After 26 years of service my husband retired from the U.S. Navy on June 30, 2014. On July 10, we set out on our cross country adventure from San Diego to our new home in Florida. I never drove across country before and was excited. It would be an adventure! Here are a few lessons that I learned along the way that relate to your CPA firm marketing efforts.
1. Know where you’re going. In our case, we had a specific address. This didn’t require a lot of brainstorming or discussion. However, do you know where your CPA firm is headed? It’s important for your entire team to work towards the same goal. Your firm’s vision is your firm’s future. As Yogi Berra once said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.”
2. Know the route you’re going to take. A few weeks prior, using Yahoo maps and Marriott.com, I planned our trip. I took into account the mileage, driving time, and the sites we wanted to see. I created a plan so we could stay on track. Your firm needs a plan to keep your marketing activities on track. Your marketing plan should include SMART goals and strategies so it is clear who is doing what by when.
3. Prepare for the trip. Our drive would take six days but we’d spend at least another 10 days in a hotel before our household goods arrived. We needed to pack clothing, work materials, and supplies for two weeks. I took my car to the dealership for a checkup and filled the tank with gas. Despite this preparation 200 miles into the trip – we weren’t even out of California yet – the oil light went on! This was not a good start but my husband added a quart of oil and the warning light went out. This goes to show that the unexpected does happen. Be open to new opportunities for your marketing program. If you confront an obstacle figure out a way around it.
4. Figure out what to talk about in the car. I love my husband but we’d never driven 2,500+ miles in six days before. It’s just the two of us in the car and you can listen to country music for so long. We listened to talk radio and discussed various topics. We bought newspapers and went online and read stories to each other. We talked about our move, his retirement, my business, and our new life in Florida. Some topics were planned and some were spontaneous. This is what you do when you’re networking. You prepare conversation starters. You have your “go to” questions to ask the people you meet. You stay on top of the news so you can converse intelligently.
5. Work as a team. Driving 2,500+ miles is tiring. It would also be lonely if my husband and I weren’t traveling together. We shared the driving and got really good at hauling our belongings into the hotel each night. We relied on my planning skills and my husband’s mechanical skills. You must do the same with your marketing activities. Utilize your strengths. Learn from others who have skills different from your own.
6. Enjoy the ride. We decided to take a leisurely drive and take in the sites of our beautiful country. We visited the Meteor Crater, the world’s best preserved meteorite impact site and the Oklahoma City National Memorial, honoring all who were affected by the Oklahoma City bombing on April 19, 1995. We enjoyed dinners at local restaurants and talking to area residents. Marketing may not be your favorite way to spend your time but it is an important use of your time that benefits your firm and your career. Remember to have fun, laugh at yourself, and celebrate your successes.