advice needed



So, you just have that one product to sell, am I right?

Absolutely. Yet, a majority of the marketing types I know will tell you that it's a balanced approach, and in most cases it's several contacts the potential client has with you before they even pick up the phone and call. Now, do you want to hinge your career on making that contact through one avenue? Probably you don't, otherwise you wouldn't be here.
Mailings, radio, television, newspapers, word-of-mouth, seminars, trade shows, promotional items, the phone book, and yes, on-line all play some part in presenting the business to the public. "How did the client find out about you?" Hopefully in many differeent ways. You can even ask them, and they'll tell you the ~last~ place they read your name or heard about you, even though they have heard or read your name a dozen times over the past few weeks or even months.

Which is something that can't be measured in any efficient format. I have had new clients come in that I met at a chanber function years before. Do I allocate all my Chamber dues to that one client as an expense?

Yeah, yeah yeah. That's the same crap the phone company tries to pull, by assigning a special number for the yellow page ad and tracking those calls made to that number, regardless of if those people actually became a client or not, regardless of if it was a wrong number, etc.

Have a really good day.
--
Paul A. Thomas, CPA
Athens, Georgia
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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.
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Robert Anderson



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Robert Anderson wrote:

I think what you're hearing is that accounting and other professional services of similar ilk aren't bulk marketing-type businesses that from your words appear to be the type of market you're currently in.
IWO, I don't think there's a demand for what you're doing in the marketplace for other commercial areas. I'm reminded of the "iceboxes to Eskimos" saw.
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We have sold our services to professionals and we do so every single day of the week. E-mail newsletters that are sent out to people who want them are not bulk marketing, and good email marketing software can help you segment your customers so it is not bulk.
And we are not in the bulk marketing-type business as you say. We are in Internet technologies such as web hosting, web design, e-commerce, custom web applications, and permission-based email marketing. We believe that you need a mix of services these days to succeed in marketing online.

I am not sure what you mean by this? If you are suggesting there is not demand for our services, we sell them every single day.
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Robert Anderson



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Robert Anderson wrote:

But what are your clients selling? Time or products? I am a self-employed individual as well and can't comprehend what you're doing that would help me selling consulting services. I can have a web presence and send mailings but frankly don't believe mass mailings would generate a thing in actual bookings. I suspect that's the case form many accountants as well.
I guess the problem I'm having is that I can't relate the general "buzz words" I'm hearing to a specific action that seems productive in a similar situation.
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Tell me more about your business and I will answer where I think our services might be useful. Clearly, these services are not for everyone but it is worth considering.
I might not respond until tomorrow though, as there are some things that need to be done this afternoon...
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Robert Anderson



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Robert Anderson wrote:

Well, I sell personal services in engineering design (primarily R&D-related, rarely actual product) primarily to clients in the electric utilities. Includes but isn't restricted to things like instrumentation development for new/unusual applications, control system design/implementation/tuning, boiler performance improvement testing, etc.
I see somewhat of a parallel at least w/ my local accounting firm in that there is only so much of me to go around although they have perhaps slightly more leeway to "hand off" routine work...
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Duane Bozarth wrote: ...

Actually, after I thought about this a little more there's not as much parallel as I was thinking--accountant spends far less time per client than I do so there's a much larger number of "active" clients than I can handle. So, in that market, a wider exposure if one isn't fully busy all the time might be of some value...
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I have not forgotten about this thread. We are writing an article to respond a little more fully, and will post it here when it is ready...
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Robert Anderson



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I think one of the things Robert might be trying to say here is that accountants in general might find the permission based email newsletters useful, and for the following reason (Robert correct me if I am wrong):
What if your accountant could send you out an informational email letting you know of important tax changes brought in by any level of government? Would you then not think that this might be something to go over with your accountant to make sure that you are compliant or whether or not there is any tax advantage for you that equals money saved in taxes?
Or how about notifying business owners of pending changes in things like minimum wages for hourly employees? Or warning business owners of tax scams by less than scrupulous "tax advisors" or "management consultants"? A newsletter like that might make a business owner think of something that either their accountant needs them to know, or something they need to tell their accountant they plan to do?
Personally, I think something like that might be useful to keep my clients informed.
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Stephanie Wells, AICIA
Partner, Durham Business Outsource
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As would I. But, to get the segregation among the various clients it'd have to be fully integrated with the tax and-or accounting software such that you could pull a listing of Schedule C businesses, or just the bar and restaurant clients, or maybe just the manufacturing clients, or just the "S" corporate clients, or......
The possible combinations of who you want to get this and that e-mail makes for a very bulky and/or time consuming program.
A program as simple as Outlook has the capability to create client groups for specific mailings.
You still have to take the time to write the text, and that takes time, or you just buy it "in the can" or copy and paste news stories.
That's why an off-the-shelf newsletter (either paper or electronic) has various articles, because it's going to a generic client base, and, you never know who will read something in that newsletter and say, "hey, I bet uncle Joe doesn't know about this", and pretty soon uncle Joe is calling you (or at least you hope that happens.)
If there is something "really hot" and "really important", you had better be calling the client and talking to them about it.
You can't trust that an e-mail or even a newsletter will get read.
--
Paul A. Thomas, CPA
Athens, Georgia
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Paul wrote:

If he isn't doing that automagically for me anyway, he's not doing the job I'm paying him for...
Ditto what else Paul wrote...
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Yet, here you are, all in a tizzy about wanting to sell to a market segment that you have no clue about.
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Paul A. Thomas, CPA
Athens, Georgia
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wrote

Are you in business? Business people are always thinking about ways to expand their markets.
We already sell to accountants and I am merely trying to figure out how to make our services more appealing to them...
--
Robert Anderson



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Wouldn't asking your clients be more productive?
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Paul A. Thomas, CPA
Athens, Georgia
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Robert Anderson wrote: ...

"We are a web design, web hosting, and permission-based email marketing firm. I happen to have several friends who are accountants,..."
That's different than the abouve quote you started out with--not that one <necessarily> excludes the other, but it's a much different slant on things.
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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.
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Paul A. Thomas, CPA
Athens, Georgia
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wrote

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.
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Robert Anderson



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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...
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Robert Anderson



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If a business is serious about advertising and marketing their services they might consider engaging either a marketing specialist or an advertising firm to take their basic concept, get all the information needed regarding any regulations or laws governing their business and advertising, take the general design, and flesh out a campaign. Not every marketing or advertising company does their own web development, or wants to. Some just want to be the "idea men" and come up with the concept or campaign, leaving the "how" to someone else...
--
Stephanie Wells, AICIA
Partner, Durham Business Outsource
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