CPAs: Make Peace with Your Practice Development

August 18th, 2014 by Jean Caragher

Recently, I was speaking with a new business prospect, a local CPA firm, two partners and 13 total personnel. Their current marketing activities include mailing a newsletter and word of mouth. They’ve lost clients and need more compliance work to keep everyone busy. They tend to “drop the ball” a lot. The partners want to sell the business in 10+ years. Yet, there is no strategic plan in place.

The two partners have differing views of marketing. One realizes the importance of marketing to firm growth. The other prefers to avoid marketing at all costs and doesn’t believe that it works. As we talked about various marketing strategies and tools the dysfunction of this firm was obvious. Our conversation boiled down to this question,

“How can Capstone Marketing enhance what we’re already doing – that doesn’t require more of our time?”

What?! Did I hear this correctly? They were losing clients and needed more work. Yet, they were looking for a solution that didn’t require more of their own time. This is a no-win situation.

It’s time to make peace with your practice development.

Accept that firm growth requires marketing, consistent, purposeful activities incorporated into an overall marketing plan. If a firm’s partners don’t consider marketing important no one else will. This is especially true for smaller firms with few partners.

Choose the marketing activities in which you are willing to invest your time and money. There are many choices (see the chart below courtesy of CPA Trendlines, 2014). Evaluate your skills and the capabilities of your team. Then, agree on what you are willing to do – and do it. Keep each other accountable by tracking activities and following up.

Activities firms are increasing

Consider your agreed-upon marketing activities as important as client meetings. Block off time in your calendar for networking, calls to referral sources, writing articles or blog posts, whatever it is you have committed to do – and stick to it. Rescheduling these activities should be the exception, not the rule.

Marketing is a team sport. Attend networking functions together. Bring staff to client meetings. Share how you built your practice to the current day. Mentor your people. Encourage and reward them for marketing efforts and successes. They are your ambassadors. Make sure that everyone is on the same page regarding your firm’s future.

Know when to outsource or hire internal marketing professionals. There are many talented marketing consultants with various areas of specialty and with today’s technology can be located anywhere. Also, my rule of thumb is when a firm generates a minimum of $3 million in revenue it is big enough for a full-time marketing professional. It doesn’t mean that your firm is ready to make this hire but more on that another day.

Eliminate the energy you spend on resisting marketing and make peace with your practice development. You’ll sleep easier at night knowing that you are doing what is best for your firm’s future success.

 

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One Response to “CPAs: Make Peace with Your Practice Development”

  1. Kristin Wing says:

    Terrific article, Jeane, especially your first point. Firms need to put aside the need for ‘instant gratification’ ….or instant clients!