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The brave new world of marketing

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Those of us who grew up in the age of cold-calling have witnessed enormous change in marketing our practices during the age of the Internet and digital communications. Marketing used to be easy: seminars, newspaper advertising, direct mail, billboards, maybe radio or local TV advertising if you were really daring.

The ongoing evolution of marketing and advertising and the maturation of the Internet have changed all that. Today’s consumers are much savvier, having navigated decades of advertising assaults on their senses and their wallets. They know how to avoid much of the marketing that’s out there. They filter their email, use caller ID to avoid telemarketers, and even time-shift their TV viewing to avoid commercials.

So how do you reach today’s consumer?

Studies show that when it’s time to purchase anything, one of the first things most people do is take to the Internet to research, ask advice from their networks, or read reviews. Therefore, getting found online has become critically important to building a thriving practice.

However, just having a presence (a brochure website or generic business listing) is no longer good enough. Consumers want the opportunity to get to know your firm more qualitatively — before they pick up the phone to set that first appointment. Here’s where you’ll want to develop a “content marketing” or “inbound marketing” strategy, in addition to the traditional channels you currently employ: 

  • Writing insightful, timely blog posts on a regular basis allows prospects to measure your knowledge and approach to problem solving.
  • Posting pictures of client or charitable events on social media allows them to see how you interact with your current clients and the community.
  • Publishing valuable content that educates them about key concepts or complex issues allows them to gain a sense of comfort with your firm.

All these initiatives should demonstrate your expertise, and each should “cross-pollinate” the others. Your radio show should promote your seminars and your website, even as the latter has links to the former, etc. And while the accountant in you will want to measure each piece as a stand-alone for profitability, this ignores that the whole will have become far greater than the sum of its parts. If you give your prospects the opportunity to get to know you before they ever call your office, those who are incompatible with your specialty, declared convictions or corporate culture will disqualify themselves — leaving primarily ideal, prequalified future clients in your calendar. At the end of the year, you should have seen more well-matched prospects, solved more problems with less effort and expense, expanded your client family, increased revenues, and deepened your relationships with your existing clients, staff and community.