Putting the Right Foot Forward
Motivational author Orison Swett Marden once said, “The first part of success is get-to-it-iveness. The second part is stick-to-it-iveness.” Beginning any small business takes an act of faith and a lot of bravery; it’s a leap into the unexplored. The fear of failing, more than anything else, holds people back. It cripples action and makes failure inevitable.Wouldn’t it be nice if starting a business only required a store front and some business cards before droves of people walked through your door? This fantasy is a rare occurrence in the business world and odds are it won’t happen just like that for you. So what can you do?One of the best ways is to create a Marketing Plan for your business. In fact, determining your marketing strategy will probably require the most effort. Let’s review what you’ll need to design the right marketing plan for you:
Description of Products/Services
What are you bringing to the marketplace? What services are you looking to provide? Daily, monthly, quarterly bookkeeping? Detail what you want to do for your potential customers. This list doesn’t have to be excessive, but you should be as thorough as possible.
Market Analysis and Pricing
When completing this section of your Marketing Plan, consider the following questions: What is your target market? What types of services would attract your ideal customer? Who do you want to work with? How big is the estimated size of your potential target demographic?A Market Analysis also requires you to research your competition and their impact on the market place. Do you have competitors in your market? What are your competitors charging for similar products and services? How may they be “packaging” the services that they do? And once you determine who your competitors are you can research the following: How are they structured? What type of businesses do they serve? What marketing strategies have they used to gain business? What do they do well? What do they do poorly? Knowing these things will give you an edge once you sit down with that potential client. It will also give you a competitive advantage in your marketing efforts.As you detail your services and prices, remember to be specific. If offering various services (tax preparation, tax planning, filing tax forms, consultation, etc.) create a pricing sheet that lists each product and service and how you plan to charge for it. With this in place you can better project future sales and possibly better estimate how many clients you need to become self-sufficient and more importantly, profitable.
A Financial Plan
A Financial Plan is a forecast of how you will grow financially over the course of the next 3 to 5 years. By gaining the price point on which you will be billing your customers, and the rate of growth you expect and need to have each month, you will be able project what you will be earning. With that knowledge you can best plan out how you will do what activity when. All this should allow for a marketing budget as well.Once you have accomplished that you are ready to advance to the next level of your Marketing Plan.
Marketing Goals and Objectives
First you need to determine what you hope to accomplish through your marketing efforts. It’s important to be as specific as possible because once you state your goals you can use them later as a measure of success. Once you have created the road map you wish to follow with your business plan, you need to create your “game plan” on how you are going to get from milestone to milestone. When you do this you will often find that there are things that you may have not considered before but are essential to achieving your ultimate goal. The focus of your business actions will become clearer, and your daily activities will then more purposeful as a result.Clarify each Marketing Objective, that’s a key concern in writing your goals and objectives: are they measurable, meaning, can you determine later whether or not you’ve achieved them? For example, saying you want to be more successful is not necessarily something you can measure later on. But saying you want 10 new clients by the end of the year is measurable. And be realistic. Setting unrealistic goals will only discourage you as you move forward. This may require you to do more research; what are some realistic expectations for growth in a successful accounting practice?
UAC Can Help You Develop a Marketing Plan
If you’d like to learn more about effective marketing techniques, Universal Accounting Center has a DVD designed to help you effectively promote your accounting practice. You’re less than $10.00 away from learning which marketing strategies to include in your marketing plan. Order today!