Sandi Leyva Training Solutions for Accountants

February 9, 2012

Five Fast and Fun Ways to Get New Clients

Filed under: Accounting Marketing — 1o49d @ 11:11 am

How can we attract the most clients with our limited marketing budget and time, plus make it fun?   Here are five ideas to get your phone ringing more often and with the right prospects for your business.

1. Wear t-shirts with your logo.

I wouldn’t have believed it myself if I hadn’t seen it.   If you wear a t-shirt with your company logo and tag line clearly stating what you do, people will stop you in the grocery store.  The most common comment:  “I have been looking for someone who does what you do!”

Similarly, if you have a car door magnet or sign advertising your business, people will stop you in the parking lot and start talking to you.  And don’t worry if you have no idea where to get car door magnets.  Intuit sells them!  Plus, you don’t even need a designer when you select a pre-formatted style.

If you’re an accounting professional with software certifications, you can list not only your company logo, but also your certification logos, such as QuickBooks ProAdvisor, Intuit Solution Provider, and others.  People will recognize these and will start a conversation with you.

These old-fashioned offline ideas will kindle new customers and new friends.

2. Volunteer to be on a panel of experts.

What’s great about appearing on a panel instead of speaking to an audience is the short preparation time.  All you generally need to do is be prepared to answer questions in your field of expertise.

When you can answer an audience member’s question intelligently, they will often follow up with you to discuss what else you can do for them.

Appearing in front of an audience of individuals interested in your field of expertise is a leveraged form of marketing.  Instead of having 100 individual conversations like you do in networking, speaking allows you to demonstrate your expertise to many individuals at once, saving you tons of time.

3. Appear on TV, radio, or in the news.

This one is easier than it looks.   What are the most common questions your clients are asking?  Make a list of these, turn it into a press release, and send it to the business editor of your local small town newspaper.  Let them know you’re the local expert on this topic, and you’d be happy to field questions for any articles they write.   You can even offer to supply articles for them, which provides them with content they don’t have to pay for.

Do this in the form of a “top 10 mistakes” list or a “7 things you need to know before you hire a __.”

Then, relax and enjoy your 15 minutes of fame.

4. Leverage the marketing channels you are already using.

If you have your social media accounts set up, send out a tweet or post letting people know you are looking for new clients.  For best results, describe the type of client you are looking for.

If you have your newsletter set up, send an email letting your list know you are looking for new clients and who to send you.  A common mistake with newsletters is to send only articles.  Periodically, you’ll want to send announcements of specials you’re having, which will boost sales, or other special announcements, such as an open house, a training class, or a request for testimonials.

Last, if you’re active and known in networking circles, use your elevator speech time to describe your ideal client.  The more specific you can get, the better your results will be.

5. Keep in touch with current clients.

The more you can reach out to current clients, the better.  When is the last time you’ve sent a client a thank-you card for no reason or on no particular occasion?   Proactively plan to connect with your clients throughout the year, and not just for invoicing!  You’ll find that your client retention, revenue per client, and referrals will all go way up when you increase the number of times you reach out to clients.

Those are five fast and fun ways to get new clients.  Let me know what works best for you.I’d love for you to post some of your favorite and fun ways to get new clients.  Share your experiences and ideas on my blog or on my Facebook page here

January 14, 2012

Anchor 2012 with a Theme

Filed under: Accounting Marketing,Grow Your Accounting Practice — 1o49d @ 6:36 pm

It’s 2012, and according to all of the experts, we’re in for a wild ride this year.  With predictions of the end of the world, political egos running wild, and a couple of dictators still in power who aren’t right in the head, 2012 may just be the year to declare a theme to help you stand by the goals you have for your business.

Deciding on a theme for the year will give you a focus and a new perspective on your work and your routines.   It can be highly rejuvenating to look at things through the lens of your new theme.

