Virtually all practitioners, no matter what services they provide, make two crippling mistakes when marketing:
1. They say the exact same thing as their competitors; and
2. They try to be everything to everyone.
In essence they have commoditized themselves.
You will know you have commoditized yourself when you hear yourself uttering things such as how long you have been in practice, listing the qualifications you have, detailing the services you offer, or making vague statements such as “the client comes first.”
The big danger when everyone looks the same and sounds the same is that the only way for your would-be clients to differentiate one firm from another is by fees.
Price shopping and commodity pricing aren’t things the market does to you. They’re something you unknowingly do to yourself by virtue of having nothing unique to say, no message that communicates to your ideal client that, “Yes, my firm is what you’re looking for.”
The truth is, most clients are willing to pay premium fees for things they desperately want. They just don’t know if yours is the business that is worth the fees. So you have to tell them.
The way to handle this is to take a step back and approach this strategically before rushing into marketing tactics. To develop a successful marketing strategy, you need to master the 3M’s of marketing:
• Market: Who buys your services.
• Message: Why they buy from you.
• Media: How you get your message across to them.
Most CPAs don’t take the time to work through each of these elements and few understand that the sequential order of looking at them is very important.
That’s why so many practitioners have problems with their CPA firm marketing. They end up buying advertising based on which ad rep calls them the most, or they spend a fortune running ads that have no clear message.
The key to getting this right is that you must work through them in the order just mentioned.
You must begin the process with a good picture of your ideal clients; then define a clear message to communicate with this group and finally decide which media you want to use to get it across.