Wednesday, December 23, 2009

2010 Top Challenges for Financial Executives

Financial Executives International has written a report listing the top challenges it sees for financial executives next year. Among them are:
  • Economic recovery and the U.S. economic outlook.
  • Health care reform.
  • Employee benefits.
  • Financial regulatory reform.
  • Global convergence of U.S. GAAP and International Financial Reporting Standards.
  • Business taxation. President Obama’s fiscal 2010 budget submission calls for reform of the U.S. tax rules relating to foreign source business income and for repeal of the last-in, first-out accounting method.

Be sure to keep your clients informed about these and other issues. Your clients are looking for proactive advice from your firm!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Is the Accounting Profession Setting the Bar Too Low?

Business Week's Best Place to Launch a Career 2009 reveals an interesting detail about the accounting profession. The Big 4 firms hold the top four spots: Deloitte (1), E&Y (2), PWC (3) and KPMG (4). Grant Thornton (51) and RSM McGladrey (66) also make the list. Kudos to the accounting profession! However, when asked to identify the most desirable trait in new employees the responses were either "College GPA" or "College Major." Are we setting the bar too low? Companies like General Mills, Nestle, Johnson & Johnson, Marriott, and CIGNA are looking for leadership; Booz Allen Hamilton, Merck, and Walt Disney are looking for communication; and, Wells Fargo, Progressive,, and Prudential are looking for analytical skills. Think of the competitive advantage you could create by expecting more from your recruits than a college degree!

Our webinar on November 10, 1:00 p.m. Eastern, Creating a Great Place to Work, will explore the characteristics of the best companies to work for, what great CPA firms have in common, and hiring/career trends. It's not all about the benefits. It's about the people.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Inspiring Leader

Leadership is a hot topic these days and is one of the Seven Keys to Successful CPA Firm Management. I attended a webinar today sponsored by Soundview Executive Book Summaries about "Unlocking the Secrets of How Extraordinary Leaders Motivate." The speakers were the co-authors of The Inspiring Leader, John Zenger, Joseph Folkman and Scott Edinger.

Their research shows that inspiration is the most powerful of all leadership competencies. It is the best predictor of overall ratings of leadership effectiveness by direct reports, peers and managers. It is the quality most valued by employees. Inspiration is also the factor most correlated with employee commitment and satisfaction. And, the impact of inspiring and motivating others is consistent across different kinds of organizations and within different cultures.

During the webinar I asked, "How can inspiring leaders be held accountable?" The presenters offered this feedback:

  1. Evaluate the leader's performance on achieving his business objectives.
  2. Evaluate how people respond, which can be measured by employee retention, commitment, engagement, and their willingness to go the extra mile.
  3. Keep in mind that there are different ways to inspire. For example, enthusiasts are known for their pep talks, experts inspire using knowledge, and enhancers inspire by building relationships.

Here are a few more valuable tips:

  1. The ability to inspire doesn't require a big title.
  2. Align your firm's goals with the objectives of your people. People love their work when they feel that they are making a difference. People want to make a contribution and do something important.
  3. Find innovative ways to communicate. E-mail is impersonal. Face time is critical even if the amount of time needs to be reduced due to the economy or other factors.

What I've learned so far is that all of us have the opportunity to be inspiring leaders. The difference is that some of us take advantage of the opportunities while others just think about it.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

LinkedIn: 7 Secrets for Populating Your Connections

I attended the American Marketing Association Hampton Roads Chapter luncheon today, "Lost on LinkedIn?," featuring author, speaker, consultant and radio host Mark Amtower. Mark's LinkedIn profile includes 500+ connections and 200+ recommendations. He is a member of 30+ LinkedIn groups, starting a few himself. So, he knows what he's talking about.

In the featured video Mark explains why CPAs should be LinkedIn and recommends the amount of time that should be spent managing your LinkedIn profile. Here are the Seven Secrets for Populating Your LinkedIn Connections from Mark's presentation:

  1. Your current contacts.
  2. Those connected to your connections.
  3. Those in pertinent groups.
  4. Those who answer Q&A.
  5. Those viewing your profile. (This requires a paid LinkedIn membership. Mark's advice: If you opt for a paid membership choose the least expensive one.)
  6. Those "you may know."
  7. Invite key connections from other social networks.
  8. Bonus: Look up those you read about in trade publications and see if they are in your "network."

What I've learned so far is that social media is changing our marketing world. Explore how social media tools like LinkedIn can support your marketing plan.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Key Elements of a Client Satisfaction Program

As follow up to today's webinar, "Client Satisfaction and Service: How to Retain Clients and Grow Revenue in a Recession," here are the key elements of a client satisfaction program.

The bottom line is that every CPA firm claims to deliver excellent client service. How does your firm support that claim? Do you have a formal client satisfaction and retention program? If not, today is the day to start.

