Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

Wednesday, January 25th, 2023

Nominate Your Marketer

“Marketing’s job is never done. It’s about perpetual motion. We must continue to innovate every day.” — Beth Comstock, Former CMO & Vice Chair, GE

I bet your firm has a great marketing director. You have a chance to recognize them. Here’s a press release from The Association for Accounting Marketing (AAM).

Lexington, Ky. (January 23, 2023) – The Association for Accounting Marketing (AAM) is seeking nominations for the 2023 Marketer of the Year award. Nominations will be accepted through February 16.

 Since 1993, the annual award, presented at AAM’s Summit, recognizes a marketing professional who has demonstrated exemplary performance in the profession of accounting firm marketing. To be eligible, nominees must have held a senior-level marketing position in an accounting firm for at least three years, although not necessarily at the same firm. 

All nominations should be submitted online no later than February 16. Nominations are not anonymous, and self-nominations are welcome. Previous nominees and marketers from firms of all sizes are encouraged to participate. This award is open to both AAM members as well as non-members. All nominees will be required to complete an online application no later than March 9. Additional details will be outlined once a nomination form has been received. 

The nominees will be ranked by an anonymous, but neutral, panel of judges on accomplishments, strategic thinking, financial impact, collaboration, business development, analytics and technology, future-forward approach, and leadership. We have also evaluated and modified the judging criteria to level the playing field for all firm sizes. Full details including the judging criteria can be found on the AAM website.

 “2022 was another challenging year in the accounting profession, but many of our members were able to turn those challenges into opportunities and help grow and advance their firms. If you or another marketer you know did big things in 2022, this is your time to shine. Nominating yourself, or someone else, for the MOY award is a great way to share your hard work, secrets to success and lessons learned with other members,” says AAM executive director Rhonda Clark. 

AAM is proud of the rich history of past winners who have contributed immensely to the success of our industry and their firms. Transform your future by submitting an application or take a moment to nominate and recognize a peer doing amazing things. Please contact with questions about the award.

About AAM: The Association for Accounting Marketing (AAM) is an international association boasting a network of marketing, business development and growth strategists. The association was formed in 1989 to elevate the profession and advance the careers of growth professionals in the accounting profession through education, community, thought leadership and leading-edge resources. Learn more about AAM at

  • Content is king.
  • Bill Gates

Tuesday, October 4th, 2022

Announcement From AAM

“Master the topic, the message, and the delivery.” — Steve Jobs, Co-Founder, Apple

The Association for Accounting Marketing is having a virtual conference. Here are the details:

AAM Virtual Conference Addresses M&A Frenzy Impacts

Lexington, KY, October 3, 2022 – The Association for Accounting Marketing (AAM) has announced it will host its third annual virtual conference, Emerge, on November 4, 2022. The theme of this year’s conference is “growth through realignment,” and it will address the current merger and acquisition frenzy impacting the profession.

The one-day virtual conference will allow accounting marketing professionals to collaborate with AAM’s network of marketing, business development, and growth strategists. Allan Koltin, one of the top M&A consultants in the accounting profession, will keynote the event. Allan will address how the playing field is rapidly changing and its impact on future growth for CPA firms.

Emerge 2022 sessions will cover timely topics related to mergers & acquisitions, including due diligence, communication considerations, merging brands and cultures, the client experience, the realignment of teams, expansion into other service areas, and more! Attendees of this year’s conference will receive a merger & acquisition toolkit.

“We have an incredible lineup of topics and speakers this year,” said Rhonda Clark, Executive Director of AAM. “The content that we are offering is invaluable right now. Even for firms that want to remain independent, the discussion topics are geared towards helping firms adjust their growth strategies.”  

AAM’s Emerge conference will include panel discussions, fireside chats, and networking breaks. Event attendance is open to both members and non-members. Additional information, including the full agenda and how to register, is available on the event website.

About AAM

The Association for Accounting Marketing (AAM) is an international association boasting a network of marketing, business development, and growth strategists. The association was formed in 1989 to elevate the profession and advance the careers of growth professionals in the accounting profession through education, community, thought leadership, and leading-edge resources. Learn more about AAM at

  • Brand is just a perception, and perception will match reality over time.
  • Elon Musk

Thursday, July 14th, 2022

Using Initials For Your Firm Name

“If names are not correct, language will not be in accordance with the truth of things.” – Confucius

It has been a huge trend for CPA firms during the last 15 to 20 years. They modify their name and end up using just initials.

I must admit, I have found it rather confusing as I work and network with many small to mid-size firms in the USA. Using a fake firm, my mind goes with something like this…. JBG, what does that stand for? Is it the firm that used to be Jones Brown & Green?

This all comes to mind as I read an article by Fishman Marketing in the National Law Review titled, Why Do CPA Firms Use Initials Instead of Names? Part 2. You can read Part 1 by following the link to Fishman Marketing.

I agree with the author. Why not use a name, something people can remember more easily? Like, Jones Brown? As you read the article you will see how the author proves their point.

You might think, well KPMG uses initials. The author also explains why huge, international firms can more easily get away with it.

I think you will find it an interesting read, especially if you are thinking of rebranding.

I apologize if the name of your firm is Jones Brown or JBG. I just used it as an example.

  • Names are the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
  • Dale Carnegie

Thursday, April 21st, 2022

Marketing – Defender of the Brand

“Marketing involves making a promise and keeping it.” – Seth Godin

A post from Seth Godin that, to me, is so important for CPAs. This is for all the dedicated, hardworking CPA firm marketers. Is the firm delivering what you expect? The following is his post from April 20th:

Defender of the brand

Some CMOs and marketing types simply do ads and promo. Give them average products for average people and some money, and they’ll do the ad thing.

And some are actually marketers. Marketing involves making a promise and keeping it. Marketers understand that your logo isn’t a brand, it’s simply a flag. The brand is the experience that people expect to have when they engage with you. It’s your benefit of the doubt.

If you’re that kind of marketer, you quickly come to learn that the single most important part of your job is being sure that you make great products and services. Because sooner or later, the experience is the brand. Sooner or later, the story you tell needs to be true.

Which means…

That your main job is persuading the people you work with to ship great stuff. No junk. No shortcuts.

If you are not the defender of the brand, who is?

  • Investigate. Innovate. And then communicate.
  • George Farris

Friday, April 15th, 2022

Flashback Friday – Know Your Competition

Your competition used to be down the street. Now, it is worldwide. I say, don’t worry about them much. You don’t need to if your firm is doing what it should be doing. Even if you don’t worry about them, you should know them. The following is a flashback post from 2017:

Know Your Competition

“It is nice to have valid competition; it pushes you to do better.” – Gianni Versace

As I have interacted with many firms over the years, I have observed that some partners are not worried at all about their competition and some partners are almost obsessed with beating their competition.

No matter your degree of concern, it is a good practice to be aware of your competition, their strengths, and their weaknesses. In reality, they are strongly targeting your best clients (just like you are targeting theirs).

As Jeffrey Gitomer (sales guru) says, it is a sales war and the winner takes all. He also suggests some Competition Success Strategies:

  • Speak kindly of your competition, or say nothing.
  • Respect competition and others will respect you.
  • If others speak negatively about anything or anyone, DO NOT join in.
  • Know your competition’s weaknesses, but focus on your strength and value.
  • Know why they won, when you should have.
  • Know how they speak about you, and build response into your presentation.
  • Know how to beat them until they hate you (hating them is a waste of energy).
  • Your only victory is when you get the job.

Read more here.

  • Do your work with your whole heart, and you will succeed - there's so little competition.
  • Elbert Hubbard

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2022

Which Side Are You On?

“Being cool is when you win, you don’t get too happy; and when you lose, you don’t get too mad.” – Ice T

You have all read and heard about the great resignation. On one side, firms are losing people and on the other side, firms are attracting people. Be the “attractive” firm; the one where people want to work.

You can do this by building a brand. What kind of brand have you built over the years? If you are not known for being a premier firm with top-notch people and premier clients, you are behind in the talent game already.

When I was actively working inside a growing CPA firm it was our ongoing goal to be the “cool and progressive firm” in our marketplace. We had client parties with themes like The Future’s So Bright You Gotta Wear Shades and gave everyone sunglasses with the firm name on the stem. At the firm’s 50th anniversary party we used the theme Fifty Years And Still Rockin’. We dressed in poodle skirts and white t-shirts with black leather jackets. An Elvis impersonator met everyone at the door and had their picture was taken which we later mailed to them in a special card.

Set a goal to become known as the cool firm in your market. Become the firm that attracts people rather than the firm losing people. It’s not easy and it takes constant focus. Start now!

  • It seems like once people grow up, they have no idea what's cool.
  • Bill Watterson

Thursday, February 17th, 2022

Difficult Clients

“The way to get rich is don’t get sucked into doing dumb stuff for people you don’t like.” – David Maister

I remember when I heard David Maister expand on this theme in one of his presentations years ago. What is sad to me is that CPAs are still providing services to people they do not like or even trust.

I think it is time to revisit this type of thinking.

  • If you dread a phone call from a certain client.
  • If a client is continually a collection problem.
  • If a client is price sensitive and doesn’t seem to recognize your value.
  • If a client is rude, grumpy and even somewhat abusive.
  • If you don’t have the same values and morals as your client.

