Vol. 22 • No. 1 • January/February 2010 A Branded Lifestyle: Encouraging Employees to Be the Brand How to Boost Your Brand By Courtney Fujara, Legacy Professionals LLP and Jackie Allder, ATPCO By Leigh George and Jeremy Hoders, Moiré Marketing Partners W hile logos, taglines and collateral materials are all important to the development of a brand, most accounting marketers and professional service marketers know that a firm’s staff is the foundation of its brand. From the receptionist and staff accountants to the directors and partners, a firm’s people are its brand’s front line. As living, breathing representatives of your firm’s brand, your employees need to live your brand. Whether they’re pitching a new service to an existing Save the Date! The 21st Annual AAM Summit: Building Strong Foundations for Firm Success June 22 – 25, 2010 Grant Hyatt, Washington, D.C. More details at http://aam.conference2010.org client, networking with prospective clients or volunteering for a community organization, your team should constantly exemplify your brand. But to do so, they need to not only understand the brand, but also believe it. ‘Making a difference and delivering value’ At HORNE LLP (40 partners; 475 employees; offices in Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Louisiana, Texas and Arizona) the firm has built its brand by viewing it as more than a color scheme and typeface. The HORNE brand is the commitment the firm makes to its people, according to Hugh Parker, CPA, PhD, and Executive Partner Hugh Parker of HORNE. “We see a brand as a promise we make and it’s a promise to our clients, our team members and the communities we live in,” Parker said. “We talk about ourselves in terms of creating value and making a difference.” P ull out your business card. What impression of your firm does it leave in the minds of the people you meet? Does your firm come across as traditional? Contemporary? Innovative? Would it stand out from the cards of your competitors? Does the identity on the card ring true to people at your firm? In today’s market, where companies are cutting their internal audit departments and the accounting industry is still experiencing job losses, every accounting firm needs a strong brand to increase name awareness, protect and build market share, and instill loyalty in its staff. To build a memorable brand that inspires confidence and trust you need to ask yourself what is unique about your firm and then pinpoint why that matters to your clients. What’s Your Promise to Clients? At the heart of any successful brand is a promise — a promise of the distinctive value you offer clients. To create a brand that resonates with clients and staff, you need to do more than differentiate yourself from your competition. You Page 3 Page 5 Branding and Promotion 2 Member Voices 9 4 IRS Issues Two Revenue Rulings 10 AAM Summit 2010 Promo 6 Manage Behaviors, Manage Your Brand 11 Marketer Toolbox 8 AAM-MAA Best Practices 12 The Partner’s Perspective AAM New Members www.accountingmarketing.org Jackie Allder ([email protected]) and Courtney Fujara ([email protected]) — Issue Editors MarkeTrends is designed by PDI Global Inc. (www.pdiglobal.com) Member Voices MarkeTrends is published six times a year by the Association for Accounting Marketing, Inc. (AAM). It is a benefit of membership in AAM. Association office: 15000 Commerce Parkway, Suite C Mount Laurel, NJ 08054 Phone 856.380.6850 / Fax 856.439.0525 E-mail: [email protected] Web site: www.accountingmarketing.org Association membership for executive, associate and affiliate members is $275 annually with a one-time $50 initiation fee. Association membership for student members is $150 annually with a one-time $50 initiation fee. Copyright © 1989 – 2009 by Association for Accounting Marketing, Inc. All rights reserved. Please request permission to reprint or copy any part of MarkeTrends. AAM MarkeTrends Committee Anne Angera, Co-Chair Dunlap & Associates, P.C. Phone 215.997.7219 / Fax 215.997.7218 E-mail: [email protected] Marsha Leest, Co-Chair CCH, a Wolters Kluwer Business Phone 845.369.3224 / Fax 847.267.2514 E-mail: [email protected] Pete Pomilio, MBA, Executive Director AAM Headquarters Melissa Brogan Barnes Dennig Michelle Class Barnes Dennig Kim Cooley Henderson, Hutcherson and McCullough, PLLC Larry Feld Hunter Group CPA LLC Courtney Fujara Legacy Professionals LLP Paul Gladen Muzeview LLC Sally Glick Sobel & Co., LLC Angie Grissom The Rainmaker Academy Jennifer Hixson Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, LLP Amanda Hopson-Walker PDI Global, Inc. Susan Lanfray ERE LLP Aimee Lavallee SBLR Chartered Accountants Mira Leonard Creative Growth Group Erin McClafferty Briggs, Bunting & Dougherty, LLP Mazie McMahon The Bonadio Group Lisa Rozycki LR Marketing Group Stacy Soefer… A Breath of Fresh Air! By Mira Leonard, Creative Growth Group “Accounting marketers tend to limit themselves by following safe routes,” says Stacy Soefer, AAM’s 2009 Rookie of the Year. “Offering our internal and external Stacy Soefer clients unique experiences with respect to everything we do has helped us distinguish the firm and increase our marketing team’s credibility.” Pushing boundaries and combining her creative passion with the tasks of a marketing director of an accounting firm is certainly working for Soefer, as after only two-and-a-half years in the accounting marketing industry she is making a name for herself. Who is Stacy Soefer? Soefer leads the marketing and communication efforts of Gainer Donnelly & Desroches LLP (“GDD”), (11 partners, 140 total staff, office in Houston, Texas). Earlier this fall Soefer was kind enough to spend a few minutes with me sharing her background and insights on the profession of accounting marketing. It turns out creativity has always been a part of Soefer’s life and a personal passion. During college she worked as an intern in public relations and marketing roles and later for an advertising agency, and she has always been drawn to creative initiatives and art. “I wasn’t sure about working in the accounting field,” said Soefer of her initial reaction to the Marketing and Communications Director opportunity at GDD. She did go to the interview and got the job on the spot. More than two-and-a-half