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1.  Anita Campbell of the Small Business Trends blog has a post on one of the coolest voicemail and phone system setups I’ve seen in a while.   The world truly is flat – GoSee

2.  This article at bnet gets to the heart of one of my favorite pricing issues – “Relate Price to Positioning,” something I call value added pricing or billing – GoSee

3.  I had actually already thought about creating this idea of finding things you’ve lost, but I guess I was too late (it probably wouldn’t have been as good anyway) – GoSee

 Thanks, Jason M. Blumer


setting-the-vision.jpg  You don’t think you have to sell yourself to your employees… just because you’re the boss?

You can try that approach, but effectiveness and followers are awarded to those who sell themselves to their employees.  This can also be thought of as “passing on the vision.”  Visionary people are awarded followers… followers that assist you in achieving your goals.  And they become faithful followers because they know you believe in your vision.  Then they eventually catch on to the vision as well.  But its not just to use them to get what you want – its about giving them the vision they want to latch on to anyway.  Why not go ahead and give them your vision?

But don’t try to sell a cheap or “adhoc” version of the vision – one created on the spot.  It’s got to be your REAL vision.  My firm is changing, and that means we’ll be adding new staff at the turn of the year.  I owe it to my staff to let them know why they work there, why we are the best and what we offer our clients.  To do this, we’ll have a “visionary” meeting the first day we are all together in the new year.  I have big dreams for our firm, and I want my dreams to be their dreams too.  The best way to get them on board is to sell myself to them.  Then they can believe in the person who has the dream!

And once are employees are on the street, and someone asks them what its like to work at our firm, they’ll begin selling the vision.  And selling the vision ultimately produces clients who believe in the vision as well.  And clients then refer new clients… and so on… and so on…  all because we were committed to passing on the vision of our firm.

Let this upcoming year be the year you start selling yourself to your employees… for their joy at work, and the furtherance of your business!

Thanks, Jason M. Blumer

networking.jpg   Is networking valuable?  You bet.  But there are ways to get more out of it than taking the traditional networking road…

As the Manageing Shareholder of a CPA consulting practice, I need a lot of expert advice on how to run the practice, let alone do the consulting.  One way to do this has been to play to my weaknesses.  That’s right… be vulnerable.  Networking is mostly about putting on a facade and asking for business.  Instead, I’ve been open to ask my superiors (in age and in experience) how to do certain things.  What rates do you charge?  How do you justify the value in that rate?  What course of action should I take over the next 5 years?  Or I just ask about a specific tax consulting issue, and let them give me the answer.

Take your contacts to lunch with a real concern about a part of your business that you are having trouble managing.  Ask them how they do it, why and what does and doesn’t work for them.  Strategically play to your weaknesses.

Playing to your weaknesses does three things within seconds:

1. Shows them you are not totally concerned with what you want to say.  You are there to listen – a huge skill that leads to trust (and REFERRALS!!).  And then, believe me, they start talking.

2. Makes them the “expert” in your eyes.  They are apt to offer guidance when they think you think they are the superior.

3. Shows vulnerability on your side and breaks down barriers of competitiveness between the two parties.

I started networking in college.  When outside speakers would come in to speak to our accounting classes, they would always offer to help us anyway they could.  I would always call them and ask them how to get a job or what a perspective employer will be looking for.  I asked them if they actually liked accounting.  I showed my vulnerabilities, and they responded (now, one of those contacts I took to lunch in college consistently refers me big consulting jobs!).

This is a new type of networking, but one that has consistently developed trust in the contacts I network with.  And that trust eventually leads to referrals.  Try it out and let me know what you think.

Thanks, Jason M. Blumer

1.  Check out seven business you can start tomorrow – GoSee

2. Something we’re passionate about at Blumer & Associates, CPAs, PC, this video talks about branding yourself from WITHIN the organization (passing on the vision of who you are to your employees) – GoSee

3. I’ve been hearing talk lately about your website’s landing page.  Normally discussed in web topics such as SEO and analytics, the landing page is simply the portion of your web infrastructure that your potential customers hit when linking from various outside advertising you are participating in.  This is a good “quick and dirty” on the subject – GoSee

Thanks, Jason

finger.jpg  Everyone is interested in branding themselves to their clients (i.e. “touching your client”).  Here are five simple ways to do that:

[I refer to my client-oriented marketing as “touching.”  I helps us, as a firm, to remember HOW we are to market to our clients… gently and consistently] 

1. I try to “touch” my clients twice a year.  I always send out a post-tax season letter talking about the firm, how we are growing, and thanking everyone for their business.  It’s kind of like a newsletter, but I don’t spend as much time writing formal articles (I’ll do that on the blog!).  Then, I usually send out another letter toward the end of each year, reminding everyone of our procedures for tax season, and throw in some updated tax information for that year.  This latter touch letter is usually where I talk about the new people we are hiring, and how our firm is growing.  We always receive good responses from this “growth” touch letter.  People seem to be proud to call us “their firm”.  I always want to get in front of the client – consistently!

2. Take every opportunity you have to show your clients your logo, tag lines, promotional products, signage, print collateral, etc.  You can’t do this enough.  These collateral items say “we’re a big firm” or “we are in business for the long haul” or “we’re big enough to spend money on nice looking things like this bottle opener”.  Needless to say, I send my letters from point #1 on letterhead with cards.  Touch your clients with your logo – you spent money on it so you might as well use it in the “touching” process.

3. “Guard the door.”  No one will ever guard what leaves my firm but me.  That will always be a rule in our organization.  I guard the door (a.k.a. what the client sees) because perception is everything.  Perception, unfortunately NOT reality, normally determines what your clients think of you as a company.  That being said, what clients see must be pristine, clean, nice-looking, tactful, delivered with a smile, in order, accurate and precise, etc.  If my employees know they are doing something that clients will see (and then make a quick judgement about our company), then they know I want to look at it first.  Guarding the door ensures that your client “touch” will be received with happy feelings!

4. Develop a nice looking website.  Smaller CPA firms are notorious for signing up for templates made especially for CPAs.  And guess what they look like?  THE FREAKIN’ SAME.  As a firm, we don’t want to be the same, and neither does your company (let me know what you think about our firm’s web site).  You can touch your clients and customers (and other potential clients) best when you can send them to your web site and they can tell that you spent some time developing and creating your site.  This probably means you have to use professionals (like AMG, the company I own with other partners). 

5. As the head leader and marketer in the company, I spend a lot of time actually really touching my clients and potential clients (in a healthy way, of course).  I shake their hand, take them to lunch, give them gifts, send them thank you cards, hand-deliver a lot of our work, talk about personal things, pray for their kids, etc.  This is simply called customer service.  And if you do it right, then you will probably have to do it off the clock a lot of time (that is, not charge them for it).  This can be costly NOW, but the rewards will be felt later when the referrals come flooding in.  Of course, you have to weigh these types of touches with those who never seem to shut up.  Be careful, but don’t let any bad past experiences keep you from really touching your clients – they need tender loving care!

Thanks, Jason

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November 2007
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