Tax season is heavily upon us, and my team and I are beginning to feel the crunch with client questions, phone calls coming in from people looking to switch accountants, etc.
(Which, by the way, means we are also doing everything possible to keep our minds clear from the barrage of 24-7 media stirring up conflict and frustration — but that’s an email for another day.)
But staying focused, of course, does NOT mean that I won’t take the time to give you some business strategy thoughts this week.
I put a lot of effort to go beyond being a simple tax/accounting advisor for my clients, and I’m grateful to those who send comments, who forward these on to their associates, and, of course, for the many referrals that my clients and contacts have been sending our way the past few months.
People switch accountants for lots of different reasons.
One of the big reasons, I believe, that people become frustrated with their existing accounting solution is that business owners really need to be operating from a place of clarity when it comes to the data and the numbers in their business. Far too many business owners, however, don’t have the luxury of this kind of data.
And when it comes to marketing, you have to be looking at these numbers in order to see what works. Certainly, there are “soft” marketing spends (such as those focused on retention, referrals, or relationships with important contacts). But when it comes to new client acquisition, it’s critically important to have at least some basic clarity.
Here’s some things you can do, if this is a current challenge for your business…
“Real World” Business Strategy Note
Cash Controls In Your Marketing
“The dog that trots about finds a bone.” -Golda Meir
One of the big problems with “branded” style advertising, is that you simply cannot know whether your marketing is really working or not. After all … if you’re “getting your name out” (as the ad reps tell you), how do you know if your “name” is pulling in new clients?
It’s a classic strategy by which ad reps get you to purchase more advertising from them: “We just need to go a few more months, so you can get your name out more.”
Well, when I’ve worked with advertising agencies, we enjoyed the power position with our ad reps. Why? Because we knew our numbers.
We could attach dollars and cents to the ROI from our specific ads, and we used that info to make marketing decisions every season. And it’s a MAJOR missed step for many local businesses.
“So how do I do it, Paul?”
Simple. First, you commit yourself to create marketing pieces with a direct call to action. That means giving the reader (or viewer, etc.) an actual reason for responding, with a good offer, a deadline or a new product or service to try.
Then, attach an internal “code” to this piece. If it’s print, ask them to bring it to the store or office, and make sure your staff is equipped to enter that particular code when they do the transaction. If it’s broadcast media, you can also get a dedicated URL or 800 number (or local number) to track which calls come in specifically in response to the ad.
This is also, of course, true for online marketing — but tracking is much easier there. But I encourage you to carry things out to revenue, not just hits and clicks.
And, of course, you should be tracking your incoming phone calls … but that’s a “Note” for another day.
Then, once you’ve got this information, you look at how much you spent on the ad and can create a “quick and dirty” ROI analysis for ALL your advertising.
We would evaluate the effectiveness of an ad this way: if we break even, we’re alright with that (repeat business, referrals, etc.) — I see them as “free” clients. Anything above 1-1 ROI is gravy.
Many business owners are leery of breaking even on a promotion … but they’re missing the point. It’s not about hitting all home runs. Hit singles, doubles, triples (with a “walk” or two, thrown in) … and the combined effect does, in fact, become a business home run.
Take that to home plate … and to the bank.
Feel very free forward this article to a business associate or client you know who could benefit from our assistance — or simply send them our way? While these particular articles usually relate to business strategy, as you know, we specialize in tax preparation and planning for families and business owners. And we always make room for referrals from trusted sources like you.
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