Any marketer will tell you that FREE is the most influential word in marketing. It creates more interest in readers than any other single word. It can ultimately generate tons of business, including accounting clients. Businesses do it all the time. Just check out Sunday’s paper and look at all the coupons and free offerings you find. They know that when you come in or call for the freebie you’ll probably buy something else.
The key is to make the FREE service or gift something that will lead the prospective client to become a monthly paying client. Of course, the free item won’t be free to you, but when used effectively, they can generate thousands of dollars in fees for your service. An average small-business client will use your service for 2 years, or 24 months. If you just do accounting services for that client, you will bill them $300. Over the course of 24 months, that comes to $7,200 in business. If you also provide tax services for that client, you collect $400 per month, or $9,600 over that same 2 year period. Because a single client is worth so much to your business, you see the value of marketing more effectively.
Here’s a short list of what you may want to consider offering:
FREE Accounting Services
This may include free setup or free payroll processing. However, to earn the free charges, they must first be a paying write-up client. One graduate of the Professional Bookkeeper program offered free QuickBooks help (one visit) and picked up five monthly paying clients. At $300 per month each, that single promotion increased her income by $1,500 every month!See How Many Clients Your Business Will Need To Provide For Your Needs, Wants, and Desires
You’ll need to place some limitation on each free service, and state it in your service agreement with your clients. For instance, limit the setup cost to entering the balances in the computer (for our Professional Bookkeeper students, see Module 3, “Advancing Your Account-Ability” on how to do this). Payroll should be limited to three to five employees. If you want to offer free tax preparation services, limit them to the 1040 form so that you can make money on all other tax services, such as supportive forms, including a Schedule C, if necessary.
If you’re going to specialize in new businesses, you will get a lot of interest by offering free software. Offer the small business owner free accounting software set up in their business, training for their staff, and continued support when they sign up with you for monthly write-up services. This will not only be a terrific sales pitch, but it will ensure that they have the software you want them to have.
Of course, you’ll be spending a few bucks, but in most cases the software you’re going to purchase will be less than $200. That sounds like a lot until you figure that you will collect $300 in your first month with that client. If offering free software costs you a one-time $200 and gains your business $7,200+ in billings over the next two years, doesn’t that sound like the best $200 you’ve ever spent? ($300/month * 24 months) If you don’t have the $200 to spend, go with one of the other free services listed here that doesn’t cost anything but your time. But once you get your accounting service going and you are making an average of $30 to $60 per hour, you will want to limit the amount of free time you give away, because that is time you could be billing another client for.
FREE Monthly Newsletter
A free monthly newsletter is ideal for maintaining a relationship with your existing clients. It can also generate new clients as you send it to all the businesses you come in contact with in your area. It maintains a healthy client relationship and establishes you as the expert at accounting and tax when a prospective client is ready for someone to provide those services.
Each month, include brief articles aimed at the small business owner. Begin with just two pages of content focused on ways to improve their bottom line. The main thing is that you want to focus on subject matter of interest to them, specifically how to become more profitable. Why? You want to show them that you are the expert at cutting costs and increasing profit, the very reasons a small business might want to hire you.
If you send out an email-based newsletter, graduates of the Professional Bookkeeper program are welcomed and encouraged to put the Web addresses of articles on accounting-and-bookkeeping-tips.com right in the email that gets sent out. This site provide a wealth of ideas for newletter articles. This is just one way that Universal Accounting is here to support students of the Professional Bookkeeper program so it’s easy to get new clients.
If you’re not afraid of the limelight, a free seminar can be a great way to get your name in the local marketplace quickly. Similar to the newsletter, the seminar establishes you as an expert. More importantly, seminars also give small business owners exposure to you personally. People prefer to buy from those they know, so becoming known to many, so any good marketing strategy should include ways to let many small-businesses get to know who you are and what you can do for them.
Each session should provide interesting valuable information to the small business person such as: changes in the tax law, methods of improving profitability, understanding the financial statements, etc.
To promote the seminar, create a flier and take it to all the businesses within one mile of the seminar location and be sure to offer refreshments. If the flier and subject are interesting enough, you’ll pack them in. By the way, most libraries permit community interest meetings for free, or for a minimal charge, so you can hold these all over the city. One warning, this is not a one-hour commercial. The more value you give, the more positive you will be perceived. You want to show that you understand the needs of small business. Wow them with solutions to their problems. Whet their appetite for finding out more about your services by showing how good accounting points out opportunities to cut costs, lower taxes, and increase profit for small businesses.
Show small business owners that you have the knowlege and experience to help their business to be more profitable. Give examples of tax deductions, cost reduction, and efficiencies you can build into their business. Learn to show with specific examples how your service solves problems and helps business owners keep more of what they make, the kind of real-world training that only the Professional Bookkeeper program can prepare you for. You will learn how to talk to small business owners in a language they understand, their bottom line. Only the Professional Bookkeeper program teaches not only accounting, but how to take those skills to market to earn $30 to $60 per hour. An entire quarter of the program teaches how to turn the great skills you will learn into a life-changing income for you and your family.
Learn How the Marketing Module of the Professional Bookkeeper Program Teaches You How to Get Small Business Clients Fast!