Rick Telberg
Rick Telberg

Twenty-one Hot Ideas From Accounting Marketers

Is social media marketing the answer to tight budgets?

June 15, 2009
by Rick Telberg/At Large

There’s nothing like an economic downturn to remind accounting firms that sales and marketing are essential parts of doing business.

Until recently, many an accounting firm’s biggest problem was finding enough warm bodies to handle all the work that just came waltzing in the door. Today, accounting firms are dealing with clients in distress, over-leveraged staffing pyramids and the prospect that they actually may need to go find new business again.

So the Association for Accounting Marketing’s (AAM) annual summit a couple weeks ago in Austin, Texas, came at a time when marketers are being called upon to do more than ever to make up the shortfall. And they need do it all with less.

But if the AAM annual summit proved anything, it’s that dedicated, creative business people can cook up a slew of cool ideas and share generously with their professional peers. You could see the sharing on Twitter. Over the course of the four-day meeting, dozens of Twitterers shared hundreds of messages about new ideas and strategies.

All told, those Tweets were broadcast to upwards of 10,000 followers in marketing and professional services around the world. Indeed, social media marketing emerged as a key answer for marketing budgets slashed by the recession.

At the end of it, CPA firm marketer Diane Trepper from northern Virginia, was raving on Twitter, “My head is spinning. This has been an amazing conference.”

Here’s a sampling of some of the best tips, ideas and comments from Tweets at the conference:

  1. Firms do a good job of marketing but are weaker on transitioning prospects to sales, wasting the firm’s marketing investment.
  2. ROO, or return-on-objective, can be a critical milestone on the road to ROI (return-on-investment), particularly for the hard to quantify marketing initiatives.
  3. Small changes can make big impacts. What changes can you make that will propel and inspire your firm?
  4. Use technology as a competitive advantage.
  5. Competitive CPA firms are 15 time more likely to follow a written plan. It’s amazing how firms don’t.
  6. Don't wait to have leadership bestowed upon you by someone else — it never comes that way. Take initiative.
  7. What are your client-acceptance procedures and criteria? Strong guidelines can increase your profitability dramatically.
  8. Firms serious about adopting some simple best practices are 19 times more likely to report superior revenue growth.
  9. Creating goals is the easy part. Executing goals is the tough part. But it’s not rocket science: meet weekly and hold people accountable.
  10. Only 28 percent of CPA firms meet regularly to check their progress against their strategic plan, and they’re 15 times more likely to be more successful.
  11. Know what is relevant to your client right now and use that to create new opportunities.
  12. If partners won't lead the drive for new opportunities, then the initiative must come from the marketing department.
  13. The Federal stimulus package means great opportunities for government contractor practices. Look for industry-specific opportunities in this environment.
  14. This is a time to be bold. Winners and losers are created in times like these.
  15. Facing a cut in the marketing budget? Narrow your focus. Be more targeted.
  16. Social media is not free. Time is money.
  17. Competitive leaders are twice as likely as laggards to have clients that belong to the firm, not to an individual. It’s the “one-firm” concept and it works.
  18. Take time for a personal career "retreat.” Evaluate where you are going, and plan without daily job distractions.
  19. Track what is being said about you and your firm using Google alerts.
  20. Bad first impression? It takes seven good experiences to change a negative client opinion to a positive one.
  21. But after a good first impression, it takes five subsequent bad experiences for a client to think "boy they've slipped."

To stay up to date with more tips, ideas and comments like these, join Twitter and follow these great professionals from the AAM Austin meeting: @aliona_Groh, @baratin, @bswan775, @AAMHQ, @Dhelwig, @dtrep, @hnparker, @JessicaLevin, @joerotella, @karidowell, @kellycmcdonald, @kristenllewis, @lancegodard, @lbenson1012, @michellegolden, @nadenlean, @nancymyrland, @newsucnuse, @outus, @pjend, @PKFNANews, @RaissaEvans, @sarah_johnson28, @shiftworldwide, @stacysoef, @teristora and @tucekj.

You can find me on Twitter here. And this week I’ll be at the Maryland Association of CPAs’ BizExpo. Expect a lot of Twittering, which you can follow under the hash tag. At the same time, attendees at the AICPA annual technology conference will be Twittering under the hash tag. (What’s a hash tag?) Feel free to follow along.

To COMMENT: Send an e-mail to Rick Telberg.

Copyright © 2009 CPA Trendlines/BSG LLC. All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission. First published by the AICPA.

About Rick Telberg

Rick Telberg is editor at large/director of online content.

Go to the News Center Now

Disclaimer: Any views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the AICPA or CPA2Biz. Official AICPA positions are determined through certain specific committee procedures, due process and deliberation.