Marketing Lessons for Accounting Professionals

Overview of how the marketing mix comes together. Tips on where to start and how to progress across the marketing spectrum.

All right everybody let's get started today. We've got a full hour of content. Today's discussion is Marketing 101: A primer for accountants. This is one of the many different Firm of the Future webinars that we've been doing, I'm continuing to do, brought to you by Intuit QuickBooks. I'm from Karbon, we'll talk about that a little bit later. Thank you for coming today. We're going to go through a whole whirlwind of marketing, and then have various different topics that we'll be able to publish throughout the month on various different subtopics of inbound marketing. This session again brought to you by Intuit QuickBooks. Go check out If you're not using QuickBooks online accountant definitely check it out, try it out. I'm from Karbon. You can learn more about us at

Today's webinar, Marketing 101: A primer for accountants is part of the July webinar series, all on inbound marketing. There's four other different articles and webinars that will be part of the series. One is Websites that Work, Networking like a Rainmaker, Impactful Collateral, and Get Found While You Sleep, which is all about search engine optimization. All the things that you can do to be found without having to go out and do outbound marketing, which cost money and additional resources. All of those will be published on Firm of the Future over the next month or so, and again, if you are interested in any of those sort of topics or topics that are similar, you can always check us out at

A couple of things before we get started, a few tips and tricks so that we're all on the same page. First is if you're new, go to webinar. You will find the orange little button up there that will close and collapse. The dialogue button or go to the control panel. There are questions that you can answer in that control panel, feel free to ask them along the way. Today is a pretty dense topic, so I'll probably be answering them more toward the end, but I'll take a peek here, to be able to address them as we go. You want to close any applications like Skype and the like as we go through because it will slow down your connection.

For those of you looking for CPE, yes, CPE is offered today. It will be given to you from a CPE keyword located somewhere during today's presentation, and I will then give you the CPE challenge question at the end of the webinar. You need to answer that in order to get credit. Again, if you're trying to get CPE today, it's the CPE keyword that will be sometime during the presentation, and you'll have to answer the question at the end.

Who am I? Who is the person on the other end of the line here? My name is Ian Vacin. I'm a co-founder and the Vice President of Product Marketing here at Feel free to ask me any questions after the webinar if needed, or, if you want to talk about anything else, you can check out Karbon at Karbon is task management for accountants. It brings together all of your email for your team, helps you collaborate on that email in order to create different pieces of work that you need to get done. That's brought together and managed using Checklist. You're seeing here the to-dos that help you get things done day by day even though the check list might span for months or for projects, and all of that is searchable and easy to find. Again, if you're interested in Karbon, go to We've also just launched in Editions where you can find out more in content and information, so you can go to

Let's get into today's topic for Marketing 101: A primer for accountants. What I've done is I've broken this down into four different buckets that we're going to talk about. We're going to talk a little bit about strategy in order to maximize you're ROI, your money and your effort. We're going to talk through some frameworks, some marketing frame works. Some of you that have taken different business classes and courses, you'll find some of these familiar.  I'll bring it together to show how that applies in terms of the tactics. We're going to spend some time on referral marketing. You may or may not have heard us give this talk before, but is the most important marketing vehicle that you can spend your time and energy on. Again, it is a referral based business, overall, so that way you can help drive your demand to your existing clients.

The third section we're going to talk about is really on inbound marketing. That's really about how you get found versus finding people. That's how they find you. Again, that goes back to some of the topics that I was illustrating before, on our websites, search engine marketing. Even, some of the content marketing and social marketing bits.

Last one is out bound. It's what most people traditionally think of as marketing. That's where you're pushing your message out. That's advertising, other vehicles within that are things that we'll discuss briefly. We're going to look at all of those collectively, but I'm going to help you focus on what's the most important and how to get there. Sound good?

Let's go to the first piece which is Marketing 101. I want to go through Eight steps to effective marketing. I really want to bring up an example first, because it really brings home why marketing is so important and why the strategic aspect of it by and far is where you want to be spending your time initially, and then you can branch out to be doing the more traditional things like websites, and alike.

I want to bring up this example. One of the initiatives that I had run back when I used to work at intuit, back when I was there, and I think it was in 2006, 2007. We used to bring pro advisors like yourselves into our different Apple Stores in order to work with the small business consultants that were there. You have to remember that back in those days, this is when the Apple Store was first launched, the iPhone had just come out, so it was very, very new, very, very fresh, and Apple was literally on the start of its rise, not necessarily where it's at today, which is by far, much further and beyond anyone could have dreamed back then.

The initiative that we had was we worked closely with Apple to help bring seminars into the stores in order to teach financial management and the importance of finances to small business audiences in coordination with the small business consultants that were in each store. We had a mixture of different results that happened out of that, but we were able to go to a whole set of different stores and have a pro advisor that would work hand in hand, doing the seminars and also working with the various Apple staff.

Some found success, some did not. What was interesting and what was learned from this is those that found success had a very specific target and unique value proposition and point of view that resonated with the audience that came into the store. Those folks, ultimately, were able to breach or to create a relationship with that small business consultant and ultimately be able to talk the talk and be able to establish a long term relationship seminar and structure and great business and new clients out of the effort that was spent.

