Wednesday, December 31, 2008

People Are Paid to Do That

I was traveling back home after visiting family for Christmas headed to the baggage claim at Norfolk International Airport. While riding the moving walkway and talking on his cell phone an airline crew member dropped his newspaper. I called to him to let him know but he didn't seem to care. I picked up the newspaper and gave it back to him. Still talking on his cell phone he said to me, "People are paid to do that." Clearly, he was fine with leaving his garbage on the ground for someone else to clean up. Can you imagine if the newspaper was left on the moving walkway, rolling off onto the ground, to be trampled by thousands of people? I was so disappointed in his attitude.

As the New Year approaches let's make 2009 the year in which we are the doers, not those that expect things done for them. Let's examine how our actions affect others and how we can have a positive impact on our world. Let's be accountable. I know that many of you already exhibit these qualities; I always think there is room for improvement.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Winning Is Everything

The Advisory Board - Gary Boomer (Boomer Consulting), Allan Koltin (PDI Global, Inc.), Rebecca Ryan (Next Generation Consulting) and Gary Shamis (SS&G Financial Services, Inc.) - are getting ready for their 8th Annual Winning Is Everything (WIE) Practice Management Conference, January 28-29, 2009, at the Mandalay Bay Hotel, Las Vegas.

You may be cutting back on your conference budget given the state of the economy. However, the value of networking with your peers, learning from first-class speakers, and brainstorming ideas for your firm is greater than ever. In addition to its planned agenda WIE speakers will address economic issues and the importance of teamwork in achieving your goals.

Conference details can be found at Register by December 31, 2008 and receive the reduced Mandalay Bay room rate of $159!

What I've learned so far is that it's important to reenergize your internal battery. I'll be doing that at Winning Is Everything. I hope to see you there!

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Importance of Internal Marketing

In order to effectively identify clients’ needs and cross-selling opportunities your team must know about the services your firm provides. That was the motivation behind Yount, Hyde & Barbour’s Internal Trade Show this fall.

YHB’s industry and service teams were challenged to create exhibit tables that were set up after their Firm Day meetings and networking training provided by Capstone Marketing. The displays included signs, handouts and promotional items to educate firm team members about their areas of specialty. Many teams also sponsored games and prize raffles.

“Our YHB Trade Show was a huge success,” says Mark Rudolph, President & CEO. “Our team members were able to practice their networking skills as well as learn more about the services and capabilities of our firm. We will use what we learned today in our marketing activities going forward.”

Pictured (left to right): Brian Kling, CPA, Manager; Mark Rudolph, CPA, President & CEO; and, Greg Plotts, CPA, Manager.

What I’ve learned so far is that learning is continuous. Look for new and interesting ways to educate your team about your firm’s areas of expertise. This will result in added value for your marketing program.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Accidental Branding

I attended the Hampton Roads American Marketing Association luncheon today to hear David Vinjamuri, the author of Accidental Branding: How Ordinary People Built Extraordinary Brands. The program didn't disappoint.

Accidental Branding tells the personal stories of eight entrepreneurs who built some of the biggest and best-known consumer brands in the world. While the book and presentation are focused on products the lessons are equally valuable to professional services marketing.

Here are the six lessons of accidental brands:

1. Do sweat the small stuff. Pay attention to execution.

2. Pick a fight. Define what you are against. Then, people will know what you stand for. Who do you disagree with? Otherwise, you're doing the same as everyone else.

3. Be your own customer.

4. Be unnaturally persistent.

5. Build a myth. Tell your story so it explains the value of your brand. Make other people want to tell it for you.

6. Be faithful. Remember the customers who helped you grow. Get customers to be recommenders.

Click here to purchase Accidental Branding.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

How to Motivate and Influence Others

I was pleased to be a panelist for this AAM Seasoned Marketers (those with 10+ years accounting marketing experience) Call yesterday along with two esteemed colleagues, Sally Glick, CMO, Sobel & Company and Tracy Crevar Warren, The Crevar Group. The call was moderated by Jill Lock, Director of Marketing, Isdaner & Company, LLC.

