What Does Marketing Success Really Look Like?

I think there is a very large misconception around what defines a successful marketing program or initiative. We focus so much on the ROI number that we forget to look at the many other factors that impact growth in the organization. Some of these things may be a little harder to evaluate but are equally important.

Here are just a few examples of success in accounting firm marketing, redefined.



Many firms expect 100% adoption of CRM after spending countless hours training people once or twice and culling through tons of data.  Firms are often disappointed in the outcome when they don’t achieve 100% adoptions, but I would like to offer another way to achieve CRM success.

  • Pick a system that will provide you with the functionality you need based on how you expect people to participate.
  • Identifying power users. This isn’t everyone in the firm by title; it might include a mix of partners and staff. Power users should opt in and the firm should only obtain licenses for these people.
  • Set realistic expectations for use. Having people go full throttle on every functionality isn’t realistic – they won’t log every call or email and they won’t remember to enter every opportunity. Instead, users will likely use the system to access the information they need for a meeting or pursuit.

The key to ensuring your CRM system is successful is coming up with a process that will work within your firm to gather needed information. Over time, as people get more comfortable with the system, you may be able to expect more.



Running an event is another common tactic almost every firm uses to build their practice. Many firms host events and expect glowing returns, i.e. super high attendance and tons of ROI. While we always want to see a firm with ROI on an event, we have to define what that ROI measurement is going to be; it isn’t always new business.

dreamstime_xs_58938823If a firm is still new to hosting events and their invitation list is only comprised of current clients, success might look like getting a certain percentage of prospects to attend. In order to make that happen, a firm has to have a ready list of prospects – the more people you want at an event, the more people you need to invite. If the firm has been holding events for a while, a healthy ROI might come from increasing overall attendance at these events and ensuring the firm does a better job of getting the right people at the event.


Building a Growth Culture

Many firms want to turn everyone into a rainmaker. We want everyone out working AND we want them to keep the same billable hours, realization and utilization rates. First, not everyone in the organization needs to be a rainmaker. Second, contributing to growth and building a growth culture is about more than just building rainmakers. Firms with a successful growth culture have their professionals contributing to growth in various ways, like writing content, cross-selling, or providing exceptional service. Firms also have people sitting on practice group teams where individuals initiate ideas for improvement across the firm. A firm that is building a growth culture doesn’t globally resist change – they embrace being lead.

These are just a few of the many examples of how expectations should shift for what success looks like. The key element is behavior change. Success is realized when we get the organization and its people to change their behaviors. This isn’t always an easy task and it takes a lot of time and a lot of communication, however, it CAN happen. We started a Spotlight Series earlier this year to share stories about firms that are having successes in their field. This new series complements our Case Study Series and can be found on our website. Check out some of our most recent stories.

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