The reason for that was back then, those people who were actually going to the Apple store were more specific, were more in terms of they weren't the general audience that we have today. They were typically designers, creatives, architects, those types of folks that you would traditionally think of as Apple Store or Apple consumers back in those days. The reason why this became quite lucrative and important for those that were actually having a focus on that particular niche was because when those people came in, they could talk the talk, ultimately be able to establish a strong relationship with those prospects that came in, deliver great service and then ultimately were able to get those referrals back to the small business consultant that was in the store, and would feel confident in recommending those going forward.

What was interesting was why this was an interesting marketing opportunity was it really cost the pro advisers about one hour a week in order to do a seminar, and then to be able to spend some time chatting with a small business consultant.

The reason why it worked out in terms of business was it was a very critical point in the path of a small business owner, because back in those days when you decided to leave an agency or to leave an engineering firm and you were a creative, your moment of truth was you were going to start your own business and you made the pilgrimage down to the Apple Store, where you could pick out your laptop, get the memory that you wanted in it, get to configure it the way you wanted it, and then be able to get the quintessential software you need to run.

You'd go into the store, you would meet the Apple small business consultant, you would tell them what you want, you'd build the machine with them. Then, at the end of that whole experience, you would look at the small business consultant and say "What's next?" The small business consultant would do this from a perspective of, "OK, what are you trying to do," and the small businesses would say, "Well, I need to actually invoice the people who I'm going to do work for. I need to keep track of my expenses in order to make sure that I can do this in the long haul, versus maybe doing it as a hobby than I might have before hand," or "I need to be fiscally responsible."

They would then point to the software wall, there would be a bit of confusion, and therefore at that point, the small business consultant would then tee up the pro adviser to be able to direct them to someone that could help. It was that intercept within the journey that small business had and being at the moment of when that business was forming and the key activity they were doing that ultimately opened up these new doors for that person who built a market and be able to acquire new clients in the actual journey at the moment that person was looking for the assistance and the help.

It was one of the more interesting marketing activities that costs were low, the clients, again, if you were focused on that industry, on that niche were high value, and it opened up doors that you would ultimately get. The takeaway from this is if you have a targeted strategy, if you know who you're trying to go after and if you then understand what they do, what they consume, where they go and the journey that the small businesses enter on, you can think of very unique ways to be able to intercept them in the moments that they're considering financial management, meeting a trusted adviser and those types of things. Again, there's limits to that. This isn't to say that if you focus on home remodelers that you should go down to Home Depot and befriend all the cashiers, but you need to know who those people are along the way that you can intercept with, work with, and ultimately be able to open up possibly referrals or to be able to get your business exposure in the moments that those small businesses are considering.

Again, a little bit of an example, but I wanted to illustrate how marketing is not all about ultimately advertising, and being able to spend money to be able to get clients. It's about being smart, about who you serve, and understanding where they're at so you can intercept them at the moments they're critical.

Eight steps to effective marketing. Step number one that I want to go through is determine what makes you unique. I'll go through a little bit of what I mean by that. The first is in order to understand what makes you unique, you need to take a step back and reflect on what you're passionate about.

We hear a lot of people questioning in terms of what sort of target should I go after, who should I be focused on, and your first point on that is to actually look inwards. Grab a bottle of wine, go out if you're near a beach and walk down the beach. Take a moment just to step out of your business, close your eyes and think. Go through the clients that you work with and realize which ones are the ones that you're most passionate about. What about those clients makes you passionate? Is it the work, is it the type of business, is it the owner's characteristics? You need to see where you gravitate towards, because any time you're doing work for somebody and you're able to show that passion, that desire, you ultimately get rewarded with more clients that are similar, good referrals out of that, and again, you'll do your best work, which ultimately drives your best service. Understanding what you're passionate about will give you an insight on where you should focus.

The second way of looking at this is looking at it from the perspective of the clients that you serve and finding out from them who is more satisfying and why. I've given ... There's an article up on that talks about this, but it's really about Net Promoter. This is again how the Net Promoter score is created. It's a simple question you should be asking your customers or clients in the moment of when you've completed projects, done something that's above and beyond and it's a way to find out how likely they are to recommend your firm to a friend or colleague. When they rate that nine or ten, they're a promoter, if they rate seven to eight, they're passive, and when they rate it zero to six, they're a detractor.

I'm not going to go through all the different details of what you should do in net promoter, but the key here is if you want to find where you're unique and how you're unique, your promoters are the ones that are going to give you that answer. When you identify them with Net Promoter, you can go back and have a quick debrief or a session where you can ask them, "What about it is that you love about our firm? What services do you consume most? What's unique about what we do? How would you describe how our firm is a trusted advisor for your particular company, small business?" From that, you can start to understand form a customer's perspective, from your client's perspective. What exactly is that makes you unique and why they prefer you over maybe going to somewhere else. That gives you some insight not from just the insight perspective that you have and your passion, but outwardly from the clients that you serve already.

