The marketing of public accounting services is changing. The results of a recent survey by the Association for Accounting Marketing (AAM), Creating the Future Agenda for the Profession, revealed four key trends that are dramatically affecting how marketing operates at local, regional, national, and international accounting firms. The four key trends identified in the survey were the movement from tactical to strategic marketing, the increasing importance of sales, the growing impact of technology, and the different applications of skill sets.
Methodology of survey
The AAM surveyed both accounting firm marketing directors and managing partners nationwide to identify the key roles and responsibilities of sales and marketing professionals, the competencies and skills required, and the significant issues affecting the industry and the accounting marketing profession. The survey asked respondents to consider all issues, looking at their firms today and three years in the future, and to rate them on a scale from 1 to 5, with 5 being of the highest importance.
Each trend identified in the survey has significant implications for partners as well as marketing and sales professionals. The trends also speak very clearly to the continued development and success--and possibly even survival--of accounting and consulting firms.
Movement from tactical to strategic marketing
"As in many professional service organizations, accounting marketers typically begin by performing tactical marketing activities," explains Lisa Daniels, AAM executive director. "As the people and the function gain credibility and become better understood by the firm, the roles and responsibilities tend to become more strategic in nature."
Strategic responsibilities. As an example, of the top five roles and responsibilities identified by marketing directors in their current positions, only one, change agent, is a strategic responsibility. In contrast, of the top five roles marketing directors anticipated being of importance three years from now, three are strategic: change agent, strategic planner, and practice development coach.
Strategic activities. The differences between marketing directors' responses about today and three years from now also indicate a movement to more strategic activities. The two areas of greatest change in the survey were serving as a strategic planner, or "providing vision and assisting with firm strategic plan formulation and implementation," and client...