Here are a few points of discussion along with bonus information that wasn't included due to time running out.
  • The top characteristics for great marketing leaders to be able to motivate others, most are themes included in Marketer of the Year applications: confidant, able to get things done, a "go to" person, energetic, passionate, able to quantify results, emulates firm leaders, and able to empower others.

  • The difference between being perceived as a cheerleader vs. an inspirational leader: Find out how you are currently perceived. Ask colleagues, both internally and externally, for unbiased, helpful feedback. Conduct a personal SWOT analysis. What are you skills? What are you known for? Create your personal brand. When was the last time you learned something new? Is your network continuing to grow? Are you considered a mentor/coach or the party planner? Use all this information to walk the walk. This includes leading by example, the way you dress, your work ethic, what you read, community involvement, bringing new ideas to the table and linking these ideas to firm strategy, undestanding the accounting profession and how your firm makes money. These steps will enable you to position yourself not only as enthusiastic but a smart, focused businessperson.

  • How to motivate young professionals to start marketing: Sponsor Young Rainmaker Roundtables, Emerging Leaders Councils, or other forums to exchange ideas and experience. Also, utilize senior partners to break down generational gaps by sharing their experience in marketing and sales. Find out what motivates them.

  • How to motivate senior professionals to take on more marketing responsibilty: Do they have clear expectations for marketing activities. Are these expectations included in their performance evaluations. Link their enhanced activities to the growth of the firm and how firm growth will enable them to achieve their personal goals. Also, link their activities to the firm's vision. Be sure to utilize their unique skills.

  • How to influence partners and gain buy-in when presenting new marketing strategies: Determine your objective, know your audience, try out your strategies in advance, and identify key steps in presenting a solution.

  • How to deal with senior leaders who are negative and vocal about marketing: Uncover the reasons behind the negativity. Often, it's fear. Build a strong one-on-one relationship; be genuine and gain their support. Educate them about the goals of the marketing program and what it means for them. Tell him, "I want to help your team be successful. I need you to be a part of the solution." Be professional - don't whine about the person to everyone else.

  • Celebrating successes: UHY Town Hall Meetings, Our Winning Culture Awards; Cowan, Gunteski & Co., Brandies Awards; Stone Rudolph & Henry, Cream of the Crop Award.

  • BONUS INFORMATION! Books that we recommend on motivating others: The Psychology of Achievement, Brian Tracy; The Fred Factor, Mark Sanborn; The Brand You 50, Tom Peters; Encouraging the Heart, James Kouzes and Barry Posner; The Art of Possibility, Rosamund Stone and Ben Zander.

What I've learned so far is that learning is continuous. Learn something new today. Your curiosity will motivate and influence others.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

From the Mouths of Referral Sources

It's not only CPA firm marketing professionals and consultants who encourage CPAs to ask their referral sources for leads. Referral sources themselves expect to be asked for leads. Recently, I moderated a panel of referral sources for a client's training program. They described good referral sources as those:
  • who reciprocate leads
  • who provide value for fees paid
  • who are reponsive to both the client and the referral source
  • who are team players and take an active interest in the client and the community
  • who evaluate the chemistry between the client and the potential referral source

Their additional advice?

  • Develop a specialty and be the "go to" person for that specialty.
  • Allocate time for face-to-face meetings.
  • Get out there and become known.

What I've learned so far is that working your network is both a professional and effective way to generate new business leads. Learn how to ask, reward your referral sources, and watch your firm grow.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

2008 Best Accounting Firms to Work for

Congratulations to the 60 accounting firms named the 2008 Best Accounting Firms to Work for in the first annual program created by The Accountants Media Group, publishers of Accounting Today, Accounting Technology, CPA Wealth Provider, Practical Accountant and host of and Best Companies Group.