A little bit of strategic frameworks to put in here to help you think about this going from what drives you and what people understand about you is a couple of different analysis tools. One of them is called a SWOT analysis. It stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This is something that's good to be doing periodically with your firm, because it helps you understand where you should strategically be taking your firm over time and planning before things change from underneath you. The way this is broken down is into four quadrants, internal to the firm is the top two. External outwardly of the firm, that have pressures on the firm are at the bottom. Things that are helping your firm succeed are on the left and things that are harmful or could possibly ruin or negative impacts are on the right.

It's basically just listing out what are the strengths that we have as a firm, what are the things that we're not so good at and listing those out on the right. Underneath that, from an external perspective is, where in the market are there opportunities for us to grow, what targeted firms are we working with that ultimately could change? What are the impacts in the global environment or the macro environment per se that are going to be opening up new opportunities? What's changing that's ultimately going to impact our business negatively and we can see that are coming, or expectations that might happen. That's one analysis that helps give you visibility on what you're good at, what you're not, what you should be aware of and what you should capitalize on.

The next strategy component and framework to use is what we call the 3Cs framework. It's figuring out the intersection of where you, your firm are capable, competent and have a unique advantage with versus the competitors that you have in your local market or broader than that, versus opportunities that sit there as well as your clients. What are your clients valuing, what are your clients are using and looking at those collectively together and in the intersection of those, figure out where your strategic niche is going to be, where your company is the most unique and successful, where there's a gap within the competitors that are existing in market, and then where the client pool is and where the biggest opportunity is where you have an opening from the competitive environment and you have a strong strength to be able to capitalize on. Again, it's that sort of look, collectively that helps you determine where you should be sitting with your particular focus of your firm. This all goes back to what makes you unique and what sets you apart.

Step two, again, you're going to find that the first three or so steps to effective marketing are all strategic and focus, and that's purely because if you're not focused from the get-go, no matter what you do in marketing, it will come off as too broad, not prioritized and ultimately inefficient overall. Second, really here is finding and focusing on your target audience. Then, we've determined in the first one, what makes us as a firm unique, what do we do well. The next is then figuring out what is the type of client that we should be focusing on, so that we can ultimately be successful, and attract the people that we want to have, not necessarily serving everybody that are out there.

The first thing is to really look at your clients and understand what trends exist. Again, you can find up on the Firm of the Future site, a previous webinar that we did last month that basically articulates similar depths, so I'm not going to go through the same level of depth here. You want to look at your clients to determine which ones are the right fit for you, or the ones that you  actually want to be able to capitalize and focus your efforts towards. There's really five steps to this. One is you're going to figure out a set of evaluation criteria, go for 10 or 12, just ideate really quickly. Is it the type of client, is it the number of small businesses that sit within that particular target? Is it ultimately the willingness to pay?

There's different ways you can evaluate your clients to understand. Is it a cultural fit? There's different ways both quantitatively and qualitatively that you can evaluate one client from another. Once you've made that macro set of 10 to 12, you're going to pick five or so that you think are the most important. You're going to score each one of those for each client. You're going to take each client that you have, Client A, and you're going to say, evaluation criteria, how strong does it fit this criteria? Let's say, willingness to pay and you're going to rank them on a one to five scale. If they have a high willingness to pay, it would be a five. If they have a very low willingness to pay, it would be a one. You go down each one of your clients that you have an you score them across.

Then, once you've done that for all the different five criteria, across all the different clients, it's a big matrix, then you're going to weight those criteria that you have, those five evaluation criteria using what's called a hundred point exercise. You give yourself a hundred point exercise and look at each one of those and you say, "How many points do I want to give it to be able to show its level of importance?" Maybe willingness to pay is the most important so I'll give it 50 points. Maybe fit with my firm, cultural fit is second most important, so I'll give it 30, and likewise, you go down to five. You've given it a weighting between each one so you can determine what's most important and what's not.

Basically now, what you've done is you've created a formula by which you can just multiply the criteria by the score of each one and then add it up across and each one of your clients now will be scored between one to five. Then, you look at the top 20% using a pareto effect analysis, and you look at the top 20% of clients that come to the top, you sort it real quick and those closest to five, you look at those ones and you start to determine what sort of similarity that those clients have to understand where you should focus based on what they exhibited from the analysis that you have.

Here's an example of what a scoring sheet looks like. If you're interested to having this, feel free to email me at, so you can try this out and use it for yourself. What that's doing is it's helping with what's called segmentation targeting positioning. It's helping you identify who that target market is. Because if you did this without the analysis, basically what you want to do is evaluate the different clients that are out there. Some people might look at an industry, look at the 30 different industries or so that exist from the census for instance, map those out, determine which ones are the best fit based on their SWOT analysis, what makes them unique, and then the attractiveness of each and then they'll pick a subset of those and from that, they'll pick a singular target, develop a positioning statement, and ultimately all the marketing flows from that. The segmentation targeting positioning is really important because it helps you create that singular message that we're going to talk about in the next step.