years later, Soefer has no regrets. “I took a calculated risk making the change and taking on a new challenge. It has been a rewarding experience.” As the leader of the firm’s marketing and communication efforts her current responsibilities include all internal and external marketing 2 communications, public relations, strategic marketing planning, Web site, collateral, thought leadership events, and much more. With respect to challenges and opportunities in her career, Soefer listed a few: “Getting accountants to understand the value of marketing and making the shift to embracing it is probably one of the biggest challenges. Being a young woman in a workplace and having to work extra hard to exceed people’s expectations is another one.” And of course there is also the current economy and the need to come up with creative solutions while working with smaller budgets. When it comes to opportunities Soefer named one important one. “Accounting marketers pigeonhole themselves. They limit themselves by following similar paths and don’t consider deviating. They’d create more opportunities for their firms by looking for inspiration from other fields.” She seems to do just that by taking a different approach to everything marketing. Instead of a happy hour in the office, she’d suggest a night at the museum giving both her internal and external clients an experience and something to talk about. How about Oktoberfest to boost internal morale and let people loosen up? “It’s rewarding to do something people like and appreciate.” In closing, I asked Soefer about her experience with AAM and other professional resources like International Group of Accounting Firms. “It’s an invaluable experience for me to connect with peer marketers and share best practices,” she said. In terms of her career in the industry, she assured me that she hopes to continue creating outstanding results for the firm, mentoring other marketers, and breaking the mold. I am sure we will be hearing more about Stacy Soefer in the future! A Branded Lifestyle continued from page 1 About the Authors: Parker said the HORNE brand makes a difference and delivers value to its clients through quality, timely and much-needed services, while the brand lives out for firm employees through career and personal growth. For HORNE team members, the brand promises leadership and career development, as well as technical training and investments in technology, with consistent messaging from recruitment to retirement. Their brand motto of delivering value and making a difference transfers into their recruiting process in ways beyond the conventional meet-and-greet sessions. Parker said HORNE understands how integral professors and teachers are to the recruiting process, so their team members and partners will “deliver for them” by helping in the educational process — be it through in-class speaking engagements or mock interviews. That, he said, is “just an example of how we take our brand into everything we do — that’s our goal.” By keeping its brand messaging consistent and encouraging employees to live the brand, HORNE has found success through many traditional methods of building brand awareness, according to Parker. Examples include branding advertisements and exhibits at tradeshows and conventions, as well as speaking engagements with related associations. “Even there, we’ve got to deliver on who we are,” said Parker, explaining that HORNE aims to create value and make a difference no matter what they’re doing. “Once they begin to see what you say, then you have to do what you say,” Parker said. So whether you’re recruiting new employees or prospecting for clients, you should keep in mind that your end goal is both to effectively communicate and deliver on your brand. Making the Most of Every Branding Opportunity In many situations, smaller firms do not have the budgets for elaborate branding campaigns and activities, Courtney Fujara is the Marketing Coordinator at Legacy Professionals LLP in Chicago. She is responsible for a variety of marketing and business development initiatives at the firm including conducting client research, maintaining the client relationship management database, and coordinating the client survey program. She also assists with proposal and newsletter production and distribution. She earned her Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Marketing and Finance from the University of San Diego and has been in accounting marketing since 2007. Courtney can be reached at 312.384.4261 or [email protected] Jackie Allder is the Marketing Communications Specialist at ATPCO and formerly served as the Media and Communications Specialist at Watkins Meegan, a DC-based accounting firm. In her current role, she is responsible for developing and implementing marketing and social media plans, writing corporate and internal communications, and managing public / media relations for the company’s four global offices. Jackie has more than five years of experience in journalism, marketing and public relations. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.A. in English (Nonfiction Writing and Editing) from George Mason University. Jackie can be reached at 703.475.1331 or [email protected] formal brand training programs, or brand awareness surveys. Even the dollars spent on formulating color schemes, taglines, and logos often pale in comparison to those spent by larger firms for such purposes. Thus, in her Business Development and Human Resources role at Delap LLP (9 partners; 90 employees; office in Lake Oswego, Ore.), MyKim Tran has come to understand the necessity of making the most of every branding opportunity. MyKim Tran For example, she says the most important element of the name of the firm and its logo is the story behind it. Despite “DeLap” being the spelling of the founding partner Vern’s (grandfather of current managing partner Dave DeLap) last name, the firm name is lowercase to emphasize that all of its professionals, not just the founding family or partners, make up the firm. The logo, a winged motif that appears above the firm name, signifies that although everyone is dedicated to the success of the firm, there are more important pieces of each professional’s life, be it family, friends, faith, etc. Yes, even