How to Ask
• Written surveys (mail, online)
• Interviews
• Clients panels, focus groups
• Short surveys after completion of engagements
• Events: Seminars, social events (golf, theatre, etc.)
• Communication: Newsletters, e-newsletters

What to Ask
• How you were selected: Competitive fees, Industry expertise, Location, Integrity and ethics, Personal relationships, Professionalism, Range of services, Reputation , Size of the firm, Technical expertise
• What do you enjoy most about working with ?
• What are you dissatisfied about with your relationship with ?
• What do you think differentiates (your firm) from other accounting firms?
• In the past year have you considered changing CPA firms? If yes, why?
• Questions regarding referral activity, quality/timeliness of services, frequency/quality of communications, their engagement team,
• Cross-selling questions: You are currently providing, Another Company is Currently Providing, Planning to Purchase in the Next 12 Months
• Rate value for fees paid

When to Outsource
• When you don’t have the internal resources
• When you are interested in obtaining more unbiased feedback

You have a successful referral program when ...

As follow up to today's webinar, "Client Satisfaction and Service: How to Retain Clients and Grow Revenue in a Recession," you have a successful referral program when ...

• You can identify the bankers, attorneys, etc. of your clients.
• You meet with your referral sources/COIs on a regular basis.
• Your professional staff has specific referral marketing goals.
• You track these meetings.
• You track referrals given out/received.
• Your people can describe the type of new business you are targeting.
• You are training/mentoring/providing opportunities for your people to build their own networks.
• You utilize the networks of your colleagues to solve others’ problems.
• You ASK your clients and referral sources for leads.
• You thank your referrals sources for leads – the value of handwritten notes.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Why Clients Change CPA Firms

Sixty-six percent of clients say the main reason they would terminate their CPA firm is for poor "client service and attentiveness." Yet, only 27% of CPAs see "client service and attentiveness" as a problem. Client service and retention has never been more important. In these times of fee shopping and negotiation it is critical to solidify your client relationships.

Attend our webinar, "Client Satisfaction and Service: How to Retain Clients and Grow Revenue in a Recession," October 7, 12:00-1:00 p.m. Eastern and learn:
  • What clients really think
  • Why accounting firms lose clients
  • How to manage client service to maximize client satisfaction
  • The hidden land mines in your marketing program
  • How extraordinary client service can pay off for your firm
  • Client service opportunities for tax season

Sunday, September 27, 2009

2009 Best Accounting Firms to Work for

The 2009 Best Accounting Firms to Work for survey and award program was created by Accounting Today and Best Companies Group. It 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 a total of 100 firms, split into three groups: 20 small-sized companies (15-24 employees), 65 medium-sized companies (25-249 employees) 15 large-sized companies (more than 250 employees).

