Promote Your Business Inexpensively

A "no-cost" way to promote your freelance accounting/bookkeeping business (except for a little postage, anyway)? – I want to see that. This technique is particularly powerful when you’re opening your new service.

Press Releases

Press releases offer an opportunity to promote your business and you as a local accounting and bookkeeping expert. Once people begin reading or hearing about you and your business their perception of you changes. They figure that if the newspaper or radio station is focusing on you and your activities you must have expertise.

What is a press release? A press release is a method of communicating to a journalist or radio presenter some information about you and your business which will highlight the fact that you are an expert on some subject — in your case, accounting and bookkeeping.

What Do You Include?

What do you include in a press release? The contents of a press release can be distilled down to the 5 "w’s" – who, what, why, where and when.

It’s really obvious that you are the "who." The remaining "w’s" relate to the thrust of the press release. The issues which could be the subject of a press release may include:

· You have commenced business – include your photo
· You have a comment regarding a tax decision or new legislation
· You have a comment on a systems development issue or new accounting software
· You and your client have enjoyed success on a particular matter
· You are doing some pro bono work for a charity or other community group

The Headline

It’s the headline which grabs the attention of the journalist or radio presenter/producer and thus you should spend some time to come up with something which will tickle their fancy.

Form and Length of Press Releases

For every expert on public relations there is a different theory about the ideal form and length of a press release. Use the form and length which you feel comfortable with and check with your media contacts, when you have them, about what they prefer.

Who To Send Press Releases To

To whom do you send your press release? You will need to do some homework and discover the names of the newspaper journalists and radio presenters responsible for business reporting. Most libraries have lists available of media contacts in your area.

You should call the business editors and let them know that you will be sending them releases as issues arise. It’s a good time to ask about the form in which they prefer their press release to be sent – by facsimile or e-mail and if by e-mail if they are happy with the use of attachments. A radio station with a music only format will only cover business activities in their news bulletins and therefore it’s prudent to make contact with their news editor or journalists.

The Best Time to Send Press Releases

As I mentioned above, a great time to start using this technique is when you first start your freelance service. Below is a template of a short press release you may want to consider using for announcing your new business. This should be typed professionally with NO SPELLING ERRORS.

Basic Press Release Information to Include

Headline: Experienced Accountant Opens New Firm in (Your City)

(Your name) an accountant with (previous employer) for (number of years), has opened a new accounting firm named (name of your firm).

Based in (your city), (firm name) provides accounting, bookkeeping and tax preparation services for individuals and businesses.

(Provide a two or three paragraph summary of your past accounting work experience)

(End with one paragraph providing any credentials you may have such as professional designations, membership in business organizations, civic organizations, etc.)

How to Measure if a Press Release is a Success

You will know that your public relations campaign has been a raging success when journalists or radio presenters take the initiative and contact you for your comment on an issue they feel has local importance.

Make sure you copy any press release on nice paper and send it to your contacts. It will give you more credibility than virtually anything else you could do.

One final point to remember – local newspapers and radio stations are always looking for news pieces which cover local issues. Capitalize on this fact.

Learn to Take Your Skills to Market

With the best accounting and bookkeeping skills, you only make money once you find paying clients. Most accountants don’t have a lot of sales experience. The great thing is that you don’t need to be a great salesperson to find enough clients to make a great living. Module 4 of the Professional Bookkeeper™ program teaches you how to quickly find more clients than you can handle on a shoestring budget.

Learn How the Marketing Method Taught the Professional Bookkeeper Program Gets You Clients Fast!

Developing Your Marketing Niche

Specialist or Generalist?

One important marketing issue you should decide upon is whether your accounting service is going to attract clients right across the business spectrum or if you are going specialize in particular industries or client groups from where you will obtain your client base.

If you do decide to specialize, it’s imperative that you develop your own niche in the market.

Why Develop Your Own Niche Market?

Why would you want to limit your marketing to a specific niche? This may seem counter-productive, since you have less clients to market to. The reality is that when you become well-known as the expert in your niche market, you will get many more referrals. For example, one accountant placed their marketing focus on independent truck drivers. He advertised on a highway billboard where truckers frequently passed. Within a few months, he had more clients than he could handle, and had to take down the sign.

