Marketing was a popular topic for the speakers and panelists at Accounting Today’s third annual Growth and Profitability Summit Oct. 28-30 in Boca Raton, Fla., while sharing their strategies for accounting firm development in challenging times.

Management consultant, speaker and Accounting Today contributor Gene Marks mentioned specific tools during his opening keynote that kicked off the three-day event.

He urged attendees to embrace new technology, asking, “Is your firm’s site mobile-optimized? If not, your clients can’t find you.”

During the marketing innovations session, panelists expressed a similar concern for firm visibility, explaining the necessity of search-engine optimization and sharing thought leadership through blog and social media channels.

Firms that leverage internal expertise into web-friendly content embrace the balance between inbound and outbound marketing that panelists Debra Andrews, founder of Marketri, Flashpoint Marketing partner Brian Swanson and Rea & Associates’ marketing director Katie Tolin, recommended.

In a later session, where Accounting Today editor-in-chief Daniel Hood and ADP Small Business Services’ Chris Rush shared the results of AT’s Accountants Confidence Index, Rush echoed some of the panel’s points.

He agreed with Tolin that repurposing content, like whitepapers, blog posts and other published knowledge is an effective marketing strategy that should be utilized by the 86 percent of surveyed firms that said their efforts are primarily based on referrals and word-of-mouth.

Those firms could also look into the kind of branded charity event Andrews recommended, Rush continued, or simply place a call-to-action button on their website, as Swanson advised.

While Allan Koltin’s Tuesday morning keynote focused on the critical need for firms to recruit and retain top talent and outline a succession plan, he also recognized the importance of marketing during a recession.

“Profession growth is going to require investing in sales and marketing more than we ever did before,” he said, later explaining, “Guerilla marketing is where it’s at.”

For many of the firms starting from scratch, however, time is running out to promote themselves and their people.

For those practitioners in attendance, either forming their strategies or still trying to get their firm partners to buy into the effectiveness of these online campaigns, Swanson had some words of advice: “As Bart Simpson says, ‘I’m going to try to try.’”