Making the most of your marketing dollars can be made easy through special utilization of your accounts software. Here’s how to use your accounting software to promote your business and brand.
Marketers and accountants are typically at opposite ends of the business money tree: marketers want to spend it, accountants want to save it. But before wielding the clippers, take a closer look at your existing tools that can please both the marketer in you, and your accountant.
Accounting software has for years been perhaps unfairly pigeon-holed as the best way to handle a business’ accounting duties but little else. Savvy business owners, accountants and bookkeepers however, are taking advantage of the software’s expanding functionality to not only handle their day-to-day compliance tasks but to market their business, strengthen customer relationships and make money.
This simple and underutilised marketing functionality allows SMEs to include logos, artwork and other graphics on invoices, receipts, warranties, contracts and other documents. It compliments and reinforces existing branding used in signage, advertisements, displays and other material. This also proves to be an effective promotional mechanism for resellers and sales reps who represent multiple product lines as they can incorporate numerous graphics on the same letterhead and in other collateral.
One of most valuable marketing capabilities of accounting software is its ability to serve as an effective customer relationship management tool. Not only is the technology cost-effective, but it is an excellent market research tool for finding out more about your customers as is done by Clayton Oates, managing director at leading IT consultancy QA Business.
Taking no more than a few minutes to set up, business owners can better understand everything from their customer’s buying preferences to sales results during any selected time period.
The days of business owners focusing just on the next job or sale are fading fast. With current indicators suggesting a slowing economy, business owners are best served being proactive not only with marketing to customers but with cash flow management too. Recent changes to payment terms, up to 56 days from the standard 30-day period, are further tightening the screws on business owners. Should customers fail to settle any outstanding balances, utilise your accounting software to generate debt recovery letters. A document that is professional in appearance, along with the suggestion that a collection agency will be contacted to pursue the matter if payment is not received, can be more effective than other heavy-handed methods.
Similarly, the software can be used to quickly distribute a wide variety of letters and promotional material to customers based on the particular criteria chosen by the business owner.
Business owners will find that with little effort, their accounting software provides a sense of empowerment over their operations. For a variety of reasons, many still haven’t realised the potential of the technology instead choosing to use manual forms, or worse, their heads, to record and track vital business data. Good accounting software, such as QuickBooks, integrates seamlessly with a wide range of programs, allowing SMEs to pinpoint the financial status of the business at any time.
Accountants and bookkeepers can use the software to expand their business operations as well, particularly for client offerings. Considered by many as simply a tool for completing BAS and the occasional financial report, accounting software can be used for much more than day-to-day compliance work.
‘Value-added services’ is an overused term bandied about the business world yet often it carries little substance or value for anyone. By familiarising themselves with the marketing capabilities of accounting software, however, accountants and bookkeepers can position themselves as business coaches and consultants. This not only increases the accountant and bookkeeper’s value to clients thus strengthening those relationships but it also improves their knowledge of business processes.
– Gavin Dixon is the CEO of Reckon Limited’s Business Division (www.reckon.com.au). Reckon is the supplier of QuickBooks accounting software.