How sticky notes can increase your accounting firm’s bottom line: 2 approaches for marketing advisory services
Note: This article is the third installment in our series on offering CPA Business Advisory Services. View Part II
Last time we discussed the importance of picking the right clients when you offer business advisory services. Once you have completed the selection process it’s important to alert your clients to your new services in a way that’s informative without being pushy. Further, when offering advice to prospective clients it’s important to protect yourself from legal problems that occur if the line between projections and facts gets blurred. Therefore, in most cases, it’s suggested you take one of these two approaches to marketing your new service:
The “Sticky Note” Method:
To pique your clients’ interest in value-added services, simply print a customized or narrative financial analysis report and place a sticky note on top that says “I thought you might find this interesting.” Place this paper alongside the other accounting documents you prepared for this client from pre-existing obligations.*
This approach is apt because it doesn’t try to push a service but instead generates questions from the client and opens up the door to future consulting opportunities. Further, according to Sageworks Michael McNeilly, “Not every client will respond to the sticky note with an appointment request, but some will, and the cost it takes to generate and print the report is minimal.”
The “Let Me Show You” Approach:
If you’re looking for an approach that is more proactive than the sticky note method, the “Let Me Show You” approach offers a good alternative:
For this approach discuss the client’s past and projected future performance during an in-person meeting with him or her. Focus on two or three key points from your findings and use graphs and/or a brief narrative report to enhance your presentation. This approach may take more time, but cash flow projection software can dramatically increase your efficiency. This approach works best with your inquisitive and proactive clients; often times it will lead to higher margin consulting engagements.
Once you’ve marketed your services, it’s important to have confidence in your new offering to maintain a long-term relationship with these clients. Next time we will talk about how to do this even if the client asks you tough questions.
*Note: If you are adding this report to a prepared tax return it is very important to clearly demarcate the end of a tax return and the beginning of any financial analysis. Make sure it is clear that the report is not part of the business financials or it may be construed as fact rather than advice. This may mean placing the paper in the same envelope as the prepared tax return you mail to your client but not within the actual tax return folder.