Business Development News

Use Newsletter Data as a Business Development Tool
Adam Wolf, Lead Accelerators

CPA firms want to build their book of business by staying in front of clients, referral sources and prospects. That can be a challenge when there is no work in progress or without a direct opportunity to pitch to them. In reality, firms have hundreds—if not thousands—of contact points to build upon.

The key is to leverage relationships with clients and prospects using a bevy of low-cost marketing tools that let the firm broadcast its message to very large audiences in an efficient and cost-effective way. Electronic firm newsletters are a great example. Most firms already have an e-newsletter in their marketing toolkit and use it to broadcast an article, or series of articles, about a topic of interest. 

Blasting content to the firm’s database of several thousand contacts is a great marketing tactic for getting thought-provoking content in front of clients and prospects, but why not take it a step further? By mining newsletter data to see what people are looking at, firms can create opportunities to proactively have conversations with clients and prospects. 


Acting on the Data

The perennial challenge is how to act on that increased awareness and interest. There are steps that a firm can take to better leverage their investments in newsletters and use the data to take to the next level.

The first move is to eliminate the issue of coming across as a stalker. Acknowledge what you know up front by starting the conversation with something like this: 

“[Client/Prospect], In reviewing some reports about our recent newsletter, I noticed that you opened up our article about cash flow forecasting. I am wondering if it might make sense to have a conversation about this topic.”

This positions your firm as insightful since the client will likely think: “I have been looking for better ways to forecast cash flow and that article had some good ideas. I’m glad this professional reached out so we could talk further.”

Or you could start with something along these lines:

“Hello, [Client/Prospect], I’m a little uncomfortable calling you like this, but our marketing team has access to some very interesting data. It turns out that you were one of 43 people who opened our recent article about cash flow forecasting. Because you and I have a relationship, I decided to give you a call to discuss. I hope that is alright.”

One of two things is likely to happen:

  • client/prospect acknowledges he/she has an interest in the topic and you discuss it right then and there or schedule an appointment to do so 
  • client/prospect indicates that they were just browsing the article and tell you it’s not worth exploring, in which case nothing ventured nothing gained; at least they know you were thinking about them proactively


Planning Content to Drive Conversations

Another, more in-depth approach to using newsletter data to foster conversations with clients and prospects involves a bit more work. A series of articles can be written around a similar theme, and that data can then be analyzed and acted upon. This approach is based on the premise that if a handful of people opened three articles on a related topic, they are likely to have a reasonably strong level of interest in that topic and will be open to having a conversation.


Using Data When Prospecting

There are other ways newsletter data can be used to further business development. Firms can use the data about what people are reading as discussion points for meetings they have with existing or prospective clients. For example,

“Prospect, we recently published a series of articles in our newsletter about creative financing strategies, and a good number of our clients and prospects seemed interested in the topic. I wonder if this is something you’d like to discuss?”

Also, when someone has read a piece of content, you can use this as an excuse to ask them for their thoughts for a follow-up article.


Capitalize on Your Current Investments

Using information is the essence of relationship-based practice development. It’s great when a referral source calls to introduce you to a prospective client with an immediate need for the type of help your firm provides, but you know that doesn’t happen every day. 

By capitalizing on the marketing investments you’re already making, you can foster more conversations with clients and prospects in a cost-efficient way. What more can you want?


About the Author:  Adam Wolf is the principal at Lead Accelerators, a consulting practice that helps professional service firms bridge the gap between marketing and business development and also provides outsourced lead generation services. His background includes more than 20 years of experience in most facets of marketing and business development for professional service firms and he has led the marketing and business development function at two fast-growing, Top 100 Accounting firms.