Carly Moore
Carly Moore

Canopy is thrilled for the the opportunity to interview Katie Tolin. She is an experienced accounting marketer and currently works as a consultant to help CPA firms grow their revenue. She was named as one of the Most Influential People in Accounting by Accounting Today in 2014, as well as Accounting Marketer of the Year in 2010 and one of the Most Powerful Women in Accounting in 2014 by CPA Practice Advisor. Join us as we discuss how accountants can grow their practices!

What is your advice for accountants looking to grow their firms?

You have to think smaller to get bigger. There are so many CPAs out there that try to do everything for everybody. I don't think CPAs should necessarily turn down work, but I do think that firms really need to figure out where their strengths are and dedicate their resources to those strengths. And then you can find growth within niches. That will impact your overall top line revenue.

How can tax professionals decide which niches to pursue?

If you look at every dollar of revenue you are responsible for, where is it coming from? What industries are buying from you? And that is where you start to figure out where you have strengths. You then need to compare that to what is going on in the market.

You might notice that you are doing taxes with a lot of physicians, now you can ask, where do I go to find more physicians? And suddenly it takes this big pool of you doing everything for everybody and brings it down to a manageable bite.

What are some of the most successful digital marketing platforms for CPAs?

It's about inbound marketing. There's a perception out there that people are not finding their accountant through websites and I completely disagree with that. You need a customized website and you need to have fresh content. That is where blogging comes into play, to help you in search rankings and drive people into your business. And when they get to your website, make sure they do something when they get there. Do you want them to sign up for your newsletter? For a free consultation? That's what we call a "Call to action." A website is a necessary complement to your other lead generation sources and has cross-functional application to everything else you're working on.

I also think it's imperative that every CPA have a LinkedIn profile - you need to fill the entire form out. Talk about what you do for clients or the problems that you solve.

Tell us about your upcoming CPA Growth Guides.

The growth guides are about the strategy first. A lot of firms do tactics, but they don't know why they are doing those tactics. I believe if you have a strategy in place, all of your tactics fall in line right under it. That makes budgeting and time management so much easier. Having a solid strategy just makes it easier for firms to decide how to spend their resources.

How is marketing for accountants evolving with the rise of Big Data?

As a marketer, I'm also a data geek. Once upon a time marketing was people sitting around a table saying "what do you think about this idea?" That's not true anymore. We live in a Big Data world. And as marketers, we should be using that data. The data should become the foundation to building your strategy.

How have you seen cloud computing affect CPA firms? Does it affect revenue? 

It's definitely the way our environment is moving. Firms that are using the cloud are able to expand their market - they are no longer limited to local clients and can work with businesses around the globe. Firms that are implementing the cloud are seeing serious revenue increases as a result. I think that is the whole point of it - to make things easier on the tax professional, to drive revenue, and bring in new markets.

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