December is a great time to pause and reflect on the past year. News outlets publish “best of” lists, social media sites are filled with “year-in-review” postings and family holiday cards include recaps of milestones from the past 12 months.
December is also a good time for your accounting firm to reflect back on the year, gathering data on marketing programs and using that data to plan ahead for the New Year. Here are 3 steps that you can take to turn your reflections into strategic tools for improving your growth efforts.
- Collect Basic Data on Your Marketing Programs to Begin the ROI Process
Whether you have sophisticated ROI tools, or you have never tracked a single marketing metric, you can still reflect back on the year and pull together some valuable data to measure your marketing efforts. For those firms that are new to collecting this information, we recommend starting with simple measurements: How many proposals did you complete? How many events did you host or co-host? How many ads did you run and sponsorships did you purchase? How many people visited your website? Over time, you can evolve toward more sophisticated metrics: What was your win percentage for proposals? How many leads or new clients did you generate from events that you hosted or ads that you placed? As the metrics evolve, the frequency of gathering and measuring this data will increase to monthly or quarterly throughout the year, which will make your year-end data gathering faster and easier. For ideas of what metrics to gather, see our article series on Measuring your marketing and sales.
- Analyze Data to Plan for the New Year
Now that you’ve collected this data, how do you use it? You can turn this data into valuable strategic planning support. First, you can create areas of focus for your next year’s marketing efforts. Metrics will help to identify marketing activities that work and those that don’t work as well. Were events more effective at bringing in new clients than ads and sponsorships? Were there certain industry or service areas that grew faster than others? These will be the activities and markets you will want to target for your future marketing. Second, with a better understanding of what marketing activities and areas gave you the best return this past year, you can also proactively budget for your marketing dollars in the new year. Rather than approving marketing spend on an ad-hoc basis, you can plan ahead of time for the projects you will approve and how much you want to spend on your overall marketing budget (see The Importance of Planning for Marketing Investments: A Case Study for Developing a Marketing Budget).
- Recognize and Reward Marketing and Growth Success
For those practice and marketing professionals that did an outstanding job with their growth efforts over the past year, be sure to recognize and reward those efforts. This can range from a simple thank you note to monetary compensation for bringing in new business. Whatever tools you use to recognize and reward, be sure to create a fair and reasonable way to build this in to your annual practice. For ideas of how to create this incentive system, read How to Build a Great Marketing Incentive Program.
As you reflect on your marketing activities from the past year, take a moment to be proud of what you’ve accomplished and to be hopeful for what you will accomplish. We wish you abundant marketing success and growth in the New Year!