Accounting Firms Rank Content-Based Offerings and Relationships as Most Successful Lead-Generation Strategies

According to the new VitbergLLC 2013-2014 Survey of CPA Firm Best Lead Generation Practices, the nation's most progressive and largest accounting firms generate more leads through content-based offers, networking, and referrals, yet they aren't using technology to their advantage to find and resource leads. The survey was sponsored by Thomson Reuters/BizActions/PDI Global and the Association for Accounting Marketing (AAM).
More than 150 firms of all sizes participated in this survey that also scanned how firms tracked leads using automated processes and technology, marketing budgets for lead generation in 2014, and the key differences between how managing partners and marketing directors believe their firms should be marketing and finding leads.
"Based on the survey and on my own work with firms, more than anything else, partners and marketers want to know how they can get leads without spending too much non-billable time or spending too much of their budgets," says Alan Vitberg, principal of VitbergLLC. "[One-to-one] marketing through referrals and networking will continue to be the most effective methods. However, in order to create a well-rounded lead-generation program, firms must use online marketing strategies, tactics, tools, and technologies to find new clients or get more business from current clients.
Although managing partners and marketing directors agreed that networking and referrals were by far the best way to find leads, they greatly disagreed on the most effective tactics, with marketers favoring participation in industry organizations, content marketing, having a dedicated business development person on staff, and search marketing.
"The difference in perception between marketers and partners shows that more education is needed regarding lead generation," says Katie Tolin, director of Practice Growth for Rea & Associates, Inc. and president of the AAM Board of Directors. "Marketers need to ensure that lead generation and niche market growth are part of their firm's strategic plan. For firms with no marketing staff, these are still important goals, and they should implement tactics to help them find and secure leads. Regardless of size, you can't just stick your head in the sand anymore and ignore the fact that there are other ways to generate leads besides waiting for them to fall in your lap."
Compared to other industries, another key finding in the survey indicates that the accounting profession is not nearly as progressive in digital marketing techniques. For example, firms aren't using their websites and many of today's more progressive marketing technologies to capture leads. Instead, firms favor a more personal touch with meet and greets, presenting information via seminars, and attending industry organization/association meetings. 
"Rethinking and reallocating budget to lead generation is going to be a huge part of CPA firm marketing," says Brenda Sleeper, manager of Marketing and Business Development for BizActions/PDI Global and a member at large for AAM. "Firms must take a hard look at what is and isn't working in their budget, and revisit those things that don't work. Then, they can develop a marketing program backed by the right technology for their particular strategy and focus. 
"There's also a huge need to be doing more about measuring results and ROI," adds Vitberg, "For an industry built around numbers, it seems odd that measuring marketing results isn't a more widely used practice."
VitbergLLC, Thomson Reuters/BizActions/PDI Global, and AAM have created a comprehensive executive summary of the results and are presenting several webinars to discuss the results. Visit the VitbergLLC website for a free PDF download of the executive summary. There also will two webinars:
  • Wednesday, November 13, 1:00 to 2:15 p.m. EST  sponsored by AAM  register here.
  • Wednesday, December 4, 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. EST  sponsored by Thomson Reuters  register here.
Source: November 5, 2013, VitbergLLC News Release

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