When it comes to accounting firm growth, there is a distinct gap between growth rates of the best-performing firms and the rest of the pack. In the 2013 IPA survey, it was reported that the top firms grow at a rate of 7%, compared to a paltry 2.8% for the average accounting firm. How do these firms grow at such a higher rate? What’s their secret? Below are three things we see high-growth firms doing that average firms do not do.
Invest in marketing staff
In a recent survey conducted by AAM on how firms spend their marketing dollars, it was found that the respondents have one marketing professional for at least every 48 accounting professionals. Compare this to the average-growth rate firms clocking in at one marketing professional for every 65 accounting professionals. Simply put, high-growth firms invest in the resources that allow them to grow. They’ve realized that capacity constraints in their marketing and sales departments can actually limit their ability to get things done.
The decision isn’t always about your employee count; it’s about mindset, too. Your firms should have – and be building – an established growth culture.
One of the most interesting things to come out of AAM’s survey only validates what we have known for a long time: high-growth firms spend their marketing dollars very differently. They aren’t investing tons of money into advertising and those infamous golf sponsorships. Instead they spend it on developing meaningful and relevant content – and on key access points intended to connect them with their decision-makers (includes websites, trade shows and educational events).
Marketing’s role is shifting
Marketers are becoming strategic players in their firms. We’ve all seen the escalation of marketing partners within CPA firms. The professionals that have a seat at the table are doing more than just organizing events, developing collateral and maintaining websites. These marketing professionals are leaders within their firms – and are part of the key decisions in their respective firms. More than ever before, marketing professionals are keenly knowledgeable and aware of exactly what’s going on in the profession. Practice management issues, legislative changes, recruiting and retention are but a few of the topics on the radar for this group. High-growth firms have embraced the shift of the marketers’ role and come to respect that role
What does this mean for you?
Opportunity! Whether you are a high-growth firm or not, these key trends and shifts present every firm with opportunities to do more. If you have been on the fence about hiring a full-time marketing professional or expanding your team, go ahead and make that investment. If you have any sort of marketing strategy (written down or even in your head) revisit how you are spending your dollars. If you have professional marketing staff, start by asking their opinion on practice management issues that are challenging your firm. With insight coming from a different perspective, you might be surprised at what you get in return.
Not all of you may reach double-digit growth or even want that for your practice … but it doesn’t mean you can’t steal the secrets.