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The Value of Creativity in Marketing (Plus 5 Inspiring Quotes)

The Value of Creativity in Marketing (Plus 5 Inspiring Quotes)

According to Forbes, getting the word out about your company is a constant challenge, but not impossible when done creatively. In order to win, your brand marketing must be so compelling that it cannot be ignored. Marketing isn’t just about fonts and colors. There is a high value placed on creativity in marketing.

How can you increase the creative process when showcasing your brand? Remember to identify what makes your services or products unique. Look through the lens of your clients and customers. Why did they choose your company? What makes them stay with you and come back year after year? Turn your brand into a story from their perspective. Stories are highly engaging and help prospects relate to your organization. The more creatively you can tell your story, the more visibility and opportunities you will have.

Creativity is often undervalued, especially in more conservative industries such as accounting, law, finance or payroll. However, creativity is actually the solution to complexity. In 2010, IBM conducted a global research study. CEOs around the world agreed that “the rapid escalation of complexity” is the biggest challenge they face, while creativity was identified as “the single more important leadership competency for enterprises seeking a path through this complexity.”

What does this mean, exactly? It means that if you tap into and harness your creativity, there are opportunities for you to take a leadership role and exponentially grow your value as you deliver results that others cannot produce.

How do you accomplish this feat? Creativity involves courage. You must be innovative. In addition, you should look at restrictions as stimulating challenges, rather than limitations. You must embrace risk. You must experiment. You must commit fully to your ideas or not pursue them. You must be willing to accept failure and move on. You must remain open-minded and recognize great input from others.

When the CEO or managing partner throws obstacles in your branding path, turn up the flame that fuels your creativity and show off your ability — and agility. It is an open invitation to shine, rather than whine. Don’t throw up your hands in defeat. Accept the challenge and maximize your value.

Here are some of my favorite quotes about creativity. Let them inspire you, guide you and empower you. Share them to give others the little pep talk they might need that day to dig deep and find their inner creative leaders.

 

Creativity in Marketing Quote #1

You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” – Maya Angelou

 

Creativity in Marketing Quote #2

Creativity is intelligence having fun.” – Albert Einstein

 

Creativity in Marketing Quote #3

Innovation is creativity with a job to do.” – John Emmerling

 

Creativity in Marketing Quote #4

Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.” – Edward De Bono

 

Creativity in Marketing Quote #5

An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail.” – Edwin Land

 

POST IMAGE SOURCE:  REUTERS / Nacho Doce

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Posted in: Branding, Content Marketing, Imagery in Marketing, Marketing, Marketing Best Practices, Marketing Strategy

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How To Market In A Recovering Economy – Economize, Don’t Compromise!

How To Market In A Recovering Economy – Economize, Don’t Compromise!

With today’s recovering economy, choosing a marketing and communication solution that best suits your needs can be tricky. With so many options to consider, you want to make sure you get the biggest benefits for your investment.

A challenging economy demands more cost-effective and targeted marketing initiatives. You may have done some belt-tightening over the last several years, but has your organization:

  • Considered “going green” by utilizing more electronic marketing materials;
  • Added up all costs (direct and indirect) associated with marketing to clients and prospects;
  • Found economical and strategic methods to target markets and brand your organization;
  • Looked for opportunities to gain recognition as a leader in your industry; or
  • Maximized your marketing investment?

Answering these questions may lead you to explore online marketing solutions including email newsletters as a proven, cost-effective way to market in a recovering economy.

Getting started

Look for an email newsletter provider with e-marketing experience, professionally written content for your business to business communication that suits your customer base, world-class customer support, and technology you can rely on.

Make sure the organization you choose has a proven history of e-marketing success. Get references to ensure their technology enables customers to send customized and targeted communications to enhance customer relationships, retain business, and generate warm leads.

The firm you choose should have unique and powerful tools that combine innovative technology with valuable and insightful content that appeals to your customers in industries you serve.

Don’t look for a company that merely provides an e-newsletter delivery engine — with you providing all the content. Look for a company that can provide corporate newsletter content.

Map out your marketing objectives

The objective of a your firm’s email newsletter communications should be a “soft sell.” Your company should send out articles that provide valuable information and economic benefits for readers, interwoven with custom content that you write about your firm’s expertise and happenings, unique selling proposition, industry news, products, and services. When launched on a timely and consistent basis, a professionally published e-newsletter enhances communications with customers, prospects, and referral sources. It should include your brand image, links to your website, and be flexible enough to send different content to different audiences using the same database. For example, is it possible to easily send out a special offer to only gold-medal customers who spend over a certain amount annually?

Identify obstacles

Fact: The single greatest reason firm newsletters fail is because they lack relevant, well-written content.

Content problems surface when:

  • Information is dated;
  • Writing isn’t of a professional caliber;
  • Content is irrelevant to recipients;
  • There is not enough content;
  • Articles don’t instill confidence, develop loyalty, or keep an organization’s name foremost on the minds of prospects and customers; or
  • Information doesn’t focus on customer’s needs.

Is your company failing to reach its sales potential because:

  • Not enough new business opportunities are being generated;
  • Revenue isn’t growing at desired levels;
  • Too few customers are using or purchasing more of what you offer; or
  • The results of the majority of your marketing initiatives can’t be measured?

