When it comes to marketing and lead generation, it’s hard to make it “rain,” but with adequate marketing assistance and support, and a well-directed and professionally managed marketing and lead generation program, everyone can make it “drizzle.” Supporting partners’ practice development efforts with professional marketing assistance and a focused, consistent, and well-executed game plan can increase the amount and quality of new business they will engage each year. It will also enable most partners to be more successful at practice development efforts and activities. Generating quality leads is typically the most difficult and time consuming aspect of practice development. Many large firms have multiple full-time lead generators, who have little or no client service responsibility, but it can be expensive for smaller firms to take that route. However, there are other less costly methods to generate leads and achieve greater levels of growth through a targeted lead generation program.
Target Marketing Program— By implementing target marketing and lead generation initiatives, CPA professionals make the best use of their time and resources and avoid activities such such as attending “speed dating” type networking events, conferences attended by many accountants, and lunches with unproductive referral sources. Targeting qualified prospective clients and developing relationships with quality referral sources leads to efficient and focused marketing initiatives and activities, and most often increases ROI vs. the old-fashioned “shot-gun” approach to marketing. Identifying qualified client prospects based upon specific criteria and client characteristics from market research can substantially increase the chances of a successful practice development program, and significantly reduce the amount of time spent on prospecting by CPA professionals. Many tasks related to researching, generating and distributing articles and thought leadership content, including follow-up e-mails and phone calls, blogging, LinkedIn contacts, etc. and organizing the follow-up process, can be delegated to marketing coordinators and administrative assistants. The majority of the research and qualifying prospects can be performed by marketing professionals, or administrative and support personnel, if they are properly trained.
Relationship Management— It’s crucial that various types of contact and follow-up activities continue consistently over time, and prior to and after a partner has a meeting with a prospect. Practice development is a “contact sport” that requires a systematic and sustained follow-up approach to generate leads and engage qualified client prospects. Marketing professional accounting and advisory services requires building relationships and developing trust and credibility with potential prospects and referral sources. Lack of consistent contact and follow-up with prospects is typically where practice development cycles break-down. This is also where most of the frustration is generated, which leads to failures in partners’ new business development efforts.
Marketing public accounting services requires that partners consistently communicate with the decision makers at prospective clients. Keep in mind that it may take up to two years or more to close a large quality client. Having relationship managers assist partners with this process, on an ongoing and consistent basis, is essential for success. During the relationship management cycle, it’s important that both written and verbal messages properly communicate the benefits and the value of becoming a client of the firm.
Yes, anyone can make it “drizzle” with a properly planned and executed targeted marketing and lead generation program, as well as, the support of qualified marketing professionals; however, it takes patience, focus, and perseverance.
Having several of your partners make it “drizzle” versus relying on a few “rainmakers” will increase the chances of steady and consistent growth each year and developing a succession plan.