Growing your client roster keeps revenue flowing into your business, but these days, just slapping an ad on the side of a bus and getting listed in the local business phone directory isn’t enough. Engaging your target audience in conversations through avenues such as email and social media, in addition to face-to-face interactions, helps build rapport and grow a base of loyal customers. Using current marketing strategies helps you reach a new audience and grow your brand.
Speak to Clients Through Social Media
Active conversations help you develop relationships and build strong personal connections with your clients. By design, these conversations are ongoing, helping to grow your business. In today’s digital age, people receive information from a variety of sources any time of the day or night. Clients expect convenience. When you create a strong social media presence for your business, you meet that convenience requirement. You can show off your photography chops with an online portfolio, demonstrate expertise in estate planning by writing a blog, or share your tax smarts by sending out an accounting newsletter with brief tips about tax deductions. Taking advantage of the connecting tools on LinkedIn and Facebook helps you increase visibility and generates more activity on your business’s profile page. Whether you share informative stories, tweet financial deadlines, or ask for feedback on Facebook, keep your content relevant and make sure it’s current.
Ask for Referrals From Current Clients
When trying to attract more clients, start with your current client base. Your clients stay with you because they like you and the services you provide. If your current clients are happy with your services, they may be more than willing to recommend you to their friends or business associates. In fact, it’s possible that they already recommend you to their peers. Discussing the value of referrals with your customers can encourage them to share your name.
If a client sends business your way, it’s a good idea to offer your thanks, either through a simple thank-you message or as part of a paid referral program. A low-cost coffee card goes a long way towards customer relations. It may even be something for your client to tweet about. Another option is to sweeten the deal with a discount on a future service when a client’s referral uses your services. You’re giving the client a financial incentive to share, but you’re also ensuring they spend more money with you and stick around as your client.
Network for Success
Business networking can give you a huge boost when you’re building a business. You get your name out there on a larger stage, and you can make connections with a variety of business professionals. Talking with networking professionals lets you promote your services and can create leads in other areas, such as savings on office equipment and supplies. Proactively asking clients how you can help them may give you the opportunity to recommend one of your trusted networking contacts. You could build a lot of goodwill when your recommendation results in a beautiful redesign of your client’s office space.
Listen to Your Clients
When you know what your clients want, you can develop and market a complete service package. Asking questions, sending out surveys, leaving a comment box in the waiting room, and encouraging honest communication can give you useful insights that can shape your marketing campaign. If client suggestions make sense, make them part of your process. You get double value from this: your business becomes more efficient, and you show that you’re receptive and responsive to client wants and needs.
Understand CASL Compliance
Email marketing gives you a direct link to potential, new, and long-established clients. It’s an ideal avenue for branding and building customer relationships. But before you hit “send,” you need to make sure that your emails comply with Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL). Under the CASL, you need permission before you can send emails to prospective clients for commercial purposes. You also have to clearly identify your business and give recipients an easy way to unsubscribe if they choose. That means you can’t just buy a list of emails and send a bunch of messages hoping to snag some new clients. But that doesn’t mean you should cross email marketing off your list of strategies. You just have to figure out how to get permission first.
Build Your Recipient List
Luckily, you have plenty of options for getting the stamp of email approval from prospective clients. If you have a “contact us” page on your website where clients can set up appointments or send you messages, consider adding a box that people can click if they want to receive email messages from you. If your website has a live chat option, you might direct your customer service staff to ask people they talk with for permission to email them about your services.
Writing regular, value-packed email newsletters can be an incentive for customers to sign up and give you permission to send them electronic messages. On your website and your social media accounts, you can add plug-ins so people can sign up for your e-newsletter as well as other emails. Another way to tempt people into signing up is to offer a freebie that appeals to your target audience. For your accounting clients, that might be a tax preparation checklist in PDF form or an ebook about maximizing tax deductions. Make it clear when they sign up for the freebie that they also give you permission to email them future correspondence.
When you have offline interactions with clients or potential customers, you can ask them directly if you can email them. Say you’re doing a local expo and have a sign-up sheet where people can enter a drawing. Make sure to prominently display a sign that states signing up for the drawing also opts them into your email list. Then you can use that list of prospects for future email campaigns.
With a bit of creativity, you can easily build up an email list. Consider segmenting the list and sending people emails that appeal to their specific situation. For example, you may want to send different emails to small business owners and individuals or to current clients and potential clients. Customizing your approach while following CASL guidelines can improve your email marketing response while keeping it legal.
Offer Deals and Coupons
Consumers generally understand they get what they pay for, but they also know how sweet it is to get a discount on a quality service. Consider mailing coupons to prospective clients to appeal to their inner bargain hunter. Depending on the type of clients you’re trying to target, the coupon may be $25 off tax preparation services, a free consultation and estimate for payroll services, $100 off an annual agreement for bookkeeping services, or another deal that makes sense in your situation. By limiting this offer to new clients only, you encourage people to give you a try without taking a big hit to your revenue. You can also offer discounts to loyal customers for repeat business to keep them coming back.
If you do print marketing, such as newspaper or magazine ads, also consider including coupons with your ads. Regardless of the deal you offer, putting an expiration date on the deal helps build in a sense of urgency. When potential customers have a deadline, they’re more likely to reach out to you quickly before the deal ends.
Leverage Face-to-Face Marketing Opportunities
Face-to-face marketing opportunities include trade shows, conventions, local fairs, and similar events. Booking a booth at an event aimed squarely at your target audience gives you instant access to a whole new group of prospects. Coming prepared with an elevator pitch to give attendees about your services helps you break the ice. These face-to-face opportunities offer the perfect spot to hand out coupons or special offers and hold a drawing to build excitement for your firm. Perhaps you might offer free tax prep or a gift certificate to a local shop in exchange for customer contact information and permission to send them commercial emails.
Use Social Media to Promote Special Offers
Social media marketing isn’t just for building brand awareness. It’s also a great way to showcase special offers and broaden your reach to new prospects. For business-related social media accounts, setting your pages to public helps people who aren’t yet following you see those special deals you offer.
To encourage more people to follow you, consider drafting a special offer, but include some contingencies to claim the deal. For instance, you might require people to follow you and share your post to receive the special offer. When people like or share your posts, it often shows up in their friends’ social media feeds, and your business gets even more exposure. The right offer can entice new people to try your services, and once you get them in the door, you have the opportunity to keep them for life. Be creative about the deals you offer, and crunch the numbers to ensure the deal doesn’t hurt your bottom line.
Maybe you’re in a niche market and you want your specialty to shine like a beacon, or perhaps you want to keep a spotlight on your general accounting practice. Either way, you can make your business visible and inviting to potential clients by keeping the conversation going and giving them offers they can’t refuse. With effective marketing strategies and cutting-edge accounting software and tools, you can grow your business exponentially. Collaborate with clients, stay on track, and grow your firm with QuickBooks Online Accountant. Sign up for free.