Don’t be afraid to market in a recovering economy

Consider online marketing solutions including custom email newsletters. Economize – don’t compromise – your marketing and communication initiatives with professional email communication tools.

 
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Posted in: Advertising, Content Marketing, Email Marketing, Marketing, Marketing Strategy, Newsletters, Online Marketing

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Business Lessons Culled From the Shark Tank

Business Lessons Culled From the Shark Tank

I was recently watching ABC’s television show, Shark Tank, and something that was said really struck a chord with me. I was surprised to find some business lessons lurking in the water.

For those not familiar with the show, entrepreneurs pitch venture capitalists (the “Sharks”) for funding in exchange for a share of the business. Sometimes the exchange can get a little bloody.

“It ends as it begins…”

In a recent episode, one of the Sharks asked the business owner a couple of straightforward questions. The owner was evasive, trying to sidestep the question and steer the conversation toward another topic. This happened a couple of times. The Shark grew increasingly frustrated with the convoluted responses and withdrew consideration from any funding saying, “The way the relationship begins is the way the relationship will end.”

I have found this to be very true in dealings with potential customers, employees and even business partners. First impressions are often right on.

Trust your gut.

We have all experienced potential customers who can’t quite accept our standard business model and try to change minute details, and prospects who feel the need to negotiate price on every level of service. We don’t want to turn down the business, so we accept it under less than ideal terms, hoping that things will get better as the business relationship progresses. But that almost never happens. Problem prospects simply turn into problem customers. And the frustrations continue over the life of the customer, until finally we can’t take it anymore. The relationship ends the same way it began.

I have heard similar stories about interviewing potential employees or considering partnering relationships with other businesses or business people. Minor annoyances early in the relationship are overlooked because the person has the skills, expertise, or contacts we

desire. But those minor annoyances almost never go away, and we become increasingly wary of dealing with them.

Learn from the Shark.

Over time, I have learned that it is wise to trust your gut when it comes to building new potential relationships, whether it is with new customers, employees, or business partners. When red flags go up early, and when little annoyances crop up, remember that these things seldom get better. It is more likely that they will get worse as patience erodes.

In the words of the Shark, “The way the relationship begins is the way the relationship will end.”

 
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Posted in: CPA Accounting Firm Management, CPA Firm Marketing, Marketing, Operations, Reputation Management

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2015 Email Marketing Strategy – 3 Tips For The New Year

2015 Email Marketing Strategy – 3 Tips For The New Year

Another year has passed, and marketers are looking ahead to what this year will bring. New trends have emerged, and old favorites are still in play. Despite the rise of mobile, changes on the SEO forefront and the evolving social media landscape, email (at about 43 years young) remains “the best digital channel for marketing ROI.” With that in mind, here are three tips that will help you improve your 2015 email marketing strategy.

Make the most of this highly effective digital channel by exploring ways to boost engagement, researching what you could be doing better and tracking the results of your efforts.

1. Ask members what they want

Your email list is a bountiful resource. Break away from the idea that email lists are simply groups of contacts. Your marketing database members are real people who could serve as your own personal think tank. Don’t be afraid to ask subscribers what they want to get out of your firm’s communications. You could uncover your next brilliant marketing idea by polling your membership.

When it comes to using email surveys and polls, it helps to be specific. Instead of simply soliciting suggestions for improvement, dive deeper and focus on clear-cut, unambiguous questions. Think about it his way… Which of the following polling questions would yield more measurable and actionable results?

  • “What suggestions do you have for improving our email newsletters?”
  • “Which type of content would you rather receive from us: A or B.”

You can see that the second option is the obvious winner. This is just a basic example. However, the above demonstrates that posing direct questions with a limited number of answers will help your subscribers respond quickly, thus encouraging participation. You might also see from this example that the second polling option would require a bit of planning and forethought. Effective polls and surveys have an end-goal in mind. Map out what you hope to accomplish and take the time to frame questions that produce valuable, useful results.

Survey options:

  • Multiple Choice
  • Yes/No or A/B
  •  Scale or Range (Ex: 1-10, Poor to Excellent)

Also consider your audience. Who are you surveying? Client communications will have a different tone than messages to prospects, while specific subsets or industry groups might prefer yet another communication style.

Thank your subscribers for their time, let them know your are genuinely interested in receiving their input and offer participation incentives. Giveaways are a great way to encourage survey participation. Another idea is to frame your survey around a contest or theme.

In addition to helping you discover new ways to boost the appeal of your messaging, surveys and polls can become a regular part of your communications. Incorporate fun, interactive elements like a poll of the month or weekly question, and publish your results in the next issue of your email newsletter.

3. Integrate email and social media

Despite the fact that email outperforms social media for lead generation and sales, there are benefits to integrating the two channels. Opportunities exist in social media to humanize your brand and amp up the fun factor in otherwise hum-drum B2B communications.

Driving audiences from one channel to another simply makes good marketing sense. This strategy gives you the opportunity to repurpose your content and maximize its life (and value).