The 2009 Best Accounting Firms to Work for are (alphabetical order, no ranking):
· Albright, Fortenberry & Ninas, LLP
· Anchin, Block & Anchin LLP
· Anglin Reichmann Snellgrove & Armstrong P.C.
· Argy, Wiltse & Robinson P.C.
· Armanino McKenna LLP
· Armao, Costa & Ricciardi, CPAs, P.C.
· Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, LLP
· Baldwin & Associates, PLLC
· Barfield, Murphy, Shank & Smith
· Bartolomei Pucciarelli, LLC
· BCG & Company
· BDO Seidman, LLP
· BeachFleischman PC
· Berlin, Ramos & Company, P.A.
· Bernard Robinson & Company, L.L.P.
· Berntson Porter & Company, PLLC
· Biscotti, Toback & Company, CPA's P.C.
· Bland & Associates, P.C.
· BlumShapiro
· Bond Beebe Accountants & Advisors
· Boyer & Ritter, CPAs and Consultants
· Braver Schimler Pierce Jenkins, LLP
· Brown Schultz Sheridan & Fritz
· Burr, Pilger & Mayer, Inc.
· Citrin Cooperman & Company LLP
· Cohen & Company
· Coulter & Justus, P.C.
· Cowan Bolduc Doherty, LLC
· Daszkal Bolton LLP
· Davidson, Holland, Whitesell & Co., PLLC
· DiCicco, Gulman & Company LLP
· Dixon Hughes PLLC
· Dunton & Associates, LLC
· E. Cohen and Company, CPAs
· Eisner LLP
· Friedman LLP
· Glenn M. Gelman & Associates, Certified Public Accountants and Business Consultants
· Grassi & Co., CPAs, P.C.
· Greenstein, Rogoff, Olsen & Co. LLP
· Greer & Walker, LLP
· Hancock Askew & Co., LLP
· Henderson, Hutcherson & McCullough, PLLC
· Hertzbach & Company, P.A.
· Homes, Lowry, Horn & Johnson, Ltd
· Isdaner & Company, LLC
· J.H. Cohn LLP
· Johanson & Yau Accountancy Corporation
· Johnson Jacobson Wilcox
· Johnson Lambert & Co. LLP
· KatzAbosch
· Kaufman, Rossin & Co.
· Kearney & Company
· Kolb+Co. SC
· KraftCPAs PLLC
· Kreinces Rollins & Shanker, LLC
· Lanigan, Ryan, Malcolm & Doyle, P.C.
· LaPorte Sehrt Romig Hand
· Layton Layton & Tobler LLP
· Lewis, Hooper & Dick, LLC
· LMGW Certified Public Accountants LLP
· Maloney + Novotny LLC
· Mann. Weitz & Associates L.L.C.
· Mark Bailey & Company
· Martin Starnes & Associates, CPAs, P.A.
· McKonly & Asbury, LLP
· Mikunda, Cottrell & Co., Inc.
· Montgomery Coscia Greilich LLP
· Onisko & Scholz, LLP Certified Public Accountants
· Payne, Nickles & Company
· Pender Newkirk & Company LLP
· Petrinovich Pugh & Co, LLP
· Pittman & Brooks, P.C.
· PKF Texas
· Porter Keadle Moore, LLP
· Potter & Company, LLP
· Price, Kong & Co., CPA's
· Rehmann
· RINA accountancy corporation
· Rosenberg, Smith, Cooney & Migliore, P.C.
· Rothstein Kass
· Rushton & Company, LLC
· Sanford, Baumeister & Frazier, PLLC
· Sharrard, McGee & Co., P.A.
· Sisterson & Co. LLP
· Soukup, Bush & Associates, CPAs, P.C.
· Squire & Company, PC
· Swindoll, Janzen, Hawk & Loyd, LLC
· Tate & Tryon
· Testone, Marshall & Discenza, LLP CPAs
· The Whitlock Company, LLP
· ThomasYork, LLP
· Wall, Einhorn & Chernitzer, P.C.
· Wessel & Company
· WhippleWood CPAs, PC
· Whitley Penn LLP
· Wilkin & Guttenplan
· Windes & McClaughry Accountancy Corporation
· Windham Brannon

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Marketing & Business Development Webinar: Your Personal Invitation

Marketing & Business Development Webinar

September 16, 1:00-2:00 p.m. Eastern

Attend this webinar and learn:

  • The economy's impact on marketing programs and budgets
  • How marketing matters in client retention
  • When is social media right for your firm?
  • Conduct a reality check on your marketing program
  • Firing clients: More important than ever?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

ESPN2: Martina and Jimmy Need Help!

I am an avid tennis fan. At this time of year I love to watch the US Open. I enjoy the competition, the surprises (have you heard about Melanie Oudin?), and the stories behind each player.

John McEnroe is the best tennis commentator ever. He's smart, funny, insightful and self-deprecating. So, I suppose it's unfair to compare other commentators with his experience. However, ESPN2: Martina Navratilova and Jimmy Connors need help! Don't get me wrong. They are two of the best tennis players of all time. Both are members of the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Yet, as commentators they are monotone and boring. There isn't any camaraderie between them.

What I've learned so far is to focus on your strengths. Conduct a personal SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats). Determine those skills that need further training and nurturing. Create a personal marketing plan to track the status of your goals. Find a mentor. This will be the difference between scoring an ace or a double fault!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Marketing & Business Development Webinar

The Seven Keys to Successful CPA Firm Management webinar series continues on September 16, 1:00-2:00 p.m. Eastern with Marketing & Business Development. Attend this webinar and learn:
  • The economy's impact on marketing programs and budgets
  • How marketing matters in client retention
  • When is social media right for your firm?
  • Conduct a reality check on your marketing program
  • Firing clients: More important than ever

Special Offer! Attend both the Marketing & Business Development and Client Satisfaction (October 7) webinars for one low price of $125! Each separate webinar is $79.

The Client Satisfaction webinar features:

  • The hidden landmine of your marketing program
  • How to reduce fee resistance
  • How to empower your team to satisfy clients
  • Why CPA firms lose clients
  • How client satisfaction can differentiate your firm

The Seven Keys to Successful CPA Firm Management is based on research conducted by Capstone Marketing and Bay Street Group LLC over the past year including thousands of survey responses and interviews with leading authorities.

If you'd like to learn more about our findings, you can click here to download the 12-page PDF, "The Seven Keys to Success in CPA Firm Management." (No charge, no obligation.)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

CPAs and Social Media

Are CPAs looking at technology to strengthen their marketing efforts? As revealed in yesterday's Webinar, Technology: Investment and Implementation, part of The Seven Keys to Successful CPA Firm Management series, 35% of survey respondents are doing so. Leading firms are 35% more likely to identify using technology to strengthen their marketing efforts as a tech initiative.

