Marketing to Friends and Relatives

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The best way to market an accounting and bookkeeping service

When I started my accounting practice, I quickly found that the best advertising method was word of mouth. For over ten years, I worked as an accountant for a large corporation. Although I was well thought of, and received several promotions, the opportunity of working for myself seemed more attractive each day.One day, while talking with a friend and gas station owner, I asked “Who does your accounting?” The friend responded with his accountants name.”Are you happy with his service?,” I asked.”In a way, but he never takes time to explain the financial statements to me.”So, I offered to help him understand his financial position, and was immediately rewarded with my first client. That is all it took.A week later, I asked another friend who owned a landscaping company who did his books. The second friend responded, “Nobody.”The second friend continued, “The business is going well, but the IRS and state tax commission are after me for taxes I didn�t know I owed. I�m not sure what to do.”Again, I offered to help. And again, I was rewarded with a client.A couple of weeks later, a cousin to the gas station owner called me to ask if I could keep books for his gas station.Naturally I said “Yes.”In fact, over the next few weeks there were several similar calls, not to mention that both of my first two clients started expanding their own businesses through “start- ups” and purchases.It wasn�t long before I found myself busy virtually every evening and weekend. I didn�t mind however, since I was enjoying the interaction with all of my clients. I felt like I was really contributing to their success — a satisfaction that I wasn�t receiving from my full-time job.That�s when I decided to make the jump, leaving the big company and working out of an office in my own home; a decision I have never regretted.It can be easy, if you know howThousands are having similar experiences like mine, throughout the nation. In fact, research shows that everyday, nearly 8,000 people are starting their own home-based businesses. There�s ample opportunity to enjoy all the benefits of being independent and working out of your home. Freedom can be yours.Let me show you a system that works consistently. It will provide you with a needed edge, and reduce much of the anxiety that many people have when they go out to get started:Start with all of your friends, relatives, and neighbors.I recommend a professional approach. Send all your friends, relatives and neighbors a letter. This letter should be on personal letterhead, and the envelope should be hand-written. Let them know you are opening an accounting and bookkeeping service.The most important part of the letter is where you ask for referrals. Let them know that you have a nice way of saying “thank-you.” Then, make sure you follow through.Ending the letter with a hand-written “P.S.” at the bottom is a nice touch that will surely be read. “P.S. Looking forward to seeing you at the reunion”, or “P.S. Hope all is well in the new job,” should do the trick.Include two or three of your business cards in the envelope.Research shows that the average person knows 250 people. (What a network you have to work for you.) You can mail these letters out immediately — all 250 of them. This will get the word out, and very often result in your first clients.By the way, do not limit the letter to just those that own businesses. Everyone you know ought to receive one of these letters. Remember, your friends have friends too, so your card might be passed around.To make these letters even more powerful, you might choose to have a party and invite your friends (those who have received the letters) over for refreshments. Or, spend some time making phone calls. Be pleasant, and friendly, always ending the conversation with an announcement that you are starting the business.Avoid asking them if you may do their accounting. This can be awkward. Instead ask them if they might know of anyone that needs your services. If they do, thank them graciously with a �Thank You� card in the mail. If that person becomes a client, then another thank you card with a gift certificate for dinner or movies would be appropriate.This is where a web-site will work very well. Simply encourage your friends, neighbors, and family to look at your web-site. If it is professional looking and contains the right message, it will sell your service for you.See also:How to get a new client every weekSave time and money by finding clients near homeFor continual information on marketing tips and strategies, sign up now for our Marketing newsletter.There are other tips and tricks available in our home-study course Accounting Made Easy .

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