I’ll be honest with you. When I decided to attend both the Legal Marketing Association and the Association for Accounting Marketing conferences this year, I expected to be more impressed by the movers and shakers in the legal field.

More than a few friends in the industry said law firms were way ahead of accountants when it came to business building and giving marketers the strategic leeway they need to help firms brand and grow. And that LMA was peopled by more senior-level marketing professionals.

But after attending the exuberant, barn-raising AAM conference in Boston last week, I think AAM’s detractors should take a closer look at the organization, because they’ve got it going on.

From the opening strains of the Accounting Crows’ version of the Rolling Stones’ “Start Me Up” through the boisterous applause given winners of this year’s marketing awards, it was clear that something special is happening at AAM.

I was less impressed with keynote speaker and advertising executive Tom Monahan, but his message – that great ideas are almost never the first ones that pop into your head and that diligent brainstorming to find great ideas rather than settling for good ones should be any business’ mantra – is worth remembering. And it was fun to watch Aussie wonder Paul Dunn (founder of the Accountants’ Boot Camp) preaching to the choir about the need to create a “marketing-centric” organization.

The pre-conference roundtable lunch discussions were nearly worth the price of admission on their own, pairing marketing pros with seven or eight attendees to discuss specific areas of business building, allowing the groups to exchange ideas and learn some tips and tricks of the trade.

Never having attended in the past, I don’t know much of its history, but I can tell you that AAM has definitely grown into a family. Incoming president Tracy Crevar made note of this when she mentioned that some AAM friends were called upon to be witnesses for her marriage license before she departed for her recent overseas wedding. And it was obvious that many marketing professionals have forged true friendships through the organization over the years.

Does this make them better marketers and therefore more valuable to their firms? Not necessarily. But I’ll make the case that a growing organization which reaches out to its new members and makes sure its seasoned pros stay active is dressed for success.

And as the organization reaches out more to firm partners as speakers and attendees, its cache in the accounting world should grow.

Want to learn more about the organization? Go to its newly redesigned Web site, www.accountingmarketing.org.

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