“Perception is reality.” A nationally-recognized forensic accountant told me that once. It stuck with me over the years because he was right. Reality truly is an illusion, and we – as human beings, as consumers, as students of life – create our own realities based on our perceptions. We believe what we perceive. What we perceive becomes our reality.
“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” – Albert Einstein
What does this have to do with accounting firm marketing? Or business development? Or prospecting?
Your (known) prospects have already created their own personal realities when it comes to your firm. What you perceive and what they perceive may not be the same. And that difference may be costing you new business. The public perception of your firm is your firm’s reality.
For example, if your firm is perceived as being too expensive, ipso facto, it IS too expensive.
A former colleague (let’s call him “Jack”) wrote a blog post about how bundled pricing can make a huge difference in how your prospects perceive the value they receive from your firm.
Jack talked about his friend Bob who had decided to fulfill a lifelong dream: to open a restaurant. Bob needed an accountant in order to figure out the financial aspects of starting up and running his own business. He met with several accountants who all appeared to be qualified and knowledgeable, and they all described the services that they offered. But none of them looked at his situation from a holistic perspective: what he needed to do up front, and what needed to be done on a recurring, monthly basis. Or how much all of that would cost.
Then Bob met an accountant who listened to him carefully and proposed a bundle of accounting and bookkeeping services, offered at three levels of service for specific monthly fees. He chose the middle-of-the-road bundle, which included payroll processing, monthly financial reports, quarterly tax filings, quarterly financial reviews, and year-end tax returns (both business and personal), all packaged nicely into a monthly fee. While Bob admitted that he probably spent more than he had to, he was paying for the peace of mind that his fees would remain constant for the duration of the contract, and he knew exactly what he was getting for the money.
He chose value and convenience over bottom-line price. The bundle made the difference.
What’s the moral of this story? Bundled services and tiered pricing packages can help change someone’s perception – not only about price, but also about value.
As a consumerist society, we tend to view bundles as “getting more for the money.” Telecommunication giants like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast have cashed in on this perception. Learn something from their research and offer what we used to refer to as a “menu of services” by bundling your services to create the perception of higher value.
Bundled services and pricing packages can help change the perception of value. And value is worth paying for. And how you present information is, in fact, a form of marketing. Marketing is the best way to elicit change when it comes to perception. Marketing will help you create a new reality for your firm.
Describe and disseminate the “new & improved” you via email newsletters, social media, direct mail, blogs, telemarketing campaigns, billboards, advertisements, community bulletin boards, press releases, cocktail parties, golf outings, etc. (use common sense on the frequency of your messaging). Market your bundles to attract more people like Bob, and you may find your profits rise right along with the perception of your firm’s value.
Are there other ways to change your firm’s reputation? Perhaps price is not the perception you want (or need) to change for your firm. Take a survey to discover what might be affecting your firm’s reputation and then take action. Once you’ve implemented the changes that should help alter public perception, communicate the new information clearly and consistently through all of the marketing channels available to you. Create a new reality for your firm.
If your prospects are not aware that something has changed, their perception of your firm is not likely to change. Make a change. And promote that change. Market it, yell it from the rooftops, tweet it, make it known. You will likely see the benefits with boosted profitability.