Guerilla Marketing: Building Relationships and Getting The Word Out

By Lynn Yoffee August 2008 Editor's Note:Guerilla Marketing is designed to give you new promotional ideas and ultimately gain more Office Accounting clients. Each month we'll explore marketing strategies from a variety of angles. This month, Selwyn D. van Rooyen, of Wyn Consulting, Inc., and Don DeCarlo, of dpdynamics Inc., share their guerilla marketing tactics that require almost no financial investment and will expand your network of clients on a daily basis. These tried and true marketing methods rely on your time, energy, and imagination instead of big budgets. Build Relationships Locally The most effective source of new client referrals, according to van Rooyen, comes by getting involved with and building relationships with local CPA and IT firms to supplement the services they perform. "Oftentimes, I will provide the accounting software implementation [along with the implementation of any integrated time and billing, point of sale, customer relationship management etc. needs] while the IT firm provides the hardware and network implementation,"  van Rooyen says. Get The Word Out, Online DeCarlo says one of his biggest challenges in marketing has been to get the word out about his company's services online. "In the beginning, it just didn't seem it would be that hard to do. But it's actually very complicated and takes a lot of trial and error. You think you can just put something on the Internet and have it sell like hotcakes. But it doesn't work that way." Two things that have helped to boost online contacts and sales for DeCarlo are:
  • Achieve Microsoft certification as an Independent Software Vendor (ISV) if it applies to your company's offerings. "Once certified, you get a listing in the Office Accounting directory," he says. "That immediately started to generate calls."
  • Participate in news groups, where you have the opportunity to make numerous new contacts.
Host Promotional Seminars One of DeCarlo's most effective means of marketing his company's services is to host free seminars. His schedule includes at least two per month in major metropolitan areas, well beyond the geographic boundaries of his hometown. "I go out and meet with 25 or so people and show them ways their customers can benefit from Office Accounting," he says. Here's a peek at the marketing copy he posts on his Web site: Join us for a free seminar on Microsoft Office Accounting Discover the unique value available to you with Microsoft Office Accounting 2008 Microsoft Office Accounting is the evolution in accounting software. Based on the latest Microsoft technology OA is the perfect platform for building an accounting system that integrates into all of your operations. Simplify your systems and save time and money and make your processes more efficient and effective. Customize, integrate and enhance OA to meet all the needs of your business and industry. Allow your users to easily exchange information with other Microsoft Office applications and eliminate duplicate data and complicated procedures. Don't miss this opportunity to turn Microsoft OA into a powerful, easy to use business system to meet all of your day to day operations. Work With The MPAN Team DeCarlo works with the Microsoft team and has even helped to staff the Office Accounting booth at Microsoft seminars. "We found it's a long investment," he says of the CPA-oriented shows. "You have to introduce yourself and try to connect with the CPAs who then, in turn, refer you to end users." Join Networking Groups Networking groups abound, and you should take the time to join. They can have a range of specialty focuses including groups for business consultants, investment advisors, financial consultants, and so on. "These groups have been a good source of leads," van Rooyen says. Jump On The Phones It's important to stay in touch with current and potential clients, insuring your future stream of referrals. DeCarlo's company created a calling program with a database of almost 9,000 CPAs. "We found that calling is the most effective means," he says. "We tried e-mail and direct mail, but we found that by calling, we learn a lot. We call all of those CPAs twice a year . . . . of course we wait until after tax season." Even if your company grows and you have a marketing staff, don't lose touch with your client base. "I jump on the phones myself and enjoy that," DeCarlo says. "It's allowed us to keep our hands on the pulse of things and to know what our clients need." The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Microsoft.