[IMGCAP(1)] The start of a new year always holds lots of possibilities. This year, we asked a handful of people what they think the top trends will be for accounting marketing. Here is what you should be watching and exploring in 2015:

The face of advertising changes: “Overall, I think we’ll see less investment into advertising and more into thought leadership and personal branding of partners/practices,” said Ben Plantan, a marketing and business development strategist with PwC. We couldn’t agree more. We have been closely watching as traditional advertising investments shift. We now see more firms investing in developing key content that helps their prospects find them and their key people shine.  

Writers in the spotlight: Writers have always had their place in marketing, but they are now truly starting to shine. Writing is a true gift. Words bring our thoughts and ideas to life. While we have seen content marketing growing in accounting marketing, most firms want to do more writing but tend to struggle to produce what they want because their key people get sidelined with client work. I predict this will be the year that firms really make a push to hire outside writers.
 
Design rules: While it’s not new, I do think design will be taking center stage in accounting firm marketing in areas we don’t normally expect to see it. “In addition to posting engaging photos of corporate volunteering events and awards, find ways to incorporate educational elements, like explainer videos, white paper covers, slide decks, infographics that speak to a specific market. Share those elements on your website and in social media,” advises Bonnie Buol Ruszczyk of BBR Marketing.
 
Relationship marketing takes precedence: Relationships have always been a key part of how accounting firms grow. In fact, many get significant portions of new business through referrals. However, I see this being taken to a whole new level. Through social media, email marketing and marketing analytics, we have the ability to create much more targeted communications. These tools will be used more consistently and effectively to help firms nurture relationships and focus communications on the right topics at the right time for each individual they are speaking to.
 
Deepening industry niche knowledge:  Accountants serving as a business adviser to their clients find it imperative to understand the industries of their clients. “In order to bring the most value to their clients, accountants are seeking to understand forward-looking industry trends, moving beyond the traditional role of looking backwards at the numbers,” said Kari Schott, a consultant for Inovautus Consulting.  Market research conducted by accounting firms is moving beyond the geographic market of the firm and includes national and global industry reports.  Sponsorships and speaking at industry associations and conferences will continue to grow as accountants increase participation in industry events alongside their clients.

Sarah Johnson Dobek of Inovautus Consulting is an accounting marketing growth advisor. She helps accounting firms identify and implement strategies to help them grow their firms and distinguish themselves in the marketplace. Connect with Sarah to learn more at 888-491-9330, sdobek@inovautus.com, or www.linkedin.com/in/sjjohnson