CPA Trendlines research indicates that CPAs:
  • 54% on LinkedIn
  • 48% on Facebook
  • 21% on Twitter
  • 12% on Plaxo
  • 6% on MySpace

Social media marketing is causing us to another look at how we create and execute marketing programs. The MarketingSherpa Social Media Marketing and PR Benchmark Survey 2008 reveals:

  • Social media is changing the way your company communicates: 31% strongly agree, 45% agree
  • 48% of respondents will increase their social media budgets
  • Social media marketing and PR is very effective at influencing brand perception (39%), increasing brand awareness (37%), improving search engine rankings (38%), and increasing website traffic (33%).

What I've learned so far is that we need to embrace change. This can be uncomfortable. Yet, change enables us to enhance our skills and try new things, two characteristics of motivated achievers.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Best Ideas from AAM Summit 2009

Here is the final installment (3 of 3) of the best ideas learned at the AAM Summit 2009. What I've learned so far is to listen to the wisdom of my colleagues. Enjoy!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Technology: Seven Keys Webinars Continue

“Technology: Investment and Implementation”, the second key of the series, will be held on Tuesday, August 11, 1:00-2:00 p.m. Eastern.

In "Technology: Investment and Implementation,"
Jean Caragher, Capstone Marketing and Rick Telberg, Bay Street Group LLC will reveal:

- Top Five Tips to Economize Your Technology Spending
- How Leading Firms Differ from Laggard Firms in Technology Use
- Developing a Strategic Technology Plan
- Tips for Going Paperless
- How to Embrace the Mobile Environment
- The Impact of Social Media

Registration for the one-hour webinar on Technology, August 11, at 1 pm Eastern is now open. Price: $79; or, $379 for the remaining six-part series, a 20% discount.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

How to Judge CPA Firm Leaders

Rick Telberg's latest blog post, How to Judge CPA Firm Leaders, makes an excellent point. The ultimate test of leadership is in how results are achieved through the actions and behaviors of others.

Leadership is one of the Seven Keys to Successful CPA Firm Management identified by Capstone Marketing and Bay Street Group LLC. Details of our research will be unveiled in a series of monthly webinars starting Tuesday, July 14, 2009, at 1:00-2:00 pm Eastern, with "Leadership: New Rules for the New Normal."

In "Leadership: New Rules for the New Normal," Caragher and Telberg will reveal:
- Essential Qualities for Accounting Firm Leaders in Today's Economy
- How to Be a Leader if "Leader" Isn't in Your Job Title
- Key Skills Every Accounting Firm Employee Needs to Know
- Bridging the Generation Gap in Today's Workplace
- Why Teams Don't Work, and How to Fix Them
- What's Wrong with Every Firm's Compensation System

Registration for the one-hour webinar on Leadership, July 14, is now open. Price: $79; or $449 for the entire seven-part series, a 20% discount.

Monday, July 6, 2009

AAM Summit Video Highlights

What I've learned so far is that networking is a tremendous source for business development and education. Here is feedback from our accounting marketing colleagues on the best idea they learned from the recent AAM Summit 2009. Check back often this week for additional video highlights.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Seven Keys Webinar Series


Seven Keys to be Shared in Webinar Series

CHESAPEAKE, VA, JUNE 23, 2009 – Bay Street Group LLC and Capstone Marketing, two leading marketing and market research firms to the CPA profession, have joined forces to conduct a ground-breaking and comprehensive investigation into the critical success factors for today’s accounting firm. The Seven Keys to Successful CPA Firm Management,, is based on research conducted over the past year including thousands of survey responses and interviews with leading authorities.

The Seven Keys are:
1. Leadership,
2. Technology,
3. Marketing & Business Development,
4. Client Satisfaction,
5. A Great Place to Work,
6. Learning Organization, and
7. Strategy Execution.

“Our research identifies the best practices and common characteristics that separate the competitively successful firms from the not-so-successful,” explains Jean Caragher, Capstone Marketing. “We're calling them 'The Leaders vs. The Laggards.'”

“Leaders enjoy above-par, even world-class, performance in the generally accepted metrics of practice management,” continues Rick Telberg, Bay Street Group LLC, “including revenue growth, profit margins, technical excellence, client satisfaction, staff morale and tenure, and professional reputation and brand value. Leaders clearly do things differently. And they clearly get superior results. ”

"Leaders," for instance, are 19 times more likely to show superior revenue growth than "Laggards."

Details of the research will be unveiled in a series of monthly webinars starting Tuesday, July 14, 2009, at 1 pm Eastern, with "Leadership: New Rules for the New Normal."

