Capstone Marketing Blog, Self-Improvement

14 Things Successful People Do Differently

For many CPAs life is good. Average equity partner compensation according to Inside Public Accounting is over $500,000. The past four years has shown steady growth.

Yet, this is not the experience for all.

Let me tell you a tale of two firms. Located in a capital city both firms were comparable in size 15 years ago.

Today, one firm is four times its size and is the largest independent CPA firm in their marketplace. This firm created the infrastructure, including a chief operating officer and chief marketing officer; set up industry niche teams; created a brand that attracts new and experienced hires; and, tracks a pipeline of opportunities.

The other firm continues to do business the way they’ve always done it. Individually. No accountability. No firm growth.

Anthony Robbins said, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”

The first firm is doing things differently. They are creating their future. The second firm is stuck. They are repeating their past.

Which one are you? Are you creating your future or repeating your past?

If you’d like to create your future here are 14 things successful people do differently.

1. They create and execute goals.

One difference between successful and unsuccessful people is that the successful ones commit to a goal and don’t stop until they achieve it. They set their sights high and accomplish what they set out to do. Writing down your goals makes a big difference. Be sure to create SMART goals: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. Each goal needs to define who is responsible for doing what by when.

2. They take definite and direct action.

There’s a big difference between knowing how to do something and actually doing it. Some people spend too much time gathering information on how to succeed, which can result in information overload and paralyze them from taking action. Successful people make things happen.

3. They focus on being productive, not being busy.

Put first things first. The third habit in Stephen R. Covey’s ground-breaking work, The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People,

“To live a more balanced existence, you have to recognize that not doing everything that comes along is okay. There’s no need to overextend yourself. All it takes is realizing that it’s all right to say no when necessary and then focus on your highest priorities.”

Review your goals. Put first things first. Do one thing at a time. Remember, results are more important than the time it takes to achieve them.

4. They operate outside of their comfort zone.

Let’s face it. In order to do things differently and make positive changes in your life and in your business you need to step out of your comfort zone. You can feel uncomfortable exploring new opportunities because you believe you need additional knowledge, skill, or experience. The truth is nobody ever feels completely ready when an opportunity arises. Successful people embrace these moments of opportunity even if they don’t feel 100% ready.

5.  They focus on making small, continuous improvements.

Making small, positive changes is a wonderful way to help you reach the level of success you’d like. The simple act of getting started and doing something will give you the push you need. It will be hard in the beginning, but it will get easier. Successful people take their goals and priorities seriously. Once they’ve figured out what they want to accomplish, they’re disciplined about getting it done.

6.  They measure and track their progress.

You can’t control what you don’t measure. Review your goals and track the things that directly relate to achieving them.

7.  They learn from their mistakes.

Remember, every mistake is a learning opportunity. Every time you make one, you’re one step closer to your goal. The only mistake that can really hurt you is choosing to do nothing simply because you’re too afraid to make a mistake. The most successful people have unshakeable confidence in themselves. Without it, they’d have given up after a few obstacles got in their way.

8.  They spend time with the right people.

You are the sum of the people you spend the most time with. If you want to be more successful, spend time with others who are already successful. Also, read books written by them or about them. Watch TED Talks.

9.  They don’t make excuses.

Successful people know they are in control of their own destiny. They don’t complain about the things that stopped them from success. Instead, they push forward knowing that they are the only thing that will make or break their success. When they see an opportunity, they act.

10.  They constantly learn.

Successful people believe in lifelong learning. They’re constantly reading and learning from others around them, from books, trade magazines and conferences, or from others who are ahead of where they want to be. What have you learned recently that can get you closer to the success you want?

11.  They make difficult decisions.

There will always be challenges and obstacles that require you to make difficult decisions. Rather than avoiding sensitive issues or conflicts successful people deal with them, directly and promptly.

12. They focus on what matters.

Successful people don’t just see the big picture; they’re usually the ones that come up with it in the first place. That’s what matters to them and what they focus on. If you want to be successful, figure out what matters to you and do what it takes to make it happen.

13.  They look at the long-term.

Focus on building a strong foundation for long-term growth. Start looking at everything you do as a long-term investment. Invest in your education and the future.

14. They work hard while maintaining balance in their life.

Successful people are not lazy. They work hard to achieve their goals. Yet, if you let your work life consume you, it’s very easy to lose your balance. If you’re going to get things done right, and be truly successful, you need to balance the various dimensions of your life. Completely neglecting one dimension for another only leads to long-term disappointment and stress.

Do you need assistance in creating your future, in doing things differently? Consider joining the Capstone Community, a community of managing partners interested in education and collaboration regarding CPA firm growth and client retention. Learn more.

Budget, Capstone Marketing Blog

13 Ways to Waste Your Accounting Firm Marketing Budget

Money Down Drain

Accountants continue to spend an average of 2 percent to 4 percent of firm net revenue on marketing. Some firms proactively create and manage their budgets, ensuring that their marketing activities support firm goals. Others barely keep track and are surprised at year end.  No matter where you are on this spectrum here are 13 ways – on Friday the 13th – you can waste your accounting firm marketing budget and how to fix it.