When someone reaches out to you with a specialty service that applies better to what you do than does their competition, you are more likely to use their service.

Also, there is great operational value to working primarily with one segment of the market. You become more efficient at what you do. The more that you work within a specific industry, the more familiar that you become with the issues specific to that market. When clients ask you questions about their business, your prior experience makes the answers much more intuitive, because you have answered the same questions before. You become the expert, and clients pass on referrals to their colleagues when they see you as the authority in their field. This gives you a unique marketing advantage over your competition.

How To Develop Your Own Niche Market

Needless to say, there are some marketing strategies which you can pursue to achieve this objective:

Work In a Market You Enjoy

Select an industry or client group which really appeals to you. It’s not necessary for you to be a fervent disciple of the industry but it helps if you have more than a passing interest in it and already know some of the personalities involved and industry trends.

Do Market Research

Conduct as much research as you can about the industry or client group you have selected. The internet should be of enormous assistance in this project. Some of the kinds of information that you are looking for is how large the industry is in your area and how profitable those businesses tend to be. You need to know if it is even worth going after a market before you begin to focus on it. If there is not enough specialized businesses in your target market, it is probably not worth the effort to specialize in that case. Find another niche market that will give you the benefits of capturing a specialty industry.

Be Seen As the Leader In Your Market

Begin to identify yourself with that industry or client group by attending industry association functions and making yourself known to the decision makers of the group. Person-to-person, or "viral" marketing is the cheapest kind. When friends refer friends, it costs you basically nothing to get new clients.

Keep Up With Your Market Trends

Start reading all the relevant trade magazines to become aware of the latest industry news and developments. When you are in touch with your target market, you can talk the talk. You are then seen as an insider by your industry. Being seen as one of the group breaks down walls and makes marketing much easier. You are seen more as a peer than as an outside vendor, which can make all the difference when working with potential clients. Their guard is down because you are seen as one of the group.

Share What You Know With Your Industry

Once you have become familiar with the content of the trade magazines, offer to contribute articles to them. Writing articles for trade magazines is a largely untapped advertising resource that puts your name in front of thousands of potential clients as an expert in their field. What’s more, it won’t cost you a dime. Trade magazines are glad to get free content, and you will love the benefit to your reputation as the expert in your market.

Press Releases

Prepare and distribute press releases regarding the accounting and computer related issues for the industry or client group you have selected. Press releases are news announcements to newspapers and other media sources. By preparing press releases, you make yourself "news worthy".

Get Many Clients From One

Once you have acquired a satisfied client from the industry, ensure that you obtain a testimonial and thoroughly promote it to other members of the industry.

Remind Your Contacts of Your Industry Affiliation

Consider using special stationery and a Web site which highlight your affiliation with the industry. A Web site is an inexpensive way to get your message out in detail without costing much more than your time. Many internet service providers provide tools to help you get a Web site up quickly and easily.

Focus Or Specialization Depends On You

There is no correct decision to make regarding a market niche. Many accounting services have succeeded by working with a wide range of clients while others have focused on particular groups. It’s up to you!

Learn To Market Your Business With Low-Pressure Techniques

The fourth module of the Professional Bookkeeper™ program teaches you to find clients with little effort and even less out-of-pocket expense. You will learn to take advantage of your unique marketing advantages that you didn’t even know you had. With little effort on your part, you will quickly learn to find more paying clients than you can handle!

Learn More About the Step-By-Step Marketing Techniques Taught In the Professional Bookkeeper Course

 

More Marketing Tips

Learn More Ways to Market Your Accounting and Bookkeeping Skills

Create Your Own Marketing Roundtable

In the course of business we’ve all heard of the networking groups who meet on a regular basis with the sole objective of referring business to each other.

Rather than hope that they will have a vacancy for an
accounting service member at some stage in the not too distant future, give some consideration to establishing your own networking group – your own marketing round table.