In "Leadership: New Rules for the New Normal," Caragher and Telberg will reveal:
- Essential Qualities for Accounting Firm Leaders in Today's Economy
- How to Be a Leader if "Leader" Isn't in Your Job Title
- Key Skills Every Accounting Firm Employee Needs to Know
- Bridging the Generation Gap in Today's Workplace
- Why Teams Don't Work, and How to Fix Them
- What's Wrong with Every Firm's Compensation System

Registration for the one-hour webinar on Leadership, July 14, is now open at Price: $79; or $449 for the entire seven-part series, a 20% discount.

For further information contact Jean Caragher, Capstone Marketing,, 757.673.6826 or Rick Telberg, Bay Street Group LLC,, 914.674.4531.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Advice from Ed Russ

I received a pleasant suprise when reading the May 30, 2009 issue of Marketing News. The Viewpoint column featured our friend, Ed Russ, chief marketing and sales officer in the U.S. for Grant Thornton. Did you know that Ed trained to be an Olympic gymnast? Perhaps that's why he has been instrumental in vaulting Grant Thornton's Net Promoter Score to 62% (from 49%) and the firm's brand familiarity to 64% (from 43%).

What is Ed's advice for young marketers? First, "Do something you really like doing. I don't care what industry it is in ... My second piece of advice is to have empathy. Look at the world through your clients' eyes. Look at the world through your employees' eyes. Look at the world through your boss's eyes."

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

AAM-MAA Rocks!

I'm back from attending the Association for Accounting Marketing's 20th Annual Summit held in Austin, TX. The AAM conference is always a time for education, renewal, and fantastic networking. Stay tuned for future posts on conference sessions.

One of the most valuable take-aways is the AAM-MAA Rocks! book, a 236-page compilation of all AAM-MAA entries, including photos and descriptions of the campaigns. This book can be purchased for $129 from AAM, 816.221.1296 or Order yours today while supplies today!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Surprise at the Pump

I recently visited with a client in the Northeast. I stopped at a gas station on my way to the airport to fill the tank of my rental car. As usual I stepped out of the car, swiped my credit card, and started pumping gas. I looked up and noticed that a man was watching me, not saying a word. Now, I'm wondering why this man is watching me. Finally, I asked, "Is this a full service station?" He nodded and said, "Yes." What a surprise! I haven't been to a full service gas station in 20 years. He finished pumping the gas, handed me my receipt, and said, "Have a nice day."

What a pleasant experience I had at that gas station, unusual to say the least. It was like the pizza delivery man arriving earlier than expected or a retailer honoring an expired coupon. What is your firm doing to unexpectedly delight clients? Calling them rather than sending an e-mail? Taking them to lunch rather than just calling them? Delivering a project or report early? Identifying solutions to problems they didn't even know they had?

Today's economy is causing many CPA firms to refocus their marketing efforts. Client service and satisfaction is a key component. Be sure to pay attention to your clients and do what it takes to ensure their satisfaction and loyalty. Your competition is more than willing to do so if you are not.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Performance Management Do's and Don'ts

Heidi Brundage, CPA, PCPS Project Manager, AICPA, presented "Performance Management Do's and Don'ts" at the recent Practitioners Symposium. Performance management is becoming increasingly important in team development and accountability. How effective is your firm in modeling these best practices?

Managing Partner Do's:
  • Be a role model
  • Link compensation to performance
  • Support annual process training
  • Learn about diversity among team members
  • Encourage mentoring and soft skills training

Performance Champion Do's:

  • Gain executive buy-in
  • Review process periodically
  • Communicate the process
  • Tie performance plans to learning
  • Offer process training
  • Support those who counsel poor performers

Counselor Do's:

  • Practice and prepare examples
  • Understand competencies in the competency model
  • Educate counselors on opportunities for growth
  • Ask questions
  • Balance good with bad
  • Offer help in negative situations

Counselee Do's:

  • Recap what you have done over the past year
  • If successful, explain why
  • Gather feedback from multiple sources
  • If not successful, explain why and future plans to change
  • Review goals in relation to actual

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

10 Marketing Tips for Small Firms on a Budget

Thank you to those who attended our session, "10 Marketing Tips for Small Firms on a Budget," at 7:00 a.m. this morning at the AICPA Practitioners Symposium! Here are the tips that Mike Shost, CPA, Shost & Company, and I shared:
  1. Ensure client satisfaction.
  2. Determine cross-selling opportunities.
  3. Define your target markets.
  4. Work your network.
  5. Stay in front of clients, prospects, and referral sources.
  6. Don't be afraid to ask for leads.
  7. Understand the power of public relations.
  8. Demonstrate your expertise through seminars.
  9. Embrace technology and electronic media.
  10. Have a plan.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Koltin's Perspective

Coming to you live from Las Vegas. I am here attending the AICPA Practitioners Symposium. I will present "10 Marketing Tips for Small Firms on a Budget" tomorrow at 7:00 a.m. More on that tomorrow.

