In just the past week came news that a top New York firm and the Texas Society of CPAs have just launched new marketing campaigns to build their brands and strengthen their reputations both internally and in the marketplace.

Long Island-based Margolin, Winer & Evens hired an ad agency and came up with a stylish new logo, a motto (turning vision into value), and a tagline made out of its name, "the power of (M)WE."

The Texas Society has an even grander vision. It hired an ad firm to design a complete radio and print ad campaign tailored to highlight the contributions of CPAs to the Texas economy.

And at a recent conference, one speaker passed around photos of his sleekly redesigned office as if it were a newborn baby, garnering admiring glances and praise from partners at other firms.

Is this the accounting profession we’re talking about?

Not too many years ago, it was forbidden for firms to advertise their services, as if what they did was part of a higher cause and it would be crass to consider it a business. Then the restrictions were lifted, tax and audit services moved closer to commoditization, and managing partners started realizing that if they wanted their firms to survive, they needed to get the word out.

That they were much more than tax preparers and advisors, or auditors. That they could advise clients on everything from estate planning to computer technology. That they were business consultants you could rely on and trust.

Over the past decade, many firms have heeded the call and hired marketing directors or chief marketing officers or public relations firms. But many others still resist the trend and cling to the notion that word of mouth and professional referrals are all they need to keep their firms alive and thriving.

That may have been true a decade ago. But the lightning changes going on in the business world, as well as the accounting profession, highlight the need for firms to get serious about who they are, what business they are in, and how they can best sell their services to potential clients. It’s a full-time job, and a position that every firm needs to think seriously about filling.

 

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