Sounds difficult to implement?

Actually it’s not! However you do need to approach the task systematically by using the following steps:

How to Create a Marketing Group that Gets You Clients


* Reflect on those types of businesses who can send you referrals and for whom you can reciprocate. Professionals in the insurance, real estate, legal, and medical industries, just to name a few, are a great place to start.

* Prepare a list of business operators whom you feel would thrive on this concept and who own and operate the types of suitable business which you have already identified. It’s prudent to have more than one person in each business category on your shortlist as it’s not out of the question that some may decline your offer. You don’t need to already know the people you’ve shortlisted as this is an exercise to cast out your networking further than its present reach.

* Select a suitable venue (restaurant) for a breakfast meeting. The venue owner may also become an informal member of the group as he or she is definitely in a position to refer business to your network members.

* Contact your prime candidates for round table membership, discuss the concept and invite them to the initial breakfast meeting.

* At the initial meeting outline the concept in detail and propose to meet on a regular monthly basis and at the same venue if everyone is happy with it. Emphasize that the success of the group will depend upon the number of referrals each person generates — to get leads, a person must be willing to give leads.

Starting Your Own Marketing Group Gives You an Edge Over Joining an Existing One


The major advantage in establishing your own group is that you are the natural chairperson of the group. With only a minor administrative workload you are perceived as a leader and ‘mover and shaker’ in the business community and, along with other round table members, benefit from the mutual referrals.

Create Your Own Marketing Roundtable

In the course of business we’ve all heard of the networking groups who meet on a regular basis with the sole objective of referring business to each other.

Rather than hope that they will have a vacancy for an accounting service member at some stage in the not too distant future, give some consideration to establishing your own networking group – your own marketing round table.

Sounds difficult to implement?

Actually it’s not! However you do need to approach the task systematically by using the following steps:

How to Create a Marketing Group that Gets You Clients


* Reflect on those types of businesses who can send you referrals and for whom you can reciprocate. Professionals in the insurance, real estate, legal, and medical industries, just to name a few, are a great place to start.

* Prepare a list of business operators whom you feel would thrive on this concept and who own and operate the types of suitable business which you have already identified. It’s prudent to have more than one person in each business category on your shortlist as it’s not out of the question that some may decline your offer. You don’t need to already know the people you’ve shortlisted as this is an exercise to cast out your networking further than its present reach.

* Select a suitable venue (restaurant) for a breakfast meeting. The venue owner may also become an informal member of the group as he or she is definitely in a position to refer business to your network members.

* Contact your prime candidates for round table membership, discuss the concept and invite them to the initial breakfast meeting.

* At the initial meeting outline the concept in detail and propose to meet on a regular monthly basis and at the same venue if everyone is happy with it. Emphasize that the success of the group will depend upon the number of referrals each person generates — to get leads, a person must be willing to give leads.

Starting Your Own Marketing Group Gives You an Edge Over Joining an Existing One

The major advantage in establishing your own group is that you are the natural chairperson of the group. With only a minor administrative workload you are perceived as a leader and ‘mover and shaker’ in the business community and, along with other round table members, benefit from the mutual referrals.

Additional Marketing Strategies

Networking is one of the key marketing methods that costs almost nothing to do. Module 4 of the Professional Bookkeeper course focuses on finding clients quickly and inexpensively. You will learn the guerilla marketing strategies that our students have tested and proven since 1979 and how they will get you earning $30 to $60 per hour right away.

Learn More About Marketing Training in the Professional Bookkeeper Program

Outsourcing your Bookkeeping

Editor’s Note
It’s unusual to find outside articles devoted to the needs of the freelance accountant. But, with the author’s approval, I am sending one to you in it’s entirety. It’s written by freelancing accountant, Thomas M. Begley, to business owners explaining the advantages of outsourcing their accounting. Although a bit lengthy I think you’ll find his insights helpful in selling your services to business owners and valuable as you develop promotional materials.

Enjoy!