Consider how much exposure you could get from one email newsletter article:

  • Post the article to your blog
  • Tweet about it on Twitter
  • Share it on Facebook
  • Use it as a discussion starting point on LinkedIn
  • Expound upon it in a whitepaper
  • Help visualize it in an infographic
  • Talk about it in a video
  • Turn a series of articles on the same topic into an e-book
  • Transform the e-book into a webinar
  • Promote your webinar through your email newsletter

The above demonstrates how social media can help one little email newsletter article get a ton of extra attention. You simply need to create pathways for your email fans to connect with your social media channels and vice versa.

While you are driving subscribers to your social networks, make sure your social pages are part of your brand voice. Use visuals like your firm’s color palette, logo and brand specifications to support and further your brand’s story. Make sure you have a cohesive marketing message coming from multiple channels.

Simple ways to integrate email and social

Let email subscribers know what’s happening on your social media channels channels:

  • Share Facebook highlights in your email newsletters by linking to a Facebook photo album (ex: “Check out our highlights from our last firm vs. firm basketball game here”)
  • Connect email subscribers with your Twitter hashtag streams (ex: “Find our latest blog posts at #NewBZblog on Twitter”)
  • Link email readers to your LinkedIn Groups by listing highlights from your best discussions and inviting readers to join in
  • Invite social fans & followers to opt-in to your email newsletter program and vice versa
  • Incorporate social sharing features into your email newsletter

Get creative and consider all the ways your firm can get more value from your social channels by using them to maximize the life and value of your email content.

5. Prove your email marketing ROI

If 2014 wasn’t the year you got serious about proving marketing ROI, then 2015 should be. Many content marketing platforms offer full integration with your customer databases and CRMs. This allows you to target clients and prospects throughout the consumer lifecycle, connecting your clients, staff and content marketing efforts in an even more measurable manner.

We live in an age where crime scene investigation programs have changed our collective perception of what can be proven, and how. Metrics and reporting tools help you put on your detective hat and definitively prove which email marketing efforts generated sales and yielded results. It is now more important than ever to have data on-hand when it comes time to prove the true value of your campaigns.

Marketing and sales goals are, after all, about helping people. As a professional service provider, take time at the beginning of the new year to make sure your email marketing is giving your clients and prospects something they genuinely need to help their businesses and personal finances thrive. Also offer them an enjoyable experience by humanizing your communications. Make your 2015 email marketing strategy less about good luck, and more about savvy planning for the evolving needs of your marketplace.

 
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Posted in: Content Marketing, Email Marketing, Email Newsletters, Marketing, Marketing Best Practices, Marketing Strategy, Newsletters, Social Media Marketing

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What Sets a Taxologist Apart?

What Sets a Taxologist Apart?

During SYNERGY 2014, Thomson Reuters unveiled a new breed of tax professional: the Taxologist.

Taxologists (TAX.TECH.YOU) plural noun: Tax professionals that excel in the use of technology to maximize tax function effectiveness.

Regulatory complexity, growing globalization, increased scrutiny, and internal pressures continue to burden tax departments worldwide. A new type of tax professional is emerging at the center of this changing tax environment: We call them Taxologists. Taxologists are tax professionals that excel in the use of technology to maximize tax function effectiveness. They are problem solvers. They challenge the status quo. They fearlessly embrace technology.

What sets a Taxologist apart?

The value they bring to every part of a company – and their dashing good looks! Find out what else sets Taxologists apart in this entertaining video. We think you’ll enjoy it. (Especially if you’re a Taxologist.) Learn more about Taxologists at: http://bit.ly/GoshDarnHawk.

Empowered by Thomson Reuters ONESOURCE, Taxologists improve data quality, automation, and efficiency. They increase collaboration across business units and seize opportunities to show tax as a value center. With Taxologists at the helm of tax operations, the tax function improves exponentially—positioning them as unquestionable assets to their organizations.

Take the next step to improving your tax processes. If you’d like to become a Taxologist, call Thomson Reuters ONESOURCE at 1.888.885.0206.

 
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Posted in: Client Service, CPA Accounting Firm Management, Operations

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How To Get Maximum ROI From Your Annual Tax Organizers

How To Get Maximum ROI From Your Annual Tax Organizers

Max Your Tax Organizers

Every year, tax and accounting firms start printing and mailing their annual tax organizers. And every year, some of them question whether it’s worth the time and expense.

If you are going to go through the effort of printing and distributing tax organizers, there are a few steps that you can take to ensure that you are getting the maximum benefit from them:

Consider going online

First, consider using a web-based organizer. In 2008, the completion rate of the Ultratax Cs® web-based organizer was over 34%, compared to a completion rate of around 10%-15% for paper organizers. (Based on what I’ve heard from accountants I’ve talked with).

In addition to their higher completion rates, web-based organizers are cheaper to create and distribute, and the data (once it’s verified by the preparer) can flow into the tax return without re-keying. And many clients find them more convenient than paper.

Make it easy

Consider going with a short-form organizer rather than a full-length version. In addition to being less costly to print and mail, they are often less intimidating to clients. This should increase participation.

