How to Boost A Branded Lifestyle: Encouraging Your Brand

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
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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
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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.