It’s no secret that we’re all looking for ways to get maximum benefit from our marketing dollars these days. But hectic schedules, regular routines and tired brains often limit our potential to discover new solutions. As a result, many CPA firms don’t reap all the rewards from their marketing efforts and spending.
Why not take a cue from a commonly accepted practice not generally associated with marketing — recycling. No we are not talking paper and cans here, but a way to add greater value to your marketing mix.
What Is Marketing Recycling?
Marketing recycling is a practical, easy-to-use technique for gaining more traction from your firm’s business development initiatives. In its simplest form it means to re-use, repackage or repurpose contents and other important elements from an existing marketing initiative in ways that enable you to expand its reach.
Uncovering Hidden Opportunities
“I used to think I had to create everything from scratch,” said Julie Barnes, director of marketing at the Atlanta-based CPA and consulting firm of Smith & Howard. “Now I realize that it is just good business to find new uses for the projects we work so hard to create and new ways to leverage them."
“We always look for opportunities to reuse content when appropriate.” says Jeff Antaya, chief marketing officer at the Michigan-based CPA and business advisory firm, Plante & Moran.
Suppose your firm decides to host a seminar. The topics and the speakers are a big draw. It is not only well attended but receives positive reviews for the value it provided to participants. BUT WAIT! Before you high-five everyone involved and go back to business as usual, there are hidden opportunities you can’t afford to miss. Let’s take a closer look.
With a marketing-recycling program in place, your firm can gather seminar organizers to identify ways to reuse the contents of the event to reach a broader audience. Potential outcomes of your debriefing session would include the following:
- Retool the seminar content by hosting a webinar for those unable to attend.
- Write a summary and turn it into an article.
- Include the article in the firm’s e-newsletter.
- Post the seminar on the firm’s newly created blog.
Get the picture? All these uses from one seminar, with little additional cost and effort involved in leveraging it.
“Now more than ever, content is king,” said Janet Kyle Altman, principal and director of marketing at South Florida-based accounting firm of Kaufman, Rossin & Co. “If a professional is researching a topic for an article, we consider whether a seminar is possible. If we're preparing for the seminar, we consider a webinar. We make sure to get video and photos to use on our websites, blog about the topic and push [it] out through all [the] social media channels.”
“We recently held a healthcare webinar,” Antaya remarked. “In addition to e-mailing those who registered, we e-mailed the recording to a broad list. We then took the questions from the webinar and created a separate e-mail. We also used it in the electronic version of our firm magazine. We then posted the PowerPoint [slides] for the webinar on our Web site.”
“These efforts leverage our talent, time and budget and expands our reach dramatically,” added Altman.
“Our efforts have increased our SEO results and lead generation,” remarked Antaya.
CPA firms that recycle their marketing initiatives benefit in a number of ways including:
- Less time, energy and resources involved in developing new initiatives
- Ability to reach more people
- Better results — greater marketing return-on-investment (ROI)
- Increased interest and participation in future initiatives
- Better search engine optimization (SEO)
As you get started, here are six tips to consider:
- Create a formal marketing recycling program for your firm. Make a conscious effort to recycle all your marketing activities.
- Get your team involved. It is important to include all of the professionals who are involved in the core activity. “Our writers are often the ones to uncover effective ways to re-use content,” said Antaya.
- Consider two simple questions.
- How can we effectively re-use, repackage or repurpose the initiative?
- How can we best leverage this activity once it’s repackaged?
- Use a variety of channels. People rely on many sources for information, so broaden your marketing vehicles. Remember, the average person is hit with 2,000 to 3,000 marketing messages each day. If you only use one medium to send messages their way, chances are great they will overlook them. It’s okay for people see you in more than one place. The best thing they can say is “I see you everywhere.”
- Report results. Share results and success stories throughout the firm. Regular communication and recognition from firm leaders are keys to success. As marketing recycling gains traction in your firm, you’ll be able to watchresults grow over time.
- Create a recycling movement. Use early successes to spark new ideas.Help others embrace marketing recycling just as they recycle paper and cans. Eventually these efforts will become the norm within your organization.
Discover the Power of Leveraging
Once you identify new uses for existing content, find ways to leverage them. For example, suppose you developed an article that summarizes your firm’s recent seminar. Now think of all the ways to can use it:
- Post the article on your website
- Blog and tweet about it
- Post it on your firm’s Facebook page
- Add it to your LinkedIn page
- Issue a news release:
- E-mail slides to seminar participants
- Hold debriefing meetings with members of the press
- Provide a summary of key points covered
- Encourage them to write a story on it
- Use it to position your firm as a resource for them
- Include the article in your newsletter
- Make article reprints for upcoming sales and referral meetings
- Use the reprints at your next speaking engagement
Social Media Channels Offer Countless Recycling Opportunities
As you consider adding marketing recycling to your mix, it’s important to understand the impact that social media can have on your efforts. Unlike traditional marketing, your social media networks can provide immediate, exponential exposure without added costs. Think of it as “traditional marketing on steroids.”
Let’s go back to the seminar example. In response to all the positive feedback you received from your recent event, you decide to write an article capturing the highlights. Next you will push it out to your social media network through LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. This is where the exponential part comes into action. All of a sudden your article is in the hundreds, if not thousands of hands of potential clients, referral sources and other centers of influence who can benefit from this new information. It causes a tremendous ripple effect as many of these contacts will share your information with others inside their organizations and outside as well. Suddenly people are “retweeting” your article to all of their contacts, posting links to their blogs and sending it to their colleagues, not to mention professional and trade association contacts and members of the press. That means your name and knowledge is getting into hands of people who can refer you, hire you, select you as a speaker, republish your article or interview you for an upcoming story they are writing. All that exposure for a few extra clicks of the mouse.
Save the Planet and Your Marketing Budget
Isn’t it time to expand the buying power of your firm’s marketing? Give marketing recycling a try. Start today. Soon you will find that recycling is not only good for the planet, but your marketing budget too!
Additional Resources: AICPAPCPS Center.
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Tracy Crevar Warren, founder of The Crevar Group, helps professional services firms win more new business and build more profitable practices. A sought-after consultant, facilitator, author and speaker, she advises clients on practice growth through marketing, sales and client service. With a proven track record and positive high-energy style, she inspires and empowers local, regional, national and international groups to do more of the work they love. She has just finished working on her first book Bull's-Eye! The Ultimate How-to Marketing & Sales Guide for CPAs produced by the AICPA and AAM. You can reach her at 336-889-GROW (4769) or www.thecrevargroup.com.