Just for those of you that are curious what a positioning statement is, I put one up here. This is ... You can just search on the web, but a positioning statement is a way for you to articulate what's your uniqueness, what the reasons to believe are, why people think why you exude that particular set of uniqueness, and where you're actually competing against. It's a way to take what we've talked about thus far, and put it into one statement. The way it's constructed is "For the market that you're trying to serve, that smaller market, that unique market, what is the brand," so, "what is you, your firm, what is it's unique value proposition, or point of differentiation," that we talked about in step one.

Then, it's in a broader market, which is that frame of reference, and then the reasons to believe. Why are you different in those ways? Why do you have the ability to own or be unique as described? Those reasons to believe are things that have to be concrete and factual. It's the compelling evidence that you need. Again, if you're interested on examples of that, go ahead and just search online. You'll get some good ones out there. For instance, there will be one for Apple or Amazon or Walmart and so forth, and they'll give you a good clear example.

That goes to step three on effective marketing, and that's really the message. This is really, really, really key, because your message needs to transcend or cross all of the different marketing vehicles that you have, whether they're inbound, outbound, content and alike. Your message is really something that's really critical, really needs to be succinct, concise, and really impactful for those that you're trying to reach and talk to.

I put up here, and it's really, really, really a good info-graphic. You can see there on the bottom right, it's from If you just type in value proposition, you'll get this info-graphic that's up here. I don't necessarily want to spend all of the effort here on going through a value proposition, because we have a limited amount of time, but, that info-graphic does a fantastic job on describing how to get a unique value proposition or a unique selling proposition, whichever way you want to describe it. It behooves you to check that out, because you can follow its directions and so forth, and help you create what you particularly are looking for.

When you're talking about creating a unique selling proposition or value proposition, it's really about keeping in mind the target audience that you're trying to serve and what you're trying to do or how you're trying to serve them. I brought up two examples here to show you that can help illuminate that a bit more. The first is, this is from Blumer CPAs, Jason Blumer, out there in South Carolina. His focus is purely on agencies, design agencies, specifically. You can see there at the bottom his tagline or his message is "We turn agency owners into mature business owners."

The value proposition is trying to make as concise as a statement as you can. It can be as little as one word, but it shouldn't be more than a sentence, or ten words at most. Again, you can see here that every one of these words is very, very, very specific and chosen on purpose. Again, he's talked about his audience, target with agency owners, and that word mature, and business owners, that is very well chosen, because what he's trying to do is convey that those agencies that he's targeting are younger, they're hungry, and they ultimately want to become mature and savvy and so he is the way to be able to do that, to assist on that. Again, one good example.

Another one here is a little bit on the emotional side, which is from Chad Davis over at live ca. You can go to if you want to check that out. Again, his is really on the emotional side, "We are your trusted advisors so you can spend time doing other things than to spend time on your finances. We've got that covered for you." You can focus on your business while we can focus on making sure you're successful. Again, it's an interesting different take on it. It's really more of the emotional and aspirational side of it versus on the actual, the words specifically that we saw with Blumer overall. Your message is something that's very unique to you and something that's really critical, because it needs to be communicated across all that you do.

I want to get it out there, we're almost here at the halfway point, and so it's now time for the CPE keyword. The CPE keyword today is bluebird. Those of you that are looking for CPE credit, make sure that at the end, you select bluebird in the CPE keyword ultimately to get credit.

Now, we're actually going to get into the marketing itself. We've talked a lot about the strategy overall. Again, figuring out what makes you unique, then being able to figure out the audience that you want to talk to, the message that ultimately conveys that uniqueness to that specific audience, and now we're talking about where should the one place that you spend your time and effort first in marketing in order to get the most value. That is, indeed, referral marketing. I'm going to bring up a quick quote here from Mark Zuckerberg, and again from Facebook, obviously you know who he is. That last line there is really, really key, "A trusted referral is the holy grail of advertising." I had another quote that I've put in here before that a trusted referral is worth $10,000 in marketing. It's basically invaluable. To be able to have someone else talk about your firm, what you do, your marketing cost drops to zero, but the value goes up astronomically.

There's really five steps to referral marketing. Again, step one is making sure those that you're working with are satisfied. Two, making the ask to give you a referral, a rating, or a review. Step three is getting it. Step four is when you're actually trying to get a rating or review, directing the client to do it and how to do it. Ultimately, the last one is really closing the loop.

The first step on this is "Are they satisfied?" This goes back to Net Promoter. We've talked about it briefly before, but again, the net promoter score helps you understand who is and who is not. Those who are promoters are the ones that you want to be driving referrals, ratings, and reviews from. When you're doing the effort to be able to ask this question, you should be doing it, give the points to when and how you should be doing it, but those people you should be then pouncing on in order to be able to drive your referral marketing.

People ask when do I actually make the ask around this both from a net promoter perspective, but also in terms of the referral. Again, you should always be doing your check-ins on how you're doing, and also in terms of spotting the referrals at the end of every project, at the moment of delight. If you go above and beyond for a client in their moment of need, then you should ultimately at that point ask them for, "Hey, I've helped you out. We've gone above and beyond. We appreciate the thanks that you've given. How about you show us thanks in terms of who you recommend that we could talk to that's similar to you that we could help out."

