I'm glad to read that you are having some success with your advertising. I think you're doing an excellent job. In this economy it's tough.
I have a few more tricks up my sleeve though.
The bar code flier is an excellent idea (Make sure the flier is specific on what that bar code is for. Many may not know). I would place them everywhere!!!
Join an accounting club, society, and/or forum. Your competition will be your most valuable teacher. That's the first thing we did when opening our doors.
Go on line and find a place where many people express their dissatisfaction with services. Your best client would be an unsatisfied customer from another accounting firm. I would even visit the parking lots of say, a very large accounting corporation and see if you can drop a few of those neat fliers of yours on cars.
I need your help on this one. I have scoured the search engines to find a place where people are dissatisfied with their accountant -- I have yet to find anything.
Do you or anybody else have a sight or place they recommend? Thanks!
Try this site: Construction Business Owner--Accountants
What I did was Google forums unhappy clients and customers. Several sites popped up. There are several blogs with unhappy people on them. Hope this helps. Good luck!
Network, network, network.
Working with other influencers will drive business your way.
Bankers, Realtors, Investment Advisors, Lawyers, etc. --- they all have clients and if you are connected to them, referrals can be a primary driver of your new clients.
Go to chamber meetings, professional breakfast meetings, etc. to build ties to the influencers who can ultimately steer clients your way. Word of mouth is the best source of new business and key influencers recommendations carry more weight than most other sources of business.
Word of mouth has been working slowly in my favor (considering I've only been open for 6 months and have a dozen clients). But it works against me too due to my youth. A lot of people have told me that they heard great things from a skilled local accountant. But when they meet me, they say they can't take me to a board meeting because I wouldn't be taken seriously.
So it's a double edged sword for me right now. If anybody have recommendation on how to combat this (and if it doesn't involve spray painting/dying my hair) I'm all ears.
Age is just a number . Act accordingly and respect follows. People always respect someone who knows what they are talking about . What you lack in age you need to gain in experience and knowledge. Good luck!
Working your own network can be a very good way to start. Serve your dozen clients exceptionally well going above and beyond and ask for referrals. Once you build a critical mass of clients and experience, that will shine through when you are networking. Turn youth in your favor by having exceptional client service where clients have glowing things to say in spite of youth.
One other way to combat the youth curse is to find some mentors in your industry that are much more experienced. They can often help to provide guidance that can help take you beyond your years. They can help you master your discipline and help you think of different angles. There are often retired professionals that serve current younger professionals with guidance, etc. as a way to give back and stay active. Look for these professional mentoring groups in your community.
It sounds like you're doing all the right things to network yourself. Where are you trying to pick up clients? Locally? Nationally? If you are trying to pick up clients nationally you may want to work on Elance to get a few customers. Heck, you could even open an account there and only bid on local projects (though the number may be limited). Continue to write in forums to provide people with your insight. Consider becoming a guest blogger. I'm looking all the time for people to contribute to my own blog.
It seems like you are just starting out and on a tight budget, so I tried to give you some options that are "on the cheap." Best of luck!
The Money Track
Independent Financial Advice & Personal Financial Planning
Thanks! Well I built my entire business model around low start-up costs and high efficiency -- so far, it's not bad. But the budget is always tight and I've only been around for 6 months.
I do write a few blogs that are sent out to the Chamber of Commerce and a few post online. Elance is great but, there are some insane bids on there that just seems ridiculous. It either feels overwhelming or outright pointless sometimes to try and outbid them.
As for my clients. I am in St. Louis, MO and I have started picking up clients (or at least being contacted by potential clients) from Illinois, Kansas, California, and somehow Alaska (I'm still trying to figure out how they found me).
The business model I have setup favors more National level expansion. For example, an accountant in New York with standard of living might cost (for example and simplicity sake) $25,000 a month. But, if the same company outsourced their accounting to our office in Missouri, we can perform the same job with more personnel, higher quality accountants, and then some for roughly $10,000 a month.
That's at least the rough idea of the business plan. Thus, staying local makes it difficult to compete as I have to charge competitive pricing and fight over accounts with other firms. Where if I moved nationally, I can compete on a naturally existing market that gives me an advantage, higher returns, and the occasional travel.
Finally, I would be honored to write for your blog! Thank you for offering. Please shoot me an email!
So just wanted some more ideas. I've been growing my accounting firm and I just wanted to see if anybody had anymore thoughts on how to grow my firm.
1. Checking craigslist and posting ads on a regular basis
- It's landed us 10 contracts, but they're unreliable at best. I hate having to wait for people to post something for me to reply to.
2. Putting up advertising in coffee shops, grocery stores, and the such all over St. Louis & Illinois
- We had fliers created with bar codes that could be scanned by iphones & smart phones that takes them directly to our website
- Haven't had a lot of success with this, but it's more for exposure than anything. Any recommendations on where else to put these up?
3. I've been trying to get into speaking forums and to teach more QuickBook and Bookkeeping classes to keep exposure up
- Good side, it keeps my skills sharp and people know who I am
- Down side, everybody thinks they're bookkeepers after they leave and don't want to hire me (darn)
Edited: I forgot to mention a few more things
4. Kirkwood Chamber of Commerce
- I already attend functions, luncheons, and the such to build network. There is one downside to this approach, I am only 25 and possesses no gray hair. So a lot of the other professionals are not referring to me due to my youthful look
- I have gotten a few, but not a whole lot. Those that have worked with me, love my work. But it isn't enough to convince the others that I am anything but a kid right now.
- Overall, it's a bit of a dry well with the chambers and all for me
Anybody have any other ideas on how to advertise an accounting firm? We've been getting good exposure on facebook, twitter, and the such, but no hits at all on clients.
Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated! Thank you, everybody!