Thursday, July 2, 2009

Can You Become A “Brand?”

In marketing-speak, the word “brand” can be defined as an identity that distinguishes one product from another. It can be a logo (think Apple Computers), a name (think IBM, Rolex or Coke), or other identifier (think of a FedEx envelope or a brown UPS truck). How about YOU as a brand?

What can you do to stand out against the noise? In other words, what can distinguish you from the other competing accountants in your trading area?

One of my clients is exploring how she can go “green.” Her idea is to become the go-to accountant in her area when the discussion turns to green practices and the potential tax implications. To do this she is going to explore the myriad of Federal, State (she’s in California) and local laws, regulations, rules and court interpretations that impact personal and business tax exposure.

Her basic promotional tool will be a high quality multi-color handout. The handout will summarize her findings in a graphic matrix organized by jurisdiction. It will be, in effect, a, “one or more of these factors could apply to your situation and are you anticipating the potential effect?” teaser. Her contact information will be prominently featured on the handout.

The marketing plan will focus upon two tactics. The first is to write a number of relatively brief (300 – 600 word) articles about the subject that will be suitable for local newspapers, accounting trade publications, web sites, meeting handouts, etc. The second is to look for public speaking opportunities. These can be with real estate, business, “green” organizations, investment groups, etc. The list is almost without limit.

How will she benefit from this exposure?

She will become recognized as a local expert. This can lead to media exposure - appearances on radio, television and interviews for various publications.

Her expertise will be valued by a population who not only desires her services; they can afford them.

Her efforts will frequently produce immediate results. In other words, if she speaks at a gathering of, for example, general contractors, she may have members of the audience request appointments as soon as her presentation is concluded. Or, if someone reads one of her articles, her contact information will appear adjacent to the article.

What she is doing is MUCH more persuasive and targeted than any form of typical commercial advertising and should be quite inexpensive. Designing and printing a thousand handouts isn’t very costly.

Finally, her efforts have spin-off possibilities. For example, the research, article preparation, presentation materials, etc. all have potential to be recycled into a book, online course, or an audio/video program she could sell to other accountants wishing to replicate her success in their area.

Is her “green” idea the only one? Absolutely not. Topics are only limited by your imagination and areas of interest. Scanning the articles in accounting-specific web sites, various trade journals and a host of other media will give you ideas about what’s hot and what’s not.

Pick a niche. Do your homework. Become an expert. Let everyone know you are that expert. Create opportunities to write and speak.

As stated so succinctly in the movie Field of Dreams, “Build it and they will come.”

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