Seven Hot Lead Generation Methods for Accountants

When accountants think about lead generation, methods like telemarketing and direct mail might instantly come to mind.  (You might also have a really negative connotation of these methods, but if you do, hang with me for a minute.)  It used to be that in telemarketing, if you made a certain number of calls, you could get one appointment, and for every certain number of appointments you set, you could get one new client.

The same thing was true of direct mail.  Twenty years ago, you could count on anywhere from three to six sales for every hundred pieces you mailed.  Lead generation was a numbers game.  All you had to do to get clients was to make the right number of calls or send the right number of direct mail pieces to hit your numbers.

Times have drastically changed, but lead generation is still a numbers game, with vastly different but predictable results.  In direct mail, for example, an excellent response is now measured in tenths of percentage points; the results are diluted but predictable.

But the big change in lead generation is not the results; it’s that there are many more methods out there today to get clients’ attention.  The problem — or the opportunity! – is most accountants are still only using the old methods.    To help you expand your thinking on lead generation, here is a list of seven not-so-distasteful lead generation methods that work just fine for accounting firms of all sizes.

1.  Email marketing. 

If you’ve been on my list for any length of time, you’ve seen me use email marketing.  What you might not know is every time I send an email, I get results, and so can you.   It took me about a year to build this skill and to also build my list, both of which are ongoing processes.  Once you get past the learning curve, email marketing is far more leveraged, cost-effective, and fun than cold calling.

BIG SECRET:  A lot of the success being attributed to social media is really coming from email marketing (and a couple of other marketing channels).

2. Google AdWords, other online ads, and super-hot now: retargeting.

Any kind of ad placement for professional services should be done with caution because of the trust barrier involved, but it can be a way to bring leads in that can then be “warmed up” so they can get to know you over time.

Have you recently visited a site, then gone to another site that has an ad pop up for the site you just visited?  That’s called retargeting, and even though it’s been around for a while now, it’s still extremely popular, and lots of accounting vendors are using this method to capture our attention.

3. Trade show or local event display table or booth.      

I’ve had a couple of clients use this method to great success this year.  The learning curve is fairly simple, and the results are faster than some other lead generation methods.  You will need to create some materials including a sign, banner, or tabletop display, but the good news is these can be used over and over again.

 4.  Complimentary webinar, speech, or class.

A webinar, class, or speech provides a low-risk way for a prospect to get to know you, evaluate your competence, and experience how you might be to work with.

This method will work best for those accountants who feel at least somewhat comfortable speaking in public and is ideal for those of you who are QuickBooks or Xero trainers.  You don’t have to be a great speaker; you just need to convey good information that your clients value.

5.  Guest blog post or article.     

Writing an article is a great way to demonstrate your expertise and allow prospects to see how you think.  It’s a little harder these days getting your article noticed, even on a popular site like Forbes, so this lead generation method is best combined with other techniques to increase its effectiveness.

6.  Complimentary report, case study or white paper.

A popular lead generation technique among mid-market to large CPA firms, consulting firms like McKinsey, and other professional service firms is the free white paper.   You can set it up online to have prospects fill out a form to download the white paper.  A white paper is an educational piece – usually 10-20 pages but can be shorter – related to your services or product and designed to pique the prospect’s interest but not give away too much information.

The leads who sign up for the white paper or report can be contacted and qualified by a follow-up phone call and possibly turned into appointments.

7.  Open house.

If you know a lot of people, throw a party – a business party, that is.   Hold an open house to bring your community together.  You can have a program with a speaker (doesn’t have to be you), networking time, or a mix of the two.  Make sure you have lots of food, and ask the people you invite to bring their friends.

Direct mail and telemarketing still work, so you can use those methods as well.   But just in case you’re ready for something new, try these seven ideas to generate new leads for your accounting business.