AAM Marketing Ideas: The Step-by-Step Marketing Plan

From May 20-23, the Association for Accounting Marketing (AAM) held its annual conference. Frequent contributor Sally Glick picked up some ideas that she will be sharing with us in the coming days, as she has done in previous years. Comments from those who attended—as well as from those who find these articles intriguing—are welcome in the comment section, below. Read more articles by Sally Glick here.

In this entry, I will cover a session titled "Making the Most of Your Marketing Mix," at which I spoke at the beginner level, addressing the importance of writing and executing a structured, integrated plan to effectively build a strong brand for a firm of any size.

The audience comprised those new to their firms and those new to the professional service marketing role. This session was designed to provide a platform for sharing ideas gleaned from my years of experience, in order to help new marketers jumpstart their careers and identify opportunities that would add value to their firms.

Some truths are self-evident: Every firm has its own culture, goals, expectations, and resources. Marketers need this information before they can get started, and so the place to begin is with an analysis of the internal and external position. Knowing the firm's unique strengths and weaknesses (through an internal process) and uncovering potential opportunities (through a review of the competitive landscape) will serve as a foundation for the marketing plan.

With real data to support critical decisions, the marketer can work in tandem with the firm's leaders to decide which inbound and outbound tactics will be most effective given their specific situation. Inbound marketing includes all those "pull" type initiatives that bring prospects, clients, and centers of influence to the firm. These are the methods that demonstrate real thought leadership and competency, such as current web content, polls and surveys, published articles and white papers, speaking engagements at seminars, conferences and roundtables, targeted newsletters, and blogs. The more immersed the firm is within the marketplace it serves, the more it can showcase its knowledge and commitment through marketing.

Outbound marketing typically embraces more of a "push" methodology that reaches out to the community with a message. Outbound marketing is accomplished through exhibiting at trade shows, sponsorships or ad campaigns. These tactics may be more self-serving but they are a complement to the firm's content-centric activities.

Attendees were given time to draft their own marketing plans during the session, incorporating the traditional and nontraditional marketing initiatives we discussed, ranging from web content and blogs to e-blasts and online ads.

Not to be overlooked is the underlying importance of developing meaningful relationships. This is the final component of any well-balanced marketing and branding plan. While there are many enterprise-wide tactics, in the world of CPAs, most leads are generated through word-of-mouth referrals from colleagues, friends, and advisors. Building powerful connections that lead to quality referrals is one of the cornerstones of every firm's growth. Cutting-edge technology resources, like Twitter or LinkedIn, make a significant contribution to the firm's reputation.

In the final account, in today's current business world, deals are done, prospects are sought out and existing clients are nurtured, based on relationships. People do business with people—especially with people they like and trust.

This session helped the attendees create their own integrated marketing plan that incorporated a wide variety of tools including personal networking that can all be prioritized, implemented, tracked and measured for success.

I have been sharing a variety of ideas that generated from the 2014 Association for Accounting Marketers conference held in Austin, Texas, earlier this year. This is the final blog in the series. If you have anything you learned at AAM that you would like to share, please do so! If you have any questions on the insights I have posted, please call or email anytime.

About the author:
Sally Glick is CMO and principal of Sobel & Co. LLC. She was named Accounting Marketer of the Year for 2003 and was voted into the AAM Hall of Fame in 2007. She can be reached at sally.glick@sobel-cpa.com.

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