Be Client Centered

It's all about the client, isn't it? Or is it?

Recently, I did a Google search on “CPA firms.” About 776,000 hits.

Then I tried a twist. I added the words “client centered.” I was curious: how many CPA firms actively use the phrase when they are marketing and communicating? Result: the 776,000 hits dwindled down to 74.

In other words, CPA firms directly tell the market they are client centered about one in 10,000 times.

Law firms, by the way — are you ready? — do better. Sort of. One in about 1,900 of them use the term.

So, what does this mean? That accountants are less client-focused than lawyers? I don't think so. More likely, it suggests that accounting firms need to do a stronger job of telling the market that they care.

I see evidence of this omission all too often. When professional services firms go to market, they talk about all their capabilities. About their practice areas. And maybe, a bit, about the problems they can help clients solve.

But why does the problem solving always seem to come last?

Smart PR and marketing always puts the customer first. This seems logical, and few would disagree. But when push comes to shove, it doesn't happen nearly as often as it should.

Why doesn't the vast majority of PR and marketing that I see fail to talk first about the customer? Because firms are always talking about themselves:

“Our newly-enhanced capabilities in personal tax …”

“We invite you to inquire about our consulting services…”

“Our new office is a reflection of our commitment to growth and quality…”

Yikes! Is this any different than listening to the bore at the party who talks incessantly and endlessly about himself? So let's talk about ourselves a bit less, okay? Honestly, the only ones who care about us are our mothers and our spouses. (I doubt we even make the cut with our kids.) If you look at yourself and your business honestly for a moment, I think that in your heart you'll see I'm probably not too far off the mark.

Client-centered PR and marketing focuses on the client's needs, concerns, priorities, and questions. Do mailings, write articles, get in the media, be interviewed, and talk everywhere about these things.

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