During his session, "Succeeding in the Changing Financial Environment," Allan Koltin, CPA, President and CEO, PDI Global, shared his perspective on many issues:
  • It is time to upgrade talent. Rate your talent on a scale of 1-10, 10 = super star and 1 = why are they here? Eliminate those rated 1-4.
  • One Big 4 firm has cut their rates by 30% in selected markets. This will increase competition with local firms in those markets.
  • More firms are willing to run their firms like a business.
  • More partners are involved in goal setting, incorporating accountability and coaching.
  • CEOs and Audit Committees are looking for firms to deliver 80% of current value for lesser fees.
  • There will be more mergers in the next five years than the last 10 years combined.
  • There has been more activity regarding lateral and merged-in partners in the past five years than there has been in the last 20 years.
  • Koltin is not seeing a lot of 30-somethings starting their own firms. Perhaps this is because there are better firms today and they don't want to leave.
  • The average growth rate for 2009 is predicted to be 3%.

Now, I'll try my luck at the slot machines. That's about as daring as I get with gambling!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Virtual World Impacting CPA Firms

My friend, Howard Wolosky, has written an article, 12 Questions to Test Your Competitive Fact-Finding Skills, which encourages us to evaluate our readiness to embrace technology along with the changing rules of business. Some of the questions are more difficult than others. I certainly need to conduct research to answer all of them. Once again, Howard gives us something to think about.

Friday, March 27, 2009

It’s the Vision Thing

George H.W. Bush famously responded to the suggestion that he look up from the short-term goals of his campaign and start focusing on the longer term by saying, “Oh, the vision thing.” At the recent Winning Is Everything conference speaker Pat Williams, Senior VP, Orlando Magic, stated that vision is the heart and soul of leadership.

Effective leaders have a vision and set strategy to realize their vision. Yet, the Seven Keys to Successful CPA Firm Management research conducted by Capstone Marketing and Bay Street Group reveals that only 10 percent always develop business plans with input from everyone, 12 percent always meet regularly to check progress against their business plan, 10 percent can always articulate how they are better than their competition, 10 percent always have business goals that are specific and measurable, and 15 percent always hold individuals accountable for results.

It seems that few firms are successfully setting and executing strategy. This is an opportunity for your firm. What opportunities exist in your marketplace? How are you obtaining and retaining clients? How are you recruiting and retaining employees? What could your firm be doing differently? Engage firm leadership in strategy setting by doing your homework, facilitating strategy sessions, and gaining commitment one partner at a time.

To participate in the Capstone Marketing-Bay Street Group research go to

This article appears in the March/April issue of MarkeTrends published by the Association for Accounting Marketing.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I couldn't let the day pass by without wishing all of you a happy St. Patrick's Day. I have many happy memories of St. Patrick's Day and a couple of trips I've taken to Ireland. When I was in seventh grade at Holy Name of Mary School in Valley Stream, NY the band marched in the St. Patrick's Day Parade in New York City. I played the glockenspiel and was very excited to see a cousin wave to me from the sidewalk. The fact that we were the last band and just ahead of the street sweeper doesn't diminish this happy memory!

Of course, in college St. Patrick's Day was a non-authorized day off spent drinking green beer, dancing, and spending time with friends.

And, I've been fortunate enough to travel to Ireland twice, both times kissing the Blarney Stone. I have a photo of me and my Mom standing by the Carragh River. We figured that was as close as we were going to get to a landmark with our surname!

May you live as long as you want, and never want as long as you live.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Social Media Marketing Tips from the Marketing Diva

I caught up with Toby Bloomberg, Bloomberg Marketing, on a recent trip to Atlanta. Toby and I served on the AMA-Atlanta Chapter BOD many years ago. Known for her Diva Marketing blog, Toby now focuses on building strategic marketing plans that use Interactive/new media as a core tactic and integrate traditional into one master branding plan. Toby is ahead of the curve when it comes to social media marketing so I asked her for a few tips. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Top 100 Most Effective Subject Lines

A recent article published by shared the Top 100 most effective subject lines from the MarketingProfs Get to the Point! Newsletters. See whether any of these catch your attention...

