Hi everyone - I have just returned from a week away and as I settled back into my familiar routine, I realized how many marketing related tasks were deferred while I was away. This is as it should be, since I am the Chief Marketing Officer at my firm.
However, the experience served as a reminder, too, that for most small to mid-size firms, there is typically a strong reliance on a marketing partner, a marketing director, an outside consultant or even a marketing committee, to take the lead, set direction, and implement "marketing" or practice development/business development plans.
This was a little bit of a wake-up call for me, demonstrating how important it is for any firm, over all, to embrace a marketing culture. Indeed, everyone - from the top down and bottom up - should feel ownership of the firm's name recognition and strong reputation. In fact, I don't think any firm can sustain success over time when only a handful of people really "get it." If only a few rainmakers or others with a marketing background consistently focus on maintaining the firm's stature in the community, they will eventually be pushed aside by other firms with a more powerful, unified approach.
I hope at your firm there is no question of whose job it is to be responsible for the marketing and branding. I hope the sincere response to that key question is always, "It is everyone's role."
But if that is not the case, as leaders and partners, you should be nurturing this type of environment and encouraging others to take ownership. Early on, staff should be given tools and resources as well as training to fully understand the important role that marketing initiatives play in the firm's sustainability. When those at the highest levels of authority do not really believe that marketing makes a significant impact on profitability, then the rest of the firm will be reluctant to act as well. The message must be sent clearly: the behavior and attitude of every person in the firm reinforces the way clients, prospects and others of influence view the organization.
While I believe it is critical for public accounting firms to have marketing professionals on staff to set the tone, establish plans, and execute ideas, it is equally as critical for the firm to agree that every person has a responsibility in this area and is expected to make a contribution to the firm's continued growth.
I am glad to be back - and hope to hear from you regarding challenges or exciting opportunities you faced when building your firm's marketing culture.