2008 Best Accounting Firms to Work for (alphabetical order, no ranking)

· Anchin, Block & Anchin LLP
· Bartolomei Pucciarelli, LLC
· Berlin, Ramos & Company, P.A.
· Bernard Robinson & Company, LLP
· Berntson Porter & Company, PLLC
· Biscotti, Toback & Company, CPA's P.C.
· Bland, Garvey, Eads, Medlock + Deppe, PC
· Bond Beebe
· Boyer & Ritter, CPAs and Consultants
· Briggs & Veselka Co.
· Brown Schultz Sheridan & Fritz
· Brown Smith Wallace, LLC
· Burr, Pilger and Mayer, LLP
· Citrin Cooperman & Co.
· Clifton Gunderson LLP
· Cohen & Company
· Cowan, Gunteski & Co., P.A.
· Daszkal Bolton LLP
· DiCicco, Gulman & Company LLP
· DiGiovine Hnilo Jordan + Johnson Ltd.
· Ernst & Young
· Frazier & Deeter, LLC
· Friedman LLP
· Garcia, Espinosa, Miyares & Company, LLP
· Glenn M. Gelman & Associates, Certified Public Accountants and Business Consultants
· Heinfeld, Meech & Co., P.C.
· Henry & Horne, LLP
· Johnson Lambert & Co. LLP
· Kaufman, Rossin & Co.
· KraftCPAs PLLC
· Kreinces Rollins & Shanker, LLC
· Lanigan, Ryan, Malcolm & Doyle, P.C.
· LaPorte Sehrt Romig Hand
· Mahoney, Ulbrich, Christiansen & Russ PA
· Mark Bailey & Company
· Martin Starnes & Associates, CPAs, P.A.
· McKonly & Asbury, LLP
· PKF Texas
· Porter Keadle Moore, LLP
· Presser, Lahnen & Edelman, PA
· Rothstein Kass
· RSM McGladrey/McGladrey & Pullen
· SAS 70 Solutions
· Sharrard, McGee & Co., P.A.
· SingerLewak
· Swindoll, Janzen, Hawk & Loyd, LLC
· The Rehmann Group
· Wall, Einhorn & Chernitzer, P.C.
· Whitley Penn LLP
· Wilkin & Guttenplan, P.C.
· William Vaughan Company
· Windham Brannon
· Wipfli LLP
· WithumSmith+Brown, P.C.

The ranking of the Best Accounting Firms to Work for will be unveiled and published in the January 5, 2009 issue of Accounting Today.

This survey and award program was designed to identify, recognize and honor the best places of employment in the accounting industry, benefiting the nation's economy, its workforce and businesses. The Best Accounting Firms to Work for list is made up of 60 companies split into three groups: 5 small-sized companies (15-24 employees), 40 medium-sized companies (25-249 employees) 15 large-sized companies (more than 250 employees).

Firms from across the country entered the two-part survey process to determine the Best Accounting Firms to Work for. The first part consisted of evaluating each nominated company's workplace policies, practices, philosophy, systems and demographics. The second part consisted of an employee survey to measure the employee experience. The combined scores determined the top companies and the final ranking. Best Companies Group managed the overall registration, survey and analysis process and determined the final rankings.

For more information on the Best Accounting Firms to Work for program, visit

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Revenue Enhancement Innovation

I am proud to brag about one of my clients, Wall, Einhorn & Chernitzer, P.C., winners (for the second year in a row) of a Practice Innovation Award sponsored by Practical Accountant. Wall, Einhorn & Chernitzer, P.C. formed its Revenue Enhancement Committee (REC) about 18 months ago to focus client retention and acceptance, and on pricing. The REC meets monthly as well as communicates via e-mail between meetings.

Activities of the REC include:
· Establishing client acceptance criteria.
· Strategizing pricing options for clients and new business prospects.
· Evaluating the lowest realization clients (largest write-offs) for each partner and manager and brainstorming ideas to improve work efficiency and job profitability.
· Developing a Client Evaluation Form (and process) for use by managers to identify problem clients and solutions.
· Reviewing WIP adjustments.

The REC’s efforts have resulted in 10% improvement in realization. This is attributable to many factors initiated by the REC including better pricing, more discussions with clients regarding preparation they can complete to make our work more efficient, more up front discussions with clients about fees, and better management of fees incurred while work is ongoing.

The benefits of the REC’s efforts also include:
· More input from managers on client billing and about clients, in general.
· Many procedural features that improved WEC’s own quality control.
· Identifying additional service opportunities that were communicated to clients resulting in better client service and extra fees.

What I've learned so far is that marketing plays a role in enhancing a CPA firm's revenue. Understand how your firm works and how it makes money. Know your firm's client base. Assist your firm's partners and managers with revenue-enhancing ideas and implementation.

