Jassen: Great. This whole time for the past hour and a half you’ve been talking about marketing into specific niches, other industry to offer your CPA services to them because almost all businesses need accounting help. So what are some tips that you might have for – I guess identifying and how to go about expanding into other niches? How would a CPA do that to grow their business?
James Orr: Well, I really see it being two primary ways and one way is a couple of subways. So the two primary ways is either geographical expansion where you are offering your service maybe in your local market at first and then you decide – it occurs to you at some point, “Well, what if I offered my service in the next city over?” So you could be, “I’ve got an accounting service that we offer to clients in Fort Collins and I also offer to people in Loveland or people in Denver, people in Colorado Springs,” or you could go out of state and keep expanding that way. That’s what I called geographical expansion. You are almost pretending that you have a virtual business in all these different areas. You could either create new websites for that or you can create new content where you focus on catering to people in those communities with your service.
James Orr: The next way, the other major way are niches. We talk a lot about niches tonight and focusing on specific ones but I break that down in three sub-categories. The one that people tend to be able to do easiest is they tend generalized when they begin. So they offer accounting services to everybody. Anyone in the world is their client or potential client.
The easiest way to start increasing the number of niches you serve is start narrowing down your niche from there. You can’t get too specific. Well, you probably could but it’ll be really hard for you to get too specific with your niche because you really could go after very specific sub-niches. Instead of just real estate investors you could go after multi-unit property real estate investors or single family home real estate investors.
The more specific you get, the easier it becomes to really target and laser focus in on those guys. So if you wanted to focus on single family home real estate investors you can buy a mailing list of single family home real estate investors and if you’ve got a really good widget for them like a special report that deals specifically with the challenge that you know they have from your point of view, your accounting, that CPA type of stuff then you can really do a great mailing to them where they can request the information for free. Then you’ve got a much smaller list of people that have raised their hands and you can cater to that niche. So getting specific you get all those benefits we talked before about focusing on very specific niches. That’s one way to do it.
The other way to do it is to expand out. Most people don’t do this but instead of just offering accounting services you could offer accounting and business planning services. You can niche up instead of niching down into a specific industry you can say, “I’m going to expand and expand my services and maybe what I want to offer.” So maybe you offer a planning service where you do financial planning or retirement planning and you also do accounting, different ways to expand up and deal with that.
Then the other side is go with closely related niches like you Jassen, you probably could do some accounting type services or bookkeeping services but you also have the enrolled agent side so you’re specifically doing IRS, debt reduction and debt negotiation type stuff and so that’s a very closely related niche that you’ve expanded out to. Does that make sense?
James Orr: Okay. So those are really the two major ways and then the second way you had some kind of sub things which is niche down get into some really fine details. You can niche up and take on a bigger perspective or you could like side niches where you have closely related topics to do.
Jassen: Alright. Well this has been really informative. I hope that everybody on the line got a lot out of this. Definitely we went through a lot of marketing information here. I’m sure that people have additional questions on their mind out of this so if folks wanted to get in touch with you James, how could they reach you to kind to pick your brain on some more of these stuff?
James Orr: Well, I’m going to practice what I preach here and tell them you can go right to my blog at learntoberich.com and on the right hand side is a link that says downloads. Guess what? You’re going to find all widgets there. You’re going to find lots of special reports and audio downloads and great resources for you to access regardless of what industry you’re in. We cater to a lot of different industries. You’re welcome to go there and download the resources and you will then be automatically signed up to receive our newsletter and some information from us. So we would love for you to do that and get some more information. The website again is learntoberich.com and it’s all spelled out all the words spelled correctly and everything.
Jassen: Alright. Well, I really appreciate you joining us tonight and for sharing all these information with our listeners. Is there anything else you want to add before we close out?
James Orr: I think that’s it. I really appreciate it you have me on and I hope that everyone got a lot of great information and is going to actually act on it and implement some of the ideas to really increase their business.
Jassen: And that is the key right there, isn’t that is? Taking action on what you learn not just sitting on it.
James Orr: It absolutely is. That is the big difference.
Jassen: Alright. Well, thanks a lot, James. I’ll look forward to speaking with you again soon and you have yourself a wonderful night.
James Orr: I appreciate it. Thanks, Jassen I’ll talk to you soon.
Jassen: Alright take care.
James Orr: Bye-bye.
Jassen: That’s a great way to go. It’s part of that whole [inaudible][01:19:40] clichés which is one of those thinking out of the box things.
