advice needed


We are a web design, web hosting, and permission-based email marketing firm.
I happen to have several friends who are accountants, who tell me that the
opportunity to market these services to accountants is wide open. For
example a CPA that I know says nobody has ever approached him about
designing him a web site or about any other Internet marketing or technology
related services. He tells me that the accounting market is huge and
considerably under-served in terms of Internet technology services.
My question for the group is this: Is my CPA friend correct that there is a
big need for these services among accountants but yet nobody is really
effectively meeting these needs? The other question is what do you, as
accountants, need from an Internet technology firm? We are listening. We
believe there is a tremendous opportunity here.
I must clarify -- if this is not obvious -- that I am talking about the
relatively small accounting firms. I must assume that the Big Four are more
than adequately served in the Internet technology arena by corporations that
specialize in such services for large corporations. Whereas the small
accountant sort of falls through the cracks in the provision of services.
To give you an idea of the sort of services to which I refer. First of all,
Web hosting services. We provide Web hosting packages that include a bundle
of Web hosting, email addresses (of course), and the StreamSend
permission-based email marketing service, and a free $25 Google Adwords
credit to get our clients started using Google Adwords for online marketing.
Please see
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for a summary of the hosting services for small business. Do these services seem appealing to accountants? How could we make our hosting services to make them more appealing to accountants?
Here are our cost-effective Web design services:
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What do accountants need in a website? What would make our services more appealing to accountants?
My CPA friend thinks are services are good for accountants, however, he
thinks part of the problem is nobody is talking to accountants about such
services. Well, I would like to do so if people in this group would be
willing to provide some constructive suggestions and even criticisms. Thank
you.
Reply to
Robert Anderson
"Robert Anderson" wrote
No. I don't think there is a "big need" for internet marketing / mass e-mail promotions in the CPA firms.
While a web based presence probably should be a part of any marketing done by a CPA firm (expecially those who want to put that "tech" face forward), most of the new clients will not be obtained because of the internet.
Then there are the various state laws that govern the practice of accountancy (not to mention the federal laws). And yes, these dictate what can and can not be done in soliciting new business.
Reply to
Paul A Thomas
Thanks for your input. I should clarify that StreamSend is a permission-based email marketing service. Spam is prohibited by our service. So for example, it could be used to create a newsletter to send to current clients (or certain segments) and track the results.
You could also have a sign-up form on your website to sign up for your newsletter, so that might be useful in getting new clients.
Yes, I agree. My friend the CPA tells me the vast majority of his clients come in through referrals from other clients. Well, I talked to him about StreamSend and he did seem to think that it could be used to try and get more referrals. He is also a bit skeptical about the Web as a marketing tool (are are you). He is more interested in his website as sort of a brochure so he can put links on his business card and, of course, have a custom email address for himself, his partner, and his employee.
That said, he and I were talking over lunch and he expressed a willingness to try Google Adwords to promote his services. Part of our service includes a free $25 Google Adwords coupon. Frankly, I am not sure if he agreed to this to be agreeable during lunch or if he is really interested in doing this. But he did allow that he might get new business throught the Internet using Google Adwords so we will see how things work out.
Well, I am definately not suggesting anything that would violate such laws. What sort of things are forbidden?
Reply to
Robert Anderson
"Robert Anderson" wrote
While e-mail newsletters are a great tool, they are only limited to those clients that have e-mail. To capture 100% of any firms clients, one would need to send regular mailouts to those clients (usually older ones) that don't have a computer.
Also, a small stack of paper newsletters can be left at the offices of referral sources (bankers, law firms, attorney offices, etc) where a potential client can just pick it up and read it then, or later.
Reply to
Paul A Thomas
"Robert Anderson" wrote
There are several companies that already target the CPA / EA / Accountant service firms in this area, providing BOTH print as well as web based services, including, I believe, Web page hosting.
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And there are most likely others.
You would probably be, already behind the curve.
Reply to
Paul A Thomas
I don't think so. From a look at those sites, they occupy a different niche than we do. We are an Internet technology and marketing company, whereas, those companies seem to focus on a broad range of services.
Personally, if I were an accountant, and wanted to use the power of the Internet I would choose specialists. I guarantee we have technology and staff that are much better (for what we do) than those two companies.
Now, on the other hand, for print related services they have us beaten because we do not deal with that at all...
Reply to
Robert Anderson
"Robert Anderson" wrote
I don't know about the folks at imageone, but Mostad and Christensen are ~both~ CPA's.
How about you?
Reply to
Paul A Thomas
I am not a CPA and have not claimed to be. In fact, I am not an accountant.
Most companies do not want their marketing or technology people to have the same discipline as their core competency.
Not sure why you are taking an adversarial approach to this conversation?
Reply to
Robert Anderson
Perhaps because of your arrogant-sounding typical marketing talk claim to "guarantee we have technology and staff that are much better" than two companies you have just been introduced to in an area in which your company doesn't have training?
