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CPA Marketing Tips – Fast and Easy Ways to be found on the Web

CPA Marketing Tips – Fast and Easy Ways to be found on the Web
As a CPA firm, it’s critical that people in your state, county, and city know how to find your firm and the services it provides.

Below are some fast and easy marketing tips to help your firm be found on the Internet, particularly on GoogleÔ, one of the world’s most-used search engines.

You or someone in your firm can do each of these in minutes to help spread the word about your firm and increase your search results in Google.

  1. Natural search results using keywords
  2. Google Places
  3. Advertising on Google

Let’s begin by talking about natural search results. Natural search results are the results a user retrieves when he/she inputs a search term into a browser, such as Google.  For example, let’s say a person is looking for a CPA in Cincinnati. They might enter a search term, such as “CPAs in Cincinnati”. If you practice in Cincinnati, your firm’s name should appear on the first page of the browser results—in this case Google, but only if you’re using online marketing to its fullest.

What are keywords?
Keywords are terms you use to identify your web site, specialties, office location(s), key partner names, firm name, and services your firm provides.

Let’s take an example from our “CPAs in Cincinnati” exercise. When searching for CPAs in Cincinnati, you can see the results on the left of the map. Those results were provided using keywords such as “cpas in Cincinnati,” and “Cincinnati CPA,” on their web site keywords meta tag. For example, one site uses <meta NAME="Keywords" Content="cincinnati CPA, accounting firm, tax, accounting, cincinnati, Ohio, [your company name]">.

Another way to ensure your listing shows up on the front page of Google is through the use of Google Places.

Google Places is a way to mention your firm’s web site and services by location (local area or region). It’s a simple process to set up, and takes little-to-no maintenance to sustain. You can add as little or as much information about your firm into the profile account. Note: You must have a Google account in order to set up a Google Places profile.

With Google Places you receive a dashboard to easily see who is clicking on your profile, and how often people are searching for CPAs in your area. You will also be able to discern the impressions, or views, your site is getting, along with the actions people took to become more familiar with your firm.

Notice on the graphic above, that the two firms with reviews are highlighted. Reviews are a very helpful way for potential clients to learn more about your firm from those who are already clients. Once the firm’s profile is established, encourage your clients to write and post positive reviews.

Additionally, to help you with your marketing campaign on Google, CPA2Biz offers another option that encompasses the items above and more into one, low-cost option. It’s called Advertising on Google. This program helps to promote your practice and services to new customers through the powerful algorithm from Google.

 

With the Advertising on Google services you can:

  • Drive more traffic to your web site;
  • Promote a specialized service; and
  • Reach more prospective customers in your local community.

Further, you will also receive:

  • Multiple custom online ads;
  • Relevant keywords lists;
  • Active campaign management;
  • Bi-monthly status reports; and
  • Web site review.

This service takes marketing to the next level. In addition to helping your natural search results increase, this program also provides you with advertising about your firm on Google’s site. The image at the right shows an ad placement for a firm in Mason, OH. It also helps to take the guesswork out of determining keywords and campaign management.

Placing your firm's name and creating profiles on these sites not only increases your firm’s exposure, but also amplifies your natural search engine results through the use of multiple listings on various sites. The more your firm’s name appears on the web, the more relevant it will be in the Google algorithm, or with any search engine.

Most important, though, is to ensure that your clients and potential clients find your firm’s name when they are searching for the services they need, when they need them.

Is your firm easy to find on the web? If not, you may want to employ some or all of these approaches.

Preparing for the Millennial Business Owner

In July, Inc. magazine released the “30 Under 30” list of “coolest, young entrepreneurs.” They are revitalizing what it means to be a business owner, with unique brands, innovation, and philanthropic acts—all the while making money, and loads of it.

Working with these smart, up-and-coming professionals means you, as a trusted business advisor, may want to consider adding them as a client. But note: They don’t expect business as usual or the way their parents and grandparents did things. They want fresh ideas, new technology, and innovation that mirrors what they are doing in the business world.

Are you ready for that? Is your firm prepared to become the advisor for the business owners of tomorrow—and in many cases today?

Some things to consider:

  1. Portability: Does your firm offer secure, online access to financial information these busy entrepreneurs need to review anytime, anywhere?
  2. International Regulations: Are you and your staff current on international financial regulations governing businesses doing business internationally? These up-start businesses are not just focusing on business in the United States. Many are also doing business overseas.
  3. Staff: Do you have the talent who can speak the millennial “language”? The kind of staff that can help young business professionals understand what’s needed in order to maintain and gain in the business world?
  4. Scalability: As more and more millennial business owners continue to spread their wings, is your firm prepared to scale with their needs? Is your firm the firm of the future?
  5. Building Trust: In order to gain trust, you must first trust.  According to Charles Green, founder and CEO of Trusted Advisor Associate, “Before we can expect them to understand and appreciate where we’re coming from, we must first take the time to make them feel understood.”

Recently, members of the AICPA Trusted Business Advisor LinkedIn group* were asked:

“What advice would you give them [the 30 Under 30] as leaders of start-up businesses?”
David wrote, “One of the biggest mistakes I made back when I had my own business was not recognizing a profitable exit opportunity when it presented itself. I was so busy working IN the business and I could have done a much better job of working ON the business. If I were to start a new business today, I would have a very clear understanding of at what point(s) I would sell the business as well as keep an eye and open mind to my potential buyers.”

Dallon added, “My advice to them would be to start their business planning with a targeted profit or cash flow number and work up the income statement instead of starting with sales and working down the income statement to arrive at net income.”