the name and the logo are all about the people. “Everyone here works to live; they don’t live to work,” Tran explains. While that is, on the surface, a simple and gratifying concept, it also illustrates the personality of Delap’s people and the people they recruit. The ideal candidate for Delap is someone who can multitask, who wants a challenging career, who can effectively manage his or her work schedule, who subscribes to the family-oriented environment, and who will dedicate many years to the firm. These are qualities that Tran looks for when she meets and connects with potential employees, for she could not agree more with the statement that “your brand is your people,” and these are the elements of the brand Delap works to exude. Delap received enviable recognition from its 75th anniversary community service campaign, which correlated with its 2008 rebranding efforts. The type of outreach was a direct result of Delap’s people believing in giving back to the community that has supported them for so many years. The mission statement of the firm is essentially that the people of Delap are Page 4 3 A Branded Lifestyle continued from page 3 invested in the success of others — in the community as manifested by their service, but also in their clients and fellow employees. They refer back to this mission as they define what they do and who they are. Tran admits there is still a way to go when it comes to building brand awareness, negating the common misconception that Delap is still a firm of 35 people or the firm it was before it reexamined its look and feel. They, too, have yet to establish formal internal brand education and accountability programs. However, it certainly seems the fostered spirit of mentoring and investing in likeminded, committed, mature, familyoriented professionals is as promising and sturdy a foundation as any brand could desire. They can all tell the story of their firm name and logo, but more importantly, they are all invested in it, believe in it, and deliver the Delap experience based on it. Whether large firm or small, whether a cunning tagline or none at all, branding is more a people strategy than a creative endeavor for accounting firms. It is our place as accounting marketers to ensure the importance of embodying the brand is conveyed and held in high regard, lest our other branding efforts be rendered useless without proper follow-through and consistency. AAM Alert IRS Issues Two Revenue Rulings This AAM Alert was e-mailed to all members on January 5, 2010. advise them with regard to actions they may take in response to the change. If the taxpayer has told the preparer that he will not be using the preparer’s services next year, then the preparer cannot contact taxpayer with respect to these prospective changes. he IRS recently issued two revenue rulings that are likely to be of great interest to AAM members. The rulings clarify (and in effect loosen) the restrictions of IRC Section 7216 on the use of tax return information to communicate with clients. T Rev. Rul. 2010-5 deals with permitted disclosures of taxpayer information to a preparer’s third party professional liability insurance carrier. While this notice won’t have much general application for accounting marketers, the other ruling — Rev. Rul. 2010-4 — will have direct relevance for firms’ communication programs. In Rev. Rul. 2010-4, the IRS addresses three issues with respect to the use by tax preparers (e.g. us) of taxpayer information to educate or solicit new business from previous or existing clients. Changes in law that could result in amended returns. A tax return preparer may use tax return information to contact taxpayers to inform them of changes in tax law that could affect the income tax liability on the taxpayers’ returns that were previously prepared or processed by this tax preparer. The preparer could use client tax return information to identify affected Barry Melancon, President and CEO of the AICPA, delivers a keynote address at AAM Summit 2009. taxpayers, inform them regarding the change in tax law, advise whether it would be appropriate for them to file amended income tax returns, and assist in the preparation and filing of any amended returns. Accountant (or lawyer) seeking to give compliance advice. A tax return preparer who is also an accountant may use tax return information to determine who might be affected by a prospective tax rule change to contact potentially affected taxpayers for whom the accountant/preparer reasonably expected to provide accounting services in the next year. The preparer may contact these taxpayers about the change, explain how the change may affect them, and 4 Disclosure of taxpayer list to auxiliary service provider. Finally, tax return preparers may disclose their taxpayer lists to a third party service provider holding itself out as providing services that include creation, publication, and distribution of newsletters, bulletins, or similar communications to taxpayers whose tax returns the tax return preparers have prepared or processed containing tax information and general business and economic information or analysis for educational purposes or for purposes of soliciting additional tax return preparation services for the tax return preparer. We will continue to follow this topic and communicate any changes or updates to you as they become available. Julie S. Tucek AAM President 2009-2010 How to Boost Your Brand continued from page 1 About the Authors: need to demonstrate how that difference is meaningful to clients. A brand promise is a brief statement that succinctly captures the distinctive value you offer clients. It expresses your firm values and spirit, but it also articulates what it is about YOU a client should care about. Do an audit of your existing marketing materials and ask yourself these questions: Leigh George is Director of Strategy at Moiré Marketing Partners, a strategic branding and communications agency specializing in the success of professional services firms. Leigh provides strategic direction for clients’ branding and marketing projects. She has nearly a decade of agency and corporate experience creating and managing integrated brands and offers clients extensive expertise in brand positioning and