#1: Spending money to reach the wrong prospects/contacts.

Waste your marketing budget by participating in activities that reach the wrong audience. This is especially an issue for B2B companies, including CPA firms that have a limited target market (how many manufacturing companies with sales between $10-$50 million located within 60 miles of your office are there?). Advertising and tradeshows tend to be the biggest budget items, yet much of the audience is often off target, i.e., not the decision-makers. Building a database of your target market prospects doesn’t happen overnight, but it will be the best marketing investment you’ve ever made.

#2: Generating leads that aren’t appropriate for your firm.

Think of the billable hours you could save by not investing time on new business prospects that you know are inappropriate for your firm. Your firm’s partners need to agree on what constitutes a good lead. Then, it’s the job of the managing partner and niche team leaders to make sure that all partners and the marketing department are in synch, and lead follow-up is where the rubber meets the road.

#3: Not following up on leads.

Make sure that every good lead generated is passed to the appropriate partner, not necessarily the one with time on his hands. Save time by not chasing leads that are not a good fit for your firm. Consider whether your firm is ready to hire a business developer, marketing director or inbound marketing specialist to manage this process.

#4: Overemphasizing new leads.

According to the Association of Professional Salesmen 80 percent of sales are made on the 5th – 12th contact. Yet, most CPAs give up the sales process long before that. Given the long sales cycle in the accounting profession, which can range from several months to several years, your best chance to make a sale is to someone who has already been in touch with your firm.

#5. Not paying attention to your current clients.
You are probably familiar with the saying, “Acquiring a new client costs more than keeping an existing client.” One of the ways to ensure firm growth and profitability is to focus on client retention. If you don’t have any budget allocated to retention, you are going to force your new business development dollars to work harder than they need to.

#6: Not getting the most out of your email marketing.

Understanding the science of email marketing will result in a greater return on your marketing dollars. According to HubSpot emails should be optimized for mobile and not include too many images. MailChimp advises that the subject line should change with each email, e.g., avoid using News from XYZ Firm every time; be no longer than 50 characters; avoid the words Help, Percent off, and Reminder; and, avoid using splashy promotional phrases, CAPS, or exclamation marks. Subject lines framed as questions can often perform better. Of course, be sure that the information you convey in your email marketing campaigns are relevant and of value to your audience.

#7. Not collecting email addresses.

Waste occurs when you can’t reach your clients or prospects directly. Email is currently one of the most efficient vehicles for reaching clients. If you don’t have a reasonable percentage of email addresses you can look forward to years of ineffective e-communications.

#8: Investing in passive initiatives without active participation.

Sponsoring an event only to have no one attend? Purchasing a table for a local cause dinner only to be filled at the last minute with firm personnel? You can slash your marketing budget by thousands of dollars by eliminating these events – if your team is not committed to participating in the event, which is where you get the bang for your buck.

Move all high school yearbook and personal cause ads from the firm marketing budget to a discretionary budget for each partner. And, the Yellow Pages are dead. Discontinue all display ads or special listings now.

#9: Losing people on your Web site.

All roads lead to your Web site. Any serious prospect will be looking at your Web site multiple times throughout the interaction with your firm—before, during, and after the selection decision.

The first thing you need to make sure is that your Web site content is of interest to your prospects. The second thing is to have calls to action that will get your Web site visitors to engage—view a webinar, download a whitepaper, fill out a survey. Last, you need to make sure that you can track these interactions. With this information in hand, you can fine-tune your follow up to match your prospects’ interests and avoid wasting valuable marketing and sales resources.

#10: Not repurposing content.

Creating new content is often the bottleneck to new marketing initiatives. Once you have created some good content that will engage your clients and contacts don’t let it go to waste. Your prospects process information in different ways, so you can take the same content and repurpose it in multiple ways. For example, turn your webinar into an article, post it in your newsletter and blog, pitch it as a PR placement, or offer it as a podcast.

#11: Not sharing your content on social media.

Publishing great content isn’t enough anymore. You have to promote it. Social media helps you reach clients and prospects, and grow your audience. According to B2B Content Marketing 2014 conducted by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, the top four social media sites used by B2B marketers to share content are: LinkedIn (91%), Twitter (85%), Facebook (81%), and YouTube (73%).

#12: Not knowing what you get for your money.

Every marketing activity should be attached to a measurable goal. If it’s not, you probably shouldn’t be doing it. A measurable goal could be number of leads, number of new contacts, number of meetings, opportunities, clients, and all the way to revenue dollars. This will help you determine what’s working and what’s not working, which is important to know as you revise your marketing plan and budget.

#13. Not optimizing your current marketing investments.

Many marketers aren’t spending enough time optimizing their current marketing activities. Investing in improving current strategies could provide a greater return on investment than launching completely new strategies. The lack of marketing optimization translates to not fully realizing the potential of assigned budget dollars.


Want to be sure you’re investing your marketing dollars in the most effective way? Let’s talk about conducting a marketing audit for your firm. Click the button below to start the conversation.

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