Potty All Night Long
Four Blogs You Should Be Reading
Seal Your Pitch with a Kiss
Release Me Please!
A Week at IKEA
Twitter for Timeliness
I See Riches on the Horizon
Newsletter No-No's
A Doctor Who Only Makes House Calls
Widget for Dollars
Did He Really Call It a 'Nymphomercial'?
I Am McLovin!
Playing Tag
The Freeconomics of Online Media
How Customers Are Like Lab Rats
Sidle Up to the LiveBar
The SEO Rapper
Burger King Tells a Whopper
Get 'em to Gawk
A Coffee Klatch for Every Marketer
Laugh 'Til You Cry
Shameless Marketing Stunt
A Super Bowl Strategy That Paid Off
How Saying the Least May Achieve the Most
Loaf Run
Senior Makes Site Accessible
Oh, Count the Ways You Can Annoy a Journalist
Ranting and Raving
Jingles 101 with Dinah Shore
When Your Video Isn't Viral
On-the-Fly Creativity
Put That Checkbook Away
Branding Tips from the Queen of Burlesque
Time to Yelp!
Get Over It, Kid
Do You Have Peripheral Vision?
Rules Schmules
Create a Customer Walk-a-Thon
Is Your Newsletter a Must-Read?
Keeping Up With the Kremplers
Subject Lines: Tell, Don't Sell
Cool Open-Rate Stats
Podcasting is Easier Than You Think
Don't Be a Twit
My Blog, Myself
Think Small to Win Big
Social Security Shenanigans
Would Your Blog Get an A?
A Resolution You Can Keep
How to Measure That Long Tail
You've Been Punk'd ... and Wiki'd
The Cold, Creamy, Refreshing Story of Social Media
The Wisdom of the In Crowd
The Angel in Red Speaks to Us
Glad You Could Make It!
Springtime for Twitter
Using Tricks of the Journalistic Trade
We're Still Married to the Past
I Like 'em Small and Focused
Get Gored
Will Dance for Gum
It's Alive! It's Alive!
No More Boring Conferences
A Clearly Good Marketing Plan
Yammer to Keep It Together
Passengers: Your Captain Has Screwed Up
Invite. Engage. Inoculate.
The Slow Art of Customer Seduction
How to Blow It in Five Words or Less
Give 'em a Good Tease
Taking the Email Plunge
Analyze This
The Deviant Approach to Creativity
A Gentle Step into Web 2.0
Sprechen-Vous Italiano?
We're Short on Euphemism Today
The Revolution Will Be Widgetized
Inspiration from the Swat Team
Why You Want Customers to Notice Your Zits
Help Your Customer Live the Fantasy
Remember Me?
Pepsi's Scheme Fails Taste Test
Mind Your E-Manners
Time to Step Up Your Blogging
Go Where the Current Leads
Look at Me. Now CLICK.
Warm Up Your Thinking Cap
What You Can Learn From Starbucks' Mistakes
Dumb It Up, People
Those Jerks Are Talking About You. So Talk Back!
How to Be a Better Blogger
A Permission Marketing Primer: Picking and Choosing
It's Time to Socialize, People!
Stick to the Script!
Loose Lips Sink Ships
Customer Service the Lexus Way
It's Talkification Time!
Plurk It, Baby!
The Cocktail Party Rule
On Target

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What Are CPAs Doing Online?

How many CPAs are blogging and twittering? Do they attend webinars? Text message? Are they LinkedIn or on Facebook? Rick Telberg, Bay Street Group LLC, is conducting research to find out. Complete the survey and receive a free Executive Preview.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Impact of Struggling Economy on Marketing Budgets

MarketingSherpa, an excellent resource for articles, case studies, and marketing research, looks at some trends in marketing budgets, and the impact of these trends. This initial Chart of the Week reflects on the results of their research into the impact of the struggling economy on marketing.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Best Ideas From Winning Is Everything #2

More ideas! Enjoy!

Best Ideas From Winning Is Everything #1

What I've learned to so far is to share ideas with colleagues. Enjoy this first of two videos about the best ideas heard at last month's Winning Is Everything conference.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Crafting and Delivering Winning Presentations

Rebecca Ryan, 2EO, Next Generation Consulting, shared her thoughts on crafting and delivering winning presentations at last week's Winning Is Everything conference:
  • What do you want your audience to think, feel and do as a result of your presentation?
  • Stories rule, stats rot. Stories that work are hilarious, share failure, or are poignant.
  • Show, don't tell. Use effective images.
  • When sh!t happens, improvise.

Resources include:

Monday, February 2, 2009

Eight Principles of Winning Teams

I am back from Las Vegas having attending the 8th Annual Winning is Everything Conference sponsored by The Advisory Board. The opening speaker, Pat Williams, Senior VP, Orlando Magic was fabulous! He spoke for 90 minutes without referring to any notes, including stories and quotes, and even impersonated several U.S. leaders! Here are his thoughts on the Eight Principles of Winning Teams.

#1 - Talent
  • Must be coachable and teachable.
  • Do they understand and accept their role?
  • Is the talent going to be a good teammate?
  • Hire very slowly. You can never do enough interviewing, background checks, etc.
  • Fire quickly. What should be done eventually probably should be done immediately.

#2 - Seven Sides of Great Leadership

  • Vision, is the heart and soul of leadership.
  • Communicating your vision: communicate optimism; hope; inspiration and motivation (have these qualities yourself, is caught rather than taught); talk about it (fight through the fear of public speaking).
  • People skills - empathy, care
  • Character counts
  • Competense: Be a lifelong teacher and lifelong learner.
  • Boldness: Make decisions
  • A serving heart.