Remember, tax organizers are an important point of interaction with your customers, especially 1040 clients who you may not see very often. So it’s important to make the instructions easy to follow and do everything you can to make your organizers user-friendly.

Customize Questions to help grow your Practice

Many client organizers allow you to add questions. Consider asking a question or two that can help you communicate additional services you offer and generate additional business during a slower time of year. Here are some examples:

  • Would you like to learn more about our financial planning [or whatever] services?
  • Are you interested in learning about our web-based services?

Don’t overdo it. Just ask a question or two. It’s easy, and it can pay dividends later in the year.

Say thanks

Let the customers who complete their organizers know that you appreciate the effort. Nobody likes to work on something and not even hear whether the work was ever used. A thank you can help ensure continued completion.

Preparing, printing, and distributing annual tax organizers represent a sizable investment. So why not take a few steps up front to try to maximize your ROI?

 
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Posted in: Client Service, Communications, CPA Accounting Firm Management, CPA Firm Marketing, Marketing, Operations

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10 Marketing Blog Posts by Our Favorite Guest Bloggers That Totally Stole The Show

10 Marketing Blog Posts by Our Favorite Guest Bloggers That Totally Stole The Show

Becca Fieler and Charissa Hurd recently highlighted their top 10 blog posts as determined by you. (You didn’t know you were voting, did you!) We pulled the stats for our most viewed marketing blog posts of all time and found there were also some soaring posts submitted by our guest bloggers throughout the years.

On our list of stellar guest posts are surprising insights on the value of banner ads, tips on proofreading your marketing content, email newsletter pointers, social media insights and more. We’re thrilled (and thankful) that our guest bloggers were able to contribute such crowd-pleasing favorites.

Here are our top 10 marketing blog posts submitted by our favorite guest bloggers (that happened to totally steal the show):

 

Top Guest Blog Post #1

Banner Ads Add More Than You Think

Banner Ads May Add More Than You ThinkDon’t underestimate the value of adding banner ads to your business email newsletters. These are not the cheesy ads that pop up out of nowhere and promise you amazing diet results while you eat ice cream sundaes every day. And not the ones that say you’ve won a million dollars in a lottery you never entered. We’re talking about carefully-worded, attractive banner ads that display your work like a high qualify picture frame displays a work of art. Well-crafted banner ads can make a difference in how readers perceive your content. The Journal of Consumer Research did a study to determine the psychology behind how banner ads really work.

>> Continue reading the article…

 

Top Guest Blog Post #2

Proofread or Perish!

Proofread Your Marketing Content or PerishProofread your work, or risk the consequences. Your readers look to you for great content, and you do your best to provide it. But errors in grammar, punctuation and spelling can keep your content from even getting a chance. In case you’re dismissing that advice as snobbish elitism and clinging to a belief that spelling doesn’t matter, here’s something to consider: the biggest difference between email marketing that works and pure, unadulterated spam that gets flagged isn’t topic or sender. It’s literacy level. That’s right, the bane of your elementary school years determines the likelihood of your email marketing messages being read or trashed, heeded or relegated to the spam file.

>> Continue reading the article…

 

Top Guest Blog Post #3

Email Newsletter Tips For Success

Eight Email Newsletter Tips For SuccessLike all marketing strategies, there are the right ways and the wrong ways to go about email newsletter creation for your CPA firm. Here is a brief overview of some things to do, and some to avoid. While these suggestions may seem obvious, you would be surprised how often they are not followed. Keep these eight email newsletter tips in mind, and your email campaigns will cross the finish line in the race to success. Tip 1: Tailor your content to the needs of your target audience. Newsletter content management should be targeted to your readers’ interests.

>> Continue reading the article…

 

Top Guest Blog Post #4

How to Maximize Your Newsletter: Tips on Distribution Lists & Strategy

How to Maximize Your Newsletter - Tips on Distribution Lists & StrategyIn Part 1 of this blog series, we discussed the importance of planning for your accounting, law and other professional newsletters. Now we’ll touch on some distribution tips to help you maximize the effectiveness of your newsletter program. Once you’ve identified the types of individuals, professionals and businesses you want to contact, you need to put together a distribution list. The quality of your list is perhaps the single most important factor in the success of your newsletter program, so develop your list carefully. It is equally important to allow new subscribers the opportunity to opt in to receive your communications.

>> Continue reading the article…

 

Top Guest Blog Post #5

5 Content Marketing Myths Exploded

5 Content Marketing Myths Blown to BitsContent marketing has taken digital marketing by storm, and for good reason. Take a quick look at the things this method can do for your accounting firm and you’ll want to leap onto the bandwagon yourself. Even with all the advantages it offers, content marketing is subject to an insidious set of assumptions that just don’t hold up in the real world. Sorry to rain on the parade, but it’s going to take a commitment of time, talent and resources for you to get those fantastic results you keep hearing about from content marketing. Salma Jafri writing in Search Engine Watch takes on five common myths about content marketing and explains why they’re just not true. Let’s examine them one by one, shall we?

