Vikram Rajan

Unleash Your Word-of-Mouse Referrals

Use these three steps to gain prospective clients through the Internet.

February 21, 2012
by Vikram Rajan

  1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is the method to get you to appear higher in search engine (e.g., Google) results. This is a bit of a cat and mouse game in that it’s like going to Vegas and trying to beat the house. If you continue to beat the house, eventually the house is going to beat you in more ways than one. Likewise, Google has become punitive with people trying to break their algorithm. While this method can work in the short term, for long-term results there are tried-and-true ways that are more effective and sustainable.
  2. Pay Per Click (PPC). This is a costly, yet very predictable method. You see this in the advertisements on the top and sides of your Google search results page. The more you pay, the more prominent your advertisement is. By carving out your geographic region, you can definitely maximize your “impressions” (the number of times your ad appears). Statistically, the most impressions, the greater “click-through” rate. Of course, keywords applicable to tax season are going up daily!
  3. Word of Mouse (WOM). Word of mouth has always been around. People who know you already can tell others about you. Likewise, it’s the way I prefer using the Internet for marketing accounting services. “Word-of-Mouse” is the concept behind social media. People recommending you to others. These referrals tend to be the most productive and lucrative because there’s instant trust: six degrees of separation becomes two degrees.

Word-of-Mouse Is Built on the Internet Referral Triad

  1. Your Website’s Blog. Your blog is like a newsletter that appears on your website. If you’re sending out regular newsletters then you already have a blog. In 2002, this would be called the FAQ section on a website. In 2012, this is called a blog.
  2. Network Updates. Tax tips in 140 characters? That’s a tweet. Do clients say, “I can’t thank you enough!”? Sure they do. Have them extend those thanks by “like”-ing your Facebook business profile. Do other professionals often refer you? Are you all LinkedIn?
  3. E-newsletter. Even today people check their e-mail more than their social networks. Your clients will never know about your website and the valuable new articles you post, unless you notify them. The days of long PDF attachments are over. Keep it short; keep it simple; keep it clickable back to your website.

Still need a website … for free … by the end of today?

You can launch your website for free at Wordpress.com. This will take five minutes to create and look completely professional. This is home base for professional and online networking as well as your e-newsletter: Wordpress.com started as a blogging platform and as such is built to do well in search engine results. The more often you post to your website, the better you will show in search engine results.

Since wordpress.com is meant to house a blog, the first page of your website will default to your blog. However, you can change this to make your website “fit in” and look like a standard business site by choosing your first page to be a “static” page in which you detail your business.

Less Than Eight Weeks …

April 16 is right around the corner and it is the best day to launch your new marketing campaign. Your advice is still ringing clear. Your clients are still glowing from your work, while their colleagues and friends are freshly annoyed with the poor experience they’ve just received. Help your clients brag about you by putting the Internet Referral Triad together and be prepared to hire more staff!

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Vikram Rajan is contributes to the CPA Insider, Journal of Accountancy and has taught marketing webinars on behalf of the AICPA. His marketing company runs phoneBlogger.net, a referral marketing service for CPAs and attorneys. He is also the author of PracticeMarketingBLOG.com.