Over the years, Practical Accountant has written about firms’ growing use of mission statements and taglines to describe what a firm is about to potential clients. These marketing techniques serve a number of functions. They may identify the type of clients that the firms are targeting, contain the firm’s philosophy, or define what is unique about the firm. Similarly, we have reported on firms’ use of vision statements and core values for similar objectives.

All of these are designed to help a potential client better understand, and identify with, a firm. Whether intended or not, they are also used as a measuring device by new clients attracted by these statements. They help to set expectations which a new client might utilize as a sort of a satisfaction index to apply to the initial services that it receives.

What about a firm utilizing a similar approach in attracting new staff advertising to potential staff what is unique and special about the firms? Goodman & Company, Bond Beebe, and Blum Shapiro are three firms that are doing exactly that on their Web sites. They dedicate a specific portion of their sites to describing their firm’s particular culture. The idea is to let potential staff see what it is like to work at those firms, and what the firms have to offer.

Unlike a one-sentence description of the firm that was fine tuned to describe the firm in a mission statement, there is no uniform format or approach. Generally, the firm culture is presented in a narrative description in a number of paragraphs or bulleted items.

I expect that to change as firms spend more time working on succinctly describing their firm culture in a sentence or two. There are a number of advantages to this. This equivalent of a one-minute elevator speech means all firm members will be able to describe and communicate the firm culture. Perhaps equally important, as with the mission statement, it causes all firm members to acknowledge what the firm culture is that they are maintaining and projecting it. And like the mission statement, it becomes a measuring rod to new staff members to see if the firm delivers on what it promises that it has to offer. I believe the younger generation CPA will be very receptive to such an approach.

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