>> Continue reading the article…

 

Top Guest Blog Post #6

The Intrinsic, Yet Tangible Value of Trade Shows for Generating Leads and Increasing Sales

The Value of Trade Shows for Generating Leads and Increasing SalesThere are many reasons why companies benefit from exhibiting at trade shows. Participating in trade shows has become less about marketing and more about lead generation and sales strategy. Your firm can utilize trade shows for generating leads and increasing sales. Increasing awareness, defining your brand in the marketplace (especially in developing niche markets), creating leads, and positioning your firm strategically within the marketplace are still valid reasons for participating in trade shows. Treating modern trade shows as sales events will deliver more tangible results. But how many leads can be generated by attending or sponsoring a trade show?

>> Continue reading the article…

 

Top Guest Blog Post #7

6 Strategies to Help You Generate Blog Ideas

6 Strategies to Help You Generate New Ideas for Your BlogBlogging is a wonderful way to market your firm and enhance your brand. We routinely espouse the benefits of blogging to our clients because it has so many benefits – it’s great for SEO, it shows off your expertise, it highlights the personality of your organization and more. And while many often agree in principle, they often say they are at a loss as to what to blog about. It’s an understandable response, but not knowing where to start shouldn’t dash your hopes of becoming a brilliant blogger. We’re going to show you a few surefire ways of coming up with great blogging topics.

>> Continue reading the article…

 

Top Guest Blog Post #8

Is Your Website a Must-See Resource or Just a Brochure?

Is Your Website a Must-See Resource or Just a Brochure?Websites have been around now for roughly 20 years, and nearly every professional services firm has one. But relatively few firms are leveraging the marketing power of websites as fully as they might. In many cases, that’s because they haven’t gone beyond thinking of their websites as more than an online brochure. So they don’t post content on them that engages visitors and keeps them coming back for more — and can also boost a site’s SEO. That’s too bad, because websites are a proven vehicle for content marketing — providing information about topics of interest to clients and potential clients that can help build relationships and pave the way to more or new business.

>> Continue reading the article…

 

Top Guest Blog Post #9

Reveal Yourself in Your Professional Bio

Reveal Yourself in Your Professional BiographyDoes anybody but their mothers actually read the biographies of the accountants at your CPA firm? You bet they do! In fact, the bio pages are some of the most-read on the sites of professional services firms. In a LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell study of international law firm websites conducted last year, 85% of those surveyed said the bios were the single most popular spot on their sites! Your bio is definitely not an ‘extra’ and shouldn’t be treated as an afterthought.

>> Continue reading the article…

 

Top Guest Blog Post #10

Good Manners vs. Good Recommendations in Social Media Business

Good Manners vs Good Recommendations on LinkedInIt’s important to follow the traditional rules for politeness, even in the context of the new media. Have you ever gotten an email that made you do a double take just to be sure you were really seeing what you thought you were? Bonnie recently had that experience when she found among her emails a request for endorsement on LinkedIn. It began with the subject line “Affirm My Talent,” and while this is a somewhat gauche way to broach a delicate subject, the title isn’t what shocked her. After all, it’s not uncommon to receive requests from former colleagues who are seeking good recommendations and endorsements to help fill in their profiles. But this email didn’t take the form those usually do.

>> Continue reading the article…

 

Also be sure to check out our roundup of popular posts from our top two bloggers:

 
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Posted in: Communications, Content Marketing, CPA Firm Marketing, Email Marketing, Email Newsletters, Marketing, Marketing Best Practices, Newsletters, Online Marketing

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Becca’s Top 12 Terrific Marketing Blog Posts of All Time

Becca’s Top 12 Terrific Marketing Blog Posts of All Time

Sometimes, you just have to brag a little. After all, how else will everyone know all of the wonderful things you’ve done? A few of us have been writing for this blog for a couple of years now, and we’ve decided to highlight our own most popular posts. Charissa Hurd’s round-up of her own All-Time Top 10 Blog Posts has garnered some attention. So, now it’s my turn. After reviewing the statistics and analytics, here are my Top 12 Terrific Marketing Blog Posts of All Time.

I am not surprised that so many infographics made the list. As we know, humans are visual beings. Images are easy to scan quickly, and we are able to instantly glean knowledge and meaning from graphics that are clean and powerful. While Charissa noted that some of her longer, meatier posts had attained wide acclaim, I am not at all shocked that short posts — especially those accompanied by large visuals — were also very well received. This is not to say that each of the marketing blog posts below are brief summaries of the infographics that accompany them… quite a few of them are also quite lengthy. I have frequently been called verbose. Writing a synopsis or a 300-word post is a challenge I accept on a regular basis, if only to practice brevity.

See what I mean?

Ahem. Without further ado, here are my Top 12 Terrific Marketing Blog Posts of All Time (according to science and data, not just my own opinion):

 

Top Blog Post #1

An Email Autopsy: The Dissection of a Truly Horrific Email

Email autopsy: the dissection of a truly horrific B2B email of the SPAM varietyI’ve always been fascinated by spammers who send unsolicited emails to marketing professionals. Don’t they know that we have high standards? We will pick apart any and all errors, beginning with being sent an email that we didn’t subscribe to. I call this instant, once-over examination – where I mentally analyze and dissect every fallacy and gaffe – an email autopsy. There are some horribly spammy emails out there, and we (as marketers) feel your pain. One would think that spammers would know better than to spam a marketing professional, especially one specializing in email communications. Sadly, one would be wrong. We get them, too. This particular email that I received a while ago was so appalling that I kept it to use as an example of what not to do with email marketing.

