think that’s a great one to start thinking about their next step. What’s the path that they go on a typical day? Where do they socialize? That’s great too. The hair salon is a good one for the divorce. Any other questions that you think they should be asking?
I would have them make a list. What do they love about their business, their practice and what do they hate about it? Because in a lot of our process, before we start generating leads is business reinvention. It’s saying, “What do you like about it? Let’s do more of that. What do you hate?” There’s stuff that drives us all crazy in our businesses. What if we could reinvent your business where you did more of the stuff you’d liked and eliminated everything you hate? Wouldn’t you love coming to work every day? Wouldn’t you get excited and get up early? Wouldn’t you be like, “Pinch me every day. I can’t believe I get paid to do this?” That’s the business we want to help your accountingpreneurs create.
This woman, her 100 clients or 200 clients are texting her. “What are we going to do next month?” They’re all voting, they’re all saying, “Let’s go to this place.” It’s like she’s built this tribe of these women who are now all connected. Every woman who’s getting divorced, nobody does it by themselves. I think there’s something in the water. Every woman who’s getting divorced knows other women who are getting divorced. Magically it’s, “Can I bring Mary Jane next month?” They’re literally asking if it’s okay if they bring referrals and of course, it’s okay.
No one gets divorced alone. That’s your lead generation referral source. What’s your third genius idea that an accountingpreneur can do to market themselves when they’re super busy? They have zero time. They’re still operating the old way. They’re super busy January through April, but they want to make a change and they’re going to sit down, they’re going to read our interview, Seth, and they’re going to put this into action. What’s that third thing they can do that’s probably the most important? I know being the different one was number one. We have number two, our strategic referral partners. What’s number three?
Number three is figuring out how you’re going to get your new marketing message to these newly-defined correct people and their referral sources. That may mean depending on where they are, that may be Facebook ads, video ads on YouTube, LinkedIn and direct mail. I was advising a client that perhaps the best place for her isn’t on social media. The best place for her might be ads in local family magazines that have articles about where to take your kids. It depends on the answers to the first couple of questions, “Where can I start putting my marketing message out there so that the right people see it and nobody else is seeing anything remotely similar to it?” If there’s a woman getting divorced at the hair salon, and this has never happened, but let’s say there was a stack of business cards from a regular accountant going, “I’ll do your tax return for $99,” and there’s a gorgeous full-color poster for, “Come to wine and cheese night and mingle with the recently single,” or something. She’s going to win every single time.
Mingle with the recently single. How do you come up with this stuff?
That’s why I get to pinch myself every day and go, “I can’t believe I get paid to do this.”What is your value proposition, and who is that value proposition for? Click To Tweet
What did you do? Since we’re using your client who’s working with all the divorced women, what are some ways that you help to get her marketing message into more of these people’s hands, not through the strategic referral partners? What are a few of the things that you did for this exact client? Others reading can be like, “We got it. That makes sense.”
The biggest things that worked for her, other than the strategic referral sources where we did Facebook video ads, YouTube video ads and we helped her write a book. She didn’t have to write it. She was interviewed. We turn the interviews into a book and now she’s published a book for women getting divorced. Those Facebook and YouTube video ads drive people to go register for a copy of her physical book. They get the autographed copy of the book when they come to her office for their first meeting. At the end of that meeting, they get a copy of the book so they don’t have to worry about it showing up in the mail and the husband going, “Why are you getting a book on divorce?”
That’s a good idea. Did she give any of the books away like in a PDF or an electronic copy?
There’s an electronic copy as well. However, we don’t promote that. We don’t actively market that because I want people to give her name, phone number, email and physical contact information. I want a snail mail address, even though we’re not going to mail it to them. If the husband doesn’t know that they’re getting divorced, we’re not going to mail it. It’s a higher quality lead if they’re willing to give you more information. I could say, “Give me your name and email,” and that lead would be worthless because they’re less serious than someone who’s willing to fill out a form where there are nine fields that they have to fill out. That person is more dedicated and higher up the food chain.
Seth, thank you so much for sharing this. For the divorcees, these figure out where all the recently singles are mingling. Are there any last words of wisdom or anything else that popped up that you think would be a little bonus tip for someone who’s looking for some new marketing ways to market their firm when they’re super busy and have literally zero time? Anything else you’ve got for us?
Most CPAs that we have seen, most accountants that we have seen have been, for whatever reason, and this may be my personal experience so that’s a disclaimer, reluctant to get in front of let’s say a video camera. I would tell you if I could pull your teeth and get you to start recording little, short, 30-second, 2-minute videos. It doesn’t take much time, just to practice to get you more comfortable with being on camera and get you a little bit out of your comfort zone. When you feel comfortable with that and you start using those as advertisements, you’ll be amazed at the results you get simply because most other accountants won’t do it.
You’re preaching. I say the same things. The latest Androids and iPhones have the best cameras. Make sure, bonus tip, flip your camera sideways. You don’t want it vertical. You do want it horizontal when you do this, but start practicing every day. Seth, thank you so much for being here. How can people find you if they want to hire you to help them find some leads?
I greatly appreciate the opportunity to be here and to serve your accountingpreneurs. If they go to MarketDominationLLC.com, they will see a video about us and then there is a form that they can fill out to jump on my calendar and schedule a time to talk. The initial consultation is free. We’ll have a conversation about your business, your practice, where you want to go, what you like, what you don’t like, who you like working with and who you’d like more of. If we can help you achieve your goal, we’ll tell you. If we can’t, we’ll send you to somebody else who can.
Thank you so much for being here. It was such an honor to have you.
Thank you so much.
What an amazing interview with Seth. I loved his story about his client and I hope that helps you put a few things into action. To recap the main important things that he discussed with us. Number one is do not be boring. You can go back and read that. Number two is to make sure to have great strategic referral partners. As an example, he went into a lot of depth on that with the Mary Kay lady and the hairstylist. Number three is to make sure to think about how you’re going to get your marketing message out to your ideal client once you’ve got all the other stuff figured out. Those are the other things. Lastly, remember the bonus. I can’t agree more with Seth. The videos are huge and most accountingpreneurs are not doing any of that. Grab your phone, practice 30 seconds to a minute a day. I promise that it does get easier.
If you are an accountingpreneur and you’re feeling slightly frustrated and stressed on how do you get those right referrals from the referral partners and how do you have control over who you work with and who you say no to and how much you can charge. Maybe you don’t believe you could ever get a yes to those higher value paying clients that you know you’re worth that money from. Make sure to head on over to FiveStepsToAbundance.com. Get my five simple step process that accountants have used to go from taking on every client waiting around for that busy time of year to being able to close higher-value clients who will start saying yes and paying you what you’re worth, no matter how much you charge. They appreciate you for doing that work for them. Also, please hit that subscribe button. Leave a written review because that does help me learn what to continue to keep helping you with. It helps other accountingpreneurs find this.
- Sharkpreneur Podcast
- Market Domination LLC
- Seth Greene
About Seth Greene
Seth Greene is the nation’s foremost authority on online lead generation for professional practices.