#3 - Committed

  • To each other.
  • To excellence.
  • To competition: Welcome it. Competition makes us better.
  • To winning. What are you doing right now to produce more wins for your firm?

#4 - Passionate About What They Do

  • You've got to love what you do - energy, enthusiasm.
  • It's OK to have fun.

#5 - Always Thinking TEAMS - You can accomplish more together.

#6 - Empower Each Other - Uplift, edify, exhort.

#7 - Respect Each Other - This leads to trust, which leads to loyalty, which leads to love, which leads to friendship.

#8 - Men and Women of Character

  • Honest
  • Integrity - "walk the walk"
  • Take responsibility
  • Work hard
  • Perserverence
  • Humility
  • Courage

Monday, January 26, 2009

Closing Deals by Hosting Seminars

Chris Perrino, Principal, Business Development, Barnes Dennig & Co., recently presented this program at the AICPA Accounting Firm Marketing Forum. He knows what he's talking about since Barnes Dennig hosts about 18 events per year. Their seminars are free. The goal of these events is to make client/prospect relationship development easier.

The three critical parts of seminar success - topic, topic, topic. The title needs to be honed, the speaker needs to be honed, and the topic choices should demonstrate your firm's industry expertise. Here are a few sample winning topics:

  • Economic Reality for Manufacturers
  • Rich Contractor, Poor Contractor: Pricing for Profits & What Makes a Good Contractor
  • Building and Engaging Your Dream Board
  • Tax Reduction Strategies for Developers

Here are a few other tips for seminar success:

  • Entertaining speakers outscore those with better content.
  • Send a "Save the Date" 6-8 weeks prior.
  • Send weekly e-mail reminders starting one month prior.
  • Expect 20% to 30% no shows.
  • Consider holding seminars at not-for-profit client locations, e.g., museum.
  • Do not hold seminars on Mondays or Fridays.
  • Barnes Dennig's contractor seminars are hold at lunchtime, all others at breakfast.
  • Consider co-sponsoring your seminar with a law firm or bank. Barnes Dennig hosts four seminars featuring "celebrity" speakers that are co-sponsored.
  • Invite clients to have lunch with the celebrity speaker after the seminar.
  • Follow up consistently.

What I've learned so far is that seminars can be an excellent source of new business. It is a face-to-face marketing tactic that demonstrates your firm's knowledge and expertise. Chris' final thought was that hosting seminars takes a lot of time, money, and patience. He's right, and that investment can deliver quite a return for your firm when implemented correctly.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Maximizing Marketing Communications

Mitch Reno, Chief Marketing and Sales Officer, The Rehmann Group, presented "Top 10 Ways to Maximize Collateral!" at last week's AICPA Accounting Firm Marketing Forum. Mitch was his usual entertaining self and provided us with a scorecard (below) and many examples.
  • Select and Segment Audience (5 points) - REACH, correct profile, psychographic and demographic understanding
  • Lead with a Headline (10 points) - USP, questions, emotion, humor, attention grabbing
  • Create Arresting Visuals (15 points) - Use of color, size, unique images, brand building continuity
  • Devise Clever Copy (15 points) - Relevant, clear & concise, easy to read, on point, actionable
  • Add Dimension (5 points) - Pop-up and cut outs, 3D, and interactive
  • Repeat and Touch Again (10 points) - Frequency, repeat content, create repetition within and across vehicles
  • Call to Action (5 points) - Next step, easy to find and act
  • Integrate MarCom Approaches (10 points) - PR, direct mail, events, electronic, broadcast, etc.
  • Electrify Pathways (10 points) - Linked to emarketing, captures email, self-guided education reach
  • Track Results and ROI (15 points) - Track and measure the impact of every investment

How do your collateral materials measure up?

Monday, January 19, 2009

AICPA Accounting Firm Marketing Forum '09

The Annual AICPA Accounting Firm Marketing Forum was held on January 15-16, 2009 in New York City. Walter Timoshenko, CMO, Weiser LLP and Sally Glick, CMO, Sobel & Company once again put together a fabulous program, this year focused on the theme of communication. Topics ranged from branding to collateral to events to crisis communications to social media to integrating all of these components.

I'll be sharing what I learned over the next week. For now I thought it would be fun for you to hear about the best ideas from the perspective of the participants. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Seven Keys to Successful CPA Firm Management

Capstone Marketing continues its research with Bay Street Group about the Seven Keys to Successful CPA Firm Management. Be a part of the study and receive a free copy of the results! Here are the links to all of the active surveys:

Job Satisfaction and Staff Development:

Tech Savvy:

Client Service, Satisfaction and Expectations:

Marketing and Business Development: