[IMGCAP(1)]A question I am asked quite often is “how large does a CPA firm need to be before it needs a marketing director?” Because there are many variables to this equation, I usually fire back with a few qualifying questions to get to the “correct size” answer. These qualifying questions include:

1) Why are you asking? (Are you just curious or are there pressing reasons you feel that you might be ready?)

2) Are you under competitive pressure from one or more sophisticated firms? (May indicate that you need to get a better plan in place to win business in the future.)

3) Are you worried about client retention? (Are there niche firms picking off your “A” clients?)

4) Are you having trouble putting even meager growth numbers on the board? (A marketing director can help diagnose the problems and prescribe solutions to help drive growth.)

5) Do you feel like you need a better go-to-market strategy? (Have your marketing and business development efforts been haphazard and uncoordinated?)

The answer(s) I get typically indicate the firm is ready for some level of strategic growth support, whether that is a marketing director, salesperson or external consultant typically depends on the acute issues uncovered through further investigation.

And, my experience is that I have seen firms as small as 30 people operating in a highly competitive market who need marketing horsepower to differentiate themselves from others in the market that need a full time marketing director. I have also seen firms with 200 people and nearly a monopoly in their market, heavily niched, with many rainmaking partners who don’t have or need a marketing director.

As a full-time marketing director is often the first step toward a firm getting more strategic about growth, there are many things you can expect from your marketing director. If any of the below could be of benefit to you, you might be ready for a marketing director. A marketing director can:

1)    Build a marketing and growth plan to guide your marketing and sales efforts

2)    Help the firm get better at targeting ideal prospects

3)    Drive greater success through a strategic approach to your sales pursuits

4)    Enable more grass-roots marketing

5)    Coach your “high-potentials” to greater marketing and sales success with client development and referral sources

6)    Identify niche markets that make sense to pursue

7)    Implement great programs at your firm that develop client, prospect, and referral relationships

The next question usually relates to compensation. And, unfortunately we’re out of time. (With fewer than 1,000 full-time marketing professionals at CPA firms in the U.S. and a seemingly unlimited number of job descriptions, responsibilities, titles, credentials, levels of experience and results, the number could range from $50,000 to $250,000, or more. To get to the right number for the person you need, there are a few qualifying questions, as you can imagine. Contact me offline if you think you might be ready for your first marketing director and I would be happy to share my experiences with you.)

As the director of practice growth and marketing consulting services at Koltin Consulting Group, Art Kuesel helps firms grow and add millions of dollars of revenue to their top lines. Reach Art at 312-662-6010 or akuesel@koltin.com.