Yesterday, I made the journey home after my cousin's wedding in Portland, Maine.
The weekend's events were a lot of fun, a new party and gathering every afternoon and evening.
But I digress- I believe most readers come to this blog to read about "Marketing For Accountants" and how to get more clients for their accounting firms - not the day to day ramblings and activities of some dude living his life. I believe you're looking for relevant content, and good information that you can use in your business; and interesting insights and resources to apply to your marketing and understanding.
So, although I'm posting a couple pics from my cousin's wedding, the relevant part is that on the flight home, I read a great book that I think you'll enjoy: The book is "Buy-ology - The Truth and Lies about why we buy" by Martin Lindstrom. Here's the Amazon link. Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy
I say: "Get This Book, Now."
Lindstrom has produced a great read, with useful insights, which just might change the way you look at marketing and sales, at the "Neuro" or brain wave level. He's challenged some common marketing axioms like "Sex Sells" and looked at which emotional messages work to produce sales.
I'll be working up a more extensive review soon, but while this is on my mind, I wanted to share it with you. Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy made my crummy American Airlines flight (5 seats away from a crying baby for 6 hours) worth it. Instead of getting frustrated, I gained new insights on sales & marketing! So it was time well invested in reading.
Have you ever been in a store where the staff seemingly did not want to make a sale?
I'm in Portland, Maine, for my cousin's wedding, and one of my new friends and I were driving around to get some lunch.
I'm in a good mood because, well, my cousin's birthday is tonight, and her wedding is tomorrow. It's a lot of fun to see the family, the new babies, and enjoy good times, great food, and yes, plenty of local micro-brew.
It's raining here today, and the windshield had a film on it - it seemed no matter how much the windshield wipers worked, the view from the windshield remained fuzzy and, well, unsafe.
Being the helpful and generous guy that I am, I suggested that we stop by a Napa Autoparts store across the street from the lunch spot to buy some Rain-X. Now, I'm a fan of Rain-X, and regularly apply it to my windshields about every 4-6 months. Rain-X acts like "wax" for the windshield, increasing transparency, water shedding ability, and reducing glare. In wet conditions, Rain-X helps you see through your windshield better. I think Rain-X is a great product. So I wanted to buy some and put it on the windshield.
I go in the store. I grab the Rain-X... 30 seconds elapse, and I approach the counter ready to make the purchase. Product in one hand, $5 in the other.
There are two clerks behind the desk, one on the phone, one helping another customer.
The clerk on the phone shows no recognition that he sees me, such as looking me in the eye and holding up a hand to indicate "Just a minute" - he just continues his banter with some schmo on the phone.
I get the attention of the other guy (wearing an "assistant manager" name tag) - and ask: "Can you help me checkout please?"
In a very annoyed tone he says: "I'm with another customer." Which I understand - I can see that... but at this point, I'd been waiting there at the counter for 3 minutes...My patience was wearing thin. After all, I was just in to make a really quick transaction. In and out.
So after another minute of waiting - I asked again: "would it be possible to just pay for this and be on my way?" The Assistant Manager gets annoyed and snaps: "thanks for your patience" in a smarmy and sarcastic tone. Now I'm just turned off. As I said, I'm in a good mood and don't want to waste any more energy or time when it's obvious to me that my business and money were not valued by the store. So I put the product back and marched on out without making a purchase.
Sure, it's not very likely that I'm going to be back in Portland purchasing Auto supplies in the near future - and this very brusque Assistant Manager probably couldn't care less about a $5 sale. He's going to make the same $10/hour whether he helps me or not. But the point is that the store manager & owner probably has no clue that his clerks are losing sales. They had no idea who I was, and whether or not I might have some huge auto parts needs in the near future. Just like when a potential client calls asking about tax work - he could have a small 1040, or need regular bookkeeping service at $500/month and help with corporate taxes and payroll.
In today's economy, every sale should matter.
Good customer service and courtesy is super easy to implement. It's as simple as hiring nice people who consider the needs of people calling or coming into your place of business. And checking on them to make sure they're doing their job right.
It's as simple as asking new customers & clients how the whole purchasing process feels to them. When you sign them as a client, make sure they know that YOU CARE how they are treated every time they call and interact with your firm. Make sure they know that if something isn't right for them, you want to know about it. However, if you have clients being rude and or abusive to your staff; you should also let your staff know that you care about them too... and likewise will fire a client who doesn't treat your people right. It goes both ways.
Make sure you aren't losing the easy sales because you have rude schmucks in the front office. Sometimes those easy little sales & clients lead to referrals and bigger clients.
Today, I opened up the Wall Street Journal (yes, I still occasionally read a real newspaper!) and was shocked at the Headline:"Health Bill Would Hit Small Businesses"
Under the House measure, employers with payrolls exceeding $400,000 a year would have to provide health insurance or pay the 8% penalty. Employers with payrolls between $250,000 and $400,000 a year would pay a smaller penalty, and those less than $250,000 would be exempt. Certain small firms would get tax credits to help buy coverage.
The relatively low thresholds for penalties triggered the sharpest criticism yet from employer groups, who said the burden on small business is too high and doesn't do enough to help them expand insurance coverage.
Generally, I avoid political positions in my blog, as I believe politics are a matter of personal choice. But I wanted to point out to you that this is a great opportunity to seize the "news of the day" to market your firm more aggressively.
There is no doubt that a sense of fear and despair is gripping the country during the recession. When President Obama yesterday agreed that "unemployment" will continue to "tick upwards" over then next several months; he's not expressing the views of Hope that got him elected.
One thing for sure: Change is coming.
And it's our job as trusted advisors to our clients and friends to make our clients aware of ways to plan and take advantage over every opportunity to save our clients money.
In times of uncertainty, our clients are looking for a voice of reason. And as CPA's and Accountants, our trusted status is an open door for having conversations with clients and prospects.
But where to start?
It seems that it's increasingly difficult to reach out and touch our clients & prospects. Mass Media is mostly dead (and not cost effective for small business owners like ourselves) so it's vital that we create personal communications for our clients.
No, I don't mean writing 'one-off' letters or emails to clients - but having a REGULAR, STRUCTURED, method for reaching out and touching clients either via regular mail (as in a client newsletter) or email newsletter, or via your website and or blog, or twitter account (by the way, you can follow me at: http://www.twitter.com/rachford
Personal outreach is essential during this time. I'm talking beyond "networking" (so 1990's!) and into a marketing process that will Attract, Inspire and Motivate clients and prospects to start conversations with their friends... increasing referrals and increasing client retention.
Stay tuned... much more soon!
Dedicated to your practice development,
I know I've been out of communication myself for the last few months (ok, well 8 months) but for those of you who have read here often in the past, know that I was devastated by my the death of my Mother last fall. Thank you to all who have sent well wishes and messages of support. I have often wondered when would be the 'right time' to get back into the swing of things, and today, I find the answer is today. It's good to be back!
David S. Rachford, CPA-Inactive
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