“Outsourcing your bookkeeping. — How to move a non revenue task to your accountant and save money.”
By Thomas M. Begley

Small business owners and professionals are discovering that outsourcing your bookkeeping saves payroll, overhead cost and it’s a giant step in freeing up valuable time. For many owners, just the effort of hiring, training and managing a bookkeeper can take as much as 5 hours a week and if you’re doing the books yourself the numbers are even worse. As a business owner your time is best spent doing what you do well — working with customers.

There is a common misconception that an owner will lose control if they outsource the bookkeeping. In a properly designed system a local accountant only takes over the process of tracking transactions such as sales, accounts payable and balancing the books, but only the business owner makes management decisions. Using on line bill paying, the owner is the final word on who gets paid and when.

If you have great books or pretty sloppy books for the most part your customers never know. A generally accepted rule in business is to focus resources on tasks that add value to the customer relationship. Time spent on bookkeeping problems add little or no value to your customer relationship. Yet, books that are inaccurate or do not reflect the true health of your business provide no clue to managing your business. Being clueless at any level about where you are making money or who is a good customer is not being in control. Cash flow is never a problem in business it is a symptom of other problems, an outsourced bookkeeper can provide the answers and you will end up with more control of your business.

By outsourcing you solve the problem of hiring. Good bookkeepers with knowledge of accounting software are hard to hire, expensive to keep and in some cases difficult to manage. Your accountant controls the hiring process and your work is shared with a team so that if one person leaves you will not suffer an interruption of service. Because of new technology advances you now have the same alternative as Fortune 500 firms. Thirty five percent of Americas largest businesses outsource their bookkeeping.

New technology makes this possible. The acceptance of the ASP (application service provider) technology allows the outsourced bookkeeper to ‘reach’ into your network and do the accounting tasks from their office. The owner uses the ASP to look at their books at any time from any connected laptop or computer. This allows the business owner to review in real time the progress of their operation at home or on the road. Some owners log onto their ASP and review the business health and progress daily rather then waiting a month for financials.

In most cases outsourcing will save you money as well. The most common pricing structure for outsourced bookkeeping is to charge 10% to 20% less than the current bookkeepers salary. Not only do you save on salary but also you have no overhead, management, hiring or training cost when using an outsourced service. The overall annual savings can be up to 50%.

The reason an accountant is able to take over an existing process and deliver it back more cheaply is due to leverage, the most common of which is economy of scale. If the supplier does not have to significantly alter the way its current business function is set up and standardization has occurred, the opportunity for both supplier and buyer to benefit is great.

Technological advances have taken the cycle times in a business from several months to several hours, and our competitors no longer have geological restrictions or the hindrance of large bureaucracies. To remain competitive, it is imperative that a company rethinks its strategies, take a hard look at where they are creating value for their customers, then focus on those processes. The most successful businesses of today have gone to outsourcing and now have time and money to spend on differentiating themselves in the marketplace.

The most common reasons management chooses to outsource certain business processes are to reduce operating costs, improve company focus, improve quality, free up capital, increase capabilities not otherwise available and to reduce cycle time. If a buyer cannot receive an improved economic position as a result, then it should not outsource.

The decision to outsource can be an easy one. If there is a company or individual that can do it better, faster, and cheaper than you, then you do not want to keep the work in house. Outsourcing has become an accepted business tool worldwide. By turning over business processes to companies that consider these tasks their core competency, organizations now have the ability to become more profitable, more efficient and far more competitive by focusing on the tasks that are most important.

About the author: Tom Begley has been a practicing CPA in the Akron area for 26 years. His firm is an affiliate of Bridge21, a national network of 150+ accounting firms dedicated to helping clients increase profits through the correct use of technology. Thomas M. Begley Associates currently offers clients a wide range of outsourcing options varying from on-site services to outsourced

Other Articles about starting your business:

Selling:

Selling the benefits of your bookkeeping service

Make your first impression count

Five Tips to Strengthen Your Client Presentations

Outsourcing your bookkeeping

Marketing:

Finding Clients near home

Find leads at networking events

Promote your website

The best marketing strategy: word of mouth

Get a new client every week

Trade shows can be a gold mine!

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