Ideas for themes are limited only by your imagination.  Some possible themes include:

  • Abstract themes, such as abundance, creativity, or diversity. At the risk of sounding a little fluffy, an esoteric theme might be just what you need in 2012.  A theme with abundance will allow you to think big, be abundantly generous with others, and search for large contracts.   A theme with diversity will challenge you to be more open-minded.  I’ve been doing a lot of work lately in the area of forgiveness.  You may also want to consider gratitude or humility or service. 
  • Relationships. Your year might be dedicated to meeting new associates and building business relationships.  Your action item might be to spend more time networking, participating in groups, and going to accounting conferences or meetings.
  • A new service. Perhaps you’re launching a new service, such as financial services for the elderly, and need to focus on developing this new line of business. 
  • Giving back. On a personal note, you might value volunteering and decide to organize your year around a couple of volunteer opportunities.  
  • Growth. You might want to consider a growth-related theme, such as productivity or profitability.  You might also want to develop a new skill such as learning a new language, developing your people or communication skills, or taking a philosophy class at your local junior college. 
  • Exploring. If you’ve retired or the business is starting to run smoothly without your day-to-day input, it might be time for that trip around the world.
  • Organizing, detoxing, or cleansing. Consider cleaning out your garage (or your office), upgrading your systems, re-designing your filing system, auditing your own books, going on a cleanse or a vacation to an ashram, or another project that will leave you feeling clutter- and worry-free.

As you choose you goals for 2012, make sure the majority of them support your theme for the year.  Themes can bring an overarching focus to our practices and our lives.

My theme for the year is “higher self.”  My challenge for myself in 2012 is to be my best self always in everything I do, say, and feel.

What’s your theme?  I’d love for you to share yours on my blog or on my Facebook page here

December 28, 2011

The Three Biggest Money Leaks in Your Service Business

Filed under: Accounting Marketing,Grow Your Accounting Practice — 1o49d @ 9:13 am

There are dozens (and maybe hundreds) of ways your business can leak money. In this article, I’ll visit three ideas that are fairly simple to implement and may be some great goals for you to consider for 2012.

1. Multi-tasking.

It’s so interesting how multi-tasking makes our brains feel like we’re accomplishing more. But scientific studies show how inefficient multi-tasking really is and that we’re accomplishing quite a bit less when we multi-task.

The quintessential example is driving while talking on a cell phone, which is actually so life-threatening that we have laws against it in many states. In life or death work settings such as hospitals and airplanes, multi-tasking can also have fatal effects. In the typical workplace where lives are not at stake, then multi-tasking is simply a waste of time, money, and energy.

Taking steps to move from multi-tasking to developing superior time management practices in your business workflow will allow you to plug this common money leak. It’s a habit we need to consciously work on breaking.

2. Marketing on the fly.

In many service businesses, it’s feast or famine when it comes to clients. That’s because when you have work, you’re too busy to market, and when you don’t have work, you may be reacting to the next marketing idea that falls in your inbox. The result is a money leak that has you paying way too much for marketing that often does not return your investment.

The answer is twofold. One is to get enough marketing training so that you know what marketing investments are going to return the most value for your business. The second is to create a year-round plan to smooth out your marketing efforts.

3. Lost customer opportunities.

In just about every business I’ve worked with, there are opportunities within your current customer base that have not been harvested. When you offer multiple services or products, it may even be that some of your clients do not know everything you do.

Here’s one of dozens of quick “aha” exercises I provide in my Accountant’s Accelerator program that is bound to uncover some revenue opportunities for most of you. Open a clean spreadsheet to get started. In the rows, list each current customer you have. Along the columns, list your current service lines. In each cell, drop in the revenue you received from that customer. The blank cells should reveal some opportunities for 2012 revenue.

Get started on the right foot in 2012 by plugging these three money leaks in your business.

December 20, 2011

Six Strategies to Give Yourself a Raise for 2012

Filed under: Accounting Marketing,Grow Your Accounting Practice — 1o49d @ 8:35 pm

When I worked in the corporate world, it was always great to get a raise.  Now that I am an entrepreneur, raises are replaced by increases in revenue and profits.  More revenue and profits are nice, as long as we’re not working correspondingly more hours.  So how can we give ourselves a true raise: work the same amount of hours or less and make more?  Here are ten strategies for your consideration:

