Accounting Practice Business Development Blog


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Jan/13

3

What’s Your Best Marketing Approach for 2013?

Let’s first look at the prospective business climate for 2013.  Putting political spin aside, I think it is fair to describe the state of our national economy as somewhere between tepid and cool.  Unfortunately, with so many people dropping out of the “seeking a job” pool, combined with the majority of civilian hiring being made by local, state and federal governments, the private sector outlook for 2013 is iffy … maybe a little upward tick; maybe a small contraction … who knows?

OK, so how does this “iffyness” impact your practice’s outlook for the next 12 months?

First of all, my thought is that you don’t want to bet on the economy getting meaningfully better.  If, for example, your practice consists of car dealers, retail stores, construction companies, etc., you are vulnerable if there is a further contraction as we get into the year.  Why?  It’s because these types of clients are highly dependent upon the general state of the economy.

If you’re located in the Dakotas with all the shale oil activity, this is a good thing because the place is booming.  If you are in a relatively depressed area; especially where your local and state governments are running substantial deficits, then any practice that relies upon a reasonably robust local economy may be facing difficult times with higher taxes, declining revenue, AR problems, margin pressures, etc.

Assuming you DO have a practice that is closely tied to the general economic health in your marketing area, and you are located in a city/state that is in poor financial shape, what is the best marketing/business development plan for 2013?

My first suggestion is obvious: seek more business from your present client base; focusing upon those which are succeeding in today’s business climate.
How do you do that?  The easiest is the “stickie” technique (it works great during tax season).  You’ve read about this several times in the blog, but here’s a link to refresh your memory:  http://www.acctbizblog.com/discussion-of-the-method/a-tax-season-marketing-technique-that-works.php

My second suggestion is to identify a niche that you believe is relatively immune to future contraction of your local economy.  For example, higher end retailers (there will always be people who can afford Ferraris), attorneys (there is a steadily expanding panoply of new laws and regs to fight over), selected medical practices, etc.

Once you identify a suitable niche, the next task is to become part of it.  This means that an increasing number of those within the niche begin to recognize you as an accountant they not only know – by going to their meetings, speaking or writing for the niche, etc. – but whom they believe understands their issues and the accompanying accounting challenges.  Obtaining new clients from within the niche will naturally follow.

I’ve written several blogs about specific, proven strategies to obtain new clients from a desired niche.  Here’s an example:  http://www.acctbizblog.com/miscellaneous/what-is-your-practice%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%9Csignature-dish%E2%80%9D.php

To read other blogs addressing how to select and market to a niche, please go to acctbizblog.com and enter “niche” in the blog’s search box.

My third suggestion for 2013 is to emphasize expanding and nourishing your network of professional contacts.  Typically this consists of lawyers, consultants and people in civic, business/organization and government leadership roles.

Here’s a link to a detailed blog about how successful networks are built:

http://www.acctbizblog.com/discussion-of-the-method/how-to-build-an-effective-referral-network.php

In summary, if you feel your practice is vulnerable should there be a further softening of the economy (or, if you simply want to increase your top line), here’s a recap of these three proven strategies to succeed in a tough market:
•    seek more business from existing clients you believe are well positioned to     prosper in 2013;
•    identify and market to a niche consisting of members you believe will continue to     be successful in 2013 even if there is a further economic decline, and
•    expand and pay more attention to your professional network; emphasizing quality     over quantity.

For those readers who have purchased CPA & Accounting Practice Builder, these subjects are covered in detail.  Might it be time for a quick review?

Nobody knows what 2013 will bring, but if you follow the three suggestions I believe your marketing/business development efforts will be focused upon the correct objectives.  They provide a practical means to insulate your practice if there is a further economic slide, and also maximize any potential upside.

As always, please send me your feedback and let me know what has worked for you.

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