Clifton Gunderson acquires
Farrell & Associates
Details: Clifton Gunderson has
acquired Farrell & Associates, expanding the firm’s footprint in Illinois. Farrell,
based in Rockford, is Milwaukee-based
Clifton Gunderson’s ninth office in Illinois.
Managing partner Steve DeBruyn and
partner-in-charge Todd Etheridge will
lead the new Rockford office. Financial
terms were not disclosed.
Clifton Gunderson plans to retain the
existing staff and partners in Farrell’s
Rockford office, including founding
partner Robert R. Farrell and two other
partners, about 14 professionals, and
three administrative staff members.
This is Clifton Gunderson’s fifth M&A
announcement since May 2010.
Abrams Little-Gill Loberfeld merges
in Gold & Goldberg
Details: Massachusetts accounting
firms Abrams Little-Gill Loberfeld and
Gold & Goldberg have merged.
G&G managing partner Bruce A. Gold
decided to join ALL as a result of the
retirement earlier this year of his partner
and co-founder Len Goldberg. G&G will
move into ALL’s offices in Chestnut Hill.
The heads of the two firms were
familiar with each other from working on
various committees over the years.
ALL has 35 professionals and staff,
while G&G has five, including one partner, bringing the total number of people
at the combined firms to 40.
Make the move to REO
They then tell me that Web sites do not help
them acquire new clients; they are just something they have to do. So why are the second-most visited pages on any professional Web
site the firm leadership or bio pages? Your
Web site has actually become a critical part of
developing new clients from referrals.
How does a Web site support the busi-
ness development process? When someone
searches for your firm on Google, you need to
consider not only search engine optimization
to make sure that your firm appears high in
search results, but also what I call REO — re-
ferral engine optimization.
There are three primary ways that prospects use search engines and firm Web sites
in the vetting or qualifying process. This process is similar to how you qualify prospects:
cold, warm and hot.
In a cold search, the prospect is using a
search engine to locate a product or service
with no other reference. They may type in
“business valuation Minneapolis” or “tax
planning Philadelphia.” They are looking for
a certain type of knowledge, location and professional who might look like an “
approachable” or “experienced” advisor.
In a cold search, SEO is important because
keywords and Web site content and links to
other sites will help your site line up with all
the cold prospects searching for you. There
are lots of ways to build a Web site with good
coding, links and content to support cold
BY wend Y nemitz
Your firm’s Web site could be working a lot harder for you
every time i talk to a partner at a CPA firm for the first time, i
hear the same comments: “we don’t get new clients from our
web site. they all come through referrals from other satisfied
clients. Our business growth is mainly word-of-mouth.”
Wendy Nemitz is the founding principal of
Ingenuity Marketing Group ( www.ingenu-
itymarketing.com), which focuses on the
people of professional services, including
CPA firms. Reach her at (651) 690-3358 or
search. You could spend a couple thousand
dollars, or up to10 times that.
However, as we know in business development, a warm or hot prospect is a much stronger bet for closing a sale. Warm prospects are
those who have a referral to your firm. (They
have probably received three to five referrals
to various firms.) Before they commit to calling and taking time to meet with your firm,
they are going to look up your Web site, bios
and other information. They will weigh the
impression it makes against those of the other
referrals they have received. Then they decide
who to call first. If your Web site is not REO-friendly, you lose and never know it.
Your hot prospects also use your Web site
for decision-making. They may have already
met with you, and there is more than one
decision-maker who will seal the deal. Now
they’re digging deeper — comparing your
team bios against the competition, checking
out your connections on LinkedIn, reading
your articles or press clippings. How do you
stack up against another firm in your branding and messages? Do they match how you
talk about your firm?
A REO-OPTIMIZED SITE
WD&W merges in
Enterprise Business Advisors
Details: Enterprise Business Advisors
The merger brings the four staff mem-
bers from Enterprise Business Advisors
to WD&W. They will be relocating from
Enterprise’s office in Mayfield Village to
WD&W’s Mentor office. They include
Bruce Bechhold, Bob Sustar, Debbie Fel-
lenstein and Adam Deal.
Terms were not disclosed.
CPA firms need referral engine optimi-
zation to gain business development
value from their Web sites. Some of
the most important factors for REO
A clean home page that offers
messages about competitive difference
and easy navigation. This is the landing
page that determines whether or not
a prospect or RFP committee member
will be convinced to investigate further.
Sophisticated, content-rich bios
with professional photos that showcase the CPAs’ experience as well as
interests and personality, and possibly
articles by them and news about them.
If a cold or warm prospect doesn’t connect with your people online, they may
Informative niche services pages
that are like mini-sites in terms of con-
tent, additional resources and bios of
CPAs for that service. They communi-
cate credibility and speak directly to a
prospective audience, “warming them
up” for that phone call.
REO MEANS BUSINESS
How do you know if some of your prospects
are contacting you or calling you in for a second meeting based on some aspect of your
online presence? First, you could ask them.
Ask if they visited your site, what they looked
at and how long they stayed. What made them
stay longer? What made them click off?
You can also find out by tracking the number of hits to your bio pages and home page
and firm page. You can survey clients regarding the parts of your Web site that they visit
most. You can ask your referral sources if they
point prospects to your Web site — and if they
don’t, why not?
If you’re not on the first page of Google results when a visitor types in your firm name
or the name of a firm leader, it’s likely an SEO
issue. If you have ever had a referral source
ask you if their client called — and the client didn’t call — it could be a failure of REO.
Are you losing potential clients that you don’t
even know exist?
Do a little research on how your current
site is being used by your referral sources and
prospects in the decision-making process.
Maybe it could use some REO. AT