CPAs are similar to certain other professions such as attorneys, dentists and physicians. They require advanced degrees and training. They need to stay on top of new trends and developments. Many have specialties. They all can be offered through a single individual or through multiple, even, large numbers of colleagues under one roof. 95% of them also offer their services primarily to local markets.
Clearly CPA’s will be in demand for as long as there is a tax code, an IRS and all those Washington DC lobbyists looking for tax breaks and gimmicks.
While CPAs will always get professional and personal referrals of new clients, times have changed a great deal due to the Internet, search engines, review and complaint websites, the social media and other online sources of information. It often is just not enough to get a personal referral in the traditional way. Google et al have become trusted sources of information to find, vet and ultimately choose the Professional CPA they wish to hire. So, how do CPA’s gain visibility and credibility online and obtain good leads?
The competition is fierce and generally local for CPAs. See for yourself. Type in CPA and your city into the Google search query box. We’ve typed in the keyword “CPA miami.” You will see almost 10 search results on the first page and then you will also see the Google local results in the sidebar. So even if you rank #1 for that term, it’s going to be difficult for you to get any impressions or visibility. That’s why you should have a complete Internet Marketing strategy in place. Here are four things you can do to get you started on enhancing your online presence.
1. Set Up Google Local Profiles. Definitely make sure you have local profiles set up on Google and Yahoo. Google local profiles weigh heavily in Google local search results. In fact, it will pop up right alongside any city combination you enter with the keyword CPA. If you want to be listed in Google local search results, make sure that you encourage positive feedback from your clients. The more client/user interactions you have on your profile, the more visible you will become.
2. Invest in Search Engine Optimization (SEO). There are so many specialties in accounting services such as:
- Tax services
- Financial advising
- Bookkeeping services
- Audit consultation
- Stock ownership plans
- Exit planning
- Mergers and acquisitions and
- Wealth management
Therefore it’s essential that you have a content strategy that targets your niche services. SEO professionals can help you craft a content strategy that will bring relevant visitors to your website and, more importantly, convert potential customers into paying customers through high quality web copy.
3. Leverage Social Media. Many CPA’s think that social media marketing does not apply to them. This is, however, a common and unfortunate misperception. Accounting can sometimes be complicated and people and businesses are increasingly sharing their frustrations online. So, it’s a wise idea to have profiles on major social media networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ and Twitter and update your followers on what you are working on and what problems you’re currently solving. If you’re able to be genuinely helpful to your online community, you will be seen as an authority in your niche. Think about it. How many CPAs have and continue to belong to the Rotary Club, BPOE, local and county Chambers of Commerce? Things have only changed because the mediums have changed. You now have virtual equivalents of these social / business gatherings occurring online; only with many more opportunities to interact and otherwise engage with people that are truly interested in what you have to offer.
4. Reputation Management. What comes up when you search for your brand name online? Do you have positive or negative reviews on influential review sites such as Yelp and Google Local? Do you have anybody that had a bad experience with you that’s hurting your brand? Do you have a steady stream of positive comments? It’s important to track these and set up alerts with services such as Google Alerts. It’s also important to promote a positive reputation by publishing positive content, which will bury the negative material further down the search results. Have you ever spoken to a potential client who was actively interested, asking questions, returning your phone calls, etc? Have you then experienced a sudden “silence” including unreturned phone calls or emails or both? That could be a sign of trouble. It could be either the lack of positive reviews compared to your competition or the presence of negative posts that have not been responded to and are highly visible online. Reputation Management and Maintenance should be key elements of your overall internet marketing strategy.
As referred to earlier, as long as there is a tax code, tax breaks, the IRS and lobbyists, CPA’s will be sought to deal with the every-increasing complexity of tax law that we mere mortals could never keep track of or deal with. Just consider the upcoming fiscal cliff. Will Washington truly deal with the issues? Will they raise taxes? Will they kill deductions? Will they increase spending or will they cut it back drastically through the sequester? How does an individual, small or even large business properly prepare for the myriad of possible outcomes?
The challenge of marketing for CPAs is actually quite simple. Either get engaged online, get visible and be seen and respected or risk losing opportunities for new business, new clients everyday simply because those looking for you cannot find you and therefore don’t know who you are and how you can help them during these uniquely challenging economic times. As with many things in business, this represents a problem or opportunity depending on your attitude and therefore your approach to dealing with it.
For those seeing it as we do i.e. an opportunity, Optimum7 is well experienced providing all these services for professionals and practices. We can build a custom marketing strategy for you. Contact us today for an initial, no obligation consultation. We can help!