To subscribe to Practical Accountant call 800.221.1809 or e-mail

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

"Your call is very important to us ..."

I recently received an e-mail to renew my online subscription to a well known greeting card company. Since I didn't use it very much (I still like to buy cards in a store and mail them) I decided to cancel my subscription. They didn't make it easy.
  1. I couldn't cancel online. I had to call the company. If I didn't call my subscription would automatically be renewed.
  2. I was placed on hold for nearly eight minutes and had to endure their on hold messages: "Never miss an occasion ...," "Ask about our print and mail option," and the popular favorite, "Your call is very important to us and will be answered in the order it was received."
  3. When a company representative finally came on the line I was offered a free 90-day extension to my subscription. Of course, I declined because I'd only to have to go through this miserable experience again - if I remembered to cancel it in the first place. This is where the sneeky automatic renewal comes into play.

What I've learned so far is that client service is vital to the success of a business. This experience was quite annoying and left me with negative feelings about this company. How do your clients rate your firm's client service? When was the last time you reviewed the processes your firm has in place regarding client contact?

Monday, September 8, 2008

John McEnroe Fires His Accountants

Tennis legend and insightful sportscaster John McEnroe recently fired his accountants (“John McEnroe Is Still Pretty Complicated,” The New York Times Magazine, August 24, 2008) “only after his former numbers men of 10 years ‘dropped the ball’ several times.” Known for his high expectations and “You can’t be serious!” attitude, I find it interesting that he endured several mistakes before making the change. What I've learned so far is that client retention is an important business strategy. How many dissatisfied clients are hiding in your client list? What are you doing about it?

Monday, August 4, 2008

Marketing Budget Wastes

A couple of months ago I had the pleasure of presenting “Beyond Basic: How Your Marketing Budget Impacts Your Firm’s Strategy and Your Career” to the AAM-NY Metropolitan Area Chapter. It was an interactive session including how to build a marketing budget, how much CPA firms are investing in marketing, and the impact a marketing budget can have on a marketer’s career. Here are several ways that marketing dollars can be wasted:

• Spending money to reach the wrong prospects/contacts.
• Generating leads that aren’t appropriate for your firm.
• Failing to follow up on leads.
• Overemphasizing new leads.
• Investing in passive initiatives without active participation.
• Losing people on your Web site.
• Failing to get the most out of your email marketing.
• Not knowing what you get for your money.

To receive a free copy of my presentation e-mail me at Simply put "Free Presentation" in the subject line.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Summer Reading #2

Arrogant, self-centered, stubborn, and insecure - words that most people associate with ego. But, authors David Marcum and Steven Smith argue that the upside of ego is as powerful as the downside and answer questions that have been a mystery to most people. They provide compelling evidence and matter-of-fact answers on striking the balance between ego and humility to reach the next level of leadership. Case studies are used to illustrate how ego subtly interferes with success but also how ego sparks the drive to achieve, the nerve to try something new, and the tenacity to conquer adversity.

Egonomics: what makes ego our greatest asset (or most expensive liability) makes a great "book club" selection for your firm. With the strong focus on recruiting and retention in the accounting profession today it's important that you learn not only about your behavior but the behavior of your colleagues. "Often the hardest side of business to master is the human side, and nothing is more human than ego. How we manage ego on the human side affects everything we do on the business side, one way or the other."

Visit to download a free book discussion guide and find links to buy the book.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Summer Reading #1

This book is a must read for all CPA firm partners and marketing professionals. The authors offer an integrated leadership model that they believe is necessary for professional service firms to remain successful. They identify four critical activities effective leaders must carry out:

- Set strategic direction

- Secure partner and associate commitment to this direction

- Facilitate execution of strategy

- Set a personal example of behavior

Many examples are used from CPA firms, law firms, consulting practices and investment banks.

Put aside the latest murder mystery or "chick book" and read When Professionals Have to Lead. You and your firm will benefit greatly.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Getting a Seat at the Right Table

I recently had the pleasure of speaking for the Greater Philadelphia and New York Metropolitan Area chapters of the Association for Accounting Marketing (AAM). While the topics were different - Managing Your Marketing Career and Marketing Budgets - a common thread ran through both presentations. How do we get a seat at the table? My initial response to this question is, "Be sure that it's the right table." If it is consider the characteristics of chief marketing officers (CMOs) and how to think strategically:

Chief marketing officers:
• See themselves as strategic thought leaders with an emphasis on the client.
• Their reputations hinge on the ability to demonstrate return on investment.
• Have a chief executive in their corner – someone who gets it and is a very public proponent of a more expansive, influential, and results-driven marketing organization.

