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Effective Benefit Plan Audit Marketing

     -     Oct 19th, 2011   -     Accounting Marketing   -     0 Comments

The 2010 benefit plan audit season wrapped up earlier this week when the extended deadline (October 17, 2011) passed. Running around to get plan documents, questions answered and outstanding issues clarified is finally over. However, if you are in charge of your firm’s plan audit practice, don’t let the dust settle quite yet. Now is the time to start marketing your firm’s benefit plan audit practice. At this point you may be thinking, “What? I thought the best time to market was after the first of the year!” This is a common misconception that many firms have, the best time to market to anyone is right when their pain is at the highest level. If a company had a bad experience with their plan auditor, then now is the time to target them.

Tips for an Effective EBP Marketing Campaign

To help CPA firms develop an effective marketing campaign we have provided key tips that will get you started on the right path:

  • List Development. Arguably the most important part of any marketing campaign. Be sure to carefully consider the parameters to use when purchasing a list. The best approach is to define parameters using your existing client list as the basis. For example, if your clients have plans that range in size between 200 and 2,000 total participants, then develop the new prospect list based around these same parameters. If you were to focus outside of your current client base, you may be asked to produce references for similar size plans that your firm simply will not have. So when developing your prospect list, it is best to keep it focused in this manner.
  • List Sanitization. Once you have purchased a prospect list from a vendor it is important to take time to sanitize the list to ensure the contact and other information is as accurate as possible. In our experience, we have found that the major list brokers use information from the previous Form 5500. For this reason, it is important to leverage existing resources to search for the most current filings and verify all information. The last thing you want to do is target contact names that are no longer with the company.
  • Mail Piece Development. Once the prospect list is verified you firm should consider implementing a mail campaign. It often takes 5-7 touches for a prospect to remember your company’s name and what you are selling. For this reason, it is essential to “prepare” prospects by sending a high quality mailer in the form of letter or postcard. Postcards are more effective because they are generally be more colorful and attractive, and they don’t require the prospect to do any work to reach the message. Letters simply don’t have that flexibility. When creating the copy for a mailer, consider the pain the prospect may be feeling, or a recent experience they may have had. How can you position your firm as an alternative solution? What can you say that will leave them with a “lasting impact”?
  • Telemarketing. Most firms are shy about telemarketing because they have visions of the mid 1990s when most everyone got calls at home, in the middle of dinner, asking them to switch long distance service. Business to business telemarketing is completely different from that ancient home calling practice, and in the case of EBP marketing, very necessary. This process allows your firm to professionally connect with prospects and determine their situation, level of interest, and other outstanding issues related to their plan audit. It is especially important at this stage to work with a telemarketing firm that understands EBP audits and one who can professionally represent your firm in the market. The last thing you want is your telemarketing firm leaving a poor impression with prospects.

In Perspective

It is important to remember that this approach “taps” prospects right as their Form 5500 has been filed. If there were frustrations or issues there is no doubt they will be happy it is all over. No one likes to revisit painful memories and neither will the prospect. So, while they will want to tell you how bad the process went and why they want to leave their current CPA firm, they may not want to schedule a meeting right away. Don’t be discouraged! There have been many cases where companies were so irritated they moved to make an immediate change. Regardless of the immediate outcome, remember that you need to stay prominent in the prospects mind through professional and attentive follow up. This will put your firm in a position of power when the prospect is ready to make the switch.


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