The Accounting Marketer’s Guide to Becoming Truly Indispensable at Your Firm

Knowledge is power and staying abreast of current,
relevant information is key, but your professionals
are busy and do not have enough time. As
an accounting marketer, you have skills that can help
the professionals at your fi rm keep up to date with what
they need to know. And, these same information skills
can help potential clients get to know your fi rm.
Monitor alerts

 

 

One of the best ways to attain the most up-to-date information
on a particular topic is monitoring Internet-based
alerts frequently. With monitoring tools (e.g., Google
Alerts, Yahoo Alerts, Alerts.com, and FaveBot), users can
receive email and text notifi cations whenever new content
appears that matches their standing search query. Alerts
automatically search through news, web pages, blogs, videos,
and discussion groups so subscribers have an excellent
chance of being the fi rst to know when something happens.
To avoid an unruly in-box, it is wise to use discretion
when signing up for alerts. Otherwise, your inbox
could be so full of alerts it makes working diffi
cult. Consider using an alternate email address and
having the information sent in digest form. Accounting
marketers must be specifi c in their criteria, especially
when asking their professionals to monitor the
alerts themselves.
Subscribe to RSS feeds

 

 

RSS feed readers (e.g., GoogleReader, FeedDemon, Newscrawler,
and NetNewsWire) are excellent news aggregators.
All of the information is in one spot on a desktop,
email, or even a mobile device. Similar to alerts, RSS feeds
can quickly get out of hand. Therefore, picking the right
information to receive on a regular basis is key.
In addition to having the latest developing news stories
and events, alerts and RSS feeds keep recipients up
to date on competition, industries, and even their own
fi rm. Partners can use alerts to learn about their specific
industry or receive more in-depth information. For
example, an accounting marketer might create a general
query for employee benefi t plans, whereas a partner
might set up an alert specifi cally for 403(b) plans.
Working together as a team, the accounting marketer
and partner can create seminars, write articles, and develop
many types of thought leadership based on the
fi rm’s perspective on the news.
Use Internet research

 

 

It is a fairly nebulous topic, but if accounting marketers
know what they are looking for, meaningful Internet
research and regular communication with partners can
be used to create top 10 lists of prospects, areas the fi rm
wants to grow, referral sources, and even clients providing
the highest revenue.
Researching organizations and associations to fi nd
member lists, committees, and advisors can prove to
be incredibly valuable. Additionally, a number of paid
options are available for industry research (e.g., First
Research or IBISWorld to uncover historical trends
and socioeconomic outlooks).
Other resources, including Trendwatching, Springwise,
and Google Trends, reveal how often terms are
used in searches.
Make specifi c recommendations based on
all this knowledge


Research associations and groups. There is an association
for virtually everything! Accounting marketers can simply
search for the groups in their area. For example, if the fi rm
is looking to develop a niche for “independent physicians,”
entering that specifi c term in a search engine along with a
geographic area will provide results and perhaps even ideas
for which association to focus on. The American Society
of Association Executives (ASAE) is an excellent resource
for association research (e.g., LinkedIn).
LinkedIn is an invaluable tool, although a surprising
number of accountants and accounting fi rms are still
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JULY 2013 17

 

nonexistent on the site. The latest statistics about users
on LinkedIn are powerful: more than 200 million
users worldwide, with over 20 million monthly unique
U.S. visitors, including affl uent users with college degrees
and high household incomes. This is where the
fi rm should be! Accounting marketers should try to
work with fi rm leadership in developing some type of
presence on LinkedIn—because if their fi rm isn’t there,
the competing fi rm down the street is. This is not advice
to do something just because everybody else is. It
is a strong encouragement to remedy the detrimental
effects of not having a presence on LinkedIn. LinkedIn
is where prospects, partners, and future clients are
waiting—and looking to make business connections.
Some popular features of LinkedIn are its advanced
search options, saved searches, groups, and the opportunity
to create groups. Imagine an audience of
possible partners or clients receiving valuable content
from your fi rm’s leaders on a consistent basis.
Publish articles in the trade press. The benefi ts of
submitting articles to trade publications are numerous—
credibility, opportunity to exchange new ideas
about a particular subject matter, and increased exposure.
The author doesn’t necessarily need to be an
“expert” in that trade to submit an article. For example,
if the fi rm would like to discuss an article about
a new pronouncement from the IRS that will affect a
niche group of wine sellers and distributors, the partner
would not have to know so much about wine as
he or she would have to know about the tax implications
affecting the businesses operating in the niche.
To ensure that the story gets to the appropriate contact,
accounting marketers pitching to editors should
check to see if there are specifi c editors for particular sections
(e.g., business editor or current affairs editor). We
suggest accounting marketers not offer sales pitches or
teasers; for example, “An IRS pronouncement is coming
soon, contact John Doe at our accounting fi rm to fi nd
out what it is” can be a turnoff for busy editors who do
not have time to call John Doe. Simply let the editor
know what the issue is and in so doing, the fi rm partner—
and ultimately their fi rm—becomes the expert.
After the author submits an article, he or she may
be asked to submit more, which can be leveraged.
Accounting marketers can work with partners so that
they have a stable of articles depending on the subject.
Staying on top of the latest news via research
and alerts will certainly he lp. Publishing consistent,

 

high-quality content, via various methods, and engaging
with the audience helps build credibility for

 

Bonus Tips

 

Bonus Tip #1: Start an industry-focused forum.

 



A brown-bag or breakfast forum has the potential
to evolve into educational events with continuing
education and increases the fi rm’s opportunity for
more referral sources, clients, and publicity. Invite
attendees to the fi rm’s conference room or hold the
forum at a current client’s conference room. That
would be a great way to exhibit client loyalty.
Groups are one of the best features on LinkedIn.
If the fi rm is interested in exploring a new niche
for a particular group that does not yet exist on
LinkedIn, it can be created. Starting a group and
inviting those who would benefi t from membership
is a clever way for a fi rm to let members know that
the fi rm is serious about the particular topic. The
key is to stay active: poll members or ask questions
several times a week. Never start a group and let it
become a ghost town.
Bonus Tip #2: Th ink strategically. If an accounting
marketer is participating in all of these activities,
it means he or she is truly thinking about how
to help the fi rm grow because, ultimately, the most
convincing tool to assist in becoming truly indispensable
is using one’s brain. As the saying goes,
people rise to the level of what is expected of them.
If the accounting marketer is expected to make
copies for partners or to stay in the offi ce until
9:00 p.m. to fi nish a last-minute proposal, it
might be time to step back and consider what his
or her true value and place is within the fi rm. Educating
themselves, sitting in on meetings, and
habitually contributing are ways for accounting
marketers to truly become indispensable. Finding
out as much as they can by asking simple
questions: Who are the fi rm’s top fi ve (or 10)
revenue-generating clients? Who are the fi rm’s
lowest revenue-generating clients? Why are they
still clients? Who are the fi rm’s prospects? Who
are the fi rm’s prospects by partner and/or service?
Where do referrals come from? Depending on
how large the fi rm is, these questions will surface
a signifi cant amount of information for the
accounting marketer to sift through.
the fi rm and its partners. Many publishers allow authors
to post articles they wrote on their fi rm’s website,
distribute copies at seminars, and so on.

CPA PRACTICE MANAGEMENT FORUM

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