James Orr: Absolutely.
Jassen: Okay. Now we’ve already talked about a little bit about meet-up. You mentioned that in an earlier segment but could go on to some more detail about using meet-up to meet new people and grow your CPA clientele?
James Orr: Yes I definitely can. There are basically three ways that I can think of to use meet-up and they sort of overlap in some ways. The first one is you can use it find niches that you are interested in serving as a CPA or accountant. Then you can join those meet-up groups, become involve in the group. Share information, be helpful, and learn about their challenges. Learn about their problems, see if you can help. Offer them access to your network and try to get access to their network and just overall become part of that community. So that’s number one is focus on specific niches your interested in.
The number two one is you can actually create your own meet-up group and cater to those niches. Seven or eight years ago I forget what it was now, there was not a local real estate investor group in Fort Collins nor in Colorado where we are and so I ended having to form a local real estate investor group. I started holding meetings and then I started networking with everybody. It turned out really great so I recommend people start groups if there isn’t one in niches that you want to cater to. Then grow your contact base from there. People will flock to you. People interested in that will want to join your group and provided you’re giving them good value and good information and great opportunities there, they’re going to want to keep coming back. They’re going to see you as an expert and be more likely to do business with you in the future. So you can definitely grow your own meet-up groups if you need to do it that way.
The last one is you can go outside of your local market and contact group owners outside of your area who you may want to cater to. One of the great things about being a CPA business is you really can do it remotely, right?
James Orr: So if you wanted to go and start saying, “I’m going to really focus in on this one niche.” You could go find other meet-up groups outside of your local area and cater to them and give them access to your special reports or your lead generation tools and then let them offer them to their group as a free resource that they can download as long as they get their contact information. Then you can start marketing to them over time to.
Jassen: Exactly. Okay. Now the next one – people are going to scratch their heads when they first hear this but just because you have a service business like a CPA firm that doesn’t mean that you cannot use ebay to sell your services.
James Orr: I want to correct what you said because part of the challenge is that people do look at CPA or accounting business as a service business. One of the great things about using widgets is you can convert a service business to a physical product business. By going out there and creating products whether that’s a special report, a little mini booklet, a audio CD, maybe it’s a three hour seminar you do, whatever it is that you can do in order to create a physical product then you can start marketing things like physical products that will have an upsell or back end of your actual service. So you want to actually take that into account when you’re thinking about other ways to market your business. You’re right. Most people would be scratching their heads, “How do I market my CPA business on ebay?”
Jassen: So explain real quick, how do they do that?
James Orr: Well it’s easy. What you do is you go create a very specialized report for a very niche industry and you sell that report as a product on ebay. So for instance you might make a two hour audio CD talking about how to setup your bookkeeping system for electricians or for retail shop owners or get more specific than that in mind but you can go and do all the variety of these things.
It might be really simple things that you have – a normal conversation about with all of your clients and it seems so second nature to you but every time they hear it they’re like, “That makes perfect sense. So now I know how to setup my file system,” or “Now I know how to setup quick books,” or “Here is the software I need.” Whatever those questions are you could make an information product, a physical product. Maybe it’s a booklet, maybe it’s a special report and you could sell it even at a loss – I don’t recommend it – but you could sell it at a loss and consider it cost subduing business for your lead generation. So maybe you have a CD that cost you a dollar to make, you’re going to sell it for $0.99 on ebay and with the marketing fees you have to pay ebay maybe you’re at a $0.30 loss. But now you’ve got someone’s name, address, telephone number and e-mail address who is interested enough to pay a dollar for that product. Now you’ve got an opportunity to put them on your mailing list. There is a much higher probability that they would become a client than just someone on the street.
James Orr: Does that answer your question about how to market a service on ebay?
Jassen: Definitely I’m sure some of our listeners are surprised in what they’ve never thought about being able to market a service on something like ebay with it’s geared toward physical products. But they’re very, very doable.
James Orr: Yes. I would generate a hundred plus new increase a month from selling information products on ebay for a business.
Jassen: Okay. I think most of our listeners would be thrilled if they were able to generate a hundred new inquiry in a month into their CPA firm.
James Orr: I agree. I was doing a lot of products and this is not just one product doing this. I mean would create lots of very niche focus products and I’ll be able to sell those over a period of time. You know as in aside, if you hook up with someone else that has a product or service that they’re selling, couldn’t you do like a joint venture like let’s say somebody was creating websites. You can go and joint venture with somebody who’s selling websites to electricians or contractors and network with them and bundle the two together in a special report on how to setup your business from the tax side plus this website. Now you just share the names and addresses and contact information.
