Striking out on your own as a CPA is a thrilling experience. Your skill working with clients and your existing book of business made getting off the ground simple. Yet, you’ve come face-to-face with something every new CPA firm encounters: marketing. New businesses often struggle on this end, and CPA marketing is no different. Good marketing will help drive your business, but if you fall prey to these two marketing mistakes, you may put your new venture at risk.
1. You Haven’t Performed Any Market Research
As kids, many of us enjoyed stepping on sheets of ice during winter to see if it’d hold our weight. If it held, you could slide your way across. If not, you’d have pretty cold, wet foot.
Market research is akin to putting some pressure on the ice before stepping on it. You gather data to see if the market is good for your business. If it is, then you can slide right into that market with confidence.
For a CPA firm, performing market research is critical. If you’re trying to enter into a saturated market without a compelling and unique offer to potential clients, you’re not going to succeed. But you won’t know that until you take the time to do the research.
As you perform market research for your business, consider all of the following:
- Market size and growth: Is the market you’re trying to enter within your niche big enough to support you? This is often assessed through the concept of Total Addressable Market, or TAM. You can calculate TAM using the formula TAM = (Average Revenue Per User(ARPU) x Total Potential Customers).
- Competitors: Who’s competing with you in your current market? If your CPA firm is taking a generalist approach, your number of competitors is likely to be huge.
- Customer needs and preferences: What do your potential customers need? What do you have to offer that others don’t? This is called your unique value proposition or UVP.
- Pricing fees and structures: What are others in your market charging? What are you charging? What price do you need to charge to stay competitive, while also surviving and growing as a business?
- Marketing channels: What marketing channels are available to you that you can use to drive revenue? What are your competitors using? What weaknesses are they showing in their marketing efforts that you can take advantage of?
As you consider the above, make sure to consider two things.
First, creating a virtual CPA firm is likely to expand your total addressable market. If you stay local, you’re competing against not just other local CPA firms, but virtual ones as well. Now, the clients in your local area might prefer to work with someone local. But you won’t know that until you’ve performed market research.
The second thing to remember is that specialization matters. If you’re running a generalist CPA firm, you’re going to be competing against a much larger pool. However, if you choose to specialize in a niche market or business type, you can market your business around that niche.
2. Sending Good Traffic to a Bad Website
If you understand the buyer’s journey, then you’ll understand just how important your website is to solve it.
Your website needs to do four things:
- Provide relevant information that answers or solves potential clients’ questions.
- Offer a user-friendly experience (often known as UX, or user experience)
- Be easy to navigate (which falls into UX but could be considered separately)
- Have clear CTAs (call to action) that drive conversions
You should consider your website one of your chief revenue drivers, especially if you’re working in a niche market. It’s one of the primary sources potential clients are using to determine if you’re a worthwhile CPA firm.
Those clients are typically between 50% to 70% of the way through their research by the time they reach out to know more (if they reach out at all). Winning organically can be hard, and requires time, effort, and skill. You might think you don’t have any of those, and that’s ok. That’s why you either hire marketing professionals for your team or outsource to a competent marketing agency.
A good website experience and good inbound marketing are not something you should DIY your way through if you aren’t competent in that area. Getting it wrong creates a terrible experience. That will increase your website’s bounce rate, or how frequently visitors leave your website without interacting with your page in any way. That will reduce your search rankings, leading to a dead website.
Conversely, a good user experience with useful information increases your website’s rankings on search engines. It also increases the likelihood that you’ll convert on your pages.
If that all sounds like magic, well, you almost certainly need to hire a marketing professional in some capacity.
CPA Marketing Mistakes Don't End There
Let’s say you’ve covered your bases there. You did your market research, developed your go-to-market strategy, and implemented a solid website and inbound marketing strategy. You’re set, right?
Many CPA firms fail because they hire the wrong marketing people who deploy bad strategies. Or they don’t commit to their marketing strategies long enough for those strategies to bear fruit. Or they get a quick win and stop investing in marketing, seeing it as an expense instead of an investment.
This is just the tip of the iceberg on marketing. For more, check out Episode 91 of The Modern CPA Success Show: Top 5 Marketing Mistakes CPA Firms Make with Matthew Banker.