Martin: Using a Credential to Stand Out

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For Kevin M. Martin, CPA, having the Certified Information Technology Professional credential associated with his consulting firm speaks for itself. In just the past three months, the $2.6 million Cincinnati-based firm has won more than $300,000 in new business because of his having the technology credential from the American Institute of CPAs, Martin believes.

"The CITP and other credentials saves me time because I don't have to spend time explaining," says Martin, owner of Martin and Associates. "I have less convincing to do to show that that I can help."

The designation, Martin says, conveys the message that Martin and Associates combines accounting and technology expertise.

Partner Insights

Working with CPA firms is also important to Martin's marketing efforts, and having the CITP is particularly effective with them. While Martin works with 30 firms that are members of the Sage Accountants Network, his operation stays in contact with about 500 partners at 150 accounting firms.

"Each partner can be an island inside a firm," notes Martin. "We might mail to six partners in the same firm. It helps us get referral work."

While CPA partners may not completely understand the significance of the CITP, they understand the ethical standards that CPAs should adhere to and the credibility that a credential from the AICPA has.

To qualify for CITP certification, candidates, in addition to being CPAs, must have at least 2,000 hours of business technology experience and a minimum of 200 hours of technology education over the past five years.

Martin's seven-year-old firm sells a broad range of Sage Software products, including BusinessWorks, MAS 90/200, MAS 500, Abra, and SalesLogix, along with Microsoft Great Plains and Small Business Financials.

Last year, the company employed 16, and it has since risen to 18, with two positions to be filled because of strong demand. One is for entry-level consulting. The other job is for a consulting project manager who has accounting and IT experience.

"Our industry in the Midwest is principally in distribution and manufacturing," Martin says. "We are seeing all those segments buying more, whether it is buying upgrades, whether it is new, or upgrades of existing systems."

The company has increased its marketing efforts, focusing on MAS 200 and 500, Great Plains, and Abra. It is mailing to a 1,400 company list that has about 5,000 names and is also telemarketing to that group.

One area growing rapidly is customer relationship management. Martin and Associates picked up seven CRM sites from a reseller that got out of business, while about a third of the marketing budget is aimed at potential SalesLogix customers. Moreover, Martin attended last month's Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference because of his interest in looking at Microsoft CRM.

Martin puts a lot of stock in certifications. He says that since 1998 he has taken more than 70 assessment/certification exams because clients and vendors are requiring it more and more. He also holds the MCSE and MCP+1 credentials, which he says appeal to different market segments.

"Different people whom I talk to recognize different certifications," says Martin

The company is also active in event marketing. In April, it sponsored the CEO Forum held by the Circuit. Martin also holds the Annual PC Retreat. The twelfth annual meeting is being held next month It appeals to CPAs since they can qualify for seven CPE credits.

Riccardo A. Davis is Associate Editor of Accounting Technology and can be reached at riccardo.davis@sourcemedia.com.

MARTIN AND ASSOCIATES SNAPSHOT

HQ: Cincinnati

Offices: 1

Employees: 18

Annual Revenue: $2.6 million

Accounting software brands: Batchmaster, BusinessWorks, Great Plains, MAS 90/200/500

CRM brands: SalesLogix

HRMS brands: Abra

Other software brands: Sage FAS Gov

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