January 2013 Edition

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Ideas In Motion:

Differentiate Yourself to Stand Out

Do you have any New Year’s resolutions? How about growing your practice and finding ways to set yourself apart from the competition?

By Scott H. Cytron, ABC

Do you have any New Year’s resolutions? How about growing your practice and finding ways to set yourself apart from the competition?

Meet Peter Freuler Jr., CPA, who runs his own practice in Orlando, Fla. How does Peter differentiate himself from other CPAs and accountants in an area as large as central Florida? I sat down with Peter to find out.

Scott H. Cytron: How is your firm different?

Peter Freuler Jr: When I took over my father’s practice, I didn’t set out to create a firm that specialized in dental and medical accounting, but that’s just what happened. It started with one medical practice client whose two-person office was going through an internal process of determining whether to offer partnerships to other doctors and to expand to offer more specialties. I was pulled in as the CPA advisor, and through that process, I learned a lot about the business side of medicine.

Scott: When you meet a prospect, I know you establish yourself as an expert in medical accounting. Give me an example.

Peter: One of my medical clients made a large deposit, so I called the office to ask what was going on. It turns out that if you use electronic medical records, you get “incentive” pay. I can now pass this information on to other medical clients so it becomes a win-win for everyone. As a result of establishing myself as an expert, our closing percentage is much higher with medical industry clients and I know within five minutes of talking to a prospective client whether I am going to get that business.

Peter Freuler, Jr, CPA

Scott: How would you advise others to select an area to focus on for your niche?

Peter: The best way is to look at your existing client base to see if you have a pattern of clients which they enjoy working with, or those who yield a higher hourly fee realization. You also should look at the concentration of businesses in your local market to see if there is a concentration locally. This could include oil and gas, nonprofits, hospitality, and just about anything other industry niche. The key is to differentiate your accounting practice from your competitors, so once you have a niche, your practice becomes the “go to” place for that type of service and word of mouth spreads. The quickest and easiest way to do that is by developing a separate website for your niche services.

Scott: Tell me about these websites.

Peter: I have what I call my “generalist” accounting firm website based on my services. This website is search engine optimized and attracts business owners searching on the internet for a CPA in the Orlando and Kissimmee area. My medical prospects and clients find me through my website focusing on doctors, dentists and medical practices. Medical prospects can find this site by using search terms such as “Orlando CPA for doctors,” and “Orlando CPA firm for dentists.”

Scott: Why set up multiple websites?

Peter: It was hard to attract medical and dental clients on our primary storefront website because our messaging was so generic. We found having a second website allows us to attract aspecific group of individuals like medical practices and the conversion ratio from prospects that visit our healthcare website is dramatically higher than our “generalist” website.

So far, the strategy is working. Dental and medical practices are finding our firm through the niche website. In addition, my marketing efforts for the medical industry clientele include having well-though-out Google AdWords to drive traffic to the website as well as direct mail, something many practitioners may find surprising in today’s always-on marketplace.

Scott: What other marketing techniques do you do?

Peter: We find that direct mail only works when it crosses the desk at the right time. The clients coming from the web are more motivated buyers. About 70 percent of our new business comes from the web and 30 percent from direct mail.

We have a presence on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, but it is not specific to my niche industry focus because social media is not a strong marketing tactic for me. Instead, I use social media to stay in touch with current clients without being obtrusive.

Referrals are also an important strategy. I try to use a soft-sales approach, sending letters when I get a new client to let the client know I am looking to work with more businesses like that one. The bottom line is that all marketing takes time. Our medical niche is self-perpetuating because doctors talk to each other

Scott: Any other marketing advice?

Peter: Not a lot of accountants have a concept of marketing. They are concerned with getting the work, getting the return done and going on their way. Developing a niche helps establish and showcase a depth of knowledge. It also helps you focus your marketing efforts to a smaller target audience and provide them with compelling reasons to hire you. The general public wants more; a niche helps you provide that!


About Author:
For more than 25 years, Scott H. Cytron, ABC, has worked with CPAs and accountants, providing public relations, marketing and communications services. He is a frequent contributor to industry publications covering professional services industries, including accounting, healthcare, legal, financial planning, collections and debt, and high-tech.

Contact info:
Scott H. Cytron, ABC
Cytron and Company
Phone: 214-647-2611, ext. 150
Email: scott@cytronandcompany.com
Website: www.absolutecytron.com


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