The next one is really for those of you that are doing more monthly services and subscriptions and so forth, quarterly reviews. Again, would probably be the least amount of point that you do it. Again, it's more of a face to face, maybe virtual, but it's a set meeting. It's a set cadence, so you'll ultimately want to keep asking for those in the moment.

How do you do it? Here's the thing, clients aren't ... They're not going to go ahead and take the steps for you to do the work. You've got to be proactive and up front in doing it. You've got to ask. It's hard for a lot of folks to do that, but, again, if you don't ask, you're not going to get, and so you need to be proactive and do it in the moment when you're actually having those reviews or in the moment of when you've actually been able to deliver above and beyond. It's just as simple as just asking. Again, it's a simple question which is "Hey, you've liked our service, you've liked what we've done. One way it would be nice if you could let us know who else we could help, because obviously we've helped you, we can help them." Basically, if they don't have someone to refer, you're going to move them down to the ratings and review side of things.

Typically, how people do this is they just ask on their email signatures and on their newsletters, and honestly, it's not enough. We're all tuned out not to read those anymore. Newsletters, again, they're infrequent when they're gotten, emails, they get all the time, and so your mind just blocks them out. Again, you should keep them on there, I'm not necessarily saying that, but just realize that ultimately, that's not going to spawn the behavior that you want.

Again, at the approach, you need to approach at the end of each topic. Ideally, you want to do this face to face, because when you actually get confirmation from somebody that they're going to go ahead and give you a referral, when you do it face to face, it ultimately creates a high level of commitment, and ultimately to get it done. That will help them to feel responsible, and require to actually complete what they've said. Remember, it's just a simple request. You're just trying to get the info. The key here is if somebody gives you a name or if somebody is actually going to take the action, you want to follow up immediately. As soon as you get home from the meeting, as soon as later in that day you've got a spare moment, if it was virtual, you want to follow up with an email and be able to say, "Hey, look, I appreciate you taking the time and recommending us to an additional client. Please, if you can pass along their information, or better yet, if you pass along our information, here's more about what we do and how we do it. I'd much appreciate it."

Step four, it's really ratings and reviews done right. The issue here is if you want someone to write a rating or review, you've got to lower the barriers as much as possible. You've got to make it as easy for them as you can and so the way to do that is you want to pick one site that you're going to direct them to, you're going to give them the link to do that, and then you're going to ask them and give them the steps to do it. Log in here, click the star rating here, and please write a review here. The key here is that commentary review is really impactful. If someone just writes they did great, that is not going to have as much resonance, it's not going to actually do the power that you want it to do in order for people to make it believable and to actually have the proper social proof and validation for someone to pick up their phone and give a call. You really want to be able to drive to get that commentary.

The next one really is around the five star reviews. I don't know how many people I go around and talk about this, but if you go to a site that has nothing but five star reviews across it and there's a low count, it's not believable. Likewise, if you're someone who's got a lot of reviews and they're at a 4.25 or 4.5 count, it's very believable and it actually is more impactful than just a pure five star review with a low count. If you're, however, getting a negative review, you need to respond to this quickly. You need to actually work closely with that client. You should be wanting to serve them best anyways, and you need to resolve it so that way you can get that review properly addressed, have them change it, properly be able to say online that you were able to meet their needs, and ultimately be able to have the rebuttal to the argument that they had up there, but you can't look catty doing it.

For sites to direct people to, I put up four of them here. You need to figure out what your prioritized order is, because you need to be able to drive them over time. Again, it's not just about having a bunch of reviews up all at once, it's about having a cadence of it. Google My Business, Yelp, QuickBooks, Find a pro-advisor, Angie's List, all good places, but remember it's about driving people to one actual location when you're making the request.

A couple of examples here to kind of bring into light. Here's the importance of Google My Business. You'll see on the left, I went ahead and searched for accountants in San Francisco, and you'll see there that you get all of the different ads that are existed, but below that, you get the local search results. That ultimately is what drives the visibility and so forth. This is why having a Google My Business listing is important, because of how it shows up in the results when people search on Google, which is a primary search method. If you were to go ahead and click in that, you can see here on the right, the various different reviews that were left. Again, this one had three reviews, and you can see how they pop up in conjunction with those local reviews, which is why we recommend it overall.

Not all reviews, commentaries are the same. Again, I was just recently trying to buy or I did buy an electric car and I had to get a charger. I looked at different reviews that were on Amazon. Again, here's two different five star reviews. You can see that while the five star in the review says "Great product. Does its work, and looks brilliant," it tells me nothing. It gives me nothing. While it's five stars, I just don't see the value of it. The left one, you've got someone who's actually spent some time and they've written a couple of sentences. You can see from there that that description is so much more helpful. That's why it got four out of four people finding it helpful overall, and again, nobody found the one on the right helpful.

What you're trying to drive people to is ultimately to leave that additional commentary and make the statement. Again, when you do your email out to somebody, you're going to say, "We'd love it if you'd actually give us a review. Please go to," let's say " to leave a review. Step one, log in. Step two, give us a rating. Step three, give us a couple of sentences of what you think and how we served you so that others can understand what we can do for them." Step five is be sure to close the loop.