  1. Take on more profitable work by knowing your opportunity number.  In order to do this one, we need to know our gross margins by service or product line.  When we know our numbers, we can figure out what projects we can take on that increase the margins rather than lower them.  One example of this is to know your opportunity number.  Right now, my opportunity number is about $3,000.  I can’t easily take a new client in the door for less than that or I don’t give myself a raise.  When you know what kind of work you should be going after, you can give yourself permission to stop chasing after the small stuff and pursue the work that will give yourself a raise.2. Create new revenue streams.  This might sound hard, but it can be really simple.  Let’s pretend one of your core skills is writing, like it is for me.  At first when I sold my writing, I did it by selling articles.  Lately, I have had to get more creative.  I now sell my writing half a dozen ways:  I offer products in the form of binders I have written.   I perform marketing copywriting services for client’s websites and marketing materials.  I offer a client newsletter.  See how I can take one skill and make several different products out of it?  What skill do you have that you can make different products out of?  By thinking about what your clients need that you can offer, you can create new revenue streams and give yourself a raise.
  2. Upsell to current clients and improve your revenue per client.  Can all of your clients list every service you offer?  I know mine couldn’t!  My web design clients probably don’t know about my coaching services, and my copywriting clients probably don’t know about my speaking services.  That’s something I need to do something about!  How about you?  Do all of your clients know about every service you offer?  If not, you’re probably missing out on some revenue opportunities.
  3. Boost your marketing skills.  OK, I realize this one is a bit self-serving, but increasing the effectiveness of your marketing will lower your costs and give yourself a raise.  Every lead lost because of a miss in your sales call, a poor website, or an ineffective elevator speech makes you go after more prospects, which increases your costs and time.  Just getting an effective elevator speech can allow you to collect about 10 times as many cards for your time spent networking, and that’s a nice pickup in productivity.
  4. Use your time better.  By implementing some advanced time management techniques that aren’t all that well known, you can improve your productivity, increase you billable hours, and make more by working less.  Your stress level will also go way down, and you will have more energy.
  5. Work on your mindset.  The world we live in, and especially the U.S. culture, sure does a number on our poor brains.   It’s a surprise any of us are still sane after we take in the horrific news stories, negative or controlling people at work or in our lives, and advertising designed to make us feel inadequate.  No wonder 85% of Americans suffer from low self-esteem.  If you feel you lack confidence at times, you’re not alone.  It’s an epidemic.  We need tools to help build our confidence so we can live up to our potential and become all we can be, as the army says.

Are you ready for a raise in 2012?  Try these tips and watch your income grow.

December 13, 2011

Six Strategies to Stop Losing Business to Competitors

Filed under: Accounting Marketing,Grow Your Accounting Practice — 1o49d @ 8:35 pm

It’s rare that I lose business to competitors, and it’s also not an accident.  If you are losing business to your competitors, here are some strategies you can use to “become a category of one,” as they say in marketing.

1. Build your brand.  In accounting, professional services, and coaching, our brand is our name.  We can build it up by building our reputation for delivering results to clients and becoming a thought leader in the profession.  Do this a number of ways:  write articles, make speeches, offer teleseminars, post your testimonials and case studies, get interviewed by the press, serve on a committee or board of directors, and become a well-respected business leader in your community, to name a few.  When you build your brand, people will come asking for you by name and won’t consider others.

2. Make clients money.  Offer your services in a way that not only provides the compliance work that clients need, but that has them saving money or making more money so that your fees pay for themselves in the client’s eyes.  This is best done by getting clear how your services provide a return on investment for a client.  Often clients don’t even know how much you’ve saved them, so sometimes you need to overtly communicate this.  When you turn your final deliverable over to a client, add a report that summarizes how much you have saved your client.  This will go a long way toward getting great testimonials, more referrals, and increased client retention.

3. Stop hourly pricing.  It’s far too easy to have a prospect ask your price and compare you with someone lower.  Which is totally ludicrous, because no one can know how fast you are compared to someone else.  So if you do hourly pricing, you have to let prospects know you are faster (if you are).  The best way to get out of the whole price conversation is to bundle your services and develop fixed fee packages.   Clients love the certainty of a fixed fee, and you totally sound like you know what you are doing when you have a package.

4. Become more client-centered.  Listen.  Develop your services at the intersection of your skill set and your client’s needs.  You will benefit from constantly rolling out new products and services, and your client will think you can read their mind.

5. Learn marketing.  If you are a great technician and a lousy marketer, you’re a best-kept secret.  If you’re a great marketer and a lousy technician, you’ll have a lot of customer turnover.  You need both skill sets to succeed in this economy.  If your competitor is better than you at marketing and is an average technician, they’re likely to do just as well as you if you are a lousy marketer and a great technician.  Sad but true.

6. Put some fun into your products or services.  Last year, I had a contest and gave away an iPad.  This year, we’re taking our top tier clients to a fancy resort in Phoenix and maybe even to the Bahamas.  People are craving to have a little fun in their lives, so especially if you offer dentistry or taxes, it’s a great idea to make it as fun as possible.  Figure out what your clients will like, and add it to your service package.

Try these six strategies to beat the competition in 2012.

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