If you’re trying to grow your accounting business, especially if you’re just starting out, you may consider finding new clients a daunting task. While it does take time and effort, it is not as hard as it first appears, and can be very rewarding, both financially and personally. Here are some steps to help you.
- Define your “ideal client”
Imagine your ideal client or ideal work you like to do and write it down in detail. Consider the type of person, the type of work, or the industries you prefer. What is your expertise? What are your interests or hobbies so you can resonate with that client? What do you hate, and how can you avoid it? When you are clear on what you want and what you don’t want, you will be able to focus the next steps on getting clients with whom you’ll love working.
- Define what makes you better
How can you stand out in the market? How are you uniquely qualified? What do you need to do to develop more expertise so you can attract the clients you want? Perhaps it’s not expertise but personality that makes you special. If so, make it part of your brand. Your brand, or the main message you send in all of your marketing materials and communications, should consistently show who you are, what you do, and what makes you the one the prospect should hire.
- Use current clients
Your current clients are a tremendous opportunity for growth. They already like you and trust you. Ask them for referrals. Ask them for recommendations for your website or flyers. You can offer to write a draft of a recommendation that they can edit. This way, you know they will mention the key things you want highlighted, and they know it will be quick and easy to do. f you see other ways you can help, upsell additional services to them. In return, always be prepared to offer them the same courtesies.
- Develop a social media strategy
There are so many social media opportunities, and many professionals think they have to use them all. This is a bad strategy. It can be overwhelming and would be a waste of time if your ideal client doesn’t use those particular media avenues. First determine where your ideal clients spend their time. There are also online resources to help determine this but ask your clients as well. Then develop a strategy that will reach them.
That said, some things are a must. You must have a website, SEO-optimized. If you aren’t an expert in this area, hire one. You must have a fully-optimized LinkedIn profile and LinkedIn business page with a logo. And you must have an email list. Collect the emails of website visitors by offering a free ebook or article on a subject important to your ideal client.
Next, you must provide regular content to these sites. Blog regularly on topics important to your ideal client. Add relevant posts that respond to current events in a way that shows your expertise. Make sure your content is concise but memorable. Using analogies, images, or catchy phrases will help your audience remember what they read.
Make it easy for people to find you by completing your profiles on Yahoo, Bing, Yelp, MapQuest, Superpages, and other online services. Ask clients to write referrals for you on these sites so you rank higher in searches.
Consider running ads on Craig’s List or signing up for Angie’s list, and other such outlets.
- Network, network, network
Every opportunity of interaction is a networking opportunity – even with the person who optimizes your website. But also take concrete steps by getting involved in networking groups, going to industry-specific conferences where your ideal clients will be, offering to give talks, write articles, or help a journalist as an expert commentator.
While these steps are listed in order, there is certainly cross-over, and they are ongoing. Always keep refining your ideal client definition, your brand, and your online presence, and network at all times. Your business will grow into something that not only supports you, but that you enjoy.