strategy, traditional marketing, online marketing and social networks. You can reach her at [email protected] and connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter (@LeighGeorge). Jeremy Hoders is the Director of Client Services at Moiré Marketing Partners. Jeremy manages the agency’s marketing, client service program and helps build and strengthen client relationships. He has nearly a decade of experience creating strategic marketing solutions and integrated brands. Jeremy received his MBA from George Washington University. You can reach him at [email protected] and connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter (@JeremyHoders). • Can you describe your brand in a single sentence? A single word? • Does your brand include a distinctive promise of value that is meaningful to your targets? • Does your brand capture the essence of your firm for your staff? If your answer to any of these questions is no, then it is time to re-evaluate your positioning. Develop an Integrated Strategy Once you’ve identified the value you deliver and what makes you special, how do you promote your brand? Powerful brands start with a plan that integrates offline and online efforts. What’s yours? Remember, every accounting firm is different so don’t embark on a new initiative just because a competitor is doing it. Use your brand to guide your strategic marketing and communications decisions. Here’s a list of several smart tactics to raise awareness of your brand: • A direct mail campaign to key clients and hot prospects • An advertising campaign in key markets • A print piece that tells your story and how you’ve helped clients achieve their goals A Web strategy incorporating social networks, blogs and targeted online ads to promote your brand, demonstrate your value and drive people to your Web site. While these are best practices for boosting your brand, don’t neglect the opportunities you have to share your brand message every day. Use your e-mail signature, voicemail and out-of-office message as branding touch points to promote blogs, thought leadership, or upcoming events. Use Client Teams to Support Your Brand Relationships Following the development and implementation of your integrated marketing strategy, what are you doing to ensure your professionals are committed to your brand? Client teams are a key way to rally your professionals around your brand and foster meaningful, long-lasting client relationships. Build your teams from a cross-section of your professionals — from your marketing group to your managers to your directors — and make sure they deliver consistent messaging when they discuss the firm with clients. Train them with the firm’s key messages and elevator pitch. Encourage team members to check in with clients on a regular basis to monitor the relationships. Are clients satisfied with the work and the relationship? What is working and what improvements can be made? Are there opportunities to cross-sell additional services? Don’t Forget About Your Internal Audience While developing an integrated marketing campaign and client teams to boost your brand, don’t neglect internal branding. All of your professionals, 5 from your administrators to your IT department to your partners, should be brand evangelists, promoting the value your firm delivers. Get people excited about the brand by hosting events like a brand day or producing a booklet about the firm, its values, brand promise and key messages. Award brand stewards. Internal branding programs build confidence across the firm that positively affects staff — driving them to believe in and support the brand — and help you cultivate a client service-focused culture. Be Consistent The success of any brand depends on delivering your message regularly and consistently. Brand perceptions develop through the cumulative experiences people have with your brand from your marketing materials to your offices and your reception area. All materials you develop, initiatives you undertake, and interactions you have with your staff should reinforce your brand promise and core messages to create a coherent identity in the minds of your audience. Be sure to regularly evaluate every brand touch point to uncover any inconsistencies in your message. You should always be asking yourself: • Do all our communications and touch points work in unison to create a unified image of the firm? Page 6 How to Boost Your Brand continued from page 5 • Do we have a consistent message that we’re promoting? • Are all our communications on point? A successful brand can mean the difference between a focused, thriving accounting firm and a rudderless, languishing one. Build your brand on the distinctive value you offer and promote that promise of value through an integrated marketing campaign. Mind the details and remember that every point you interact with a client — from your billhead to your building — is a branding opportunity and a chance to make a positive impression. Use client teams to personalize your brand and add value to your client relationships. Further engage your professionals and staff with an internal campaign that cultivates a culture of commitment to the brand and a focus on client service. And throughout all your branding initiatives, make sure your message is delivered regularly and consistently. Manage Behaviors, Manage Your Brand By Gregg Lederman, Brand Integrity Inc. oes your firm lack strategic direction? Does the path you’ve set change with the wind based on the hidden agendas of your leaders or market and competitive fluctuations? If so, and you’re frustrated enough, it might be time to consider aligning what you say (mission, vision, values) with what you do (delivery of behaviors and experiences) in order to positively influence what others (employees, clients, the market) think. That is, it might be time to define and implement a brand strategy. D To get started, you must first understand the four realities of branding: 1. Your brand is not a part of the business, it is the business. Every employee interaction within your firm impacts the brand. Each one makes it either easier or harder for you to keep and recruit great people and good clients. These interactions directly affect costs of payroll and sales, which dramatically influence cash flow for operations. The most successful, futurelooking firms (whether large household names or privately held neighborhood shops) recognize that the brand is the playing field for the game of business. 