[IMGCAP(1)] A few weeks ago, I met with a firm that was evaluating several marketing tactics as a means to drive new opportunities. While the tactics they were considering would certainly drive new business in the door short-term, the problem was that once the tactics were stopped, so would the opportunities. There was no long-term plan to address the fundamental issue in the firm that resulted in an anemic new business pipeline.

The challenge this and so many other firms have today is that marketing and business development is not a central component of daily firm life. Marketing is viewed as a responsibility of one or two rainmakers at the firm and nobody else is involved. While this model may have worked in the past, it is not effective any longer.

More today than ever before, a strong marketing culture is critical to your long-term success.  At a firm with a strong marketing culture everybody is involved in the marketing effort in some way. Whether it’s an audit staff who is trained on how to recognize opportunities while on-site with a client, or a manager who is involved on a proposal pursuit team, or a weekly pipeline and marketing activity meeting for anybody with marketing responsibility, there are many things you can do to build and develop your marketing culture:

1.    Host “marketing 101” training for your staff, seniors, and managers.
2.    Facilitate a marketing activity and pipeline meeting.
3.    Announce and celebrate new client wins.
4.    Form a marketing committee and marketing club.
5.    Start a formal cross-selling effort.
6.    Build a master prospect target list.
7.    Host networking events for younger staff to develop their referral networks.
8.    Hire a marketing director.

Getting more people involved in the marketing effort makes sense – and you will often find that when you ask for volunteers you’ll find several folks who have wanted to get more involved, they just didn’t know how. Perhaps the best thing about a strong marketing culture is that it is self-sustaining. You are making an investment in the future of your firm in a way that distills marketing and business development responsibility across everybody in the firm.

So, the next time you are staring at an anemic new business pipeline ask yourself if you need to employ some short-term marketing tactics -- or a long-term approach to enhancing your culture -- or perhaps a little bit of both.

Art Kuesel is a director of consulting services for PDI Global, Inc. and works exclusively with CPA, law, and financial services firms across the country meeting their most significant marketing and business development challenges. He currently works one-on one with more than 30 CPA firm partners in a coaching capacity helping them build, sustain, and enhance their personal marketing and sales pursuit efforts. He also enjoys gourmet cooking and travel with his wife, Colleen. Art can be reached at akuesel@pdiglobal.com  or 312-245-1745.