[IMGCAP(1)]Recently one night I was struggling feverishly with my 7th grader’s science assignment on paleobotany.

Paleobotany…I had never heard of it. It turns out it’s the study of fossil plants, according to my son Matt. Given all the dead plants I had in my bachelor apartment decades ago, my apartment could have been a significant digging ground for any paleobotanist.

Once Matt had settled into his assignment (it just happened to coincide with my wife Pam returning from a meeting to join our homework club), I started to think that before a plant becomes a fossil it needs the sun to grow. Once the sun stops shining on the plant, it stops growing and becomes a footnote in a paleobotany book.

It’s the same thing that can happen to a firm or any business. The firm or business needs visibility to grow. Stop the visibility and the firm and/or business stops growing.

Without question, doing a good job time in and time out is the gold standard of visibility. However, there are several ways we can look at the visibility on our firms and equate it to the growth in our firms.

The more visibility your firm receives, the greater the chance of growing your brand and the firm’s reputation. Increased visibility will allow a greater number of businesses and individuals to recognize the name of your firm. If you have articles published, give presentations to various groups, organizations, associations, trade shows and other venues that will put you in front of an audience. That will assist in the growth of your firm.

Blogging and other social networking avenues act as the sun to help grow your firm. Sponsorships with your firm’s name associated with the activity will help growth. Conduct your own events highlighting the expertise of those within your organization. That increases your reach in your markets.  Joining various chartable and service organizations will help grow your firm. Traditional advertising remains a viable route in the mix to awareness.

PR releases help the growing cycle not only when communicating about things going on within your firm but on specific subjects where you have the experience and expertise to comment on what will be beneficial to others.  A professional-looking and updated Web site will help stimulate awareness.

With increased visibility the end goal is to create new business opportunities that will then lead to new revenues from current clients and prospects of the firm. With increased visibility on the firm, centers of influence may have an easier time keeping you in mind when speaking with their clients and prospects.

When a COI wants to introduce their client to your firm, there is no sweeter music ever heard than when a prospect echoes, “Oh yes, I have heard of that firm” to the COI. It at least makes it a bit easier for an introduction of the COI’s client to your firm. It’s not a guarantee that someone will sign an engagement letter at the first meeting, but you have established yourself as a firm that to some degree is a known player in your market.

The increased visibility of your firm will help the firm grow in recruiting new staff as well as retaining current members. If a professional is looking to switch firms, are they more likely to switch to a firm they have heard of rather than a firm that may be equally as qualified but not known too well in the market?

Whether you view this as a badge of honor or not, I’d rather have staff members say where they work with a sense of pride to others rather than mumbling quietly where they work when asked. Proud members of your firm will take that feeling into the battlegrounds of new business development and use it on their calls to their advantage. 

“Visibility” is tricky, just like the word “marketing.” Both words are not succinct and carry a wider message. However, they both are similar in that they contain the “growth” DNA.

Continue nurturing your efforts to gain visibility for your firm, which will help it to grow. Don’t let your efforts to expand the awareness of your firm become fossil-like. Paleoaccounting is not an option.

Nicholas D. Keseric Jr. is the director of practice growth with Mulcahy, Pauritsch, Salvador & Co, a Chicago-area middle-market CPA firm, and a partner with MPS Capital Advisors-Mergers & Acquisitions.