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10 Ways to Personalize Your CPA Firm’s Marketing Efforts

Share a CokePersonalized marketing is at work all around us. We see it every day, from personalized key chains and other souvenirs sold at tourist destinations to featured recommendations on Amazon.com, companies are tailoring products to make them more targeted and personalized.

This summer Coca-Cola launched its “Share a Coke” marketing campaign aimed at teens and Millennials. In an effort to personally connect with consumers, Coca-Cola replaced its iconic script logo with 250 of the most popular names of young people. Personalized labels could be found on 20 oz. bottles of Coke, Diet Coke and Coke Zero all summer long. Coca-Cola also encouraged customers to share their experiences on social media and many Coke enthusiasts responded by posting pictures with soda bottles bearing their names. In fact, during the first half of the campaign consumers shared more than 125,000 posts via social media networks. The Wall Street Journal reported that Coca-Cola soda sales in the U.S. increased by more than two percent following the launch of the campaign.

Why was the Share a Coke campaign so successful? Studies show that people prefer receiving customized messages rather than generic ones. Individualized communication signals that the consumer is unique and important. Like Coca-Cola, CPAs can take steps to personalize their marketing efforts.

I recently spoke with Joe Kovacs, marketing director for Gelman, Rosenberg and Freedman, a CPA firm located in Bethesda, Md., and Jamie Thomas, partner at The LBA Group, a CPA firm located in Jacksonville, Fla., about ways in which firms can personalize their marketing efforts. They shared the following tips:
  1. Leverage technology. Use marketing software that tracks users’ habits and allows your firm to further customize the content you send out. For example, if your firm sends an e-newsletter containing information on a number of industries to 50 individuals, and five readers click on a story relating to commercial real estate, your firm now knows that those individuals are interested in that industry and can send them more targeted messages in the future.
  2. Don’t over email. We are all inundated with email each day. Don’t push out information for the sake of it. Make sure your emails are relevant, timely and valuable to the audience.
  3. Do your research. Kovacs and Thomas also shared advice on creating a more personalized client/CPA experience, which starts with the initial meeting. Before your first meeting with a prospective client, gain an understanding of the company, its mission, vision and values, key personnel and the products and services it sells.
  4. Don’t bring marketing materials with you. At the initial meeting with a potential client, the focus should be on them and their needs. They likely have done their research, spoken to others who have used your firm and read your firm’s website.
  5. Shut up and listen. Let the client speak about their needs. The prospect would not be searching for a new CPA if their needs were being met. Afterward, explain how you can help and the services your firm can provide.
  6. Actively ask questions. Be on your toes. As you listen closely to your client, observe when you might be able to ask targeted questions that will help you learn more about their situation.
  7. Not all audits are the same. Make it clear to the client that the solution you provide will be specific to their needs.
  8. Strong relationships are key. Get to know the client’s CFO and financial team. Developing solid relationships takes time and hard work. These relationships build trust.
  9. Anticipate your client’s needs.  Clients might not know the vast range of services your firm provides and the knowledge and depth of your personnel. Be articulate while describing other services available. You want to share useful information without appearing salesy.
  10. Send the smartest person. Think about who you are sending to the initial meeting. If the client is a construction company, it would be wise to send a partner with expertise in the industry. If another staff member referred the client, they can accompany the expert.

The AICPA has several valuable resources available to help you enhance your firm’s personalized marketing efforts. You may be interested in reviewing the CPA Marketing Toolkit and the Tax Practitioners Toolkit. An article on understanding client pain points and showcasing your expertise is also available.

Personalized marketing is not just a trend. People prefer individualized messages, so why not provide them? How does your firm personalize its marketing efforts? Have these efforts been successful? We are looking forward to hearing from you.

Alexis Rothberg, A&A Communications Specialist, American Institute of CPAs.


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