2. Your brand is about experiences, not logos and taglines. Your brand is a people strategy, rather than a marketing strategy. The purpose of a brand strategy is to influence what people think about The Philadelphia Chapter of AAM displays toys collected at their Annual Holiday Luncheon. In lieu of an attendance fee, members were asked to bring toys or a cash donation that would be donated to the local Toys for Tots program. your firm in ways that cause them to take the action your firm is looking for. And the only way to influence what people think is to manage the consistent execution of employee behaviors that will drive client experiences. The experience is the marketing! The fact is that 90 percent of the time, individuals will judge your firm by the experience they or someone they know has with your brand and only 10 percent or less by the marketing messages they’ve heard. 3. The little things that you do CONSISTENTLY are much more important than the BIG things you say! No one is really listening when you tell them how your firm is the industry leader in “blah, blah, blah.” Or that you are experts in delivering “blah, blah,” and are known for incredibly high-quality “blah.” Even if you think they’re listening to your salespeople or advertising message, do you really think they’re hearing it? Don’t count on it! 6 Why do firms still waste ridiculous amounts of money on advertising and marketing tactics rather than focusing on the experiences that are most relevant to target clients? Well-planned and executed experiences provide reasons for clients to believe what firms want them to believe about their products/services. The reality is you’re better off doing a few things well all of the time than doing a lot of things mediocre some of the time. Consistency is king! Too often, firms put together taglines, clever messaging, and brand promises to attract clients without preparing employees to deliver on them. These firms are wasting marketing dollars by “Branding for the Neighborhood.” They fix up the exterior of their firm (or “house”) with a nice paint job, flowers, and a beautiful picket fence so everything looks great, just like their marketing, but they’ve forgotten about what’s inside. And when Page 7 Manage Behaviors, Manage Your Brand continued from page 6 clients come in, their visit isn’t what they expected — employees aren’t motivated to deliver a great experience; work processes haven’t been put in place to drive quality; and systems are lacking to foster consistency. If you want to get the highest return on your marketing investments, take your promises off your walls, Web site, and ads and put them into employee performance. Start this process by taking the following steps: • Conduct research to truly understand your target clients and their desired outcomes. This will help you identify how your product or service can solve their problems. • Use this insight to uncover what actions or experiences your employees can do to deliver meaningful points of difference to your clients. • Translate these actions and experiences by documenting the behaviors employees must do to bring your brand to life for clients every day on the job. • Integrate these behaviors into employee systems so that you can attract and hire capable people, effectively onboard and train employees on delivery, and assess employee performance regularly to hold them accountable for actually doing the firm brand. One of the clients I work with, a professional services firm based in New Jersey, has successfully aligned its brand with employee performance to realize significant results. The leadership team wanted to be sure that all employees were following through on what they had agreed to do for clients. To do so, leadership translated their firm strategies into specific, “on-brand” behaviors. These behaviors were then integrated into job profiles, setting clear expectations for performance, and reinforced through a strategic recognition program that rewarded people for following through on brand goals. Taking these steps has helped the firm to exceed revenue growth goals, achieve zero percent unwanted turnover, and earn “best place to work” accolades. 4. A brand strategy is the single most important differentiator between a good firm and a great firm. Great firms have people and processes that make them great. For any firm in any industry, this fact remains true: your competition cannot easily replicate your people (human capital) or processes (quality assurance, innovation, client service, etc.). They can (and probably will) copy your marketing message, but they will not be able to consistently deliver the same experiences without your people and processes. Since this is the case, why not focus energy on talent management and process improvement? If you are not managing behaviors and experiences, you are not managing your brand. of the buy-in formula (Understanding X Commitment X Taking Action) are in place. If any value is at zero, then buy-in equals zero. Plain and simple. You do not have buy-in unless all three components are achieved. Buy-in doesn’t happen overnight. You need to set realistic expectations for yourself and your firm. High performance firms whose employees consistently deliver the client experience make it a part of critical employee touchpoints. The following are five ideal employee touchpoints for teaching and reinforcing the brand: • Recruitment and hiring: Conduct investigative interviews using brand-driven hiring questions. • Onboarding new employees: Customize the onboarding process to inspire and motivate performance success with respect to your firm’s branded experience. Design and execute experiences at each onboarding touchpoint to ensure employees are educated, inspired, and motivated to live your brand. • Client experience training: Train employees on critical skills necessary for delivering consistent, positive experiences. Now that you are well-versed in the four realities of branding and have defined your strategy and the people/processes needed