Again, if somebody is going to give you a review or give you a referral, they're most likely going to do it again for you. You want to make sure that you go back, write them a thank you card. There's a lot of questions on whether or not you should give compensation for reviews or for referrals. That's not something you should be presenting up front, but it's something that if you feel like it's appropriate, you want to send them a gift card to Starbucks for 20 bucks, sure, go ahead, it's not going to hurt, but again, it's something that you're doing as a thank you after the fact in order to drive that behavior going forward and further.

Again, referral marketing is probably the most important marketing activity you should do. If you only chose one, this is the one you should do. Again, it really goes back to the five steps of finding out who is satisfied from those asking for that referral, rating, or review, driving the referral, getting the information, getting the intro, ratings and reviews, driving them to where you want them to go, informing them how to do it and then, closing the loop at the end.

We're going to go back to the eight steps, we're going to hit step number five. Craft a and focused and prioritized marketing strategy. We've now gotten through the strategy, we've gotten down what is the most quintessential marketing aspect you should do, which is your referral marketing. Let's go into the strategy itself. I put up here, this is a nice little ... Again, for some reason, marketers like circles. There's tons of circle diagrams, plot diagrams and whatnot. I put this one up here. There is a ton of different types of vehicles and channels and activities you can do in marketing. I put this one up here just because it kind of illustrates that. This one is more for digital marketing overall. You can see that your marketing mix is a mixture of different activities you can do. It really is based on how much time and resources you want to invest, and again, having a prioritized focused view on this will get you the best and most efficient outcomes. You shouldn't be doing all of these, but you might want to pick the few that you do want to do and have the right amount of focused on each.

Let's go ahead and look at all of the different things you possibly could do, as to give you some ideas of what ones you might want to focus on. Again, we're just trying to give you primers, give you an idea of what all those different things are. The first one is inbound marketing. This is where you're really going to start. Most of you already have and if you haven't, you should have a website.

The keys with inbound marketing is really on the content. Your content has to be fresh. It has to be up to date, it has to be impactful, it has to be relevant, it has to be able to resonate with the audience that you have. That's why it's targeted. You have to be consistent in that message that you're driving and the content that you're creating. Again, there's a lot of content requirements when you're talking about the inbound marketing side of things.

Why should you consider inbound marketing? It's the least expensive of all the different things you can do. Probably second to referral marketing. It's much cheaper than outbound marketing because you're doing a lot of the things that you're creating on your own platforms trying to drive exposure to it and getting found while people are trying to find answers to the problems that they have. For most firms that we go to, it's typically very much under invested, so it's a place that I would probably see most people going to after going to referral marketing. It has the longest term business impact, because what it's doing is it's driving the search engines, and when people type certain things and keywords that are relative to you or your local market are going to help get you found.

I've put some examples of what sort of inbound marketing vehicles there are. Website, you should all have a website. That website needs to be tuned for the search engine. That's called search engine optimization. I'll be putting an article up on Firm of the Future later this month that you can check out to give you some tips and tricks on how to do that. You want to be able to have the social proof out there, which is why we talked about Google My Business, find a pro advisor listing, those types of things, because they're going to drive people to find you and to know that they can do business with you and what level of service you're going to provide.

Other ones that are again of interest are having content, and that content is gated so that you can actually capture this is where you put a form up in front of it so you can capture their email, specifics, and details. Again, you can do content marketing, which is your blogging, your webinars, social marketing, and so forth You can spend a lot of effort and time here, so you need to be cognizant of where you're going to spend the most time. Again, I highlighted the top four, because that's where, at a bare minimum, you should be focusing on for your inbound marketing.

Inbound marketing has a subset to it called content marketing. Content marketing is ultimately what you're using on your social, maybe it's on your blog. It's the different ways that you're going to communicate to your target audience, your expertise, so that they can A, learn, because once they've learned about what you do and how you do it, they're more likely to consume your services. Content marketing is really where you want to be spending your time in order to make your inbound vehicles that much richer. Some tips and tricks around this is again, we've talked about your target audience. You're going to keep hearing that target audience, but that allows you to have a focused strategy. When you're creating content, it's not about you. It's about your clients. It's about your clients. It's about the people you're trying to reach out to and to entertain and be able to ultimately resonate with.

A lot of people get bent on this because they believe content always has to be created it doesn't. It can also be curated. Go look at TedX. There's a company called Footboard. Footboard helps you pick topics that you have and then serves up a bunch of content that comes around the web, serves it up to you, and you can curate it and be able to push that out to your base whether it be in terms of your social aspects, or possibly being able to cobble them together into a blog post to be able to explain why it's relevant to them.

Again, we're in the business of compliance. A lot of you are doing tax work. It's really not about the legislation, but it's educating people on why the legislation can impact their businesses and actions they can take. You've got vendors, so intuit provides a ton of content. Lift that content and use it to your advantage. Push that to your particular clients and prospects. It's all about putting these into campaigns. You want to have a conservative campaign, so end of year, for instance is a great time where you're trying to get things right. That's when payroll comes up, changing up your processes and so forth. Again, think of how you can put things together in a campaign. You're going to [ploy 00:42:44] them across different channels.

