Many small businesses struggle with lead generation tactics. I stay pretty in tune with the accounting industry in general and know that many business owners struggle with lead generation in our industry. I see lots of bookkeepers and accountants post on LinkedIn about how they just started their own practice but need advice on obtaining new clients. While there are lots of effective lead generation methods for your accounting business I would recommend just a few. Whenever I am asked how to generate leads for an accounting service or any service based business I always answer with these three tactics: inbound marketing, networking and referrals.
Ask For Referrals
All businesses love to get referrals. Referral business is typically highly qualified and therefore has a higher close rate. The only problem with referrals is there is not a ton you can do to control them. Sure you can network and give great service but you can't influence referrals as much as you can other lead generation methods. However, one thing you can do to influence referrals is to ask for them. Lori Richardson wrote a great article titled: Why Sales People Don't Ask for Referrals. Since I read the article a while back it is a tactic that I always use. Many business owners or employees of small businesses fail to ask for referrals for a few reasons. One piece of advice is that you should ask your current customers (especially new customers) for referrals when you begin working with them. If you are doing a great job for them and you ask them for a referral they will go out of their way to give you one. If you don't ask for a referral why would they think to give you one unless the situation presented itself? Take control of referrals by actively asking for them.
Inbound Marketing and Blogging
We have had a lot of success with inbound marketing for our accounting firm. While there are many aspects of inbound marketing I feel blogging for your small business is a great way to get started with inbound. Inbound marketing and blogging will create lots of leads for your business but it won't happen overnight. Gaining exposure, creating a following and generating leads through inbound marketing and blogging is a long-term tactic. Many business owners give up on inbound tactics because they don't see instantaneous results. Additionally creating good content for your website takes up a lot of time. However, inbound marketing if done correctly can have a huge payoff for your business. You may want to consider hiring a good marketing consultant to help you with your inbound marketing efforts.
Ahh networking, it can be a great tactic for lead generation if done correctly or a massive time suck if done incorrectly. Many people wonder if small business networking is worth it. The fact is many people are not great at networking because they show up to sell their services. Networking is about relationships not about sales. A great piece of advice that I got about networking is don't think about selling to the people you meet at networking events, think about selling to everyone they know. By using this tactic you truly are just having an informative conversation with people letting them know what you do. Also, be sure to ask what other people do and try your best to refer them business if you have a good referral. Give selflessly through your networking efforts and I guarantee you it will pay off.
One huge mistake I see small businesses make is not measuring the effectiveness of their lead generation tactics. What is the point of putting in all the effort to generate leads if you are not going to measure your return on investment? Marketing tools like Hubspot make measuring your marketing efforts incredibly easy. Even if you don't have a sophisticated tool like Hubspot you can still use simple methods like Google Drive to keep track of leads and conversions. I also use QuickBooks in a unique way to track our marketing efforts. I use QuickBooks class tracking to track sources of income. By using QuickBooks in this manner I can run a profit and loss by class that shows how much revenue is produced by each method of generating leads. Small business financial reporting is incredibly important to the success of your business and you need to make sure to report and analyze your marketing efforts as well.
When I am asked about generating leads for our small business I always answer the same way; inbound marketing, networking and referrals. Sure methods like cold calling or direct mail could work but we choose not to use them. The same goes with accounting, we could use an abacus and paper general ledgers, but a calculator and QuickBooks just seems like the efficient way to go.
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