Rick Telberg
Rick Telberg

Today's Top 10 Business-Building Tactics for CPA Firms

What’s working for accounting firms today? Join the survey. Get the results.

September 14, 2009
by Rick Telberg/At Large

The economic downturn seems to be driving accounting firms to turn increasingly to new technologies for their marketing and business development efforts.

To be sure, tried-and-true business-getting tactics such as networking, referrals and community service remain mainstays of practice development in the tax and accounting profession.

But you might be surprised by how many accounting firms are turning — in a sudden rush — to Web site upgrades, e-mail promotions and social media to both stretch their marketing dollar and increase their reach.

What’s working for accounting firms today?

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In a Bay Street Group/CPA Trendlines survey for the AICPA, new wave technologies are emerging as key ingredients in accounting firm marketing plans. We’ve been asking accountants to tell us which marketing activities their firms would be emphasizing anew in the coming months. Here’s what they’re saying so far:

  1. Asking for more referrals
  2. Upgrading our Web site
  3. Attending more networking events
  4. Doing more with social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.)
  5. Starting or upgrading e-mail newsletters
  6. Doing more seminars
  7. Getting more active with boards & civic organizations
  8. Revving up public relations
  9. More e-mail promotion campaigns
  10. Focusing on online search, i.e.: search engine optimization (SEO), paid search, Google Adwords, etc

At Aronson & Co. in Rockville, Md., CEO Lisa Cines is blazing a trail for the profession into well-focused target markets and interactive media. “We have refocused and we’re spending only within the committed niches,” said one senior executive at the firm.” You can see some of the firm’s blogging at Aronson Fed Point, an increasingly effective resource for current news and trends affecting government contractors.

At Pittsburgh, PA-based Dennis Piper & Assoc., Chief Executive Dennis Piper says his firm will be looking in the months to come more toward web advertising to supplement seminar selling and referral marketing. At Livingston, N.J.-based Wiss & Co., firm Managing Partner Jeff Campo is reportedly “getting more press through social media.” And, at one Connecticut firm, a principal reports they are “cutting back advertising dollars in favor of free media, i.e., Facebook.”

“We just can't only rely on referrals anymore,” the head of one local CPA firm tells me. But, other than referrals, they haven't really tried anything new in sometime. “We do know that the phone book has not worked for us,” he says. “That only seems to attract price shoppers.”

And yet, he adds, “We believe that if we don't get out there and get our name known we won't get enough new business to meet our growth objective.” So, going into the next busy season, this firm is looking at new initiatives like holding seminars, starting or upgrading e-mail newsletters and getting involved in online social media, like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

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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.

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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.