Those examples are all channels, and you're going to run for a timeline. Anything you do in marketing, you must measure it, because if you're not measuring it, you're most likely just spending extremely valuable time, cash and resources. If you're not knowing if it's successful, most likely it's not. You need to be measuring every step along the way. Examples of content marketing again are emails, newsletters, webinars, blogs, videos, white papers, a whole set of things you can do.

Social marketing. A lot of folks have been on a bandwagon around social. Honestly, social marketing can be a massive time suck. You want to start from some of the simpler things, which is really around social proof. You want to have your particular web fronts or the platforms you want to have a presence on it, but then you want to focus on where your efforts should be spent based on where your audience is. For most people, that's going to be LinkedIn. Others, it might be Facebook based on the businesses that they're trying to work with, but Twitter is probably one of the ones that's further down the list. It may not be, and in a lot of cases, not a place that people should spend their time at all.

Social marketing is all about having a unique voice. Determining what makes you unique that we talked about in step one helps you her in determining what that voice should be and what you should be talking about.  We already talked about referral marketing, so it's all about the social profiles and the social proof building that up. Again, in social, again, it's not necessarily about what you've created, but it's curation, so, a lot of that is curation. Whenever you're doing a post the images are really impactful and drive better fluidity or better progress to the content that you have, and are easier for people to consume. If you're doing it, again, you need to make sure that your social profiles are all about business. You can have your own Facebook account that's personal. You should have a Facebook account that's for your business and you just talk about business because people don't really want to know necessarily what you did last weekend, and again, it can also be a level of liability and exposure.

If you're going to go and use social marketing, you've got to be posting at least weekly. Again, this is why you probably don't want to be doing all the different social platforms at once. You need to be able to make sure you can take on the load that's required in order to make sure you've got a steady stream out there. Again, you need to share and then find content and push it. Focus on what the ... Prioritize all those different channels. LinkedIn might be your primary one, maybe it's Facebook. Again, you've got to measure. Each one of those platforms has their own measurement tools, so you need to use those.

The last area for marketing is outbound marketing, and this is the last one you should consider, because it is the highest cost one and it has much lower chance of success, and you've really got to have your niche understood. You've got to have where your focus is, because it's really expensive to do things like advertising, so, if you're trying to go after everybody, you're ultimately just going to be lighting cash on fire and throwing it out the door. Where do you focus? You want to understand what's going to drive your customers, understand who your customers are and what drive them.

This goes back to my example with the Apple Store. You need to understand their journey, understand where you can intercept them, because if you can, you're ultimately going to drive down those costs and drive up the effectiveness that you have. Again, if we were talking about the remodeling client, yeah, it's not Home Depot, but maybe it's those remodel shows that they have in the local markets, and how do you basically get in front of those particular remodelers to be able to have an interesting conversation with them, and have them actually look at the content that you're creating.

You need to be able to speak the language, so again, this is why having a generic focus doesn't help you because you can't be able to create that language that's going to resonate best with them. Any time you're creating any one of these deliverables, it's all about a single call to action, what is the action you want them to take? Is it for them to download a white paper? Is it to pick up the phone and call you? Is it to send you an email? Whatever it might be. All the examples over there, again, email marketing, newsletters, direct mail, local events, ads, trade shows, all those sort of things are things that you can consider here, but again, you need to be able to be really focused, and again, outbound marketing is quite dangerous, quite expensive, so that would be the last place I would consider.

That was talking about the marketing mix, giving you some coverage about all the different possible things you could consider. Again, you should go back, either look at this recording, it will be be posted, or again, I can send you the slides if you're interested, and you can then pick and choose which one of those you think is right for your clients and right for you. The next step is building a presence and getting your content out there. What I want to focus on here is, I want to bring an example quickly of Two Roads, who was the Firm of the Future winner last year, and Chad Ridner and his crew, I think have done a pretty good job. The interesting thing here is when you're building your presence is around consistency, it's around making it clear and concise, having your unique value proposition be able to stand out and being able to make yourself and what makes you and drives you unique, to be quickly visible and understandable from your assets.
I'm just going to show you what his assets are. This was his website. This was his content marketing, so he had done a webinar. You can start to see how what he does and what he says is not only just unique, but it's consistent across all the vehicles. This was his LinkedIn profile. You can see the logo, you can see the same sort of imagery, the density of things. This is his Facebook view. I was searching on here, so you can see me, but, again the similarity and imagery, the consistency across it, and here was his Twitter feed as well. When you're building all the different inbound marketing assets that you have, you want to be able to create that consistency and that singular voice, because that's ultimately going to reaffirm for those people who are searching for you that you've got all of your stuff together, you know who you're focused on and that they're going to be the right target for you, and you're the right firm for them.

Step seven for this is working your preferred channels. Again, we talked about the marketing mix. The idea here is once you understand the marketing mix and the strategy is prioritizing the list, focusing as much as you can and then ticking through them in order as much resources as you have to spend. One of the key concepts and tips that I want to give out here is the concept of give to get. Time and time again, we run into people and they say, "Look, I don't really want to go out and give my secret sauce to folks, because then they'll just go ahead and do it on their own."