to deliver it, you’re ready to implement. This is where the rubber hits the road and where many firms fail. • Performance assessments/evaluations: Clearly define on-brand behavior expectations for specific job categories and measure/track improvements over time. So why do firms fail, time and again, to implement strategies, programs, and initiatives? My answer is simple: Firms fail in implementing strategies because employees don’t buy in. • Strategic employee recognition: Recognize employees who live the brand and hit key performance goals/objectives and effectively measure and quantify the impact of the firm brand and strategic goals/objectives. An employee in your firm has bought in to your strategy when the three parts About the Author: Gregg Lederman, managing partner of Brand Integrity Inc., is a professional speaker on employee performance systems and culture change (gregglederman.com). He is an adjunct professor at the William E. Simon School at the University of Rochester and is the author of Achieve Brand Integrity: Ten Truths You Must Know to Enhance Employee Performance and Increase Firm Profits. Read more from Gregg at blog.gregglederman.com. 7 Make no mistake. It doesn’t matter if the economy is booming or if it’s a bust or if you have 30 employees or 3,000. You will win more and lose less if your employees stay consistent with delivering the experiences clients value most. And you can do this by clearly defining who you want to be and aligning it with behaviors and experiences employees can do. That’s managing the brand. AAM New Members Julia Atwood Shannon & Associates LLP Kent, WA [email protected] Tracy Holotuk KPMG LLP Toronto, ON [email protected] Samuel Schatzman Drucker & Scaccetti, P.C. Philadelphia, PA [email protected] Ken Beaman Frank Crystal & Co. of Texas, Inc. Houston, TX [email protected] Jeffrey Kalil MFA - Moody, Famiglietti & Andronico Tewksbury, MA [email protected] Philip Schreiber Schreiber and Company PC Allen Park, MI [email protected] Emily M. Bennington Dixon Hughes PLLC Charleston, WV [email protected] Shannon Lambe Porter Keadle Moore, LLP Atlanta, GA [email protected] Denis Sparagis Restaurant Accounting Services Sagamore Beach, MA [email protected] Elizabeth Bershok Herbein + Company Pittsburgh, PA [email protected] Karla Mendoza Moore Stephens Orozco Medina Mexico City [email protected] Mordechai Taylor PATS, Inc Woodland Hills, CA [email protected] Erin Betz Gilmore, Jasion & Mahler. LTD Maumee, OH [email protected] Pam Mitchell Moore Mitchel Accounting Marietta, GA [email protected] Robert Tenner Tenenz, Inc. Minneapolis, MN [email protected] Parnell Black NACVA Salt Lake City, UT [email protected] Timothy Moy Moy, Borcher, Erbs & Assoc Baraboo, WI [email protected] Mayumi Todd Todd Accounting Cutler Bay, FL [email protected] Andrea Caputo Blackman Kallick Chicago, IL [email protected] Jerry B. Nelson CalSurance Akron, OH [email protected] Crystal Trujillo REDW The Rogoff Firm Albuquerque, NM [email protected] Nicole Curtis Loudon, TN [email protected] Lauren Prosser Sageworks, Inc. Raleigh, NC [email protected] Gary Van Rooyan Law Offices of Gary Van Rooyan Houston, TX [email protected] Larry Rutkovsky Benson Associates New York, NY [email protected] Jaysa Young Accurate Methods Consulting Houston, TX [email protected] Sandra DeFelice DJB Grimsby, ON [email protected] Thomas DeVitto BlumShapiro West Hartford, CT [email protected] Abdul Hameed S H Polo Market Victoria, BC [email protected] Are You Missing Out on AAM’s E-Blasts? AAM sends out frequent e-blasts from Headquarters using Constant Contact. If you are not receiving the blasts please check your spam filter and settings. If you need further assistance or have any questions, please contact Kim Libucki at [email protected] 8 AAM-MAA Best Practices Rea & Associates Heats Things Up at 2009 AAM-MAAs By Melissa Brogan, Barnes Dennig R ea & Associates (41 partners; 260 total staff; 11 offices throughout Ohio), got things cookin’ at the 2009 Marketing Achievement Awards Gala in Austin, Texas with its win in the Multimedia Category for “212° and Then Some.” The multimedia piece was the culmination of an internal campaign. The goals of the campaign were three-fold: 1. To encourage employees to go above and beyond at work and in the community. 2. To recognize 212 acts immediately and in an annual awards ceremony. 3. To encourage team members to recognize their peers. Just Warming Up Little did Rea & Associates’ former Managing Partner, Tim Michel, CPA, know that he was just warming up when he introduced the motivational thoughts of Sam Parkers’ 212: The Extra Degree at a staff retreat. At the heart of it all is the scientific fact that at 211 degrees water is hot, but at 212 it begins to boil. That one little degree makes all the difference! That transposed to values their firm culture recognizes in caring for its employees and their families, firm clients and the community. In giving that extra degree, they go above and beyond in all aspects of life and work. Building Steam Michel realized that the 212 degree concept was valuable across the board and sought out the help of Marketing Director Katie Tolin and the firm’s human resources team to get all employees involved. What followed was a cohesive plan to roll out 212 degrees to all 260 employees recognizing 212 acts all year long and culminating in an Oscar-like awards ceremony. A Rolling Boil The awards ceremony proved difficult to pull off simultaneously in 11 locations with the firm’s existing technology. Ultimately, it was decided to develop a DVD spotlighting the program and announcing the winners. The DVDs were sent out to all the offices, and on February 12 (2.12), they were played at the same time so everyone in the firm would find out the identity of the winners simultaneously. Twenty-nine acts of 212 degrees were nominated, with six finalists selected. There were three finalists in each of the two categories: community-based actions and work-based actions. A secret panel of judges reviewed the nomination forms and selected the finalists. They then reviewed videotaped interviews with each finalist and 9 the person making the nomination and scored the 212 act based on criteria highlighted in the book. The scores were tabulated