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Direct Marketing - best way to go about it?

Direct Marketing - best way to go about it?

I'm hoping to start acquiring some new clients under my limited company accountancy practice. Due to issues with ACCA being lame with practising certificate requirements (having moved to a job regulated by HMRC instead of ACCA they seem to want to do everything possible to deny me what I deserve after 3 years of hard work) I'm pretty much solely doing Quickbooks Pro Advisor work, book-keeping and VAT returns and maybe some tax advice. Other requirements can be outsourced easily. 

Marketing is not my strong suit though, and I need a cheap way to get my name out there. I have a basic website but it's not going to really get seen by anyone just randomly searching unless they find me on LinkedIn. I can make business cards easily, but my main issue is finding a way to do direct marketing. I know you can obtain listings from Companies House and use direct mailing services like Thomson Local etc, but they seem very expensive and I've no guarantee whether I'll earn any money back. 

Does anyone have any tips or tried and tested methods? 

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25th Mar 2012 17:52

Double Entry

 

That's like asking:

I'm hoping to do some accounts but accounting is not my strong suit though. I need a quick and easy way to get the trial balance to balance.

I have a basic calculator and I can make a spreadsheet up but my main issue not understanding double entry. I have heard about debits and credits but this seems long winded and I've no guarantee that it will work.

Any thoughts?

Yes, the first thing I'd say is that "hope" is not a strategy. Second, you need to educate yourself or pay someone to do it for you. And, with marketing I'd recommend you educate yourself because it is some important and fundamental to your business.

Bob Harper

Crunchers Accounting Franchise

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25th Mar 2012 18:35

4P...

I would recommend getting in touch with 4P - their two-day marketing course run specifically for accountants was, in all honestly, totally stunning.

Message me if you want their details.

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25th Mar 2012 18:45

Research AccountingWeb

Luke you have my warmest sympathy. Marketing is never easy even when you think you know what you are doing. The previous comment appears to be shooting you down for being so honest about your situation. You will find most of the rest of us to be rather more understanding.

Your first port of call should be to type in marketing or sales in the search box at the top of the AnyAnswers screen and spend the next few days reading all the comments on Aweb. Although others will respond with specific advice to this particular post, this area comes up regularly and you will find a wealth of advice in the older posts.

Once you've read what others do you can decide what your preferred method(s) will be. If you don't know much about marketing then don't pay anyone else to do it for you. There are far too many "marketing experts" that I've bumped into who seem to think they are good at marketing when they aren't and you don't have the budget for this right now. You need to be actively involved yourself, particularly at the outset of setting up your business.

You will find most of those who regularly answer questions here very helpful. The majority of us have been in business as accountants for years and we know only too well how difficult it can be to get started.

Keep us up to date with how you are doing.

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By jford
25th Mar 2012 20:51

The Nifty Fifty
When I set up my practice I wrote a list of 50 people I knew who 'may' be in a position refer work to me. The list was a real mix of friends, family, ex-colleagues etc. I made sure they all knew that I was after new clients and exactly what sort of work I was looking for. It's surprising how much work you can get if you've got 50 people on the look out for you! And it won't cost you a penny.

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26th Mar 2012 10:01

Cheers Nifty & Moon, good

Cheers Nifty & Moon, good tips. And yeah I was quite shocked to see myself getting shot down for being honest about the situation. Is that professionalism these days?

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26th Mar 2012 10:39

Professional

@Luke - I am just being honest and prefer to offend than risk patronising.

You are so far away that I felt you needed a reality check. Sorry if it was too much. But, the fact is asking accountants about marketing is like asking marketing people about accountancy.

Bob Harper

Crunchers Accounting Franchise

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26th Mar 2012 10:51

True, but occasionally you find the multi-talented individuals! ;-) Or at least gleam insight from those without formal knowledge who managed to adapt to the situation.

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26th Mar 2012 11:04

True

@Luke - what worked/happened in the past is not necessarily going to work now and in the future but interesting that you the word adapt. Survival is not for the fittest but for those that can change and adapt quickest.

Master marketing for two reasons:

1. You need to know for your own business.

2. You can use this knowledge with your clients with consulting and coaching. Most clients are good at what they do, marketing is usually a weakness in a business, like accounting. Provide a blended proposition and add value.

Bob Harper

Crunchers Accountants

 

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26th Mar 2012 11:19

....I am inclined to agree with Bob....

the fact is you will initially be doing your own marketing (in whatever form that takes) - so you need to do some basics like working out who your target audience are, where they are located, and how they will benefit from your service.

 

Then you can establish the ways in which you are most likely to get interest from them.  Personally i think the best thing you can do is go to some networking events as a guest (BNI, business for breakfast and alike) - it throws you in the deep end in regard to presenting your business to strangers - and certainly focuses your mind in regard to what you are about and who you want to attract.  Also you can speak to marketing experts at there events who will be only too happy to pass on tips for free.

 

Whilst some comments may appear harsh I guess like everyone else you need to pay a mortgage/put food on the table etc....a mail shot to a number of companies who already have an agent in itself will not resolve that - you need to have some sort of plan.

We have all been there, I guess with some having a little more wiggle room than others in regard to having savings/capital....I started with nothing so using a marketing consultant was not an option....in which case you need to find a way to get clients quickly as well as cultivate larger premium clients who you would also like to work with in the long term).

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27th Mar 2012 10:51

Trouble is finding these events in the local area. I'm only really after new start up owner managed businesses preferably in the local area of Southern Hampshire. Where do  these networking events take place, is there a web site that holds a list of events or such?

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27th Mar 2012 10:59

Try Business-Scene.com

Business-Scene are an aggregator of local business networking events.

Mark 

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28th Mar 2012 01:16

Just pop into the internet BNI

or business for breakfast and it should bring up a site where you are able to view local events.

 

As Mark has pointed out there is business scene, however, personally I found these events too big, and in the main contained well established businesses  where the 'decision maker' was not necessarily attending.  In my experience the breakfast events tend to attract small local businesses (and are usually attended by the owner)

 

Still I would certainly go to as many as you can as it will help develop your sound bite in regard to your business (at these events everyone will ask what you do.....something short and snappy is what you want so they leave the conversation interested etc). 

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28th Mar 2012 12:05

4Networking

I came across one called 4Networking which seemed quite good, plus it has the added benefit in that I know one of the team leaders on the Portsmouth team as my main client does her accounts! Good place to start me thinks!

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