Six Steps to Better Marketing

BY KIP GREGORY

Loyal clients are the most important source of referrals there is, so if you want to get more business, concentrate on the ones you already have. That means giving clients the attention they deserve. Here are six steps you can take to improve your communications effectiveness.
   
Get an e-mail address from clients who have one. You almost can’t do business without e-mail addresses these days. If you don’t have a current address for every client, obtain one by

Including a self-addressed stamped postcard requesting it with your next mailing.
Dividing your client list among your staff members and having them (or an intern) make calls.
Asking all clients who call whether their e-mail addresses have changed.

Help those who don’t have an address to set up one. If a client doesn’t yet have e-mail, offer to help. Microsoft’s Hotmail ( www.hotmail.com ) is an easy, free option. So is Gmail from Google ( http://gmail.google.com ), but only new users who are invited to join by existing members can get it right now.

Learn how your clients like to spend their time and what’s important to them. Review profiles and tax returns of clients that generate most of your revenue. Cull the following information: Occupation, industry, professional associations, education, goals, concerns, marital status, religious affiliation (if volunteered), date of birth, clubs, hobbies and interests. Each time you talk with clients, try to note two new facts that add to your understanding of who they are and what they need/want from you.

Develop your message. Knowing what your clients care about gives you an excellent reason to be in touch with them. Look up online information they might enjoy knowing. For help getting letters in shape and sending them, consult resources such as Sales LetterWorks ( www.letterworks.com/sales_letter_works.html ) and WriteExpress Easy Letters ( www.writeexpress.com ).

Map out a communications calendar. Fill in a date book with important events to contact selected clients about: quarterly reviews, annual meetings, birthdays, anniversaries and milestones, aiming for at least one reason per month. Organize how you’ll follow through on those dates—face-to-face meetings, personal or conference calls, surveys, your Web site, Web conferences, online chats or by sending audio/video tapes, letters, voice mail, e-mail and articles.

Keep your eyes and ears open. Save additional ideas in a “client communications” file. Use SurfSaver ( www.surfsaver.com ) to organize online articles in folders (market-related information, hobbies/interests, trivia and factoids, for example). Get business acquaintances besides staff to look for and send you valuable news, too. Don’t make e-mail your sole means of communication—and never send something readers will view as spam.

Source: Kip Gregory, CPA, Winning Clients in a Wired World, Wiley and Sons, 2004.

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