What Tools Do You Need To Build Your Practice?
Email marketing! Social media! Blogging! Networking! CRM!
There’s no shortage of tools out there to help you grow your bookkeeping business, and certainly no shortage of ‘gurus’ telling you how to use them. It’s enough to make your head spin!
But where do you start? How do you decide which of these tools is best for you and which you can safely ignore?
Actually, that’s the wrong question. It’s like walking into a hardware store and saying to the clerk, “I’m looking for a tool. I see you have hammers and saws etc. Which one should I buy?” He’d think you were a bit strange.
Of course you would never do that. When you go into a hardware store, you may not know what you want, but you do know what you want to do with it. So now you say, “I want to hang a very heavy picture on a concrete wall. Which drill should I use for that?” Now you’re likely to get the right recommendation.
You see, before deciding on what tool to use, you need to know what you want to do with it.
Translating this into the world of business, before you decide what tactics to use, you need to know your strategy. To decide your strategy, you need to know what kind of business you want, what you want your bookkeeping business to look like.
If you’re just starting out, this is the ideal time to decide. Most people start off in business by themselves, as freelance bookkeepers. Some want to stay that way, and avoid any issues around staffing. Others want to grow, but not necessarily too big. What is ‘too big’? Well, that all depends on you, on what you want.
Because technology allows you to work at distance from your clients, this now opens up the possibility of clients located far from you. So that’s another option to consider: stay local or go wide.
Here are some very broad guidelines on appropriate tactics for your chosen strategy.
While some form of online marketing is always going to be necessary, this is the one strategy where in-person networking is necessary. You’ll have to get out there and meet your potential clients in the places where they gather. If you are serving a general clientele base, your local chamber of commerce or board of trade could offer fertile ground or, perhaps a local networking group like the BNI. If you serve a particular industry niche, try to join their industry association. Look into attending their regular meetings — and work on improving your networking skills!
If the idea of clients in distant parts appeals to you, or if your local market is limited by the size of your town, you can forego those local networking events — which is a great relief to the many introverts running their own bookkeeping practices!
Instead, you’ll do your networking online, and that means social media. LinkedIn is the recognized champion of platforms for business, and there’s no need to disguise the fact that you’re there to look for clients and partners. But don’t ignore the other main players.
Facebook has become quite challenging, because they keep changing the rules, and now it’s pretty difficult to get your messages regularly seen even by your Facebook friends. It has developed into a pay-to-play environment, in which Facebook ads are the only consistently reliable option.
Then there’s Twitter. Originally seen as a bit of a joke by many business people, it’s now one of the crowd favourites! It’s possible to pinpoint and connect with exactly the right people for you on Twitter, and use regular tweets and conversations to build relationships. For countless small business owners, these connections have developed into actual paying clients.
Two Essential Tools
Regardless of your strategy, and the collection of tools you use, marketing and building your business can’t be done without these two:
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
In last week’s post we talked about the need for technology to help you run your business, and CRM definitely comes into this category. Gone are the days when you could keep your client information on an Excel spreadsheet. Now you want a system that can not only keep static information about your clients, but also follow-up dates for promised phone calls and other connections, as well as supporting details that can help you make the connection more meaningful.
The list of good CRM’s is way too big to list but here are some that we like that also play well with QBO ☺ – Method, Insightly, Practice Ignition, Karbon and JetPackWorkFlow. Each offers different functionality and price points so make sure you do your homework.
Whether your clients are next door or on the other side of the country, your email list is still the “big kahuna” of all your online marketing efforts. Don’t ignore email if your clients are local, because it’s still the most effective method of helping clients realize how valuable your service is to them.
As with CRM’s there is an almost endless list of great email marketing tools such as MailChimp, Constant Contact, AWeber and Emma.
And there’s always more!
The array of tools is growing every day, and the bad news is that you must keep up with what’s available so that you’ll know the right tools for you. The good news is that choosing and using those tools will help you to build, grow and manage the successful, prosperous bookkeeping practice that you always imagined.
This blog is for you and we hope you will enjoy the content.
We will be providing you with more information to help you Learn, Build and Manage your Practice in future posts, so stay tuned.
Please let us know if there are any specific topics you would like us to address in the future.
Image – Copyright: damedeeso / 123RF Stock Photo
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