Be certain that you are in synch with your managing partner’s vision of where the firm is headed.

Understand the “big picture” of your firm:
•Who are we?
•Where are we now?
•Where do we want to be?
•How will we get there?
•How will we know how we’re doing?

Determining strategies:
•Are we doing the right thing?
•Does the strategy meet/address critical issues?
•Is this aligned with our mission?
•Is this approach financially doable?

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Marketing and Mulch

It's springtime at last! Time to enjoy the beautiful weather and to start working in the garden. My husband and I had five yards of mulch delivered to our house, part of a fundraiser for the Boy Scouts. Proceeds will help defray the cost of summer camp. Part of the deal was help with spreading the mulch, which can be a lot of work! Now, given the choice of spreading the mulch or playing in the truck with the mulch what choice do you think the Scouts made? You're correct. It was much easier playing with the mulch than actually doing the work.

What lesson can we learn from these mulch-spreading averse Scouts? While all of them are interested in attending summer camp they really aren't interested in the work required to raise the funds. To be successful you must be willing to do the work required to achieve the success. This means making the extra effort, working harder, and enhancing our skills. This process may make us uncomfortable. However, to achieve a different or higher level result we must be willing to change how we currently do things.

Happy Gardening!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Three Recession-Proof Marketing Ideas

Check out the link below for the article, "Three Recession-Proof Marketing Ideas," recently posted in CPA Insider written by Rick Telberg of the Bay Street Group.

Bay Street Group and Capstone Marketing are conducting marketing research on several topics related to the successful operations of CPA firms. The first survey is regarding marketing and business development. Participate in the survey and receive a free copy of the results. It can be found at

Look for more surveys in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Sell, Baby, Sell!

In his book, The Professional Firm50, Tom Peters ( shows you how to reinvent work including 50 sections and over 200 things to do. Now that you've survived another tax season it's important to refocus your marketing and sales efforts. The following things to do are adapted from Peters' book:
  1. What is our product? Start a series of sessions around this topic.
  2. Put together a superb Sales & Marketing Kit. Start now. Spend semi-lavishly to make it an unqualified "WOW!" (I.e.: Don't be chintzy!) Consider bringing in an outsider to help you learn the ropes of marketing-selling.
  3. As the process above proceeds, talk "sales" with your clients: Let them help you define your product and its clear (we hope) advantages.
  4. Conduct marketing/sales training sessions. The idea is not Arm Twisting 101. The idea is: This Is Our Cool Product ... and this is why it's cool/special.
  5. Include "Sales Talk" in your weekly operations-projects review meetings.

The Professional Firm50 was published in 1999. What I've learned so far is that there are many timeless marketing and sales activities that will contribute to the growth and success of your firm if implemented consistently.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Top Five Challenges to Hiring Salespeople

As CPA firms continue to hire salespeople/business developers it becomes increasingly important to utilize a process to ensure a successful hire. Go-to-Market Strategies recently e-mailed an article, "Overcoming the Top Five Challenges to Hiring Salespeople," which is based on their research:

  1. Determining whether the candidate in front of you will translate into the star employee you're looking for.
  2. Affording the talent you seek.
  3. Selling the opportunity.
  4. Differentiating between a Hunter and Farmer.
  5. Assessing a candidate's "motivation."

Read the entire article at

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Niche Marketing Success Stories

Here is the link to my article, "Expand Your Horizons: Niche Marketing Success Stories," published in the April 2008 issue of Journal of Accountancy. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

What Should Lawyers And Accountants Worry About In The Current Economic Downturn?

Bruce Marcus, a pioneer in law firm and professional services marketing, writes on this topic in the most recent issue of The Marcus Letter,, including:

The answer lies in firm management. And do it now – before the deluge hits your firm.