What advice do you have? What other considerations are needed as trusted business advisors who acquire millennial start-up companies as clients?  

Add your comments here, or share your comments in the AICPA Trusted Business Advisor LinkedIn group.*

 

* Click here to learn how to join the LinkedIn group.

 

Gain a Competitive Advantage Using Tried and True Marketing Techniques

As a partner or executive in a small- to mid-sized firm, you may wear many hats, one of which may deal with marketing. But that’s not your specialty or your core business. What you have found out by being a trusted business advisor, is that:

  • Your clients want to hear from you and look to you to keep them abreast of current trends and regulations;
  • You need to market in order to gain new business; and
  • Having a strategic marketing plan is core part of the business development plan.

Bay Street Group LLC and Capstone Marketing released a brief whitepaper, The Seven Keys to Success in CPA Firm Management—New and Exclusive Research into the Habits and Best Practices of Today’s Highly Competitive Tax and Accounting Practice that delved into the critical success factors for today’s accounting firm, including Marketing and Business Development.

Of the 1,400 CPAs who participated, findings concluded that 38% of respondents targeted niches and specialties, and 15% follow a written strategic marketing/business development plan.

“We struggle to grow in a competitive marketplace with lack of a marketing plan and no niche. So we are left to fend for general clients, which are hard to come by as a small player in a big market,” commented one survey respondent, a senior executive at a small-sized CPA firm.

That leaves you asking, how do you market to current and potential clients while continuing to focus on your core business? You may also ask:

  • What type of marketing should I do, newsletter, email, brochures, etc.?
  • What should I email and to whom?
  • How often and how long should it be?
  • Who’s going to write it?
  • How do I get my firm’s name on it?
  • Who will answer any questions it generates?
  • Do I have to do this myself?

You don’t have to do it on your own. In June, the AICPA launched a comprehensive Marketing Toolkit to help members promote their practices and services. It contains a host of resources and information to assist in marketing and communications efforts, including:

  • The CPA Client Bulletin a popular client-focused monthly newsletter of general business, tax and financial planning tips that you can email or mail to your clients or leave in your reception area.
  • Marketing 101 guidance
  • Client Satisfaction Surveys
  • Successful Selling Tips
  • And so much more

Additionally, Bulls-Eye! The Ultimate How-To Marketing and Sales Guide for CPAs, written by thirty-seven of the industry’s most successful marketing and sales minds, offers step-by-step guidance on building compelling, on-target marketing campaigns that delivers powerful results for your firm.  

Whether your firm is in its infancy or is blossoming with growth, you can gain a competitive advantage as a trusted business advisor by leveraging marketing and making it a priority in your business development plan.

Get started today building your reputation as a trusted business adviser and helping to keep your firm top of mind with your clients.

Workflow Solutions Save Time, Money, & Resources

You are familiar with the traditional tax season workflow model a manual process including file folders spread about your office, rubber bands holding routing sheets to client folders, and mounds and mounds of paper.

However, a cloud-based workflow solution takes that process, automates it, and allows you to put your finger on your client’s paperwork electronically from anywhere within the process.

The March 2010, Journal of Accountancy article Toward a (More) Paperless Tax Practice described the automated workflow as a system that electronically moves work from person to person, including:

  • Scanning incoming client documents and filing them digitally.
  • Shifting responsibility from receipt of source documents through preparation and shipping or e-filing.
  • Viewing scanned source documents to prepare and review the return digitally in your tax software.
  • Using remote access to check the status and/or responding to review points from home or in the field.
  • Archiving the completed return with the source documents in a secure document management or network filing tree.

In fact, the Business Services Industry blog Why Use Workflow Automation indicates that workflow automation may reduce business costs, and that re-engineered processes require less execution and cycle time and fewer steps and employees.

Christopher Colyer, tax manager at Livingston, N.J.-based Wiss & Co. LLP. a firm, which handles about 2,500 individual returns and 3,000 business returns a year, told WebCPA, "It used to be that we'd have meetings to figure out who is doing what; but, you don't need those meetings. It [workflow] is more efficient."

According to XCM CEO, Mark Albrecht, “XCM [workflow] is accessible from anywhere at any time, enabling a virtual work environment giving the individual more control, and the firm (or corporate department) more flexibility in its staffing decisions.”

In May 2010, CPA2Biz added XCM Solutions to its Trusted Business AdvisorSM Solutions program, which also includes Bill.com, Copanion, Intacct and Paychex.

The HIRE Act and How It Impacts Your Firm and Your Clients

In the spring, President Obama signed into law the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act, more commonly known as the federal “jobs bill.” The cornerstone of the HIRE Act is a federal program that provides employers with incentives to hire and retain certain previously unemployed workers (“qualified employees”), including:

  • Payroll Tax Exemption
    Employers will be exempt from their portion of Social Security taxes (6.2 percent) for the remaining year—through December 31, 2010—for new hires who had been unemployed for at least 60 days, or who had worked no more than 40 hours total.
  • New Hire Retention Credit
    Employers can claim a business tax credit of up to $1,000 for each qualified employee who stays on payroll for at least 52 consecutive weeks. 

Would you like additional information? View a recent Infocast on this topic.
You can view the recent AICPA Infocast on “The 2010 HIRE Act Understanding the Employer Incentives” to help you understand and take decisive action on the newly required components of HIRE Act and what it means to your firm and your clients.

The Infocast was developed to help you ensure your clients stay in compliance with this new legislation and help you better recognize how your clients can benefit from the key provisions, such as increased tax credits and reduced payroll taxes.  

Also visit www.paychex.com/for more information and to calculate the possible savings for your client’s business.