Marketing Works Well – If You Let It!

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Allowing your marketing experts to apply creative strategies to meet your growth objectives and you’ll be surprised at the results you’ll see.

I had lunch last week with a colleague who works at a well-respected CPA firm in Atlanta. We get together every six months or so just to check in, catch up and share ideas. She is always winning “Best of” awards at the Association of Accounting Marketing annual conferences for her great work at her firm. All in all, she’s a leader in the world of accounting marketing, and I’m happy to call her a friend.

Anyway, when we got together recently, she was telling me about a fun, new, multi-pronged direct mail and sales promotion campaign that she developed in-house to promote the firm’s risk advisory services. I won’t go into too many details, since I’m sure she doesn’t want it copied, but this was more than your typical campaign and mailer. It included an everyday usable item with a cleverly-worded insert, which arrived at her clients’ offices in a gift box and wrapped with an entreating business message. It further offered  a  complimentary hour of consulting with a risk expert. The overall cost for each piece was around the cost of two venti lattes at Starbucks. I was impressed, enough so that I wanted to share it here.

So what’s my point, other than the fact that I was impressed? What I really liked, in addition to the unique and eye-catching creativity of this piece, was the fact that her partners were willing to invest in it. It went to current business clients who could potentially use their risk services. I don’t know how many were mailed, but even if it were only 100, this wasn’t a tiny investment. Even so, they were willing to give her the benefit of the doubt and approved the expenditure. In the end, if they get one good client, or even a handful of smaller ones, the campaign more than paid for itself. And they are already getting phone calls about the campaign. Quite a few clients have set up a time for their free hour session. Others are calling to say how cool the mailer was and how much it stood out. I’d be willing to bet that the next time we get together for lunch, she’ll have stats on the success of this campaign that would make your average CPA partner salivate.

Too often, I hear the opposite story. Creative marketing ideas from talented directors sometimes are rejected due to cost, messaging or the fact that the partners have never seen anything like it before. Or I’ll hear about partners who water down the idea to the point that the impact is completely lost. This is not always the case, of course, but it’s true an unfortunate amount of the time. I even ran into this more than once in my in-house position, and can say from experience that it’s hard not to give up suggesting creative ideas if they’re consistently shot down.

The moral of the story (other than a wee bit of venting): CPAs, let your marketing experts do their jobs, and you’ll be surprised at how effective they can be. I doubt a marketing person has ever told a CPA how to prepare a tax return, so let’s return the favor and see what interesting results a creative and unfettered marketing professional can produce. It can be tough to trust someone else to lead in areas we don’t know from the inside out, but after all, that’s what non-CPAs go through every time they approach financial issues!

What do you think? Got any great stories to share? Please enlighten us in the comments.

Follow Bonnie:
Bonnie Buol Ruszczyk is the president and founder of bbr marketing. Bonnie’s 20 years of marketing experience is vast and varied, including serving as the marketing director for a mid-sized Atlanta accounting firm. Her focus on high-quality services and advice is bested only by her determination to constantly hone her craft and increase the strength and reach of her clients’ marketing efforts. Named "One to Watch" on AccountingToday’s list of the "Top 100 Most Influential People," she is the president of the Atlanta chapter of the Association for Accounting Marketing, a well-respected speaker and a regular contributor to a variety of news and industry sites.

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