First, reassess the situation. Check your client list for potential weak companies. Weak companies that may be caught up in the economic downturn become slow payers, and then no payers. Either increase collection methods, or be prepared to let them go and cut your losses.

Second, check your firm. You don't want to give up real talent, but in today's climate, you don't want to carry staff (including partners) who aren't carrying their share of the load.

Third, think productivity. Review all your management processes, from partnership agreements to cash flow management to marketing. Make sure your electronics are up-to-date, and are really saving you money. Look for potential return on perks and club memberships. Preserve capital as best you can. And take your banker to lunch - you may need him or her.

Fourth, look to your marketing. It's not an expense, it's an investment. If you use it wisely, and give the marketing professionals a chance, sound marketing may give you the best return on your investment.

Fifth, pay closer attention to the industries your major clients are in. That's where the early warning signs will be.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Want Your E-Mail Read?

eRoi, Inc. (Portland, OR) research indicates that Wednesdays and Thursdays have the highest open and click-through rates for e-mail messages. During business hours, most messages were read at 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.

Day - Reads - Clicks

Monday - 26% - 4%

Tuesday - 23% - 3%

Wednesday - 27% - 5%

Thursday - 26% - 5%

Friday - 23% - 4%

Saturday - 12% - 2%

Sunday - 14% - 2%

Thursday, March 20, 2008

AAM Conference - Register Now!

Don't delay in registering for the annual summit of the Association for Accounting Marketing - Wild On Marketing - June 3-6 at the Paradise Point Resort & Spa in San Diego! There are already 332 registrants compared to 128 at this time last year. Check out for all the details. What I've learned so far is that the AAM Summit is the place to be for best practices and networking in accounting marketing.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Risky Business

The December 15, 2007 issue of Marketing News includes a "Back Page" interview with Maryam Banikarim, CMO, Univision Communications, Inc. A couple of her responses were particularly interesting.

Q: What qualities make a marketer great?
A: A great marketer has empathy, a genuine curiosity about consumers and a willingness to take risks.

Q: What qualities undermine an otherwise talented marketing executive?
A: Fear, for the marketing executive; and lack of commitment, for the organization. Risk-taking isn't exactly what most folks are being rewarded for ... but in order to succeed, individuals and organizations alike need to embrace novel approaches.

Taking risks may mean making mistakes. However, every successful person has made mistakes and learned from them. When was the last time you took a risk? Is it time?

Monday, March 3, 2008

Four Reasons to Fire a Client Today

Rick Telberg, president and chief executive of Bay Street Group, recently addressed this topic on his blog, His post is on target. I'd like to add a few more reasons to fire a client:

  • Unsatisfactory realization
  • No growth potential
  • High risk
  • Client doesn't need your firm's expertise

What I've learned so far is that most CPA firms won't consider firing clients - even the difficult and unprofitable clients - despite the fact that those firms that regularly do so are more profitable and have happier partners and staff. Perhaps it's time to take another look at this worthwhile strategy?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Why CPAs Don't Market

I attended an AICPA conference over 10 years ago at Bally's Las Vegas (my notes are on a hotel notepad). A panel was charged with giving reasons why CPAs don't market. Here are a few:
  • Too busy
  • Firms don't require marketing skills
  • Presume clients know what they need and that they'll tell the firm
  • Egos - CPAs don't want rejection
  • Don't value marketing hours like chargeable hours
  • Unfocused marketing efforts
  • Don't measure results
  • Negative mindset - don't believe they can do it

How many of these reasons are still true today? What I've learned so far is that effective marketing requires consistent effort. Firms must establish expectations and accountability. Marketing plans focus marketing efforts. CPAs benefit from marketing and sales coaching/training and must believe in their skills. And, perhaps most importantly, CPA firm leadership must "walk the walk" to support their firms' marketing programs.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Elf Yourself

How many of you received an "Elf Yourself" e-mail during this past holiday season? I received four, one of which included me and my husband. Very funny.