Jassen: Okay, great. Now, one of the things that I know about how you run your business is that you are a huge fan of all the Google tools that are available to you.
James Orr: Absolutely.
Jassen: I know we don’t have the time to go really in depth on each tool but could you give a quick rundown of the free marketing tools that Google makes available for promoting your business?
James Orr: Absolutely. So here’s the quick list of nine – and you’re right, we really don’t have time to go into detail but I will mention each one and you could do your own research on it. I’ll tell you what it was generally used for.
The first one is Google AdWords. Google AdWords is Google’s advertising program. You can buy advertisements on the Google network. You can also do keyword research. So if you want to find out how many times people are searching for Denver CPA you can go on to Google AdWords and do a search and find out how many people are searching for that, whether that trend is up or down, how much people are paying for that keyword. You can do all that research on Google AdWords plus buy advertising from Google on there for specific keywords. That’s number one.
Number two, we mentioned before is Google AdSense. Google AdSense is the program where you put ads on your website and when people click on those ads you get paid part of what the advertisers are paying google. So that’s one of the ways to make money when you’re doing lead generation. That’s another great resource from Google. It’s called Google AdSense.
Number three is Google Analytics. This is the little tracking code you put at the bottom of your website and allows you to track, measure and therefore focus on and improve your marketing efforts. You can find out where your traffic’s coming from or putting articles out on somebody’s article directory type sites – is that really helping you? You can measure that with Analytics. You can use that as a measuring tool for improving your website.
Google FeedBurner is that RSS e-mail subscription type of interface where people want to receive updates whenever you publish new contents to your blog, they can receive that via RSS with Google FeedBurner. The other thing I like about FeedBurner is that it allows you to see what articles people are clicking on so that you can go and write more articles about that particular topic. Maybe you find out that certain types of topics you’re writing about are more popular than others. Well, focus on more of those. It’ll get people what they want. So you can go ahead and use that too.
Google Groups – great tool for going and finding and networking with certain niches. So if you want to focus on the electrician niche you, you can go and actually find an electrician group on Google Groups. Start hanging out there, find out what their problems are, what their challenges are and then become a part of that community and market yourself there as well.
Google Website Optimizer is number six. That is used for improving your website conversion. Remember before, Jassen we’re talking about testing headlines to see which one works best?
James Orr: Well, Google Website Optimizer is the tool you would use to do that. They take care of all the crazy math about how many people you need to actually visit it before it becomes significant. So they’ll tell you clearly which one is going to be the winner if you have two different headlines. They’ll swap them out and alternate between two different headlines if you’ve got visitors coming to your site and they will then show you which one is the best one for getting conversions. So that’s called Google Website Optimizer.
James Orr: Google Webmaster tools – a great resource for people that own websites you could put your site map which is basically just a list of all the different pages on your website. You could feed that in the Google Webmaster tools and then Google will know to go to all those pages to see if they can index them in search engines. The other thing that’s nice about Google Webmaster tools is that it allows you to see all the different keywords that you are ranking for. So if someone types in “Denver CPA service,” are you even coming up? Is your website showing up at all for that search? Instead of having to go and look through Google and see if you appear on page seven, Google will actually tell you what keywords you’re ranking for, where you’re ranking and that could change overtime so it keeps tracking that for you. You can look back and see if you’re improving, things of that nature. So it’s very helpful.
Google Trends is number eight. That allows you to do keyword and market research. Do you want to see if certain types of words in your industry are increasing in popularity overtime or decreasing? What is the new home buyer tax credit – is that what they’re calling that thing?
Jassen: Yes, the new home line of credit right now – the $8,000 for first time home buyers.
James Orr: Yes. So if you want to see if that thing is decreasing in popularity or if it’s increasing in popularity you could go to Google Trends, type in that keyword and it’ll show you a graph over time of the number of people searching for that. So you can use that as a way to figure out topics that are coming in to vogue or leaving the public’s mind and you can focus on those words when you’re writing content or articles.
The last one here is Google Alerts. Google Alerts is great because it allows you to spy on your competition or you want to see every time another competing CPA firm in your town is doing any marketing on the Internet. You could put in their name in Google Alerts and Google will e-mail you once a day or once week or whatever frequency you set whenever that name shows up in any new web searches. You can also do it to put your own name of your business in there and see when people are talking about you. Whether it’s good or bad or whatever you can go and see if someone says negative about you, you can go and defend yourself. Whatever you need to do, make comments or contact the owner. Whatever you need to do in order to stay on top of people doing that and you do use Google alerts for that. So those are the Google tools.
