CPA Firm Business Development

Include Branding in your Onboarding Process

By: Bonnie Buol Ruszczyk

 

At most firms, there is a clear onboarding process followed when new employees join the firm. The basics include an office tour, work space and computer set-up, and introductions to team members. Some firms even include partner interviews and other training in their process. What is often missed, unfortunately, is an education on your firm’s brand.

We all want our staff to be proud of where they work and excited to be on a team with a solid reputation and steady growth trajectory. But we also need them to understand who we are as a firm, our mission and values, and all that we do for our clients too. By including this in the onboarding process, you don’t have to correct misconceptions but can ensure that everyone is communicating your message properly and positioning your firm in the way you want.

This type of training can include many things, but here are a few to consider:

  • Make sure everyone knows how to spell the name of the firm and understand how to properly capitalize, hyphenate, abbreviate, and shorten it. It sounds basic, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen firm names mangled by new, and even longtime, employees.
  • Share your firms vision, mission and value proposition and how it drives how you conduct business. Ideally, this is something that should be communicated by a partner, or someone in authority, who can share how it was created and even tell stories about how difficult decisions were made easier by having a clear foundation in place.
  • Educate new hires on everything the firm does. When asked, most employees will say that the firm does what they do. (i.e. “We are a tax firm.”) With so many firms offering far more than traditional compliance work, and hoping to grow by expanding their consulting services, it is important that everyone knows the depth and breadth of the firm’s offerings. New employees will be sharing information about your firm with all their friends, family and colleagues more at the start of their employment than any other time, make sure that what they are saying is properly positioning you with potential clients.
  • Communicate your brand standards and guidelines. Clearly explain how to, and not to, use your logo, show them where the correct files are kept and teach them how to properly find and use things like stationery, PPT templates, collateral materials, etc. Consistency reinforces your firm’s visual identity internally and externally, and it is everyone’s job to make sure no one is going rogue on this.
  • Take them on a tour of your digital presence by showing them your website structure, social media pages (make sure you share your firm’s policy at this time too), and any other public-facing marketing efforts. You definitely want them to be able to point others to accurate information about your firm, so make sure they know everything that is out there.

This is a good start, but I’d love to hear what you are doing at your firms to make sure that every employee is well versed on the ins and outs of maintaining your firm’s carefully crafted brand.

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About Bonnie Ruszczyk

With 25 years of marketing experience, Bonnie Buol Ruszczyk helps professional services firms develop unique strategic marketing that will help them reach their growth and awareness goals. This can take many forms including serving as a fractional or part-time CMO, creating strategic marketing plans for the firm as a whole and the niches it serves, helping hire and manage internal marketing teams and much more.

She has been recognized as one of Accounting Today’s Top 100 Most Influential People (2012, 2013, 2016) and One to Watch (2011), Volunteer of the Year by the Association for Accounting Marketing and one of CPA Practice Advisor’s Most Powerful Women in Accounting (2015, 2016). She is also an AAM board member, a former president of its Atlanta chapter and marketing committee chair for CPA Consultants’ Alliance. Bonnie quite literally wrote the book on online marketing for accounting firms, Take Your Marketing Online: Proven Ways to Grow Your Firm in the Digital Age, at the request of the AICPA. She also contributed a chapter to Bridging the Gap: Strengthening the Connection Between Current and Emerging Leaders in the CPA Profession and is a regular contributor and quote source for Accounting Today, Entrepreneur, US News & World Report, CPA Practice Advisor and other industry-related publications and websites.

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