OfficeMax's holiday site allowed users to paste their own photos on the heads of four dancing elves and e-mail the results to friends and family. As reported in the February 15, 2008 issue of Marketing News, from its launch in mid-November to just days before Christmas, the site received more than 120 million vists during which more than 75 million elves were created at an average rate of 60 elves per second. Statistics weren't given for or

What would be some options for the accounting marketing world? How about Let me hear from you!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Personal Action Plans

They go by different names. Gary Boomer ( refers to 90-day Personal Game Plans. Morrie Shechtman ( promotes Personal Action Plans to develop financial, personal and professional goals for 90-day, 1-year, 3-year and 5-year time periods. And, one of David Maister's ( favorite stories is about coaching pigeons, "Come on pigeon, you can do it, I will help you." The story relates to setting short term goals, acknowledging achievement, and setting subsequent short term goals in order to achieve the overall goal.

Whatever you call it, writing your goals and making a commitment to achieve them is a key to success. Goals keep you focused and help you prioritize your time. What I've learned so far is that accomplishing goals is very satisfying and is the motivation to accomplish even more.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Cupid's Targeted Marketing

Cupid is the most famous Valentine symbol, known for aiming his arrows at Gods and Humans causing them to fall deeply in love. Perhaps we can call Cupid one of the first targeted marketers!

Like Cupid's arrows you should target your firm's marketing efforts by developing niche specialties. The place to start in selecting a niche is to conduct a marketing audit of your firm. The key areas on which to focus are the following:

An analysis of your firm’s client base. Segment your clients by SIC/NAIC codes. Then, for each industry, calculate the standard cost, fees billed, yield, percent of standard, average fees billed, average hours billed, average billing rate, and number of clients. Also, analyze your client base by sales volume, geographic location, and services provided. Graph this information to give an accurate picture of your client base. This will show you in which industries you are spending the most time, earning high fees, experiencing high collection rates, offering a variety of services – all opportunities for niche market development. It will also show unprofitable industries, those you should avoid.

An analysis of your firm’s current services and skills. In addition to traditional accounting, auditing, and tax services, what services is your firm competent in providing? What services does your firm provide that your competitors do not provide? Do your partners and professional staff have the skills to build a niche or should you consider hiring an industry specialist?

The trends affecting your clients. Talk with experts and clients in the industry to understand its service needs and hot buttons. Trends that influence an industry niche can create opportunities for additional firm services, expand the scope of services to existing clients, and provide services to new clients experiencing the same trends.

What I've learned so far is that Cupid is a story of love and niche marketing is a successful strategy for CPA firms.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The More Things Change ...

I received an e-mail recently from an experienced marketer working for a CPA firm for the first time and in his position for less than one year.

" ... the stumbling blocks you mention (on your Web site absolutely apply to my situation. I got here and immediately had to put out fires, have lacked focus, cannot seem to gain the confidence of partners, feel like I lack credibility in their eyes, etc. Fortunately, I report to the managing partner who supports me a great deal. I have had some successes and feel like I am making some slow progress. I am wondering what suggestions you might have."

Here are a few suggestions. First, determine the needs and expectations of each partner. They are your clients; it's important to develop one-on-one relationships with each of them. Second, get yourself focused. Create a marketing plan. Utilize a "to do" list or another mechanism to help you prioritize your activities. This will also help reduce the amount of time you spend as a fireman. Third, promote your successes. This isn't the time to be shy about your accomplishments. People want to work with successful people. By sharing your successes you will slowly win the support of those partners who have some interest in marketing. Finally, leverage the support of your managing partner. Work with him to prioritize your activities and promote your successes.

Any other suggestions?

Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Beginning

Yes, it was 22 years ago when I became the first marketing coordinator for Israeloff, Trattner & Company in Valley Stream, NY (the firm has since moved to Garden City). Little did I know that this was the start of my accounting marketing career! The firm had 20+ partners, most of whom wanted nothing to do with a marketing coordinator. In fact, the partner-in-charge of marketing wanted me fired because he thought that I was too quiet! (Now, those of you who know me must be very amused!) Fortunately, I had a very marketing-oriented, supportive managing partner in Bob Israeloff.

What were a few of my first lessons as a CPA firm marketing professional? First, I discovered the partners who were interested and motivated in working with me. The others were probably relieved. Second, I read as much as I could about professional services marketing and started building my network. Third, I started learning not to take things too personally. Remember, at that point, CPA firms were allowed to market their services for just six years. I represented change, something many CPAs are uncomfortable with. These lessons are still relevant for every accounting marketer.