As a CPA, you brand is your bio. It is your personal brand and in turn, your practice’s brand. A “brand-worthy marketing bio” is different from any résumé or curriculum vitae (CV) you may have put together. It is not a litany of jobs, skills or certifications. Your brand-worthy bio is your personal brochure. It should help people remember you, refer to you and respond to you.
Last month, I shared simple yet powerful improvements you can make to your business card. Your marketing bio is an extension of your business card. It is a handy reference for others. Your bio represents you.
To that end, your bio should be designed with a photo of you. I could simply say, include your headshot. Unfortunately, a crappy mugshot placed on a résumé can be tacky and unprofessional. Design your bio based on how others see you. Most CPAs prefer suits … you may prefer a particular color or shade. Or, no business suit at all. How do you want others to see you?
- Your Brand-worthy Bio should include a brand-worthy photo (not necessarily a traditional studio headshot). For true Branded Experts, it is not optional. Your accounting expertise is literally grounded on practices generally accepted. The point of marketing is to differentiate you. Thus, you have to package your personality beyond what everybody else knows and does.
Your bio can be written in the first person (“I …”) or third person (“He …”). Writing in the first person is more casual and personable. It may feel more authentic for a small practice, especially when you’re handing it out. However, a third-person bio is easier for others to repeat or recite when introducing you as the guest speaker. Both versions are brand-worthy … so, have both on hand. You can use either version on LinkedIn.
- In addition to being a CPA (or “I’m a CPA with expertise in forensic accounting, information technology, tax, etc.”), I am the Author/Founder/Director/Partner of _______________.” No, you don’t have to be more than one. But you must be at least one. We immediately perceive an expert when someone is introduced to us as an author, founder, director or partner. How well can you fill in the blank?
If you run a practice, you are its founder. You can start a blog today or write an e-book and become an author. There’s no reason to lie or inflate. These questions may highlight your “brand inadequacies.” That’s OK … do something about it. Self-promotion can and should be done appropriately. Your marketing bio is exactly where it’s appropriate.
- Which Media Has Quoted You and Who Has Hosted Your Speaking Engagements? Being quoted (or securing bylines) in prominent publications can take you farther than writing long articles. Yet, every branded expert self-publishes while being quoted. Being quoted in the media isn’t mere coincidence. But it doesn’t have to be out of reach either.
Journalists, editors and producers seek resources regularly via free resources such as HelpAReporterOut.com. Others use Twitter or subscribe to ProfNet to initiate media relationships. Your blog newsletter will remind and nurture contacts once made.
“Media” is typically a placeholder for Web, print, radio and TV. However, groups and associations can be even more effective for word-of-mouth marketing in local markets. Local chapters often have their own newsletter. Their national counterpart may publish online and/or print periodicals.
Similarly, group leaders can invite you to speak locally, at sister chapters, regionally or nationally. Like other media, being invited as a guest speaker comes down to your relationship management. Often, media quotes and speaking invitations grow hand-in hand: Success begets success. Writing and speaking are short-cuts and staples of every branded expert.
- What Awards Have You Won: “Star” References? Achieved Quantifiable Results? The more testimonials and invitations from group leaders you mention, the more brand-worthy your bio becomes. References (including your LinkedIn recommendations) from well-known and prominent clients can help you ride on their stardom coattails. It is best to ask them to write or sign off on a testimonial (on their letterhead). You should have expressed permission before revealing the name of a client.
Anecdotes of quantifiable results are extremely memorable. However, they can be easily inflated or taken out of context. Past results of other clients should never guarantee or imply future results for others. It is unethical to do so. Yet the fact remains that your expertise helped to uncover hidden profits, costs, opportunities or threats. Can you talk about it, without revealing private specifics? Pivotal anecdotes help shape your practice and career.
Awards are another great way to become a part of a widely recognized large organization. For example, last month, I again served as a judge for the Hauppauge Industrial Association’s (HIA) Business Achievement Awards (BAA). As the second largest chamber of commerce on Long Island, NY (where I co-chair two committees), HIA’s BAA has become a fun and gallant event. The ‘Rookie of the Year’ considers any small business less than five-years old. This year, a three-partner law firm was able to showcase the most promising achievements of growth, service and employment.
If you serve on a nonprofit board, most likely you volunteer as its treasurer. Awards and recognition of your community service help to showcase the integrity of your accounting expertise. To your clients, your ethics and values are as important as your mathematical prowess.
- How Has Your Educational and Professional Background Led You Into Your Current Field? How Does Your Background Help Make You a Leader in Your Field? This one should be easy for you. Here, you can pretty much turn the bullet points in your résumé into paragraphs. The second question highlights the benefits of your experiences. Many CPAs cite financial or business management studies or positions. Others share how past unrelated careers helped them to practice accounting better. Name the schools and courses you have taken — fellow alumni like to relate to such information.
- Describe Your Personal Passions/Deep Values. Emotionalize your personality. Can you make us smile? Don’t be self-deprecating in any way. Here’s your license to brag, and yes, your clients would like to know a little about your family.
Begin and end with a personal view. Like your headshot, paint a portrait of who you are, not just what you do as a CPA. Ethics and values speak to your integrity and honesty. Your hobbies and passions spark conversations about your free time.
This is how you can break the ice and bridge new friends. Talking about your favorite foods, restaurants, sports, music, travels and family endears your clients and people to you. Go beyond motherhood, apple pie and golf. Are you passionate about something? Tell them.
Ultimately, a bio is brand-worthy when it is easy to remember and refer to. That’s why these seven features are arranged as such. There is a method to its madness. Flanked by personality, your brand-worthy bio hypes you up and substantiates it with achievement. By answering these questions separately, you keep your bio pithy and bulleted. No matter its length, it is easy to peruse and truncate.
Your bio is now ready for your website, brochure, folder or LinkedIn profile. Feel free to use these questions as headers to break up the paragraphs. Like bullet points, headlines, subheads and captions catch the eye. Do what it takes to help others remember and refer you. Don’t forget to fill in the blanks of your brand-worthy bio!
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Vikram Rajan is the founding partner of Practice Marketing Advisors™ with CoGrow. He helps CPAs develop and implement Marketing Action Plans within the relevant codes of ethics and compliance obligations. He has taught seminars for the AICPA and other accounting societies. You can watch marketing videos and read more ideas at PracticeMarketingBLOG.com.