Marquee Clients: Are They Worth It?

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By Allan S. Boress, CPA - Does your firm have any “Marquee Clients?”

We just landed one of the most visible and prominent professional practices in our community and are ecstatic about it.

One of the best and fastest ways to build the quality practice - or industry niche - is by recruiting marquee clients.

However, many of the CPA firms I have consulted with over the years felt marquee clients weren’t worth it.

Who are your marquee clients? How do you parlay them into more successful marketing and better quality opportunities?

I used to work with an office of a Big 6 firm as their sales consultant and trainer. A new managing partner was brought in from HQ to shake things up and grow the practice profitably. He was a cool guy; a juvenile delinquent growing up in Chicago, he straightened his life out and became a rising star at the greatest CPA firm in the world.

Only MP I ever knew that rode a Harley to work!

The very first assignment he brought upon himself was getting back the city’s best known business as a client. This was an international leader in the greeting card industry and was an icon in the business community. Six years before he arrived, his office had lost the client to a rival firm due to crummy service and disinterest by the people on the account.

Fortunately for Tom, they were equally poorly served by the replacement firm. He pursued them as men used to pursue women they loved: with passion, determination, patience and attention.

They were hesitant at first to come back, after all their previous experience was a downer. But after a couple of years, they returned after he promised them he would be the partner in charge on the account and they had his word they would be treated royally.

Tom was marketing-savvy, unlike most CPAs. He knew that a marquee client does for you what no other client can:

1. Gives you lots of credibility
2. Potential for referrals to similar high profile businesses
3. Higher fees when closing new clients (you’re THEIR firm???)
4. Higher closing percentage
5. Tremendous marketing boost if done right

But, you must do the following to make the marquee client relationship pay off:

1. They must get a very high level of service
2. They much acknowledge this service regularly
3. You must let them know they are extremely important to you and would appreciate the use of their name if the situation would warrant it
4. You would like introductions to people they know who might also be looking for a superior firm

Another client, a guy in Detroit built a huge firm from scratch (starting with zilch) on this principal: cherry pick the best clients of other firms. He did it so well that he became my number one marketing tool up there. After they lost their best client(s), they brought me in to show them what they had done wrong.

Of course, many CPAs, being morons about marketing by definition, don’t understand how to parlay marquee clients into prosperity. They complain that they require too many resources, and convince themselves that the marquee client wants to pay less than other clients because of their status in the community or industry.


Marquee clients may feel they should pay less than another client because they don’t understand that they are getting a different level of service, because nobody points out what the firm does differently and better than others.


Our new marquee client will probably pay more than most of our others, because they want us to be their business advisors and mentors. Do yours?

By Allan S. Boress, CPA, author of The “I-Hate-Selling Book”, available at and

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