Strategic marketing is crucial during stagnant economies for CPA’s. Regardless of this time of year, the current economic storm we find ourselves in does not seem to be relinquishing its grip on the market. It is tax time, and everyone in the financial services field is busy taking care of clients. Let us not forget the importance of the client; we need them now more than ever.

Even though the last two quarters of 2012 began to push businesses a bit more towards recovery, we know now that this was a little spark not a substantial blaze. Our economy has been trying to maintain a growth curve, with a few areas of the country actually sliding back toward the abyss the U.S. economy barely avoided. As a person that handles their tax returns, it isn’t just about that; you must provide leadership and integrity as well.

When looking at the CFNAI (Chicago Federal National Activity Index), things don’t appear to be all that rosy.

cfnai rolling 3 month average

 

The CFNAI is a weighted average of 85 existing monthly indicators of national economic activity. It is constructed to have an average value of zero and a standard deviation of one. Since economic activity tends toward trend growth rate over time, a positive index reading corresponds to growth above trend and a negative index reading corresponds to growth below trend.

 

What does this mean when it comes to growing your business? Quite a lot actually. This is a great time to market; tax season is at full speed, but this likely won’t last. The realization that the market is rather soft presents everyone with a need to strengthen and reinforce relationships with current and past customers. Connect with your most influential customers, those that you haven’t seen in a while and those new prospects as well. Offer them some specialized services that you don’t presently advertise, and push hard toward cementing a deeper relationship through their use. Make the services highly innovative, strategic and oriented toward the customer with value in mind. Doing so will not only strengthen your current customer base, but should be setting up for a referral program. Ask for referrals once you have improved loyalty and retention; you’d be surprised at the outcome.

The most effectiove referral methods of marketing are rooted in loyalty, perceived value and integrity. If you win all three from your clients, you can win the battle for sustainability. Insuring that your marketing includes your existing customer base as well as former and new clientele, and providing excellent services while “touting” (a marketing term, by the way) your appreciation of them, you can begin to grow organically by working with the best clients instead of always on the hunt for new clients. The new clients that join your firm will be excited with the new relationship at first, so keep the excitement going. Through innovative and value added services that are new and unique (setting you apart from your competitors), your new customers will happily provide referrals once they trust, rely on and admire your company.

Most professionally designed websites for financial services firms offer some capabilities that other industries don’t. In a previous posting we spoke of the client portals as a noteworthy service offering, include appointment setting functions and reminder systems for clients to access themselves. Another value added feature might be an auto-updated news feed from the markets, as well as other financial information. By communicating with your clientele the importance of timely information, security of data transfer and how a diminished economy affects asset planning, succession planning and the like.

As a CPA firm or other financial services organization, it isn’t always about money. Certainly cash flow management and asset protection is important, but in an uncertain economy with which we currently face, the trust factor is paramount. By enhancing your trust factor with your clients and providing new, innovative services that make your relationship more valuable, you can sustain your firm and the protection of your client’s relationship with you. Displaying a strong sense of leadership will help cement your relationship, but more so it will provide the necessary hope and someone to lean on to handle the stresses of the marketplace. If you are a firm that assists in the management of stock portfolios, your clients are under a tremendous amount of stress that ebbs and flows several times a day. Providing that solid leadership is the buoy they are looking for.

Getting out into the local community and offering tax planning sessions is another great way to generate new leads, and can allow you to be seen as an expert in your field. Plus it is a natural extension for blogging. It is an automatic assumption that when a speaker is presenting their expertise, they are the local expert in their field. Unless you blow it, your audience will respect your opinions and automatically buy-in to of what you speak. With appropriate information and a lead follow up system in place, you might find some new clients you didn’t know existed.

Leadership, specialized and innovative services and a strong dose of hope delivered to your client and prospect bases will sustain you through this difficult time.

If you are unsure of how to begin a strategy into the uncharted part of the market, a call to Zen Marketing Inc. can provide the necessary analysis, review and tactical discussions to get you on your way.