This year was the first of the newly combined American Institute of CPAs’ Practitioners Symposium and TECH+ Conference and the 2012 Association for Accounting Marketing Summit June 10-13 at the Aria Hotel in Las Vegas.
Marketers and managing partners sat side-by-side for general sessions and keynotes, and many that I talked to even switched allegiance a few times to sneak in a panel or two from across the divide.
Closing keynote speaker and innovation speaker and consultant Stephen Shapiro somewhat inadvertently called attention to this dynamic while introducing the crowd to the card game covered in his book, Personality Poker.
After he asked participants to trade his specialty cards until they made a full hand that described themselves, he went through what each suit and color said about us card-wielders. When describing the personality traits of each of the four suits, he’d ask for audience members of that suit to shout out words they’ve heard used to describe them.
The anthropomorphized spade wore glasses and was data-driven. Unsurprisingly, many hands raised in solidarity. Hearts were described in the cards as “popular” and “diplomatic” and when another big round of raised hands was asked for other descriptors, someone shouted, to laughter, “Marketer!”
And the marketers did make themselves known throughout the conference. Attending mostly AAM sessions myself, I pulled great insights from their full roster of speakers. During the Marketing Masters session I had the pleasure to moderate, I discovered the level of brainstorming and testing that went into the “What happens here, stays here,” campaign from one of the masterminds himself, Kevin Bagger, senior director of marketing for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
I picked up some video planning, shooting and editing tricks from Mike Braun, online marketing strategist at BizActions, and then shot a FlipCam video (coming soon) of him giving further advice to accounting firms (while anxiously wondering if I was committing any of the cardinal composition sins he had just covered). I listened to SS&G managing partner Gary Shamis discuss how seating arrangements at industry-specific conferences had changed his life (and his bottom line).
Marketing directors Katie Tolin and Eric Majchrzak—for Rea & Associates and FreedMaxick, respectively—spoke about strategic and data-enhanced digital marketing techniques. Then both offered their own firm data to Delphia Consulting’s Joe Rotella for his excellent talk on measuring website ROI.
It was also great to revisit some of the speakers I’ve seen before, like management consultant Rita Keller, breaking down the high value of firm administrators. And to hear the buzz on Twitter of the standing room-only crowds attending the sessions from Golden Practice’s Michelle Golden and Verasage’s Ron Baker on value pricing.
The AAM Awards Gala also presented some familiar faces, as Accounting Tomorrow blogger Emily Burns, along with Majchrzak and their team, collected many honors on behalf of FreedMaxick—while of course tweeting pictures of the event’s fashions the whole way.
AAM committee chairs told me they enjoyed the crossover potential, taking in more technical and management-steered discussions while also hearing positive feedback from partners that attended marketing talks. AICPA Tech chairs expressed similar educational opportunities.
Turns out hearts and spades make for a good blend.