Once upon a time there was a bookkeeper who wanted to make a contribution and needed to make a profit.
She was very, very good at what she did and once someone became a client they remained a client.
But it seemed to the bookkeeper that it took a very long time to get new clients. Not that there weren’t a lot of people out there
the bookkeeper knew she could help. She saw lots of business owners who were struggling to get organized during tax season, who didn’t know which customers owed them money, and who spent hours trying to find receipts so they could get their computer repaired under warranty. The bookkeeper would think, “if they just knew about me and how good I am, I bet some of those people would hire me.”
The Beautiful Brochure
One day, the business owner stopped at the local coffee shop for lunch and talked to a few of customers at the lunch counter about how nice it would be if it were easier to get more clients faster.
A woman sitting next to the bookkeeper said, “Oh, it’s easy to get more customers, all you need is a good brochure. I create the best brochures in the world. If you hire me, I’ll create a great brochure for you and you’ll have all the customers you want.”
So the bookkeeper paid the women and two weeks later received the brochure. “It looks beautiful,” said the bookkeeper “and it makes my business sound so wonderful! This is sure to bring me all the clients I want.”
The bookkeeper handed out copies of her new brochure to everyone in the village and waited for all the new clients to show up. But the phone didn’t ring and no one knocked on the door.
Social Media Magic
A few months later, the bookkeeper had lunch at the coffee shop. Once again she shared her story with a few people sitting at the counter.
“I know why the brochure didn’t work,” said a man.
“Really?” asked the bookkeeper, “Please tell me because I really want to get more clients.”
“People don’t read brochures anymore because they’re all on the Internet,” said the man.
“I didn’t think of that,” said the bookkeeper. “It’s true that people do a lot online these days. Can you tell me how to get customers on the Internet?”
“Oh, that’s easy!” said the man, “I’m a Social Media Expert and I show businesses how to use Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ so people hanging out in these places can find out about your business and hire you. If you work with me, I know I can get you lots of clients!”
So the bookkeeper paid the man and the he created a nice Facebook page for her and showed her how to get friends on Facebook, followers on Twitter, and create circles on Google+.
“Now just make sure you write useful blog posts and spend time hanging out on Facebook and Google+ and Twitter. Before you know it, lots of people will be buying things from you.” said the social media expert.
The bookkeeper was very, very excited. She could hardly wait for for the phone to start ringing. She asked lots of people to become friends in Facebook, followed lots of people in Twitter, and wrote a useful article each week which she shared with her followers, friends, and circles. After spending many hours each week hanging out on social media, the bookkeeper met a lot of nice people and participated in many interesting discussions but had not yet gotten any new clients.
The Lesson of the Cookies
After several weeks passed, the bookkeeper stopped by the coffee shop for a quick bite to eat. As the bookkeeper sat at the counter eating her lunch, a sales woman for a gourmet bakery stopped by, “I have some leftover cookie samples,” she said, “would anyone like to try our cookies?”
Of course most of the people at the counter wanted to try a cookie as did the coffee shop manager.
“Wow,” said the coffee shop manager, “these are absolutely delicious!”
Everyone enthusiastically agreed.
The coffee shop manager said, “I think you just created some big fans for your products, do you sell to coffee shops like this one?”
“Of course,” said the woman, “coffee shops are one of our best customers!”
“I’d love to place an order with you,” said the inn owner, “Do you have a few moments to talk?”
The bookkeeper was watching with great interest, “That was so easy,” she said to the saleswoman, “I almost wish I sold cookies,”
“What do you sell?” asked the saleswoman.
“Bookkeeping and record keeping services” the bookkeeper replied.
“Hmm,” she said, “Well, cookies are certainly easier to sell than bookkeeping but people usually need bookkeeping a lot more than cookies. Do you have anything that tells me more about what you do?”
“I have a brochure and we can become friends on Facebook.”
“I was thinking of something more like a demonstration so I could find out more about what it’s like to work with you” said the saleswoman.
The bookkeeper thought for a moment. “You know,” she said, “I have a short worksheet that you can fill out and it will tell you where a bookkeeper can save you time and money.”
“That sounds great!,” said the saleswoman, “Is it something easy to fill out? I don’t want to have to do some yucky form that feels like something the IRS sent me!”
“Oh, I always write my instructions for non-experts” said the bookkeeper, “my attitude is my clients should be experts in their business, not in bookkeeping.”
“That sounds like something I could use,” said the man sitting next to the bookkeeper, “I help small businesses set up computer networks and I’ve been wondering if I’m doing a good job tracking my hours.”
“Yeah,” said someone else, “I’m a personal trainer and I’ve been trying to track my time and expenses using a spreadsheet but it’s a lot of work. I’m wondering if that’s something a bookkeeper could do for me. Could I get a copy of your worksheet, too?”
And hour later, when the bookkeeper left the coffee shop, she realized ten people had asked her to send them her worksheet.
At the end of the week, two of the people to whom she had sent a worksheet had hired her as their full-time bookkeeper. Another three called to ask her questions about what showed up in their worksheet results.
The bookkeeper was delighted, “I didn’t realize how helpful my simple worksheet would be for people. Plus it lets people get a taste of how I help my clients so they can learn whether I would be a good bookkeeper for them. I love having something that not only helps people, it helps me get more clients so my business can grow and thrive, too.”
So that is how the bookkeeper finally stopped struggling and began to get more customers, make a difference, and make a nice profit as well.