Reply to
Duane Bozarth
"Robert Anderson" wrote
So, let me get this straight. You have to be taught, or I have to do all the work as far as writing the text goes.
You make pretty pictures on a web page.
How can you competently market my firm if you don't have a clue about taxes or accounting?
Let's see. I'd rather go with someone who knows my field and can be of some help in saving time and effort in the marketing aspect.
You can't save me time and effort if I have to baby-sit you to be sure you do a competent job for me.
Reply to
Paul A Thomas
I said in our particular niche of Internet technology and marketing *not* in general accounting marketing. I made a very specific and, I think, narrow claim that we are better in one specific area in which we specialize. We do not specialize in general marketing for accountants and so these other companies are much better than us at that specialty. I have been in business long enough to know what I am talking about on basics like this.
My claim on our Internet technology and marketing edge was reasonable given our degree of specialization.
Reply to
Robert Anderson
I was not claiming that my firm would take over your marketing efforts but merely that we provide you tools and technology for web and marketing on the Web. Pretty pictures is not really the issue here.
I am kind of surprised by the hostility. Would you talk to someone in this manner at a cocktail party? I would not. It would be rude. I have talked to my CPA friend quite a bit about the needs of his trade, and he has never felt the need to be hostile. For some reason, some people get out their aggression on the Internet where they do not have to see someone face-to-face.
Reply to
Robert Anderson
And by the way, our business is not marketing it is technology for marketing. We would be stupid to spend our time learning the details of taxes and accounting, instead of spending our time improving our services. Part of that process is talking to potential customers like you. Well, I thought so when I did the original posting anyway.
As for accounting I probably have more accounting knowledge than most educated people having taken a year of accounting in college. I also have several friends who are accountants as well. Does this make me an accountant? No. Do I have to be an accountant to have accountants as customers? No.
The purpose of me posting here was to try to learn more about what accountants might want beyond what we currently offer. Nothing wrong with that at all...
Reply to
Robert Anderson
"Personally, if I were an accountant, and wanted to use the power of the Internet I would choose specialists."
Yet neither you (nor your firm) are specialists in accounting nor see any need to be? Pardon me, but I seem to be having a hard time figuring out what you are offering that is specifically tailored to the the small CPA/accounting firm.
Reply to
Duane Bozarth
That is why I am talking to you. There is no need for us to be specialists in accounting to offer more useful services to accountants.
For example, our StreamSend email marketing solution is used by all kinds of business people. We talk to them and many of the features that we add to the service are based on suggestions from our customers. In fact, I think the majority of the new features of the product were requested by at least one customer.
Now, our StreamSend permission-based email marketing service is by no means just for accountants, however, if accountants said to us please add feature X because it would be useful to accountants then we would definately take it under advisement and add it to our development calendar.
If you said, your web design services look good but accountants need more of Y, we would consider adding Y to our services. Same with our Web hosting. We bundled our email marketing services to our Web hosting because customers said that a website is not enough by itself and we need more services that would be useful to marketing. That is also the reason we have added a freee $25 Google Adwords coupon along with hosting accounts. One of the number one questions customers were asking us is how can I promote my site and products online?
Well, our hosting services do not fully answer the question but it is definately more than most hosting packages out there, and we are always looking for ways to continously improve and refine...
Reply to
Robert Anderson
On Mon, 22 Aug 2005 09:28:44 -0700, in alt.accounting "Robert Anderson" wrote in :
Are you familiar with the manner in which various laws, regulations, codes of ethics and other limitations affect accountants when they are looking for new business or would your first client have to teach it to you?
Reply to
David Jensen
he's not offering anything, he just wants to "learn more about accountants" and market his "technology solutions", like everyday spam email messages. if he did have something unique for accounting software use over the internet or tax filing or anything accounting related it might be worth listening, otherwise ....
Reply to
John
Again, we would not do any marketing for accountants. They would do it for themselves. We provide the tools.
The purpose of this post was to learn more about accountants might want in the tools.
We right now have customers from many industries and, as I said, we take suggestions from them to improve our services. I am asking you, as accountants, if you have any suggestions.
The regulations affecting marketing for accountants is your responsibility not the provider of the tools. To me that is fairly clear. It would be ridiculous for us to try to educate you about rules in your industry. We focus on our specialty and you focus on yours. We try to talk to you to learn more about what we can do to help.
Reply to
Robert Anderson
Not true. I am trying to learn more about how to make our services more appealing to accountants. We have a team of developers and a development calendar. If someone gave me a useful suggestion here, I would put it on the development calendar. Simple as that.
This is not just about marketing it is about the actual services. We have had this sort of conversation with our current customers and added a lot of new features because of it. Most dramatically, our email marketing service is at least in part customer driven.
Reply to
Robert Anderson

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