>> Continue reading the article….
 

Top Blog Post #2

Why Stories Will Help You Sell More Professional Services

Why_Stories_help_You_Sell_ServicesOnce upon a time, there was a CPA Firm that desperately wanted to grow. It was a good accounting firm, following the rules and regulations set forth by the regulatory agencies, providing quality client service and hiring only the best and brightest talent. It was a relatively young firm, but it dreamed of being recognized as one of the very best. It fantasized about becoming the leading provider of audit compliance for public companies. It envisioned multiple offices throughout the country. More than anything else, it wanted to grow. What did the good little CPA Firm do? It began telling stories, sharing educational and informative content in an engaging and interesting way.

>> Continue reading the article…
 

Top Blog Post #3

Pushing the Email Envelope: An Email Marketing Infographic

Pushing-the-Email-Envelope--An-Email-Marketing-InfographicThis great infographic discusses how effective email marketing is, as well as 10 easy ways to improve email open rates. This well-designed, easy-to-follow chart presents some excellent take-aways, including astounding statistics about email marketing effectiveness and ROI. For example did you know that 70% of digital marketers see email as the top medium for ROI? Or that email earns $44.25 for every dollar spent? Would it surprise you to learn that 62% of B2B marketers plan to increase spending for email marketing? Or that email can be up to 20 times more effective than other marketing strategies? See more analysis and data in this clean and concise infographic.

>> Continue reading the article…
 

Top Blog Post #4

Benjamin Franklin’s Famous Quotes School Us On Email Marketing

Benjamin Franklin schools us on email marketing 200 years after his timeWhat can Benjamin Franklin teach us about email marketing? Imagine what Franklin would see if he was alive today. Imagine what he would think. Imagine what he would create. Imagine what we would learn from him. Franklin may not be able to deliver the keynote address at the next Association for Accounting Marketing symposium, nor can he invent the next best thing since the wonderful worldwide web, but 200 years before the technology existed, his words of wisdom are remarkably applicable to modern email marketing strategies. Consider these inspiring quotes, courtesy of the master of innovation, Franklin. Review them from an email marketing perspective. Put them into context for today’s unique markets. Apply them to your accounting or other professional service firm’s marketing strategies.

>> Continue reading the article…
 

Top Blog Post #5

A Picture May Be Worth a Thousand Words. Shouldn’t It Also Reinforce Your Brand?

Dove-vs-Victorias-Secret-Branding-ImageryYou’ve probably seen the controversial comparison between Victoria’s Secret’s “Love My Body” and Dove’s “Real Beauty” ad campaigns. The focus of most of the trending tweets, Facebook posts, blog rants, comment boards and viral videos has been on the physiology of the ladies used in both campaigns – from weight to height to skin color to age. Some enlightened social media contributors may have even mentioned the perception of personality as a footnote. Overall, the discussion (and related controversy) has been primarily about the sexualization of women, with a particular focus on how beauty is perceived and promoted in our culture. While those are all appropriate topics to stem from the original Reddit post that put these juxtaposed images in the social cross-hairs, I would like to discuss the two campaign photos from a different perspective: How does each photo attract its respective target market and reinforce its respective company’s brand? (And using that analysis, how do exceptional professional service firms use imagery in branding their firms to attract their desired market?)

>> Continue reading the article…
 

Top Blog Post #6

8 Best Practice Tips for a Productive Business Facebook Page

8-Best-Practice-Tips-for-a-Productive-Facebook-Page-for-Your-BusinessIf you’re active on Facebook, you may have noticed that the features, layout, navigation and other elements tend to change rather frequently. The changes affect your corporate page as well as how you use Facebook to manage your reputation, talk to your customers and prospects, brand your company, and cull your newsfeed, likes, shares and comments for new leads. If it has been a while since you really investigated the nuances that exist within Facebook’s social walls, it makes sense to take a look sooner than later to ensure that you’re maximizing your social media marketing efforts. Consider doing a quick audit of your Facebook page and ensure that you’re taking full advantage of every opportunity afforded by the platform today. And keep up-to-date with more changes as they roll out, too. We have compiled a list of things you should be doing to maximize your business Facebook page. The goal, as always, is to help you engage and interact with fans, build your online reputation, grow your fan base, generate interest in your products and services, and encourage repeat visits, comments and conversations. All of this, in turn, helps you remain top of mind and enhances your visibility and exposure so you can nurture new business opportunities through relationship building.

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Top Blog Post #7

Get Personal: The Personality Differentiator For More Business

Get-Personal-The-Personality-Differentiator-For-Better-BusinessWhy should I hire you? What makes you unique from competitors? How are your services better than theirs? These are the common questions that marketers ask when developing a marketing plan. The simple fact is that your firm looks pretty much the same as all the others within your industry unless you can demonstrate and communicate why you are different. Personality is the key to differentiating yourself and your firm from the masses. Marketing personality is essential for success. Many professional service providers, including accountants, believe that indicating personality somehow minimizes their credibility and the seriousness of their work. Some CPAs (and lawyers) are even resistant to including personal details in their profiles and biographies, such as whether they are married, have a dozen rescued dogs, play water polo, knit sweaters for birds, sing with an a cappella choir, or have a season tickets for every football game. This is a huge mistake that could cost you new business opportunities.

