Kelly Monestime, Monestime Marketing, LLC
In my years as an accounting marketer, I have worked with many types of professional service leaders. All of them understood the need for growth but they all had different capacities to generate it. Some were specialists, many were generalists and while they were all committed to growing the practice by achieving the firm’s annual new business booked goal, they sometimes fell victim to what I call the “summertime trap.”
Summer is the time of year that many accountants enjoy the most. You made it through the busiest deadlines and while there are other deadlines to face, they are not as consuming as March and April. So, it only makes sense to enjoy the nicer weather and work fewer hours before you gear up to enter the fall season of tax extensions, benefit plans and year-end planning. After all, you deserve it. But, be mindful of the summertime trap and do what you can to avoid it because it can negatively affect your growth efforts.
I’ve heard accountants say “It’s busy season, I don’t have time for marketing”; followed by “it’s summer, no one is responsive to my business development efforts”; and then “I can’t market, it’s year-end planning and my focus is on my clients”. My response to these comments is always the same: “If we can’t generate new business during the winter, spring, summer or fall then when do we?”
The answer to this question is “always”. But the way we generate business changes during the year to allow for your time constraints and need to maximize billable hours. During your busiest times of the year, you’ll want to rely on your internal marketing department or external marketing consultant to be laying the foundation so you can hit the ground running when busy season is over. From sharing thought leadership through articles and drip campaigns to running ads and being active on social media, there are things your marketing team can do to minimize the time you spend in marketing your practice during your busiest times of the year. But when busy season comes to an end, you must be prepared to ramp up your efforts and invest the time it takes to generate leads and ultimately convert prospects to clients – even during the summer.
The summer is a great time to re-visit the business development strategy you set at the beginning of the year. Are you making progress? Have you achieved the goals you set forth to date? Did you do the things you said you were going to do? If not, now is the time to start working on these objectives before autumn arrives and you are faced with your second busiest time of the year. Before you know it, the December holiday season will arrive with the startling realization that you did not achieve the growth goals you set in January.
So, what types of business development activities should you consider during the summer months? We tend to see fewer business events in June, July and August due to a forecasted lack of attendance as many professionals take vacations during the summer. With the exception of golf tournaments, many trade associations and business groups make the conscious decision to avoid scheduling business development opportunities because they may struggle to achieve a return on investment. The summer is a great time to visit with clients (who will always make time for you), meet with centers of influence who can refer you business, create your own business development opportunities (think webinars, roundtables, social events, etc.) and, if you haven’t already done so, start strategizing for Q3 and Q4 of the current year.
Meeting with clients during the summer months will often result in additional work. From special projects and new services to asking your clients for referrals of other businesses and individuals who can benefit from your services, these meetings will help you to achieve your growth goals while also increasing client retention.
The same goes for centers of influence. Inviting bankers, attorneys and other influencers in your target market to breakfast, lunch or dinner – perhaps at a nice summertime venue – will raise their awareness of the benefits you can bring to their clients. Since both parties share the common goal of servicing clients well and pride themselves on delivering solutions to their clients, these meetings are a win-win and people will carve time out of their summer schedule to attend.
Webinars tend to work well during the summer months because they don’t require a lot of lead time to execute and attendees have the ability to tune in remotely – even from a chair on the beach. All you need is an engaging topic that is valuable to your target market and you can create a business development opportunity for yourself.
The summer is also the time to establish your strategy for the fall. Right after Labor Day networking events will regain their pre-summer momentum, tradeshows are plentiful and seminars will begin to pop up. Use the summer months to create your tradeshow strategies, get yourself on the speaking circuit and evaluate the benefit of becoming active in various networking groups. Planning your marketing and business development efforts during the summer months will ensure a successful fall season of new business generation.
In my experience, accountants are amazing at what they do. They possess the technical strength they need to be successful and are committed to serving as trusted advisors to their clients. But when it comes to marketing and business development, they need help. Be sure to turn to your marketing department or contact a consultant who can help you to continue being great at what you do while achieving the long-term growth strategies you have set for your practice.
Kelly Monestime is the founder of Monestime Marketing, LLC, a marketing consulting firm that specializes in helping professional service firms realize the hopes and dreams they have for the business. Learn more at www.MonestimeMarketing.com.