The reality is when you're working with small businesses, if you're able to articulate what you do and how you do it, they will realize they don't want to do it themselves, and they're going to want to pay to have the best in the business in their corner to help them, because that's going to create the highest likelihood to succeed. Again, if somebody is driving all their concerned about is cost, they're probably not the right client for you overall. What you're doing here is you want to show that you know your stuff. It's all about your knowledge, your experience, and your solutions. You're identifying, not only are you conveying that, but you're going to place that information in areas that you're willing to intercept that audience, so that could be in the journals that they read, it could be in the newsletters that they're consuming, it could be in the online business communities and forums that they're actually talking to.

Again, you want to be able to place that knowledge and experience in places that they can see it and read it, understand what you do and how you do it so that way they're going to perk up to want to do it. An example here is I used this from Stacy [Killabaugh 00:50:45] from her site You can see that what she's trying to communicate here is that she knows her stuff, she's the trainer for others in the industry, so she's able to educate others about what she does and how she does it and this is her process about how to do it for those small businesses that she's trying to attract.

The last piece on this, again, is you've got to stay top of mind. For those that you're reaching out to, and you're trying to either bring across the line, or let's say you're going to try and do referral marketing, it's about making sure that you're able to consistently get your message out. It takes typically [fifty 00:51:29] impressions to get someone to take an action from a peer/cold prospect, so again, you have to be able to continue to have your message out there and resonating with your audience. I put up a bunch of examples here in terms of your strategy needs to be planned with the seasonality of your business, the cycles that go up and down with the clients that you serve, it's about campaigns and creating that integrated marketing effort, so that you're able to touch them multiple times within a short time span that you're trying to work with them. Again, if you want to be able to do campaigns, it's all about a schedule, and setting that up and tailoring it to the different channels that you have.

This is a lot more sophisticated. For those of you that have a lot of time and resources that you're able to spend, this is where you're probably going to be able to ... You'll get more efficiencies from it when you actually have that strategy and schedule in place. Like everything that we talk about, it's all about iteration. You want to start with referral marketing like we talked about, you can expand from there, but be able to iterate on your message, iterate on what you do best, iterate on who you're focused on, and then be able to then transcend that across all the different vehicles that you have out there, while you're constantly revving them and adding content to them.

I'll just do a quick little wrap up here, and then we'll also get that CPE keyword out. Again, this was just meant to be a primer, give you a wide spectrum across all the things that you could do from a marketing perspective and the things that are out there that others are doing. I broke it down into four different areas here for us [inaudible 00:53:00]. I gave you a bit of theory, talked about strategy, and my number one vehicle to focus on really is referral marketing, number two is all the other various channels.

Again, we talked about steps, determine what makes you unique, figure out what your passion is, figure out what your own clients are talking about you so you can understand what sets you apart from your competition. Then, you want to make sure you can figure out what your most targeted audience can be. I gave a quick little strategy around how to do a quantitative exercise using your Net Promoters, valuation criteria, and alike.

Then, this step is one of the most important steps, I can't express it enough, which is creating your message. Your unique selling proposition or value proposition, and then go to QuickSprout to understand how to write that up. Your message is what's going to resonate with the audience you're trying to reach out to, and all these different marketing vehicles that you can go under.

Then, you want to be able to figure out your marketing strategy, understand all of the different things that you can do in the marketing mix, and pick and choose which ones and prioritize in what orders you want to do them, because you can't do everything. You need to be super prioritized and focused on which ones you can do, because with the ones you do do, you need to do well. Referral marketing is a requirement that you should all be doing and the number one area that you should focus on. If you're not focusing on that, just focus on that, and then focus on others later, because once you've started to do all those different channels and focus, that's where you need to be able to build that presence, continue to build that content and then you're going to work and expand on those channels over time, and again, it's all about the iteration.

This again was the primer. You're going to go to, different articles that are going to elaborate on these topics, one on websites, one on networking, another on collateral, and then search engine optimization. There will be a recorded webinar that will be up. Let's go ahead give you my information, and let's go ahead and do the CPE right now. Please select the CPE keyword, just launch it out there. You can choose bluebird, goldfinch, robin, chickadee, and cardinal. What was the CPE keyword of today for those of you looking for CPE credit, please choose which of the five options was the CPE credit keyword of today. We'll give it a few more seconds here. Five, four, three, two, one. Go ahead and close that poll.

Then, let me go ahead and look at the questions we have overall. I have answered a few of the questions that have already come up. Thank you for the thanks out there, I appreciate it. Let's give it a few more seconds to see if there's any more questions that come up. In the meantime, I just want to say thank you for myself. If you're interested in Karbon, go to, and you can learn more about us. If you want to learn more about Firm of the Future, go to to learn more about what's going on there. There's lots of rich content coming up almost every day now. Again, you can learn about what we talked about, finding and focusing on your niche, it's already been up there. If you want to talk about Net Promoter, you can just as well. Again, very rich content, definitely worth the time you spend.