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Top Blog Post #8

Brilliantly Brainstormed Bits to Battle Business Blogger’s Block

Brilliant-Tips-to-Battle-Business-Blogger's-BlockThat may be a tongue twister to say the least (not to be too tongue-and-cheek), but these 12 inspired tips have been cultivated from a number of brilliant bloggers and personal blogging experience. Whether you are writing a business blog post or a professional article for your email or print newsletter, these ideas should inspire your inner writer (or at least give you a jumping-off point to pen your next written masterpiece). Even the least experienced author should be able to draft up an interesting and poignant article by following one or more of these suggestions.

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Top Blog Post #9

Put Your Email Marketing Strategy Into Action

Put-Your-Email-Marketing-Strategy-Into-ActionGreat content helps you navigate through the buyer’s cycle, establish a cohesive relationship and elicit a response when the time is right. Each of these 14 content examples is compelling, proven and, when utilized with the previously-posted 12 elements of successful messaging, will help you maximize business opportunities. Email newsletters give you the opportunity to share multiple articles and announcements in one branded, consistent communication that “speak” to your target markets. You will maximize the response if your database is segmented and your newsletters are tailored to each recipient’s specific needs. Here are some tangible examples of great content you should consider when drafting your editorial calendar as part of your overall content strategy.

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Top Blog Post #10

What Can Accountants Learn From My Dentist?

What-Accountants-Can-Learn-From-My-DentistThe other day, while chatting with my friend Renee and standing in line for coffee, an acquaintance appeared at our shoulders mid-sentence and dove right into his horror story of the day: he had just returned from an early morning dentist appointment, was in pain and uncomfortable, and his experience in the dentist’s chair was obviously unpleasant and unsatisfying. He clearly needed to share his misery with someone (anyone) immediately. What does this have to do with accountants? More than you might imagine at first glance, so read on to discover what your CPA firm can learn that will keep your clients from comparing you to a troublesome dental appointment.

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Top Blog Post #11

Is Your Office Conducive to the Highest Productivity? [VIDEO]

Is your office conducive to the highest productivity?Where do you work? No, I don’t mean who signs your paychecks… I mean, where do you work? What does your office look like? Is it comfortable? Is it organized? Does the space inspire you to do your best? The environment in which you work can have a dramatic effect on how productive and efficient you are in your daily work activities. Let’s use my office as an example. As you can see in this video, I love art, color and books, and have designed my office (which I actually call the “library”) accordingly. I find these objects inspiring. They also serve to create an environment that promotes learning, working, doing. At least for me.

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Top Blog Post #12

SEO is a Wicked Mistress: Do This, Not That [Infographic]

SEO-is-a-Wicked-Mistress-Do-This-Not-ThatSEO can be a wicked mistress to savvy marketers. She keeps changing the rules to keep us all on our toes and under her crafty spell. She explicitly tells us what to do to keep her satisfied (and she’ll only share our sites, pages, posts in her newsfeeds when she’s pleased with us) and exerts stern punishment when she isn’t (by hiding our listings). She puts us in a type of online purgatory when she doesn’t trust us. She blocks our traffic and our sites with a vengeance if we don’t pay attention to her numerous transformations. This SEO mistress has had many nicknames, personas and facelifts over the years through her relationship with Google: Hummingbird, Penguin, Venice, Panda…. Such sweet names for the somewhat sinister suzerain of all things search. SEO always remains in complete control. Appeal to her sweet spot with a strategic, holistic marketing approach through content marketing, social media marketing, inbound marketing, and website marketing. She enjoys playing with trust and page rank, too.

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Posted in: Business Development, Business Growth, Content Marketing, Email Marketing, Marketing, Marketing Best Practices, Marketing Strategy, Online Marketing

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Banner Ads Add More Than You Think

Banner Ads Add More Than You Think

Don’t underestimate the value of adding banner ads to your business email newsletters. These are not the cheesy ads that pop up out of nowhere and promise you amazing diet results while you eat ice cream sundaes every day. And not the ones that say you’ve won a million dollars in a lottery you never entered. We’re talking about carefully-worded, attractive banner ads that display your work like a high qualify picture frame displays a work of art.

Estate Planning GuideWell-crafted banner ads can make a difference in how readers perceive your content. The Journal of Consumer Research did a study to determine the psychology behind how banner ads really work. They did this by asking participants to read several pages of material, which were framed by banner ads for a fictitious product. The participants were told that a quiz would follow. They assumed the quiz would be on the material in the pages and that the banner ads were just window dressing. In reality, they were asked questions related to the banner ads.

