Become Famous for What You Do


MONTHLY CHECKLIST SERIES
 
As a CPA/financial planner you could be the best around, but if no one knows it, clients aren’t going to beat down your door. Fortunately, there are techniques even a practitioner with a limited budget can use to become locally, even nationally, well-known. Gaining recognition is a key step to becoming so successful you can handpick your clients, instead of the other way around. Here’s how to go about it:
   
Ask for referrals.
Have a plan to get recommendations from current clients—don’t depend on casual discussions.

Tell clients early that you would like them to introduce you to other potential clients if they are satisfied with your work.

Work with other practitioners who have a different client profile. If you serve middle-income clients and they focus on wealthy ones, ask them to refer to you any clients with a net worth under their limit.

Don’t forget about your smallest clients. Even if they aren’t a huge source of income, they may know people who could be.

Remember the mathematics of referrals: With 50 clients you may get just eight referrals a year, but with 200 clients you might get two a month—or more.

Hold seminars.
Organize these events carefully—they’re successful only when you know whom you want to reach and create an event that will interest those people. If you’re going after high-end clients concerned about new tax laws, for example, plan a seminar on the most recent income tax legislation.

Hire a mailing service that will pinpoint the right people, in the correct ZIP codes, who will be appropriate for your seminar. Don’t cast too wide a net—a big room with a mixed bag of people is useless as the attendees won’t share common interests and financial goals.

Spend money on a handsome room in a good hotel, but don’t overdo the food. Otherwise you just get people who want to eat and drink for free.

Talk to attendees as they arrive and discuss what concerns led them to your event. Build connections by weaving their stories into your presentation (keeping names private, of course).

Talk to reporters.
Introduce yourself to reporters at major professional and industry publications, but don’t ignore local newspapers—they’re what your clients read.

Always read a publication before contacting a reporter or editor so you can develop a sense of what you have to offer.

Hang around after your presentation to speak casually to—and build relationships with—attendees.

As you become better-known and begin charging speaking fees, test the waters slowly to see what companies and nonprofits may be willing to pay.

Keep in touch with reporters by sending occasional press releases and using phone, mail and e-mail to announce your willingness to comment on issues within your expertise.

Remember, reporters work on tight deadlines, so call them back as soon as you can.

Become a writer.
Familiarize yourself with publications before submitting article ideas, so you know what they cover and what niches you can fill.

Call trade as well as local consumer publications and ask whether they accept unsolicited “bylined articles” in your areas of expertise.

Time seasonal advice carefully. A monthly magazine might finalize its April tax stories in February.

To improve the chances your article will get published, follow editors’ instructions about deadlines and word length, as well as style and focus.

Speak at conferences.
Call local, state and national professional organizations inside and outside the accounting profession and offer your services as a speaker.

Don’t expect invitations to prestigious—and lucrative—national events until you’ve proven yourself at smaller venues. You likely will have to start speaking for free.

Rehearse your presentation extensively and time it. Too short is as bad as too long. Speak with the conference organizer to find out the exact length expected and whether you should leave time for a question-and-answer period.

If you use PowerPoint slides, keep the design simple. Don’t expect slides to save a poorly organized talk.

Adapted from Run It Like a Business: Top Financial Planners Weigh In on Practice Management by Richard J. Koreto, Dearborn Trade Publishing, 2004, www.richardkoreto.com .

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