The Association of Accounting Marketing has published a booklet, "Best Practices: Accounting Marketing and Practice Developed," published in partnership with Lockhart Industries.

Distributed at AAM's Summit 2006, held June 14-16 in Denver, the booklet features tips from Neil Fauerbach, director of business development and marketing at Madison, Wis.-based Smith & Gesteland. Fauerbach said that some of his firm's best information about service is obtained through in-depth client interviews.

The interviews are conducted over the phone, can last anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes, and are taped and transcribed. Fauerbach reported that clients selected to participate are usually chosen because they are likely to give honest feedback. Participants are also usually likely to have had recent experience with other CPA firms, or were under pressure from other firms to make a switch between firms.

Among the questions used in the interviews:

  • Why have you chosen to work with S&G over all the other accountants you could have chosen to work with?
  • How do you rely on S&G?
  • How important a consultant is S&G to your business?
  • How difficult would it be to replace S&G?
  • What has S&G done for you that's been truly exceptional (give a specific example)?
  • Overall, what does S&G do exceedingly well?
  • Where does S&G fall short? Where could they use some shoring up?
  • Are there best practices that you have with your customers or ways that you do business that you'd like to see in your relationship with S&G?
  • What would cause you to bring your business elsewhere?

As a result of the interviews, Smith & Gesteland identified several factors that clients consider crucial to a good relationship, including: low staff turnover, flexibility in the relationship (there is an aversion to taking a cookie-cutter approach), the accounting firm recommending growth strategies, and never neglecting existing clients even as the firm itself grows.With record attendance of more than 475, including accounting marketing professionals, sales professionals and CPAs, AAM's annual conference also featured a number of various networking and social events, workshops and discussion groups for participants on four education tracks. Outstanding marketers were also honored at the conference's reception and gala with the group's annual Marketing Achievement Awards.

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