Make Time for Strategy
The fall season, especially immediately after October 15, is an ideal time for firms of all sizes to invest in "regrouping." It is after the more relaxed summer schedule but the end-of-year work is still a few weeks away - as is the commencement of tax season. So between mid-October and early November, I would suggest the partners and senior managers (and others as necessary and appropriate) schedule a date to review the firm's SWOT analysis. Consider whether or not the firm's strengths or weaknesses have changed and, as importantly, ask yourself if there has been a shift in the opportunities and threats the firm faces in the months ahead.
The results of this exercise lead directly to a conversation about adjusting the firm's marketing strategy for growth from both existing clients and new ones.
While the tendency for all of us is to begin trying out a new idea whenever one is suggested, there should first be a meaningful discussion about the firm's immediate situation, its forward progress and some consensus of where it is heading. Implementation of agreed upon tactics is critical, but before that takes place there needs to be serious consideration of the firm's strategy.
The danger of embracing tactics without a strategy is that your message and your initiatives will not be consistent. If you jump into new areas, marketing new services or expanding your brand to embrace new demograpohics without having a thoughtful conversation about these options, and whether or not they are relevant to your firm and your market, chaos is the likely outcome. Just because other firms offer wealth management services, for example, does not mean your firm should launch a campaign touting your similar capabilities. When a local competitor sponsors the cover of a business magazine, you don't necessarily have to get on the cover the next month.
You DO need to be vigilant - continuously observing and learning about your shifting audience and the programs and tactics used by competing firms. I am not suggesting that you remain stagnant, but I AM suggesting that before you embark on a new branding tactic, or a series of marketing communication tactics, you should be confident that the move is in sync with your over all strategy for success. "One-offs" that do not reflect the firm's culture and strategic plan will not work as well as those that are aligned and integrated with your enterprise-wide plan.
Sally Glick, CMO, Principal, Marketer of the Year in 2003 and AAM Hall of Famer in 2007, will lead a lively discussion of the constantly expanding roles of marketing and the professional marketers that drive this initiative in accounting firms of all sizes.