and the person with the highest score in each category took home the top prize — a trophy and a net check for $1,212. All non-winning finalists received a net check for $212. Bubbling Over to 2010 Given the combined successes of having won over firm management, including a new CEO and a new human resources director, and having co-workers take stock in and appreciate each other, this program is something they look forward to repeating in 2010 — on 2.12 of course. To learn more about this project, contact Katie Tolin, Marketing Director at Rea & Associates at [email protected] June 22-25, 2010 at the Grand Hyatt, Washington, D.C. 21st Annual AAM Summit 2010: Building Strong Foundations for Firm Success on’t leave your firm’s success to chance…build a strong foundation for success by joining your peers at the “can’t miss” event of the year — the 21st annual AAM Summit in Washington, D.C.! D Strengthen your firm’s marketing culture, gain fresh perspectives and ideas from the industry’s top experts, and learn strategies to help you succeed in your marketing efforts while positively impacting your firm’s bottom line. At the AAM Summit you will gain exclusive access to the brightest minds in the field of accounting marketing and business development, and will have several opportunities to network with fellow marketers who can share their experiences and best practices. Network with the best and brightest. Meet with your peers at our Welcome Reception, luncheons and various networking events. Connect with your colleagues while getting a taste of your nation’s capital. And don’t forget to check out the industry’s latest products and most advanced solutions in our exhibition hall. Succeed in a challenging economy. With more than 30 professional sessions to choose from, you’ll find the right session to help improve your marketing strategies. Some of the hottest topics include: • Twitter 101 • Creating, Building and Managing a Pipeline or Sales Funnel • Best Practices for Lead Generation • 60 Ideas in 60 Minutes You can choose breakout sessions from four education categories: marketing communications, personal growth, firm management and business development. In addition, four specific experience tracks take into consideration the level of content each marketer or partner might need. Attend sessions at your own experience level: rookie, intermediate, senior partner/business development, or executive. Please check the Web site, http://aam.conference2010.org/content/ about-2010-aam-summit, to determine which track is for you. Learn from insightful leaders. Keynote speaker and master motivator Sean McArdle, the “$100 Million Salesman,” will show you how to build customer retention culture in your organization. Well-known marketing research and direct marketing firms such as LexisNexis and Thompson Reuters will offer programs, as well. Experience the new AAM executive track. This track is designed for, and restricted to, experienced professional service marketers with more than 10 years experience, sales professionals, and partners. The track features two facilitated workshops, along with a separate networking luncheon program. Register today! Full registration fees cover conference sessions, conference materials, access to the exhibit hall, continental breakfasts, refreshment breaks, lunches, networking receptions, Best Practices Luncheon and the AAM-MAA Awards Gala. See our Web site for details on pricing, but here are some options to help you customize your summit experience: • Early Registration: To qualify for our lowest rate, register before March 19 to obtain early bird savings. Regular pricing is in place through May 21. You can even register after that date, but an additional fee applies. 10 • Single Day Options: For those unable to stay for the entire conference, single-day passes are also available. • Pre-Conference Sessions: Want a jump start to the conference? Sign up for a pre-conference session. And take advantage of Wednesday evening’s networking activity, too! Explore the center of American democracy. Washington, D.C., centrally located between three area airports, is designed to impress. AAM attendees can enjoy a chartered wine and cheese twilight tour of our nation’s capital. Whether you want to visit the Smithsonian, the Pentagon or any of the monuments on the Mall, “The District” is a complete online guide to Washington, D.C. and its surrounding areas. To learn more, visit www.thedistrict.com. Check out the improved conference Web site. Create your profile to access the interactive schedule, participate in discussion forums, and communicate with the speakers before the conference. Log-in today at http://aam.conference2010.org to make the most out of your Summit experience. The Summit is right around the corner. Reserve your spot today at the premier event of the year! For more information about AAM Summit 2010 in Washington D.C. visit: http://aam.conference2010.org or www.accountingmarketing.org. Marketer Toolbox 10 Ways to Support a Sales Culture During Busy Season By Jennifer Shermer L you learn that a company is dissatisfied with their accounting services provider, make a point to follow up with that company after busy season. Be sure to follow up soon after busy season, so the dissatisfaction will be a fresh pain point for the company. They are likely ready to consider changing providers. ost sleep. No sleep. Fast food meals every day. Neglecting personal commitments. Seven day work weeks. Spending way too much time with your colleagues. Must be busy season. There’s no doubt about it. Accounting firm professionals have little time to focus on anything other than work during busy season. However, it’s critical that firms maintain a business development-minded sales culture even during busy season and all its challenges. It’s that sales culture that will keep your firm busy for many, many seasons to come. Here are 10 tips to help you support a sales culture for your firm during busy season. Commit to attending one firm-supported event (i.e. breakfast, luncheon). This can be an industry, business, or charitable event that your firm supports. Prior to attending the event, talk with the event’s coordinator. Ask him/her about people expected to attend the event. Share