It’s time to eliminate some stress and make your life more enjoyable.

No matter how much money they pay you, is it really worth it? Seek out and accept new clients who are pleasant, polite, knowledgeable, and seem to be someone you wouldn’t mind spending time with. Seek out and accept new clients who are in an industry or service line that you enjoy serving. Read Maister’s quote, above, again.

  • If your clients aren't actively telling their friends about you, maybe your work isn't as great as you think it is.
  • David Maister

Tuesday, February 8th, 2022

People Will Seek You Out

“Professional is not a label you give yourself – it’s a description you hope others will apply to you.” – David Maister

As a CPA, have you thought much about how you get new clients? Why do clients like you and why might they not like you?

You can learn a lesson from David Maister. He is retired and his messages are from years ago but they certainly ring true today.

Maister asks his audience of attorneys (and it could be CPAs), what don’t you like about dealing with a certain doctor? The list – They talk down to me. They make me wait. They are in too much of a hurry. They don’t explain things in a language I understand. They don’t smile. And, you can continue this list.

Yet, they are the expert and you want them to take good care of you. After your interaction, you might not ever go back to them.

Now, take this situation and apply it to yourself… You realize that you do sometimes make them wait. You appear to be in a hurry and too busy. You use too much tax and accounting jargon… what else?

If you don’t do all the things that you hate about a doctor visit, new clients will seek you out and want you to be their CPA.

If you are not familiar with Maister, watch this 5 or 6 minute video. He was quite unique, in-your-face, and right on target about professional services. If you have never heard him speak in person, you will probably be dumbfounded by his style.

  • My experience has taught me that success comes not to those who swing for the fences every time at bat, but to those who commit themselves to a continuous program of constant improvement, base hit by base hit.
  • David Maister

Wednesday, January 26th, 2022

Enhance Your Brand

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” – Warren Buffett

Today, I am providing you a link to an article via Forbes. The title is, “Beefing Up Your Branding? Don’t Forget The XYZ Statement And Brand Manifesto.”

I like this article because it describes branding for an accounting firm. Here’s an excerpt:

Individuals, companies and products need to be branded correctly, with the target audience in mind. Put thought into the who, what, where, when and why. After all, branding is how you make people feel. It is the essence of what makes an individual, company or product unique in the broader marketplace. But too many people forget the steps in the branding process or take shortcuts, which can undermine their appeal to the target audience they have in mind. If you rush the branding process, it probably won’t be effective.

  • A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.
  • Jeff Bezos

Wednesday, September 1st, 2021

Build A Marketing Culture

“Doubt is a killer. You just have to know who you are and what you stand for.” -Jennifer Lopez

As baby boomers retire and many of them have already, the firm is usually faced with a shortage of rainmakers. Of course, their knowledge and experience with technical work are also missed.

Firms have spent many years and a lot of money developing technical experts. But, have they spent many years and lots of money developing rainmakers? The answer is no.

It is so important to instill the responsibility and expertise for bringing in new business in everyone working at the firm, especially the younger accountants. I have observed that firm leaders don’t begin early enough to develop future rainmakers. Here are some suggestions on how to build enthusiasm for marketing.

Marketing Education From Day One – As part of orientation, be sure your new hire spends some time with your marketing director (or firm administrator) to learn about firm marketing efforts. One marketing director gives the newbies a “tour” of the marketing closet, showing them the firm marketing collateral and giving them their business cards on the first day. Set a goal for them to distribute their business card to twenty people their first week at the firm. Assure them that they can give it to friends and even relatives, just for the practice. The marketing director has a lot to teach new hires.

Provide Opportunities to Practice – Organize a marketing skills lunch and learn for staff. At my firm, we even talked about the proper way to shake hands and had them practice with each other. Have them develop their elevator speech (how they quickly describe what they do and who they work for in an informative and brief way).

Establish Accountability – A simple, easy-to-use marketing activity report is an important tool for new staff. Sometimes, even managers need marketing education. The marketing activity report is submitted to the marketing director every month.

Leaders Setting The Example – Young people learn from observing others. Do all your partners frequently attend community and business events? Are your partners writing articles for the firm newsletter? Do you have some partners who blog, tweet, or do podcasts?

Always Have A Shadow – Partners and more experienced accountants should always offer to take a beginner along on a prospect meeting. When you have a lunch meeting with a current client, invite a beginner. You can flatter your important client by saying, “Today I have asked Ned Newbie to join us for lunch. He is new to the firm and just learning how CPAs work. I thought he could learn benefit from attending a lunch meeting with an important client like you.”

Building the enthusiasm for marketing doesn’t happen naturally for accountants. Don’t wait until a manager is being considered for partnership before they know that bringing in business is an expectation.

  • Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.
  • Zig Ziglar