Bonnie Buol Ruszczyk is president of BBR Marketing and author of "Take Your Marketing Online: Proven Ways to Grow Your Firm in the Digital Age" (published by the AICPA). She's here to help firm owners start using free marketing strategies. We're all afraid of not making back the cost of our marketing efforts. Well, Bonnie is taking away the excuse to do nothing with her strategies today. In this episode of the Growing Your Firm Podcast by Jetpack Workflow Software, David Cristello and Bonnie Buol discussed:
- The critical elements of an effective website
- How "old school" free marketing strategies can be used to win new clients
- How to create a compelling newsletter (and how often you should mail it)
- And much more!
Links mentioned in the show:BBR Marketing "Take Your Marketing Online: Proven Ways to Grow Your Firm in the Digital Age" Bonnie on Linkedin Relevant Links: Jetpack's Website Creation Article/Video A bulletproof script for meeting accounting prospects so they become clients (interview)
Your First Step to An Effective Marketing BattleplanBonnie Buol, the founder of BBR Marketing, has been named a "Top 100 influential person" in the accounting niche. It's all thanks to her marketing prowess. And today she'll share some of her top free marketing strategies and more. To start right off, Bonnie sees many firms fall into the same trap. They get the 'goose-neck' syndrome down pat. Meaning, their marketing battleplan is "what are other firms doing?" Then, they go ahead and do that. Obviously, you can see what happens. Each firm starts marketing themselves the same, the branding runs stale, and marketing efforts are wasted. What's missing is the thought on the BIG PICTURE. Marketing your firm shouldn't be cookie-cutter. Your first step to an effective battleplan is identifying what makes your firm different. Do you have expertise in a niche? Do you deliver your services in a particular way? Every firm on the planet markets themselves as "we do great work with top results." That's not a way to position yourself as different.
The Absolute Power of Your Website:The perfect place to start positioning yourself differently is on your website. As Bonnie says, firms will spend tens of thousands of dollars on the front desk area when people walk into the office but spend very little on their website homepage. Fact is, many more will hit your website than your doorstep...why aren't you trying to capture and impress them there? Many firms make a massive mistake by not having a website with a responsive design. As a side note, Google gives preferential treatment in search results to websites with responsive designs. Nowadays, even if you get a referral from a trusted client or friend, they will probably still go to your website first. You need to be ready for them. If you don't have a website, at least start outlining one this week. You can hire a web designer, or fire up a simple site on WordPress. It doesn't cost as much as you think. Obviously, that part (i.e. hosting) isn't free... But, there are plenty of free marketing strategies to lean on once your site is up and running. Start with a short blog post 2-3x per month. Firms are seeing the benefits of having an updated blog because they begin standing out as a thought leader in their niche. Remember, when you know what you're good at, you're then able to target content around that proficiency. Suddenly, you're swimming by yourself and you attract clients who need that. You aren't marketing like all the other firms around you. That's huge. A major tip for great content is this: don't write about yourself or your firm. Write about what the client would be interested in. You might think it cool to jabber on about your history and credentials, but most likely your ideal prospects won't care. They have problems they want to be solved. Write about that. The last mention on websites: make sure you have Google Analytics set up properly. Many unfortunately don't realize Google Analytics exist, but you can track which pages do well, which are most visited, least visited, which might convert prospects and which need help. It's not hard to set-up, but houses tons of important data.
A Variety of Free Marketing Strategies (and cheap ideas)On the topic of content creation, don't just post blog posts and walk away. Pitch local publications and trade magazines your articles. See if you can grab the spotlight for a bit with your work. Typically, publications who update daily are starved for content. You're doing them a favor submitting work they just have to hit 'publish' for. Next, think about where potential clients might hang out. Is it worth joining a local networking group or small business association? You get bonus points if you're able to snag a local speaking spot. Those provide credibility and easy exposure. Does your ideal client hang out on Linkedin? Maybe Twitter? Go where your future clients are. For smaller projects, you might even snag some work on Angie's List or Yelp. You never know. You just need to be consistent. The winners in marketing SHOW UP again and again even if no one reads sometimes. Keep plugging away. If you have team members, spread the content creation around. Consistent. Consistent. Consistent. It used to be 3 exposures to a company was all it took before someone knew who you were. Today, it's around 7-10 times. It may take years before a prospect finally calls you up. But, when you stay top of mind, you're their first phone call. One way to stay consistent is with a monthly newsletter. In this newsletter, you aren't trumpeting your firm or just hard-core selling. You want to send out regular content that they would find valuable. More people will read it then you think even if they don't reply to your messages. More innovative ideas to capture attention is to get creative. At a tradeshow, Bonnie put together scratch-and-sniff cards with apple smells. It garnered a lot of chatter and people stopping at their booths. It wasn't free, but it was cheap and got people talking. You just want to start the conversation.
DAVID'S TIP:We used to send out lumpy mail to potential clients. It's called 3D mailings. Direct mail is little used now. The open rates are high. Put in a lumpy toy in an envelope, it's almost guaranteed to be open!There are lots of free opportunities to market yourself and your firm. Yes, it takes time and effort. But, most firms aren't willing to put in the work still. That means you have a chance to pass them quickly. Will you?