your goals, such as meeting particular people, or general demographics of the type of people you’d like to meet. Enlist the event coordinator’s help in making introductions to those people you’d like to meet. Whatever, you do, don’t simply “attend” the event and expect it to be worth your time and dollar investment. Attend the event, make connections and plan to follow up with those connections. The follow up can be as simple as a post-event phone call to set up an after-busy-season meeting. Russ Molinar leads a discussion during the AAM Summit 2009 Best Practices Luncheon. meeting may present opportunities to cross-sell to the client or obtain a lead on a potential new client. Know your positioning statement (i.e. elevator pitch, key message) and be ready to verbalize it with confidence at any given moment. You never know when you will meet a prospective client or referral source. Introduce a client to one of your other service professionals. Your peers will appreciate the lead. Commit to one lunch meeting with a prospective client. This act nurtures your existing business relationship. Commit to taking one attorney, banker or other professional services provider to lunch and exchange referrals. Ask these professionals if their clients have mentioned discontent with their current accounting firm. If Add your clients and prospects to your thought leadership distribution list. This small gesture ensures your clients and prospects will receive information pertinent to their business and industry interests and serves as a way to touch base with your contacts. Hand deliver a current piece of your firm’s thought leadership to a client. You’ll be at the client’s location anyway. This is a good opportunity to gauge your client’s satisfaction with your firm’s performance. If there are any concerns, address them immediately to potentially save your firm/client business relationship. As you read the local news, be cognizant of new business opportunities. You will likely find new business potential for you, your firm’s tax and advisory services providers, and also for your referral sources. E-mail articles of interest to your current and prospective clients. As you read the articles, why not take advantage of the opportunity to touch base with your contacts? The small gesture of an e-mail shows your contacts that you are thinking of them and their business issues. Make these commitments to support a business development-minded sales culture even during your busy season. By committing to these goals and following through with them, you help ensure that your firm keeps a healthy sales pipeline. About the Author: Jennifer Shermer is a freelance writer and marketing communications professional based in Denver, Colo. For 16 years, she’s delivered public relations, branding, writing, research and analysis with a professional, disciplined and creative leadership style. She previously served as marketing manager for a large, international accounting, tax and advisory services organization and she is the president of AAM’s Colorado chapter. Jennifer Shermer can be reached at [email protected] Ask a partner to bring you with him/her to a client meeting. The 11 15000 Commerce Parkway Suite C Mount Laurel, NJ 08054 The Partner’s Perspective An interview with Darci Congrove, GBQ Partners LLC By Erin McClafferty, BBD LLP Darci Congrove is one of those accounting firm partners who, when it comes to marketing, “gets it,” according to Sara Robertson, marketing manager Darci Congrove at GBQ Partners LLC (13 partners; 120 total staff; office in Columbus, Ohio). When not helping clients with tax issues in the real estate and family business arenas, Congrove is the partnerin-charge of marketing at GBQ. And as of January 1, 2010, Congrove became the firm’s managing partner, the first woman to hold the position. “Darci sees the value in my ideas and understands the relationship of marketing to sales, and the challenges we face,” says Robertson. Robertson points to the firm’s recent wallscape advertisement on a six-story building in downtown Columbus that earned the firm a 2009 AAM-MAA award (profiled in the November/December 2009 issue of MarkeTrends). “It was very out-of-thebox for an accounting firm,” said Robertson. “She saw the value and signed off on it.” Congrove became the partner-incharge of marketing at the firm about four years ago, but held the role unofficially before that. “I was interested in marketing, and in particular, branding, so I volunteered to help in that area.” In 2008, Congrove worked side-byside with Sara Robertson on a major rebrand that encompassed the firm’s identity, Web site, and even new office space. The process began with a focus group of eight firm leaders who worked with a branding agency to develop the firm’s seven brand attributes. The end result is a firm that projects a progressive, youthful, and fresh image — decidedly out-of-the box for an accounting firm. “Because we’re the only large independent firm in our area it allows us to be a little more nimble. We can be bolder than a bigger firm.” Being nimble and bold in the marketing arena isn’t new for GBQ. Congrove noted that GBQ’s professionals are known in the Columbus business community as aggressive marketers. The marketing culture at the firm is deeply entrenched. Even at the staff level, there is a selling/networking goal included in performance metrics. “Everyone is expected to be out and about helping the cause.” She credits “old fashioned getting out there” and relationship building as one of the ways GBQ has been most successful in developing new business. And in GBQ’s new, larger space, the firm is bringing the community to them as well. Significant square footage was devoted to entertaining, and in 2009 the firm hosted approximately 50 events for clients and friends of the firm. Congrove’s favorite of GBQ’s brand attributes is “savvy.” As the professionals at GBQ continue to network in the Columbus community and grow the firm, they want clients to understand that they have the knowledge to move their business forward and that they know about something other than accounting. We know Darci Congrove knows more than accounting. She’s savvy about marketing, too.
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