Here are some of the findings:

Based on this study, researchers found that repeated exposure to a product or service through the use of banner ads generally gave rise to positive feelings about that product or service. But of course, advertising isn’t as simple as that. The same study showed that once consumers took a more in depth look at the claims made in the ads, some of those positive feelings vanished. The good news is, if what you offer can stand up to close scrutiny, the goodwill should endure and may translate to increased revenue for your firm.

Banner ads can make a subliminal impression

Of course your banner ads should be attractive and to the point. But the truth is, whatever type of email newsletter you send out — a CPA email newsletter, a law firm newsletter, a financial planning newsletter, an employee benefits newsletter, a human resources newsletter, a payroll newsletter, or you name it –  the bottom line is, your banner ads themselves will mostly be ignored.  The people in the Consumer Research study paid little attention to the ads, but they were aware of them, and the presence of the banner ads contributed to an overall positive feeling about the rest of the material.

Incoprorate banner ads as part of an overall package

In another study, the AICPA Custom Media Solutions and Bay Street Group Research looked at how business people respond to banner ads, as opposed to the response of rank and file consumers. Generally speaking, professionals are more affected by whitepapers or other substantive content. No surprise there, since these are busy people who thirst for knowledge. But an interesting corollary to that finding was this: those same people are more likely to respond positively to a message that is part of a well-integrated package of high-quality content and attractive banner ads that complement the body of the message, such as a professionally written, timely business email newsletter.

Frame your message

If you’ve bypassed the use of banner ads until now, you should realize that, if done well, they have the power to increase the effectiveness of your business-to- business communication as well as your outreach to individuals. Think of a banner ad as a picture frame. A picture may be a masterpiece, but if set in a cheap or inappropriate frame, it can appear ordinary. On the other hand, even a lackluster picture can draw attention if the frame is attractive.  It’s the same with correspondence. You have already made the effort to have a well-written business email newsletter. Why not take a little extra time to enhance the reader experience by using banner ads?

If effective communication is your goal, consider turning your business email newsletter into a work of art by incorporating attractive banner ads.

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Written by Teresa Ambord

 
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Posted in: Advertising, Branding, Content Marketing, CPA Firm Marketing, Email Marketing, Imagery in Marketing, Lead Generation, Marketing, Marketing Strategy, Newsletters, Photography, Prospecting

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I’m a CPA… Why Do I Need an Elevator Speech?

I’m a CPA… Why Do I Need an Elevator Speech?

If you regularly attend networking events, make prospecting phone calls or meet with prospects and clients, then you need an “elevator speech”. You only have a narrow window of 15-30 seconds to capture someone’s attention and motivate them to begin a dialogue with you.

Today’s decision makers are bombarded with over 3,000 marketing touches daily between billboards, radio, television, email, snail mail, posters, signs, etc. You have to go up against some serious competition just to gain an audience for five minutes. To complicate matters, the average decision maker takes 17 calls a day, meets with 4.8 sales representatives weekly, is typically insecure and prefers to avoid risk. Change equals risk. Your elevator speech could be the foot that gets you in the door (virtually or otherwise).

What an elevator speech is

It is a concise, carefully planned and well-practiced description of you and/or your firm that your mother should be able to understand in the time it would take to ride up an elevator. This is the time to express the value of working with you, create curiosity and pave the way to the next step.

What an elevator speech is NOT

It is not a “sales pitch.” Don’t get caught up in using the entire speech to tell your prospect every nitty-gritty detail about your services.

How to develop a great elevator speech

You need to write it, memorize it and make it become second nature. Your elevator speech should have meaningful content that presents you and your firm as a partner, not a peddler. A properly written and executed elevator speech will land you many more first meetings and help move your qualified prospects up the chain until they choose to do business with you.

Components of your elevator speech should include:

  • How long your firm has been in business, which will assure them of your competence and expertise.
  • What your prospect will gain by granting you an appointment.
  • Why you are rare, exclusive and extremely valuable. Communicate enough perceived value to get them hooked and yearning to learn more.
  • What your competitive advantage is. Effectively communicate why you and your firm are different and why you have an advantage over the competition.
  • Share client stories. Have several available as sound bites and intersperse them into your elevator speech as appropriate to illustrate the results you have provided to your clients. People are attracted to peace of mind and repelled by fear, uncertainty and doubt. Be sure that your client stories portray how you provided the peace of mind people are seeking from their advisors.
  • The benefits of taking the next step with you, including having a face-to-face meeting, or simply scheduling a more detailed phone call.

Practice makes perfect

Build your elevator speech with facts. After each fact, answer the question “so what?” Put it all together, practice in front of a mirror, while at a red light, with your peers, family and friends. Record your speech and listen to it. Practice often. Without practice, you are taking a chance that luck will be on your side. Your elevator speech is the first impression your prospects will have of you – it sets the tone for your relationship. Use your elevator speech as the perfect relationship kick-off.

Then what?

What happens after you’ve given your elevator speech, but your prospect is just not ready to meet with you? Or you’ve met with a prospect, but he is not quite ready to switch firms? Use online communication tools to stay in touch with each of your prospects and clients all of the time. Nurture the relationships you’ve cultivated with timely and educational content.

 
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Posted in: Business Development, Communications, CPA Accounting Firm Management, Lead Generation, Marketing, Prospecting, Sales Strategies

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