Jassen: Google Alerts is a great service. I have bunch of alerts set up and I love seeing what people are saying about either myself, you, my business, our industry, niches that I’m tracking things. It a very powerful tool, I love Google alerts.
James Orr: Yes. It’s free. By the way all these tools are pretty much free. The only one I think you need to pay money for is AdWords and that’s when you’re buying advertising.
Jassen: That is awesome. Next thing I want to talk about is how to take your – this list that you’ve been talking about building this whole time. You’ve got this list and so what are some ways that you can cultivate new business specifically from that list?
James Orr: Yes. I think most people are under the false illusion that they’re going to convert a very large number of people directly from their website into clients. While it does happen, it is much easier to get someone to come on your website, order a free special report or a free download and join your mailing list and over a period of several contacts, begin to know, like and trust you and then when they’re ready they’ll actually contact you about your service and actually become a client. So what you want to do is you want to have regular contacts with your internal list, people who have requested information from you, people that are existing clients and reaffirm that they’ve made a good decision being with you, reestablish yourself as an expert. Do all those things and there are four ways that you could use that to cultivate new and repeat business and referrals actually from your internal list.
Number one is the monthly newsletter. I personally would prefer if you’d physically mailed it – I’m not getting a kickback from the post office. I’ll tell you why you should actually mail it. It’s because people discount e-mail. So if you actually take the time to go print out 8 ½ x 11 two-sided newsletter once a month, you can upload your newsletter to the U.S. postal service, you can upload your mailing list to the postal service. They’ll do all the printing and mailing for you and it’s dirt cheap so you can definitely go and do that. But you should mail it out because it’s going to give more value. People are going to notice it. Even if they throw it away, you’ve now gotten the hits on your name and your information where someone else the next day or two days later says, “Hey, I need an accountant.” Guess what? They just saw your name and they’ve been seeing it every month for the last six months and they’re going to think of you. More so than someone else who’s just sending them an e-mail once in a while. You definitely want to have some type of physical mailing and get it in their hand. So that’s number one.
Number two is occasional e-mails with updates, promotional offers and special reports and important announcements. I think you should e-mail your client base regularly and just let them know what’s going on. Maybe you’ll tell them, “Look, I’m about to take vacation here in the next two weeks. So I just want to make sure that if you have any needs that I’m available for you over the next two weeks or if you’re going to miss that then I’ll be back in a month, a month from today in order to handle anything you need. So let me know if you need that and by the way, we have a new client discounts where it’s free hour consultation and 10% off your first tax return,” whatever it is you’re going to offer. So you could go ahead and do that. Put out any special reports you put out there so you could get occasional e-mails where you do that. I think that’s really important too.
The third thing out here is to give them access to you via social networking sites. I told you before that social networking is really about getting to know the person. These are things you like outside of business. They want to feel like they know you more so than you’re just an accountant. So give them access to you. I mean, create a Twitter account and share with them when you do certain fun things or vacations you take or restaurants you go to or sporting event, share whatever your hobbies are. Then people will know, like and trust you and be more likely to do business with you by becoming involved in those things. You can use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, all those different social media type websites in order to do that.
The final way that you can actually use your internal list to cultivate and get new business and repeat business and referrals is there are definitely applications out there on the web where you can take all the new blog articles and contacts you’ve added to your blog over the last week. You can have it automatically sent out once a week to your entire client base where it says, “Here are the new articles I wrote with like a one sense description of what’s included,” and they can click on the link in order to read those. You can set that up so that it automatically happens. If you’re adding contents to your blog there’s going to be an e-mail sent out that lists all the different content that that was added and you don’t need to do anything extra. It just gets taken care for you. So I think that’s a good way to do e-mails more so than the newsletter you know.
Jassen: Okay. The purpose of the RSS e-mail feed is to get people coming back to your website, right?
James Orr: Right. They just keep your name up there so that when they finally do need you, you’ve established yourself as an expert. They know you. They trust you because you’re constantly there, you’re reliable. They’re willing to do business with you. So they’ll do referrals to you especially if you ask. If you put down there, “By the way, I love your referrals,” or if you highlight people that have given you referrals – yes, you want to go and do that type of e-mails so it’s consistent and top of mind awareness.