(This is an updated article written about using marketing letters from back in 2008! Some simple marketing principles just don't change, and this is one of them.)
|One question I'm (still) asked quite often by bookkeepers who want to start their own bookkeeping business is, “How do I get my first few clients?”
My response to this question is usually, ‘What have you done so far?'
Have you considered using marketing letters?
While most bookkeepers get the majority of their clients from word of mouth, the catch is, how can you find new clients when you need or want them? it's certainly not effective to sit around just hoping and wishing someone makes a referral to you, is it?
I'm a big believer in attraction style marketing (that's getting clients to find you), but at times we just need to be more proactive to get what we want.
Marketing letters are a tried and true (albeit old fashioned) way to get the attention of prospective clients who may, in fact, be in need of a bookkeeper at the time they receive your letter, but didn't know where to look for you!
It will feel serendipitous to them!
Sending out personalized letters via postal mail was one of the most effective tactics I used when I got my business started way back in 1990. Of course, times have certainly changed, including effective digital marketing methods. But here's the thing. Because of all the electronic upgrades, this ‘old fashioned' method can be even MORE effective than it was back when I got started! You'll certainly have a lot less competition, which is an advantage right away.
Build Your List
The most responsive recipients will be those who already know you. So the first people you write your marketing letters to should be family, friends, and those who currently provide services to you, such as your doctors, insurance agent, accountant, etc.
The next best list of people to write to are those who are part of a specific industry in which you would like to specialize.
What types of businesses are you already familiar with? Are there any clubs or associations for that industry? If so, you may be able to purchase a list of their members in your area to whom you could announce your services.
If your specialty is not very narrow, you may also be able to send a mailing to a list of members for your local chamber of commerce or other business organization. If you are a member, you can position yourself as reaching out to fellow members, and even offer them a special one-time deal.
The purpose of your letter is to get the attention of business owners who may need your services. The trick is to get their attention. The challenge is, you have competition. Small business owners are constantly bombarded with sales messages.
So how can you rise above the “noise” and get your audience's attention long enough for them to recognize the benefits you have to offer them?
Write a Compelling Letter
When composing your letter of introduction, be aware that the receipient is looking for what matters most to him or her. The question they are asking themselves is, “What's In It For Me?” (also known as WIIFM).
Don't make the same mistake 95% of the bookkeepers I've seen make when attempting to market their services. Don't talk just about yourself! Your prospect doesn't really care about you. Sorry. What they care about most are the benefits you have to offer them and their business.
Here are some important points to keep in mind when figuring out what to write in your letter of introduction:
Point #1 – Your letter must focus on the big benefits your prospect gets for working with you. This is made more powerful if you offer something of value that isn't available with just any bookkeeper. (This is one reason specializing can give you an edge with a targeted audience.)
Point #2 – Let them know that you feel their pain. Usually the reason your prospects know they need your help is because they are experiencing some type of problem that's hurting their business. Maybe they are getting slapped with a big, unexpected tax bill, or they're afraid they will because they have no idea how much money they've made without up-to-date bookkeeping records.
You can use this common situation to demonstrate how your services will save them from the need to ever feel that pain again, but instead, put them in control of their taxes and their profits.
Point #3 – Keep the letter to one page with a clear call to action. Most business owners are short on time, so they will want to get through your message quickly. Use bullets and short sentences, and bold the most important points. Make it clear what they need to do next. Tell them to call you or email you to get the benefits they want.
The Fortune Is in the Follow Up
Sending out just one mailing will not fill your business with new clients. To get the most reward for your marketing efforts, you must follow up, and do it consistently.
Repeat your mailing at least three times, a month or two apart. You can use the same letter, or write a few different versions. In either case, your name and what you have to offer will start to become more familiar to your prospects. This alone, over time, almost guarantees you'll get results.
For the fastest response, pick up the phone. If you follow up your letter with a friendly phone call a week later, you will immediately distinguish yourself as a serious professional. More often than not, these calls will turn out to be surprisingly positive.
And there's no need to worry. When calling prospects, no hard selling is necessary. Just a brief call to confirm that they received your letter, to answer any questions they may have, and to see if they, or someone they know, are in need of your services. Quick, friendly and to the point.
When it comes to getting new clients quickly, being proactive can really pay off.
The fact is, there is a huge number of small businesses truly in desperate need of help with their bookkeeping. When you focus on the very real value you have to offer your prospective clients, you will not only get their attention but, very likely, their business too.
If the idea of sending out marketing letters make sense, but you're still trying to figure out how to get your bookkeeping business off the ground, or you want to move your existing practice to a completely virtual business, then my free report surrounding how to get started and market an online bookkeeping business will help.
Learn more and get your free copy here